Self inside self, You are nothing but me.
Self inside self, I am only You.
What we are together will never die.
The why and how of this?
What does it matter?
Translated by Coleman Barks
Another calendar year has begun and there is the promise of new beginnings and shedding the old. Here in the northern hemisphere, nature echoes this sense of hope for release of the past and offering of renewal. The red-breasted birds referred to as robins have reappeared, and tiny buds are showing on the plants. Leaves are decaying and forming fresh soil for new growth.
Still, nature reveals that this apparent single, calendar moment of transition is actually a concentrated glimpse of the paradox of life itself. The first day of a year appears isolated and separate from others. My perspective is that the first day of the calendar is like a seed – it simultaneously holds the fullness of the past and the potency of the future.
Yet, like seeds, day one is infinitely connected. No day or seed exists without the presence of others that have come before, or without the possibility of those yet to come. They both rely on the timeless pulsebeat of yielding and becoming –night into day and day into night. They both offer subtle reminders that a seemingly single entity is possibly a composite of all that has ever been and ever will be. As such, everyone, everything and every moment is sacred.
So, with this shift into an apparent new beginning, I’ve been appreciating seeds as sacred gifts filled with divine messages. In just the last few days, I’ve found seeds everywhere – on busy urban streets, along waterways, among the roots of old-growth trees and on remote trails. They have been still, resting where they landed, quietly portraying life’s humble truths. I feel there is much to learn from the seeds, and hope you will join me.
This practice supports awareness of your transitions.
- Find a place where you can sit quietly.
- Before taking a seat, clear the immediate area of any potential distractions, e.g., watches and other electronic devices.
- Then, gently shake out your limbs, inviting a release of any unneeded tension or holdings in your body. Take your time. If you’ve had a stressful day, you might wish to jog in place or walk around a bit to help your body transition into sitting quietly for a few minutes.
- Seated, take four to five quick exhales through your nostrils. Follow this with a gentle inhalation. Repeat this two more times.
- Then, gently rest your hands on your belly. Invite an awareness of a slight expansion of your belly and lower torso as the breath comes into your body on an inhalation, and the slight contraction of the same are on an exhalation.
- Once you feel you have some awareness of the movement associated with your breath coming in and receding, feel free to move your hands to your lap, thighs or any other comfortable position. Invite a sense of softness in your facial muscles, neck and upper torso.
- Quietly and gently inhale through your nostrils. (Try to maintain the soft expansion of your belly and lower torso as you inhale.) Invite your inhale to be smooth and even. As you do this, quietly say to yourself, “Inhaling.”
- Pause slightly at the end of your inhalation.
- Then, quietly and gently exhale through your nostrils. (Try to maintain the soft contraction of your belly and lower torso as you exhale.). Invite your exhale to be smooth and even. As you do this, quietly say to yourself, “Exhaling.”
- Pause slightly at the end of your exhalation.
- Continue this breath rhythm for six to twelve breaths. Then, slowly allow your breath to return to a more natural rhythm.
- Sitting quietly, silently appreciate your breath as part of the timeless pulsebeat of yielding and becoming.
This poem appears in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 89, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library. The drawings are one’s I made of seeds and other gifts from the trees in Kona, HI. H E A R T H is posted each new and full moon on katevogt.com. KateVogt©2023.