On the archer’s connection

I feel the ground under the soles of my feet, solid and – at my scale of time – permanent. I lift my gaze slowly, the crown of my head rising up, imperceptably to others, obviously to me. My spine straightens as the vertibrae align and I stand taller, straighter, stronger. My eyes remain unfocused, attention within, breath slipping subtly out of my nose as if in the dead of night. Muscles as relaxed as can be. My out-breath pauses like a wave pulled out to sea with the inevitability of what is to follow. In that momentary lull I settle the grip into the palm of my left hand as I take a little tension of the bowstring in the fingers of my right. 

The pause ends as a trigger for my eyes to lift and focus on the golden centre of the target. My thinking mind remains aborbed in the slow rhythm of my in-breath. I feel it flow softly into my lungs as infront of me my hands lift in unison, slowly, raising the bowsight to the target, easing as they become level with my eyes, maintaining the tension of the bowstring. 

Slowly, my breath starts to leave my body and as it does so my hands pull apart, drawing back and down as the string contacts my face. Watching, it now looks static; from within, time is different. Like a glacier the movement never stops. My breath continues to slowly escape, relaxing my body, enforcing my back muscles as they hold the potential of the bow’s energy. From inside I am looking down a dark tunnel with a golden chink of light at its end; aware of the feeling of simultaneous tension and relaxation that envelopes my body as my exhale continues; my attention comes up from my soles and beams towards the gold as I am absorbed in that wonderful paradox… and then there is no more breath to go, and… 

In that perfect moment of maximum tension and maximum relaxtion, I am lost to myself, and yet I have found myself… in that wonderful place of total togetherness and complete focus anything is possible. Perhaps I start to find my place, to come home, to connect, not just to me but to the ground I am standing on, the universe I am alive in… wrapped in the moment, absorbed by it, entralled in its majesty… 

The arrow reaches its zenith, straight, parabolic, certain… this I know, though I don’t see it; I feel it as if it is still a part of me, sense its inevitable trajectory. I just know. Just as the accumulated weight of snow causes it to finally slide off a leaf so the bow string finally fell from my fingers, a calm surprise, both expected and unexpected. My eyes, still on the gold at the end of the tunnel, don’t judge; focused, they record the landing of the arrow, a black dot vibrating back from the centre. 

I’m absorbed in that liminal space before my breath returns, out but not yet in, feeling the reverberation of the tension that has just fallen from my body, embracing that magical moment. Now it slowly returns. My lungs fill again as I soften my gaze, lower my head and return my hands to rest. I still feel that arrow’s flight, the perfection of the moment, the absorbtion in all that is and all that could be. 

Breathing out, my muscles relax. 

Breathing in, I begin again. A ritual to be perfected, a dance to enjoy. I lift my gaze slowly… 

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