Sunday, February 17, 2008

Healing the Land with Sound | BYB

Sound not only heals people, animals, and plants. It also heals the land itself. In recent years people have begun experimenting with chanting, for example, to clear polluted lakes. And it works.

I discovered interacting with the land through sound for myself, almost accidently some years ago.

We went camping in Big Bend National Park, a vast desert area that stretches north from where the Rio Grande flows through the mountains of Northern Mexico and Southwest Texas. The park is huge, many miles across, and mostly desert.

We were there in early February, because the heavy rains are in March and September, and anyway, between March and October it is just too hot to enjoy. Presidio, which is right outside the park (and farther north than much of it) is often the hottest spot in the United States.

Because we were there during the week, there were even fewer people around than usual in the winter. It was lovely! You could hike for hours and not see another human being (and that was on the "easy walk" hikes).

On the first day we managed to get a camping space in the Chisos Basin, which is the high crater of an extinct volcano. High above the desert floor, the Basin is an oasis of grass, oak trees, a creek, and lots of friendly wildlife. It is also much cooler than the desert floor below. That's important, even in the winter.

After setting up camp, we went hiking. One of the "easy walks" at Big Bend is along Oak Creek to a hole or window in the crater walls where the creek falls for a hundred feet or more to the desert floor below. The view out that window is spectacular. You can see for miles.

But after that easy walk, we were tired and hungry. We sat down on a bench to eat an early supper before the long walk back to camp. It was very, very quiet in that little canyon with no one else around.

After we ate, we started drumming. I had packed a couple of small drums and rattles in our day packs along with the food. It was pleasant, but something didn't sound right.

We stopped and looked at each other for moment. "What's wrong with this picture?" "No echo!"

That's right, we were in a small canyon (maybe 40 feet across) with high rock walls, yet there was no echo at all when we drummed. It was as though the walls were hungrily absorbing the sound.

We drummed as long as we could with the early winter sunset coming. By the time we left, it was getting late, and we had not brought a flashlight. Uh-oh. Total darkness on a rugged, rocky path with cactus along the edges and mountain lions in the area.

So we had to move fast. Yet I wanted to keep feeding the hungry land. I couldn't really drum and walk fast, so I started rattling. Immediately it was as though someone put his hand on my lower back to help me along. And it did help.

Whenever we met some (unwise?) people going the other way, I felt foolish and stopped rattling. Immediately the helping hand was gone. Each time I started rattling it returned.

We continued the practice of drumming or rattling on all our hikes in the park. We had some other interesting experiences, too. After conferring with others who had had experiences in other desert environments, here's what we concluded.

We know that even before the Indian peoples of historic times came to the area, it was home to paleo-Indians for thousands of years. We believe that they gave back to the land for its generous support by drumming, singing, and dancing. And the land was nourished by that.

But they have been gone from that area for at least 100 years. The white ranchers did not feed the land. And the modern tourists tend to either go there to throw off the stresses of modern, perhaps urban, life or to soak up the peace, quiet and healing vibes.

But no one comes to feed the land with healing sounds anymore. If it had not been for that quiet canyon, we might not have noticed either. Try it, and see what you discover.

In later years my friend Bill Freeto used to go to a forested park on the outskirts of Chicago. He would walk deep into the woods to a certain spot to meditate. After a few years, a buck started coming to escort him to his spot. Later sometimes two or three bucks would escort him.

Eventually several does started hanging around. They felt safe, I guess, because while he did not get to go often, he had been meditating there for years. When he began to practice throat-singing, the does would come closer, seemingly drawn by the sounds.

Make of this what you will, but I believe that all of us who use sound for healing should also be using sound to heal the land. Try it and see. I believe that being able to give back something to a place that nurtures and supports you is a true blessing for everyone.

4 comments:

Kuanyin said...

Excellent post! Yes, it's so important to give back to the land and nourish the land with sound...and as you say, many places are hungry for this! Happy BYB Sunday!

CyberCelt said...

Interesting! The Earth could sure use some help. God bless your efforts.

CyberCelt said...

just stopping by... hope everything is okay with you. I have seen references to healing the Earth with sound and thoughts.

White Cranes said...

I've been sick for a couple of weeks but still working. Sick in bed with high fever since Friday, but the antibiotic seems to have worked. Haven't been on line in days. Thanks for asking.