Paths of Desire (part 22)

Though I had already been studying with MD off and on for several years, the way I see it, the official start to our community life began early in the summer of 1993 when four of the original members camped for several days on the rocky cliffs at Salt Point on the northern California coast. The location was remote enough, several hours up Highway 1 from San Francisco, that we didn’t have any other visitors during our time there; yet accessible enough, only a few hundred yards off the highway, that we could easily pack our sleeping and cooking gear down to the rocks from our car. Rather than sheer cliffs, this location had a series of large rocky terraces which gradually stepped down to the water, so it was quite safe and afforded wonderful views of the water from many vantage points and heights, some very near the ocean waves and others perched high above.

One afternoon, I sat on the rocks looking out to sea. The sun was high and bright and the ocean swells reflected brilliantly its light. The smell and the taste of the salt air filled my nostrils and lungs and I felt a great peace and calm come over me. As I watched the rising and falling of the ocean I noticed my own breath had begun to follow the same rhythm and pattern. Without forcing, but just observing, I felt myself inhale and my lungs expand as the ocean surged, and as I exhaled and my lungs contracted I watched the waves relax and subside. Over and over I observed the synchronicity between my own breath and the wave’s motion. At some point I no longer felt that I was watching the waves, but instead that they were moving within me; the reflection of the sun’s rays dancing on the surface of the water as it surged within my own chest, the ocean rolling through my torso, my own diaphragm responding to that same force which controls the tides.

This sensation startled me, and frightened me a little, so I turned away from the sea to regain my sense of normalcy. Where did I go just then? In a way I had lost myself; where do I stop, and where does the world begin; what are my limits, if not my physical body? I considered these things for a moment, and then lamented that I had turned away and broken my connection. I was unable to recreate the experience again, so I just watched the surf after that and enjoyed another beautiful day which transformed into another beautiful night. Each of the four of us found a private place among the terraces and rocky grottos to sleep at night. There is nothing quite so soothing and relaxing as sleeping under the stars with a gentle ocean breeze cooling your face as you snuggle down into the warmth of your sleeping bag, while in the distance the ocean hums a strong but gentle lullaby.

(to be continued)


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