July 30, 2022, Bellemont, AZ- The toddler was fascinated with the stenciled bear on my hand drum. She periodically got to strike the drum with its stick, before handing it back to me and watching how I was keeping rhythm, during a series of chants.
Most of the chants were devotional in nature, including one that many people who are familiar with Dineh culture would recognize: “I Walk In Beauty”. Two Dineh elders who live in Flagstaff, about 20 miles from here, came to spend time with us this evening, as their daughter and grandchildren were among the camp attendees. The husband is a Medicine Man (He dislikes the term “Shaman”), and spoke of the holistic nature of healing that is his concern, in his practice. The wife is also well-versed in holistic healing, and spoke of the nature of Dineh philosophy and spiritual practice. She stressed the value of maintaining balance and of unity with all peoples.
In the traditional way, one is told to begin the day, turning to each of the four main directions, breathing deeply and offering thanks to the Creator and asking blessings upon the people in each direction. I make special sense to focus on one’s breath. At the very least, I notice that my heart rate is within healthy range, when I take 3-10 slow, deep breaths each morning, This works well, no matter the altitude at which I find myself. (Here, it is 7000 ft. above sea level, as opposed to 5000 ft., in Prescott or 200 feet in my childhood home of Saugus, MA.).
So, mindfulness and breathing go hand in hand, in keeping a person focused and purposeful.