Aligned with My First Breath

As the earth moves to the degree that aligns with my first breath, I am whole, having learned to tend to myself as if for the world.

I journey to a reminder of my origins. Crumbling orange bluffs, salty air, and windswept cypress trees. To the mother who knows my deepest truths and cradles them in nonjudgment.

Her winter spirit redecorated with remnants of trees carried down river, turned into benches and sculptures. An unrecognizable shore, aside from the turtle back rocks, gives me permission to see.

I am the sand, shaped and molded. Done and redone, uncovered and recovered. Swept away and built again.

I am the rock who has remained through every gale. Etched and refined into tide pool homes.

I am the wave, it’s lifetime unmarked by revolutions around the sun. Returning to the sea it never left.

New Audio Track! Awakening Depths

After several months of false starts while I figured out how to record the Varanasi Sage audiobook, I finally have it down! Here’s a track of “Awakening Depths,” an excerpt from the collection. You may want to listen with eyes closed, but I’ve included the text if you’d like to read along. Let me know what you think of this recording in the comments! Stay tuned for more audio tracks, and the audiobook release!

Awakening Depths

Faithful observers, large and wise; monoliths standing emphatically. Jutting from the earth, rising balconies and towers, watching, witnessing. Boulders looming, rocks piled, guardians of the cave. Trees flourish in crevices with cool mineral moisture. The trail, meek, between giants. My body even smaller.   

A large metal gate at the entrance. “Flashlights Required.” I pull out my headlamp. I crouch and squeeze between rock bodies, layered and etched with the Sculptor’s tools; rigid, yet crumbling. Gentle giants summoned by the earth’s heart, set into place. Darkening. Light cuts through holes, cracks between boulders, lighting the way over bridges and up stairs. Bold and industrial gifts from the New Deal. 

Further inside, my lamp finds little white arrows painted, marking the trail. I follow and follow, deeper and deeper.

The cool, dark quietude penetrates my being. The awe of sacred knowing. Completely held within the earth’s body—her smooth touch embraces me like a wounded bird in caring hands. With only my breath and the rock, I sit and turn off my headlamp. Surrounded, supported, my body soft and humble, yet unafraid to share space with titans arranged into impossible shapes, moved like pebbles. Spirits born from the Nature’s depths.

To sit amongst them, entities unfathomable, a guest in their great hall. Without sight and sound, I dissolve into the rock, the air, the empty space. And she comes to me, the truest part of me, the same as her living heart. The outside world lost to her embrace. My heart turns over to hers and the feeling of oneness, endlessly present in time.

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Awakening Depths

[This story appears in a new compilation that’s available as part of my Varanasi Sage art installation. For more information, including how to receive a copy, please click here.]

Faithful observers, large and wise; monoliths standing emphatically. Jutting from the earth in rising balconies and towers, watching, witnessing. Boulders looming, rocks piled, guardians of the cave. Trees flourish in crevices with cool mineral moisture. The trail, meek between giants. My body even smaller.   

A large metal gate at the entrance. “Flashlights Required.” I pull out my headlamp. I crouch and squeeze between rock bodies, layered and etched with the Sculptor’s tools; rigid, yet crumbling. Gentle giants summoned by the earth’s heart, set into place. Darkening. Light cut through holes, cracks between boulders, lighting the way over bridges and up stairs. Bold and industrial gifts from the New Deal and Civilian Conservation Corps. 

Further inside, my lamp finds little white arrows painted, marking the trail. I follow and follow, deeper and deeper.

The cool, dark, deep quietude penetrates my being. The awe of sacred knowing. Completely held inside the earth’s body — her smooth touch embraces me, like a wounded bird in caring hands. With only my breath and the rock, I sit and turn off my headlamp. Surrounded, supported, my body soft and humble, yet unafraid to share space with titans arranged into impossible shapes, moved like pebbles. Spirits born from the depths of the earth.

To sit amongst them within their chamber, entities unfathomable, a guest in their great hall. Without sight and sound, I dissolve into the rock, the air, the empty space. She comes to me, the deepest part of me, the same part as her living body, connected. The outside world lost to her embrace. My heart turns over to hers and the feeling of oneness, endlessly present in time.

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Canyon Meditation

We chose not to look at the map and found what we believed was a path. As we walked, the forest seemed to hold us while birds sang its melody. We passed elk tracks preserved in dry mud and saw a tree that had been used as an antler scratching post. I wished I could walk without knowing our destination.

