Fast Wisdom™, Newsletter of Holden Healing Studio
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September 2018

By Lonner Holden


Last night, a capacity audience of over 10,000 people filled UC Berkeley’s Greek Theatre.  Sitting centered at the bottom of the outdoor amphitheater, cellist Yo-Yo Ma offered his unique program of all six of J.S. Bach’s “Suites for Unaccompanied Cello”.  Every note sang and took flight on the warm breezes of early Autumn.

For two-and-a-half hours, we were collective witnesses to the master and his instrument as they revealed melancholy, joy, regret, ambition, flirtation, exploration, wonder, anger, sorrow, indecision and a host of other emotions from the repertoire of human experience.

We listened, unanimously unified by the tone, inflection and energy of every sound, and shape of every silence. It was as if we were together transfixed by the varied song of some magical bird reflecting who we are back to us in a language of beauty and acceptance. It felt like a deep community remembrance was taking place, as we surrendered to the music and timeless narrative that was so much our own.

Millions of years ago, birds cultivated a vocal and gestural language to share their moment-to-moment awareness of safety and threat changes in the environment. Not only did birds of the same species understand each other, but other bird species as well, then mammals too. Bird Language became a language spoken by nature to its own requiring one universal skill - listening.

So our early primate ancestors had to know Bird Language. Listening and watching for it constantly made survival possible when they came out of the trees after living with birds for countless millennia. More vulnerable on the ground, the bird’s announcement of “Lion!”, “Hyena!”, “Snake!” kept our ancient ancestor’s aware. The San Bushmen of Africa, and all ancient and modern developed trackers, know the finely embroidered sounds of nature, constantly translating them into avoidance and opportunity choices as they hunt and forage. A Master Tracker is a Master Listener.

In a contemporary Bird Language workshop, we are encouraged to “Listen as far in every direction as you can, and listen into the silences as well.” Friend and colleague, Jon Young, nature mentor re-awakening Bird Language in modern society says, “As deeply as you listen outside yourself, will be as deeply as you will listen inside yourself.”

The day before the Yo-Yo Ma concert, at my younger daughter and her fiancee’s wedding engagement party, we observed Bird Language. Outside, over the slate-blue lagoon’s water, a Belted Kingfisher’s rapid and sustained, “ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch!” alarmed our presence to other wildlife. A pair of Mallard Ducks remained silent as a prowling Cooper’s Hawk watched them from a nearby fence. On a hike the next morning with the couple, a Brown Towhee flitted from tree-to-tree following us, reporting the entire time, “They’re here, now here, now here...!”

A long, long time ago, the Big Bang happened into something. It seems to me that the universe was suddenly birthed into existence by a Great Listening, giving birth to the expansion of everything. Original Silence disseminating itself through all of Creation forever.

The acorn is "listened" into the oak tree; we are "listened" into our becoming. Last year, on a solo, silent nine day sixty-five mile retreat in the remote and primitive eastern reaches of the Grand Canyon, the sustained listening in solitude in raw wilderness that amplifies silence, broke through decades of noise of my conditioning. I was transformed by a profound rebirth.

At a healing camp for families a few weeks ago at a conference center set in the natural world, I stood in shared silence with a dozen early teens in an open field under a starry sky. After only one brief minute, anxiety and fear melted into connecting trust.

We know that listening is fundamental to relationships for them to work. Not feeling heard by someone diminishes our sense of value. A psychotherapist must be a good listener for the patient’s behavioral patterns to become clear, as limiting one’s are named and liberating choices are revealed. Eastern Medicine practitioners, such as Ayurveda, Acupuncture, Jin Shin Jyutsu and QiGong, “listen” through their fingertips to their client’s vital pulses to discern what will help correct the flow of vital energy in the body.

When life and circumstance confront us with a difficult challenge or hopeful opportunity, the question, “how am I going to get through, or achieve this?” can easily invite us into a deeper listening. We become inspired listeners into problem-solving that might include prayer, research or calling a good friend to just listen to us.

Listening is essential to learning, to peace, healing our hearts and bodies, skillful speech, and to a sense of unity within ourselves, with others, nature and our sense of purpose in the world. When we are truly listening, and feeling listened to, we are awakening into an all-inclusive sense of connection with everything.

As the last note of the cello brought all of the audience into a timeless state of connection, the night felt vibrant and alive, like it was a mystical creature that held us in the wings of its warm breezes. After the applause, Yo-Yo Ma picked up a microphone and spoke to us: “You have been the most amazing audience... Thank you... We did this together.” He then offered an encore. Cellist Pablo Casal’s rendition of an old folk song - “The Song of the Birds”.

Wrapped in the wings of the night, he held our attention again. And as the last high trill slowly faded into a whisper, vanishing finally into the darkness, all that seemed to remain was love among 10,000 people. As the crest of our standing ovation, filled with celebrant gratitude, transitioned into farewell, the heart of the universe spontaneously improvised on the instrument of my own voice, speaking - “I want to kiss everybody!”

PICK OF THE MONTH: Jin Shin Jytusu Intensive, Marin, October 19 - 22, 2018
Lonner Holden:
Being a Jin Shin Jyutsu acupressure practitioner for 27 years has helped me understand the healing potential of the body and the whole person.  A published poet and backcountry guide educated from early life by the natural elements and animals of the Alaskan wilderness, and with Animal Track & Sign certification, my knowledge of dance, trail running, yoga, meditation, body awareness disciplines and indigenous nature connection practices, I bring poetry, nature mentoring and a lifetime of nature awareness to Vive!  Nature Wander™ urban and wilderness treks to enhance awareness, creativity, vitality, health and well-being.


VIVE!  Nature Wander™
Marin County: October 13

Marin Tracking Club:
Point Reyes: October 29th

Sun Valley Tracking Circle:
San Rafael: Next Meeting TBD

Into the Wild Journeys:
Grand Canyon 2018


See events on calendar »




Fast Wisdom™ is the newsletter of my Holden Healing Studio practice.  Each issue explores a theme of living  in the context of healing so you can live a happier and more vital life infused with well-being, improved health and more effective and empowered recovery.

© 2018 Lonner Holden
Fast Wisdom™
Copyright © 2018 Holden Healing Studio, All rights reserved.

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