Where we live
Is no place to lose your wings,
So love, love,

Translated by Daniel Ladinsky

The hill was steep.  Experiencing the intensity of walking up its slope, I felt my mind beginning to create storylines about cozy places with a steaming cup of tea in the company of friends.  My mind seemed to be unhappy with my reining those thoughts in with a concurrent focus on process of walking – the earthly terrain beneath my feet, the clear sky above, and the pace of my breath and stride.   Just before mind began to fully rebel against being restricted, a butterfly captivated its attention.

It was solo monarch floating gracefully before my eyes.  Like a skilled conductor, the butterfly drew my mind into sync with the rest of my body and breath.  The rhythmic movement of the butterfly’s wings set the tempo.  Up and down, with the wings, my breath, and feet – all motion was fluidly measured and harmonious.  Each flutter of the wings was a sweet kiss of the air, offering a cue to move effortlessly and lightly touch the air and ground with my breath and footsteps.

I am grateful to the butterfly for quietly orchestrating this beautiful synchronicity.  Literally, I felt a returning home – not only to a sense of timeless belonging to this rich and diverse earthly community, but the home where I was raised.  My childhood memories are imprinted with a similar awareness. Having grown up on a farm, I continually experienced the enduring wholeness of life.  Every insect, cloud, seed, and clod of dirt was as much my family as my sister, parents, and grandparents.

As the poet Hafiz offers, love is the secret essence holding the world and nourishing the world.   Butterflies are exquisite reminders to attune our minds and movements to love.  With about a quarter million different forms of butterflies around the world, they have been revered as messengers to the soul of hope, love, joy, and endless peace.  They are reminders of the struggles and transformative process of life. They encourage us to lighten up, take only what we truly need, and lovingly remember to harmonize our thoughts, breath, and actions with all of life – human and non-human.  So love, love, love.

This simple practice brings awareness of the rhythmic nature of your breath. Like the emergence of wings of a butterfly, first there is a symbolic release and then gentle flight.

Prepare –

  • Set the intention to go offline for five to ten minutes. Clear your environment of digital and audio distractions, e.g., turn your digital gadgets to airplane mode, remove your wrist watch.
  • Find a comfortable seated position – either on the floor or in a chair – and gently settle into the earthly support beneath you. Your eyes can be closed or open with a soft gaze.
  • Allow the backs of your hands to rest on your thighs.
  • Wrap the fingers of your right hand around your right thumb.
  • While continuing to hold the right thumb, do the same with the left hand. (If you are left handed, begin with the left and then add the right hand.)
  • Lovingly hold both thumbs and breath for a few breaths.

Practice –

  • Move your thumb and individual fingers in sync with the breath:
    • Inhale –
      • Gently open your palms, thumbs, and fingers to relax into a soft and open hand.
        • Return to this hand position with each subsequent inhalation.
    • Exhale –
      • Three exhales for each finger, lightly touch the tip of your thumb (simultaneously on both hands).
        • With the tip of your index finger.
        • With the tip of your middle finger;
        • With the tip of your ring finger; and,
        • With the tip of your little finger.
  • Move your entire hand in sync with your breath:
    • Smooth Inhale and Exhale – 
      • With minimal effort, allow your entire hand to gently open with each inhale and relax inward with each exhale.
        • Imagine that your inhales flutter outward from the deepest core of your heart to every cell in your torso, limbs, digits & skull.   Imagine that your exhales quietly settle back into your heart center.
        • Continue for as long as is comfortable.

Transition back into your day –

  • Stretch through your palms. Open your eyes if they were closed.  Stretch out through your arms. Return to your day.


This poem is from Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt, page 4 , and published by New World Library. The photo is by Joshua J. Cotton on Unsplash.  The practice is from Our Inherited Wisdom:  54 Inspirations from Nature and Poetry, by Kate Vogt, page 53-54, available through Bookshop, or order through your local independent bookstore.   HEARTH is posted each new and full moon.  KateVogt©2022.

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