A CHANT FOR MEDITATION
September 2014 | audiobook | 47 minutes
This two-stanza poem, which I initially wrote in 2013 and Alexandra subsequently revised, seeks to bring about precisely what it intones: a state of mental stillness. During morning meditation well before daybreak, Alexandra recorded the lyrics while seated in lotus position. I closed my eyes, listened, and breathed.
Come / Sit in / Silence / In stillness. Oh my / Mind fasts / It stills / Is full.
The manner of recording the chant illustrates the dramatic path of the beginner. Without practicing beforehand, Alexandra begins to speak. The first eight minutes of the recording reveal a mouth gasping for air, reveal halting, gaping words, disquietude. Yet somewhere around the eight minute mark something wondrous occurs: breathing deeply, she begins to lose herself in the chant. The silence grows longer, the voice becoming an organ, the notes starting to quiver, vibrate, resonate. The beginner, surrendering herself to this, is learning while showing us how.
May 2014 | audiobook | 38 minutes
Translated variously as “inward training,” “self-cultivation,” and “inner development,” the Nei-yeh is an early Daoist work consisting, according to the translation that Alexandra and I have followed, of 26 interconnected verses. Set out in these subtle, beautiful poems is a program concerned with aligning one’s posture, breathing, and mind with the Way of all things.