Loving Nature

I went everywhere with longing

in my eyes, until here

in my own house

I felt truth

filling my sight.

Lalla

 

Looking out the plane’s window, I was mesmerized by curvy pathways of the waters and the undulating contours of the earth.  Every bend in a river and every rise in the land seemed like individual brushstrokes shaping an unending scene of existence itself.

There was something peaceful about having a birds-eye-view of our planet earth. Within the landscape below, nearly nine million species were coming and going. Flowers were blooming, butterflies were coming out, and petals and wings were falling.  Viewed from above, it looked whole and serenely beautiful, free of all harm.

This flight experience reminded me that the mind is like the sky. When it is cloud-free, the view and perspective are clear.   But, most days there are clouds covering all or part of the sky. The cloudier it is, the less clear the view and the more likely we are to focus on the play of the clouds and forget the expansive, serene clarity that is always there.

It takes effort not to cloud the mind or feed its tendency of self-absorption. With a constant stream of impressions coming in from commercial entities and our social communities, our minds have come to long for continual stimulation. When we try to interrupt the techno-cravings, we look for a predictable engagement of time and environment, e.g., by choosing an online meditation, mindfulness or yoga tool.

Sages and other wise beings, such as the 14th century saint Lalla, speak of our essence as unbounded love and joy. When the mind is clear, it is luminous and filled with divine laughter.   Some texts refer to this clear mind as the “heart” mind. Its calming presence allows the everyday mind to recognize its impermanence and the ever-fluctuating nature of worldly reality.   This perennial wisdom inspires me to become aware of, and reduce, the clutter of my mind and home. I hope you will join me.

Practice

This short practice can be at anytime during the day. it is designed to support letting go of unneeded thoughts and welcoming peace and serenity.  I recommend that you read through the practice before beginning.

  • Prepare
    • Turn all electronic devices to airplane mode. If you are wearing a watch and/or any other wrist items, remove it/them.   Ideally, place these items in another room.
    • Seated, allow your hands to relax with backs of the hands resting on the thighs. Relax the center of your palms and the fingers. If you are seated in a chair, rest both of your feet on the floor.
    • Eyes closed or open with a soft gaze, gently bring your attention to the movement of the breath. Without strain, slowly exhale. Slowly inhale.
    • Release any unneeded tension along your temples, forehead, and rest of face.
  • Practice
    • Lift the hands away from the thighs. Bend the elbows so that the forearms are somewhat parallel to the floor. Turn your palms downward and then let your hands relax. (Fingers dangling downward.)
    • Rotate the forearms so that your hands slowly rotate inward toward one another, then upward toward the heart, and then outward. Keep a relaxed feeling in your hands.
    • Allow the gesture to slowly angle outward. Elbows are softly bent and palms relaxed and upward.
    • With your eyes open or closed, pause for a minute or so.  Soft, gentle breaths.
    • Invite a feeling of simultaneously letting go and receptivity during the gesture and pause.
      • If it feels comfortable, repeat silently, “I welcome eternal truth, light, and love” during the pause.
  • Transition
    • Relax the backs of your hands onto the thighs. Allow the mind to follow the inhales and exhales for four to five minutes. Then, transition back into your day.

 

This poem is translated by Coleman Barks and reprinted with permission in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems , page 24, Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt (editors), New World Library (publisher).  The photograph is by Jennifer Vogt-Crockett.  HEARTH reflections are published each new and full moon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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