Minding the Mountain
I awoke this morning with the phrase “Mind the Mountain” humming in my pre-dawn alpha-state. I’m contemplating the deeper significance of this dream message.
The image of Mountain offers a tangible and powerful touchstone in which to anchor the duality of keeping still with movement. I live in the shadow of Mt. Tamalpais. It is there— rain or fog, sun or moonlight— momentous, still, yet teeming with life force. I find this stable, magnificent presence extremely grounding. In geometric or symbolic imagery the SQUARE can represent this stabilizing essence of Mountain, and can be used to energize mandala drawings to invoke a strong foundation or starting point.
The ancient I Ching or Book of Changes addresses this polarity in the hexagram #52 – Keeping Still Mountain.
Mountains standing close together:
The image of Keeping Still.
Thus the superior man
Does not permit his thoughts
To go beyond his situation.
“True quiet means keeping still when the time has come to keep still, and going forward when the time has come to go forward. In this way rest and movement are in agreement with the demands of the time, and thus there is light in life.”
In early December, I attended the exhibition Victorious Ones: Jain Images of Perfection, at the Rubin Museum. Jainism is one of India’s three classical religions, the others being Buddhism and Hinduism. The Jains are non-violent and revere all forms of life as a devotional practice. Their art and sculpture frequently depict figures standing in the simple “Mountain Pose” or in Sanskrit “Tadasana” tada = Mountain.
This Mountain stance is the foundation for all standing and balancing poses in yogic practices. Why practice standing? We stand everyday! It may seem obvious. We stand in line, we stand at the kitchen counter, and metaphorically, we stand up for our ideas…
But this awakened standing—this Keeping Still Mountain —is rich with potential. It is both giving and receiving, release and support, inhale and exhale.
Like the mountain, can you be still and active at the same time?
Take a deep breath and practice Mountain Pose next time you are in your studio, or waiting at the DMV.
Find your S T E A D F A S T, balanced core.
Feel your S T R O N G legs
energy though the C R O W N of your head
your lifted H E A R T
H A N D S reaching gently toward the earth
May you quietly and actively S U P P O R T all creative endeavors
with G R A C E
into the new year!