He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy.
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in Eternity’s sun rise.
As the sun appeared on the horizon, the darkness of the night began to slip away. The aroma of moist soil wafted through the open window, signaling the rain had ceased. It was a serene, beautiful, and graceful transition from night to day.
I could not help but revel in joy. If I were a bird, I would have swept across the sky singing a refrain of praise. I would alight on a tree and let it caress my feet with one of its of skyward branches. Then, I would stretch my wings as if to tickle the space that holds the tree and all the other beings as our earthly home hurtles around its axis – at the equator, the earth rotates at about a thousand miles per hour.
From the winged perspective, everything is an expression of joy. No one can own it, yet it is a secret ingredient of life. The closest we can come to know joy is within each breath. Like wings, the breath rises and falls, gives and takes, receives and offers, and seamlessly floats through the air. If we are upset, clingy, fearful, or greedy, the breath is stressed almost as though its wings are broken. If we are genuinely free, the breath soars.
As an embodied being, I am in awe of how Nature consistently wakes us up each day. Like a mother, she nudges us to see the eternal Absolute represented by the sun. She inspires us with the beauty of flowers, mountains, and hillsides. She possesses all the jewels – gems, ores, water, air, etc. – yet shares them freely. She nourishes us even though we ignore her and try to conquer her with our own inventions. And, as Blake reminds us, within each moment there is a “sun” “rise:” the constancy of the sun, and the continual movement of the earth that reveals – or lets us see the rise of – the sun each day. The horizon lets us enter into the forever and ever.
With each sunrise, I hope to remember to cherish the precious gift of being a living, breathing being and an integral part of the living, breathing earth. I will endeavor to remember as my father always reminded me, that “we are given breath when we come into this world and release it when we leave.” I hope you will join me.
This is an easy exploration of the relationship between our attitudes and activities with the breath. It brings awareness to the breath as our vehicle for joy. This can be done seated or standing.
- Prepare –
- Simply notice your breath. Notice the movement in the ribs, shoulders, arms, and torso associated with your breath. Notice the rhythm of your breath. No judgment, just notice.
- Practice –
- Between each of the following practices, take a moment to stretch out through your hands and arms. Take four to five deep breaths. Then, shake out through your arms and smile.
- Hold each for about 3 seconds. Then release.
- Scrunch up your face tightly. Notice your breath.
- Glare as though looking at your phone or a screen. Notice your breath.
- Frown as though concentrating deeply. Notice your breath.
- Slump your shoulders and let your head hang forward. Notice your breath.
- Make tight fists and squeeze all the muscles in your arms. Notice your breath.
- Observe something beautiful around you, such as a flower. Notice your breath.
- If you have a view of nature, rest your eyes on a tree or another part of nature. Notice your breath.
- Smile, as though smiling from your heart. Notice your breath.
- Touch your fingers lightly to your lips, kiss your fingers, and then release the kiss into the air by taking your hands outward and upward toward the sky. Notice your breath.
- Release any unneeded tension in your shoulders and hands. Notice your breath.
- Transition –
- Take a few moments to sit quietly with your eyes closed or open (in a soft gaze). Let the hands rest comfortably in your lap.
- As you are ready, transition back into your day.
This poem is from Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 79, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt, and published by New World Library.