Listen, if you can stand to.Rumi
Union with the Friend means not being who you’ve been,
being instead silence: A place: A view
where language is inside Seeing.
This year of 2020 continues to prod me to an increased awareness of the microscopic aspects of life. It truly feels like the last few months have been a constant visual exam, searching through layers of blurred vision for 2020 acuity. While it isn’t new to me to revisit hidden assumptions and sift through the strata of skewed perceptions, the avalanche of deaths and change spurs a recalibration of and an openness to a renewed view.
In the midst this age of human reckoning, I anchor myself in the remembrance that the planet and the rest of nature has been around longer than our species. While we are endowed with great mental capacities, we are prone to forget the grace of our existence. Yet, nature is always there with endless reminders of our earthly interconnectedness with all beings, the deeper essence of life, and transformative qualities such as generosity, kindness, collaboration, and equanimity.
I find that nature consistently presents insights far beyond those in volumes of books or opinions. For example, the sun doesn’t favor one group of people, or one part of the planet, over the other. It just shines, offering light, warmth, and renewal to all. Without the sun the plants wouldn’t grow, and without the plants, animals and humans wouldn’t have food. First people as well as ancient knowledge preserve this simple but profound wisdom: that all life is a living community. Yet in the mainstream, this view is considered irrelevant and economically unproductive.
Small things make a difference, primarily in our thought patterns and consumptive behaviors and their influence on social justice, but also in recognizing and appreciating our inherent reliance on other species. Bees, for example, are intricately connected to our existence. As pollinators, they are important to the proliferation of crops of many of our favorite fruits and berries, as well as of vegetables. They also support the perpetuation of the beauty of flowers that have their own role within the larger ecosystem, in addition to uplifting human spirits. And, of course, bees produce honey and wax, which have been used by humans since the earliest times for nourishment, art, light and more.
For our current times, bees offer several timely reminders. They harmoniously live and work as a community that creates abundance. They accomplish the seemingly impossible in that they carry multiples of their weight – some say up to 300 times their weight. Even though aerodynamically they aren’t naturally designed to fly, they fly. They move from one plant to another as living examples of the interconnectedness of all living things, including humans. Individual bees have the ability to focus, yet take time for rest and renewal.
My personal experience is that nature is a safe place for us to practice empathy, e.g., just sitting and observing without inner labeling and dialog, and accepting the clarity and joy of seeing anew. We can do the same when we listen to one another and to our own thoughts and inner heartbeat. Nature not only supports us biologically, but gives us the courage to see and face the inhumane inequities within our own species, and then proactively shapes new paradigms for the respect and wellbeing of all. I will continue to rely on nature for renewed perspective, and hope you will join me.
This short practice acknowledges the sound of the bees.
- Please find a comfortable seated position.
- If you are seated on a bench or in a chair, rest the soles of your feet on the floor.
- Invite an awareness of the surface beneath you.
- If you are aware of the First Peoples of the land where you are, please take a moment and say their name with reverence.
- Then, in your own way, acknowledge the layers of support beneath you, e.g., the floor, those that constructed the floor, the earthly resources with the floor, and the earth and microbes beneath that.
- Allow yourself to be fully held by these hidden layers of support. Invite an openness to seeing and acknowledging those that you take for granted and regularly overlook even though they are always there supporting you.
- Still seated. Allow your hands to rest wherever they are comfortable. Your eyes may rest in a soft gaze or gently closed. As much as you can, relax the muscles across your face, including your jaw and chin.
- Vigorously rub your palms together until you feel some heat in your hands.
- Place your warmed palms over your ears.
- Breathe two to three breaths.
- Then, begin to hum in a bee-like way. Pause whenever needed. Then, continue for about a minute.
- Take one hand over your chest and the other on top. Smile slightly.
Transition back into your day –
- Allow your hands to return to wherever they are comfortable. Sit comfortably and breathe for as long as comfortable.
- When you are ready, transition back into your day.
This poem is translated by Coleman Barks and appears in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 76, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library. H E A R T H is posted each new and full moon. KateVogt©2020.