Upon hearing human voices speaking languages from all over the world, we knew we were close — and suddenly — the forest opened.

A magnetic pull from my heart led me to the canyon rim as though I were under enchantment. My body shook with adrenaline. Before me, a chasm ripped the earth and rocky, layered peaks formed colorful monuments, temples, pyramids, and fortresses. Spires and pillars rose from the ground like giants. Greater and larger than Stonehenge, than Chichen Itza, than man could ever be.

Nature’s chisel wielded by the Great Artist etched walls with shadowy crags and adornement. Creation coalescing into wonder from nearly two billion years of both violent and gradual evolution written in the rock. Lava and mud spreading and widening the canyon carved by wind and water, plateaus rising, glaciers melting, the continent crashing into volcanoes and making mountains. Erosion — pushing, pulling, forming megaliths and smiles that become wings of expanded freedom. A testament to my limited, human experience.

The river deepens the canyon as she moves to the sea — her former grandeur evidenced in decorated cliffs — she is now a mere trickle of what she must have been before dams and reservoirs closed her veins like tourniquets.

The Artist exhibits the freedom to transform, to shift — to evolve into beauty, into living inspiration.

Even with their loud voices, the other tourists don’t bother me. The vastness is large enough for us all. So large that I sense I can give all the heaviness of my heart to the canyon. All the pain of memories and attachments can release. And my heart will become expansive; my heart and the canyon will merge into one, magnetized like the continent and crashing into volcanoes. If I let it fall, it will tumble into the river and be swept away to the ocean. I can let it go — I can give it all to the One who is capable of transfiguration.

I hear the wind before I feel her. She comes up from the canyon depths and brushes my face. I feel the coolness of her touch. She is a whispering echo saying, “hush.”

Crows fly with feathers straight and light in the space between earth and sky. Above the canyon, below stars. Small, yet fearless. As we must be.

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Zion Transformation

Alone at 6:00 am, watching the sunrise over rock formations, climbing natural staircases, feeling smooth buttresses with the palm of my hand, I come to sit on the top of a earth-made spier — I feel like the uppermost piece of a cairn. I sit patiently, open to a message from the landscape.

A sparrow flies in circles around me. Scat below my feet tell me deer enjoyed this view not long ago. I recalled the joy I felt seeing the hot and thirsty doe near Angel’s Landing the day before, and my surprise to see her at high altitude. A tree grows from a crack in the rock behind me — most of the trees and plants I see here seem to force their way through hard, impossible places. The sun’s rays pass by clouds, creating beams of majestic light that illuminate the red, yellow and orange striped rocks around me. Only birdsong breaks the silence of the dawning day.

I look upon the earth before me. It is almost impossible to believe, sitting on a rock perch, that 275 million years ago this region was a flat sea basin. But it’s true: The iconic Zion landscape in Utah is the result of millions of years and five geological processes: sedimentation, lithification, uplift, erosion and volcanic activity. I look upon a working transformation — geological processes that continue today.

The resulting transformation is an unparalleled beauty that speaks to the soul of an unseen power. Several times while hiking I had to sit and pause in stillness and quietude to fathom the power of the rivers and the earth’s movements that created the structures and forced the earth towards the sky in vast towers and points.

I wondered, would the flat basin give home to the many plants and animals I had seen? Would the flat basin draw tens of thousands of visitors in a day with its grandeur? Could it provide the same inspiration to artists, have the power to pierce your heart, and take away your breath?

The spirit of Zion revealed itself to me with insight into myself.

I am a creature of change. I actively pursue transformation of my consciousness to become a more radiant reflection of human possibility — an instrument of equanimity, love and peace. I long to be transformed, to allow the processes within and without mold me and sculpt me into the shapes that I am destined to become.

The work of authentic transformation is ongoing and multifaceted: Zion is still changing. The rocks tell me to be humble, relax into the processes, accept and surrender to the unseen power. Growing pains must not be resisted or feared, but rather, seen as an effect of personal evolution. Life provides limitless opportunities for inner refinement; being present to reflect my true nature requires a Zion-like patience.

Sunrise; Zion National Park

Doe near Angel’s Landing

Orange Rocks

Yellow rocks

Once a flat sea basin

A tenacious tree

Virgin River; a major force in Zion’s transformation

Trees growing out of striped rock

Narrow Canyon