O how big is my beloved, More than all the ones I know.
O how lively does my heart beat, When I only see him glow.
Love can never be forced; Treat it fondly, it will grow!
It is stormy outside. Conversations in the coffee shops and stores have shifted to exchanges about the local weather rather than national news. People almost seem relieved that the turn in the weather has given them a chance to connect with one another over age-old topics, such as winds and moisture.
Dramatic weather offers a raw reminder that life is unpredictable. Change is the norm. Yet, we can easily forget this, especially if our lives are comfortable with a roof over our heads, regular meals, friends and family nearby, and we have our other basic needs met. The whirls in the weather reflect those in the rest of our lives — the socio-economic landscape, relationships, and the inner turnings in our mind.
The enigma of being human is that we live in and are part of the ever-changing cycles of the universe; yet we expect and yearn for constancy. The earth, atmosphere, and sky nourish and hold us. Even though we have a dynamic co-existence with the air, sunlight, rainfall, soil, plants and other living beings, our impulse is toward dominance, control, and separateness.
From the earliest times, prophets and elders considered our earthly reality as a garden. The metaphor of a garden evokes the multi-layered and multi-purpose richness of life. When we embrace life as a garden, we become aware that the outer storms reflect those problems and fears that, like weeds, cause disruptions. Instead of nourishing the weeds by dwelling on the disruptions, we fondly plant and cultivate seeds of peacefulness and clarity. By being a responsible and caring gardeners, our hearts flourish in compassion, kindness, and love.
A European medieval root of the word “garden” is an enclosed space. In older languages, a garden is a hidden place that is something more than an ordinary garden, i.e., a place for prayer or contemplation. Anyone who loves gardens can confirm that there is something transformative about being in a garden. The qualities of the plants, rocks, pathways, and waters re-awaken our sense that we not only live in a garden, but a garden lives within the depths of our being. Both are representative of divine Love that transcends all boundaries. And, as this anonymous poet shares when we treat love fondly, it will grow.
Within the constant stormy changes, I intend to make take more time cultivating the inner garden. That means being an active gardener of my own mind. That includes the disciplines of quietude and contemplation, awareness of not consuming more than I need, and avoiding clutter of the mind with random commercial inputs. I hope you will join me.
This practice helps bring awareness to our connection to the earth.
- Preparation –
- Find a comfortable seat.
- Relax the backs of both hands onto your thighs.
- Close your eyes and relax your face, hips and feet.
- Practice –
- Take 7 to 10 calm, slow, calming breaths.
- As you do, imagine that you can grow roots into the earth beneath you. At the same time lengthen your spine upward and balance your head lightly atop it.
- Imagine the roots getting stronger as you release tension across your shoulders and chest.
- Take another 7 to 10 smooth breaths.
- Inhaling, visualize the earth’s nutrients and minerals in your bones.
- Exhaling, release the muscles away from the bones, all the way from head to toe. Feel yourself supported by the earth.
- Notice if you are holding yourself up away from that support; and consciously let go. Sit quietly for several minutes.
- Allow any thoughts or feelings to be absorbed into the ground. Surrender yourself in the way a plant does. All that you need, you have.
- Take 7 to 10 calm, slow, calming breaths.
- Transition back into your day –
- Sit for 2-3 minutes, gently draw your attention back to your breath.
- Bring your palms together in front of your heart a bow your head. After a few moments, release the backs of your hands onto your thighs. Slowly lift your head up and gently open your eyes.
- Stand up, knowing that you are fully supported by the earth beneath you.
This poem is from Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library. It appears on page 27. HEARTH is written and released by Kate Vogt each new and full moon. ©KateVogt2018