The great sea has set me in motion, set me adrift,
moving me like a weed in a river.
The sky and strong wind have moved the spirit inside me
till I am carried away trembling with joy.
The road darkened as we wound our way toward the coastline just north of San Francisco. In the minutes prior to this recent turn in the road, the surrounding hillsides had glistened as the plants basked in the midday light. But, the stand of eucalyptus trees in this section of the highway had swallowed most of the sunshine.
These large trees harken back to Australia where their fossils date back to 35 million years ago. Their journey to North America was in the late 1800s when some of the 600 species of eucalyptus were imported for timber farms. The timber project withered, but the eucalyptus remained. Today, they are as much loved and wanted for shade and windbreaks as they are an unwanted presence. For the latter, their flammable oil can serve as gasoline to wildfires. And, their fast-growing nature stifles endemic plants by blocking out sunlight and out-competing other plants for water and other nutritional resources.
I was raised to believe that weeds are part of life. They may be undesirable, but they exist and are to be removed as lovingly as seeds are sown. Weeds are adaptable, tenacious, and wild. They grow abundantly and multiply easily. Weeds are not always weeds. When plants are called “weeds,” they are growing in the wrong place and are interfering with the growth of preferred plants, such as a crop, lawn, or garden. In a different location, those “weeds” might be cultivated for beneficial qualities. For example, pigweed often is an invasive plant, but it is also cultivated as amaranth, which is a food high in protein and minerals.
The word weed normally refers to plants, but it also can refer to anything, anyone, or any being that is perceived to be troublesome or unprofitable. On a micro level, weeds can be our thoughts. Wise prophets and sages remind us that all of life is flowing and moving together. It is up to us to be attentive and care for the innermost space of our heart by nourishing it with meditation, love, and prayer. This will help neutralize the tenacious weeds of the mind, such as fears, worries, hankerings, and judgments. Once free, our heart will sing in joy like Uvavnuk, a 19th century Netsilik Eskimo woman, who was a great shaman. Her glowing joy brought delight and relief to others.
Over the next few weeks, I will listen to myself in conversations to see if I am feeding the tenacious weeds of the mind through inattentive talk. I hope you will join me.
This simple practice can be done anywhere at any time.
- Prepare –
- Find a comfortable seated position. Your eyes may be open or closed. Allow your hands to rest comfortably in your lap. If you are seated in a chair, place both feet on the floor.
- Practice –
- Inhale a smooth and even breath.
- As you inhale, silently say to yourself, “I am glowing with joy.”
- Imagine that every cell in your body is radiant joy.
- Exhale a smooth and even breath. Not forcing.
- Bask in the glow, as though you were a flower in full bloom absorbed in the light.
- Repeat for 12 breaths.
- Inhale a smooth and even breath.
- Return to your day –
- Bring your left palm over your heart. Place your right hand on top.
- Pause here for a few breaths. Invite a gentle smile on your lips, in your eyes, in your heart, and in every cell of your body.
- Transition back into your day.
This poem is from Mala of the Heart, page 70, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt, and published by New World Library. The photo credit is the Presido, San Francisco, CA. HEARTH is produced and posted by Kate Vogt each new and full moon.