Shinrinyoku to Yugen
by Connie Borden
Shintaido and nature; Nature and Shintaido – always have been linked. I was reminded of this during our recent Shintaido of America Podcast discussion when the topic of Shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) was discussed. As I reflected more on nature, the teachings of nature on the cycle of life and on giving meaning to life. I realized this connection from the soil to the sky can result in moments of Yugen (a deepening of emotional awareness triggered by awareness of the universe).
One moment of such awareness was in New England in the fall of 1986 at Spring Hill. Annelie Wilde wrote about this in Body Dialogue:
During Friday evening keiko we were treated to a magnificent display of stars. As we studied variations of mochikai, someone turned off the surrounding lights. Lacking competition from earthbound illumination, the stars seemed to multiply and move closer to the earth to fill our hearts and souls with wonder and reverence. lto-sensei asked Faith Ingulsrud read to us from Psalms 19:1
“The heavens declare the glory of God, The vault of heaven proclaims his handiwork; Day discourses of it to day, night to night hands on the knowledge. No utterance at all, no speech, No sound that anyone can hear; Yet their voice goes out through all the earth, And their message to the ends of the world.”
To prepare us for hoshiotoshi or knocking down stars, he told us about the Italian painter Fontana, who painted a canvas all gold and then cut through the canvas to reach the other side. Our objective was to scratch out a mere 1000 stars. There were so many stars in the heavens that night that even if we had each succeeded in our task, none would have been missed.
Perhaps I have stirred some memories for you – at the beach, on a mountain top, in the wilds of national parks or green space in the inner city. I think now of how alive the soil was and is beneath our feet with each handful of soil teaming with life. What moments are stirred for you?
Join us in the monthly Shintaido of America Podcast discussions. Our next meeting is 27 June 2023 at 11am Pacific, 2pm Eastern, 7pm UK and 8pm Europe. Contact Connie at firstname.lastname@example.org for the ZOOM link.
Here is what Joni Mitchell sang about Woodstock:
“We are stardust,
we are golden,
we are billion-year-old carbon”