Way back when I was a little boy and hair grew on my (now bald) head, there was a lyrebird that lived in the thick forests just to the east of our tiny hamlet and this bird mimicked the sound of the sawmill. It was difficult—even impossible—to be sure if the sound was a lyrebird or the huge saw eating the massive eucalyptus trees that covered our mountains; that is, unless the sound happened on a Sunday. If it was Sunday, then we knew it was the lyrebird—simply because the mill didn’t operate on Sunday. The lyrebird—Boolidt’boolidtba—is my totem.
Back then in the 1950s in rural Australia, life was tough for Aboriginal people. The community didn’t want us in their town—even living on the town’s furthest fringes as we did. There were quite a few other Aboriginal people in the district—mostly relatives—but they lived an hour or so’s walk away through thick bush, so life for Mum must have been very lonely.
One day an Indian man and his small family arrived in the little hamlet, and immediately he set up a yoga school. Here was a person with skin roughly the same colour as Mum’s, and he was offering human contact for sixpence a week for two yoga sessions. Mum juggled the budget into a shilling surplus, coaxed me to go with her, and we headed off down to the Progress Hall for our introduction to Hatha Yoga. About ten years later my interest began to wain in preference to girls, the cinema, and my responsibilities to my own tribal community; though I continued yoga at home every day as a part of my way of living.
That foundation of yoga has been one of the greatest blessings I have experienced in life.
However yoga wasn’t the only form of meditation I used as a child or young man. Meditation had been a part of my life from when I was a tiny baby and many different forms were practiced daily. Meditations have always been a part of life in traditional Aboriginal culture.
Meditation comes in many forms; too many people see it only as sitting cross-legged, eyes closed and off in never-never land. But it is more than this; flying a kite can be meditation. Walking in the bush; listening to Boolidt’boolidtba; lying in those extra few minutes on a Sunday morning (before the neighbour starts his lawn-mower); doing yoga: all these things and so much more are meditation, and the more different sorts of meditation you have up your sleeve, the more you are likely to meditate. Why? Simply because those meditative things that you can do are things you generally like doing.
I meditate several times a day because my repertoire of meditations is quite vast. My favourite is fly-fishing, then comes listening to bird-song or children laughing and playing, then comes reciting the line of my ancestors or one of the old poems or stories, then comes ... and somewhere in this long list (up nearish the top) is yoga. I used to do Tai-Chi (I learnt many different forms) but I try not to bring something that was born of violence (a martial art) into my place of peace (that’s just me—it might work very well for you).
Why mention all this? Well, it is just to encourage you to broaden your meditative practices and to meditate more often. And to help those of you with a narrow view of what meditation is, to see that pretty much anything that promotes peace of mind, distraction of your mind from the dilemma of the 21st century hustle and bustle, and alters your time perception is meditation. Go fly a kite; listen to a lyrebird sing you a story about the world around it; sit in a mottle patch of winter sunshine and get a little Vitamin D; do some yoga; or listen to Mozart’s piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major “Elvira Madigan”: whatever switches you off for a while. The downtime will do you the world of good.
You know, it is funny really but that old lyrebird that played at being a sawmill gave everyone a minute or two of meditation every time he sung up the saw. We would all go off to the sound and contemplate for a minute or so as to whether it was men at work cutting trees, or just our happy Boolidt’boolidtba.
Kiearr’wo—everything is joyous and sweet (especially when you meditate).
IMAGE – MAP OVER NHUNGGAL COUNTRY
The image published with this article is of Nhunggal Country in NW New South Wales.
The land of the Nhunggabarra people was full of symbolic images reminding them about creation, immortality, sacred law and, most significantly, their role within the cosmic process itself. In a very deep sense, the land was a meaningful part of the people just as the people gave symbolic meaning to the land. With story, song and dance they accessed the spiritual power contained in the landscape.
The rivers are from top to bottom, Narran river (which feeds the blue Narran Lake), Bokhara, Birrie and Culgoa rivers. North is left.
(printed with permission from Treading Lightly-the hidden wisdom of the wolrd’s oldest people, by Tex Skuthorpe and Karl-Erik Sveiby, Allen & Unwin 2006.)
This article is written by Kakkib li’Dthia Warrawee’a and it appeared in Issue 21 of The Art of Healing.
Kakkib li’Dthia Warrawee’a is a Doctor of Ya-idt’midtung Medicine and Spiritual Teacher/Philosopher.