“We may say that the earth has a spirit of growth, and that its flesh is the soil; its bones are the successive strata of the rocks which form the mountains; its cartilage is the tufa stone; its blood the veins of its waters. The lake of blood that lies around the heart is the ocean…” Leonardo da Vinci 1514 Codex Leicester
In a delicate dance of dynamic equilibrium, Earth whirls through space in her planetary orbit more than 1000 miles per minute. At the same time, she spins on her axis at a rate of 1000 miles per hour at the equator. Most of us, however, will have only fleetingly felt Earth’s precise rotation. Perhaps as children lying on the grass, contemplating the constellations as they move above us, or at 30,000 feet looking out the tiny window of a 747, or standing at the beach looking at the sun set above the horizon line of the ocean, radiating its burnt orange photons beyond the scape of blue.
In these profoundly personal moments, we are not alone; we are experiencing deep time, a moment that links us to countless generations who came before. In the same way that our genes carry the patterned human imprint of our forefathers and foremothers, our perception at these moments embraces the ancient understanding of Earth as an organism, as a body. The body of Earth - entwined with multiple cycles and rhythms - inhales and exhales through its precessional trajectory as she unfurls her orbit around the sun, leaving a spiral imprint through deep time.
Breathe in deeply, count one, two, three, four, until your belly is filled. Then hold this beautiful mixture in your lungs, slowly counting to seven. Release slowly to the count of eight as you feel your shoulders relax and your diaphragm contract. And begin again. Expand... contract... connect... reflect.
You are breathing Earth.
Breath means “spirit” or “soul”. Andrew Weil suggests this act of conscious breathing is an ancient remembering reaching back to the Vedas, Hindu texts originating more than five thousand years ago. These texts teach us about breath, body, spirit and movement. And as we body forth that teaching, we reconnect with the ancient language that whispers in our cellular memory, that pulses in the elastic tensegrity of our cytoskeletons, that echoes through the mirror neurons of our collective mind.
Earth is breathing too. Just as her dance through the cosmos allows us to travel unceasingly in space, her rhythmic breath expands and contracts through the course of a much larger spectrum of time. Her inhale of carbon dioxide and exhale of oxygen fit delicately into the oldest known cycles – the seasons. To look up at the starry heavens at night is to feel the cosmological symphony of cycles of the small and large, from the seasonal cycles down to the circadian rhythm of our 24 hour day, even further to the nano scale choreographies within our neurostructure, expanding outward again to the precessional sweepout of Magnus Annus, the Great Year - a time scale acknowledged by poets and mystics as well as our most ancient scientists. This is a new “Powers of Ten” of organic spacetime, embodied in the superorganism that is our planetary home. It speaks to us through our cells. Our point of view is in the very center of these cycles, and our way to recapture this knowledge is to simply breathe…
We inhale the dynamism of Earth each moment of every day. And exhale the sacred song of her collective consciousness every night in the privacy of somnia. Yet we have forgotten how much we already know, how this breath entwines our states of consciousness from quantum to Universal dimensions. I have long asked myself, "Just how much have we forgotten?"
This blog is my way of remembering.