Earth

Surprised by all that love is

I remain alert in stillness.

František Halas

 

Having grown up on a farm, I maintain a childlike amazement of the natural world. Within the period of an hour, an overcast sky clears, baring a blue expanse. A fawn, still with spots on its back, wanders across the hillside near the kitchen window. The mother trails behind. A heart-shaped stone appears on a pathway that I have traversed dozens of times.

Awe feels like a natural state of being. I close my eyes and it is there. I open my eyes and the world appears as a composite of whirling miracles sustaining the whole.   If my amazement drops away, a hearty clover sprouting through a sidewalk crack pulls it back. Or, it might get pulled back the sight of dirt and wriggling worms in a place that just a few weeks prior was a pile of dried leaves. That soil will nourish plants that will in turn nourish me.

I recognize the turmoil, cynicism, and imbalances of our times, yet my rural upbringing instilled in me that reverence is fundamental to life.   Microbes mattered, as did insects and seeds, and the community gatherings for worship and helping one another when needed. There was an understanding that no matter how advanced humans become with our inventions, we are part of a living web. Like all mammals, our bodies still need air, food, water, and face-to-face connections between our selves and environments.

The tuffs of grass, billowing rain clouds, and the splendor of sunsets are persistent in trying to get our attention. Like loving friends, they invite us to slow down, put the phone aside, and notice them. If we are quiet enough, perhaps we’ll rest in awareness that they are always with us, supporting us.   Perhaps when we stop and commune with Mother Nature long enough, we’ll be surprised to find a neglected gem in ourselves – such as, kindness, tolerance, humility and love.

Wise poets, saints, and sages like Halas remind us that enlightenment is found within the everyday. When we can see that the wind does not cling, the sun freely offers light without expectation, and the dishes sing when we handle them with care, we know all that love is. This wisdom becomes more challenging to follow, as our mindscapes become the new commercial frontier.  Yet, I choose to claim my own mind territory and fill it with raw wonder until there is only alert, stillness. This is a stillness that is impervious to outer distractions but deeply caring for our collective well-being. I hope you will join me.

 

Practice

This is a meditative offering.   Choose a time and place – indoors or outdoors – with minimal distractions.  

  • Prepare –  Sit comfortably on an even, firm surface. Rest the back of your hands on your thighs. Release tension around your temples and the corners of your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Practice –
    • Imagine yourself as a flowering plant.
      • Relax your hips toward the earth. Lengthen your spine upward as though it were a stem. Like leaves, allow your shoulders to gracefully release away from the neck like leaves.
    • Breathe with ease for 7 to 10 breaths.
      • On inhale: Imagine your body absorbing the light of the sun.
      • On exhale: Imagine that the sunlight penetrates more and more deeply into your core.   Let it spark a feeling of ever-present love.
    • Breathe gently and freely another 7 to 10 breaths.
      • On inhale: Invite the glow from your heart to slowly extend to the inner surface of your body.
      • On exhale: Relax and allow the rays to recede back into your heart center. Release any remaining tension around your chest, abdomen, throat, and back of the skull as though clearing space for your inner light to shine more brightly.
    • Sit quietly for several minutes. In this stillness, you are a flowering plant.
  • Transition back into your day –
    • Place the palms together in front of your heart and gently bow your head.
    • Breathe smoothly and evenly for a few breaths. Release the backs of your hands back onto your thighs and slowly lift your head.
    • Gently open your eyes to return to the garden of life.

 

This is a poem excerpt from Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems, page 28, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt, and published by New World Library. The practice was a “flowering light” meditation, which I contributed to the Yoga Journal in 2010.

 

 

 

 

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