Somewhere in New Mexico as I drove northward toward Santa Fe I came across a state park. I believe it was a state park, it could have been national. It was far out by itself and I went for it.
Where I pulled in was the most private camping space I’ve ever had in a campground setting. Virtually no one else was there, in this semi-desert setting against a lake. Desolate and barren and open as much of New Mexico is. The real wonder was that there was a lake at all.
There, up an embankment I sat on the ground not far from my parked van, overlooking the water and the ragged hills, a gangly tree nearby. There I spent unregistered time in an aural meditation.
If you’ve never meditated in this particular way, I recommend it.
An aural meditation is the simplest thing on earth (like all other meditation forms, but this one seems even simpler!).
This is all you do:
You sit comfortably, close your eyes and listen.
It is sound — all sound, any sound — you embrace with your consciousness.
After a while you feel sound itself in the way you sometimes can hear and feel your own heartbeat.
If in relative silence you will hear/feel your own breath.
In Manhattan I would occasionally go into sound meditation. All the sounds at the crossroads of the world came to you there, traffic, talking, cursing, shouting out, grunting — I lived on 9th Avenue on the second floor, a body and a half above street level — all the honking, braking, carts, music, clamberings and rumblings and throbbings of a City in action mode.
Even there you would begin to feel the sounds. Somehow all the discordant noises would come together. Even jackhammers, even startling sounds, incorporated themselves into the music of a city in motion commotion.
There on the embankment in New Mexico overlooking a lake it was a different experience that led to the same place — total immersion in my spot in the cosmos.
It was windy so there was the wind itself. It rubbed against surfaces, split itself through foliage, ran in currents contouring the shape of this raw and ancient land. There was the water lapping, driven by that same wind. There was the rare bird, the tree creaking, more distant rustling.
At first your mind seizes upon each sound individually — a squawk, a crack, now the wind through my tree, now the wind over there a little more indistinct because it’s farther away. A car drives by and you hear the crunch of tire to gravel.
In that cool cold morning somewhere in New Mexico, listening, all possibility came back. Sometimes that’s all it takes, listening to what life is telling you. You needn’t even understand it, for it moves into you through sound, speaking to the part of you that does understand.
Modified excerpt from the forthcoming bookito Bohemia in Suburbia . . . and Beyond: Oh the creativity and originality outside of urban centers.