what happens to the scale
when love


Trans. by Daniel Ladinsky


Looking out the plane’s window, I was mesmerized by the curvy pathways of the waters and the undulating contours of the earth.  Every bend in a river and every rise in the land seemed like individual brushstrokes shaping an unending scene of existence itself.

There was something peaceful about having a bird’s-eye view of our planet earth. Within the landscape below, nearly nine million species were coming and going.  Flowers were blooming, butterflies were coming out, and petals and wings were falling.  Viewed from above, it looked whole and serenely beautiful, free of all harm.

This flight experience reminded me that the mind is like the sky.  When it is cloud-free, the view and perspective are clear. But, most days there are clouds covering all or part of the sky.  The cloudier it is, the less clear the view, and the more likely we are to focus on the play of the clouds and forget the expansive, serene clarity that is always there.

It takes effort not to cloud the mind or feed its tendency to self-absorption.  With a constant stream of impressions coming in from commercial entities and our social communities, our minds have come to long for continual stimulation.  When we try to interrupt the techno-cravings, we look for a predictable engagement of time and environment, e.g., by choosing an online tool for meditation, mindfulness, or yoga.

When I step back and truly look, as the 5th century poet Kabir suggests, I realize life is not a commodity to be earned or bartered.  Instead, it is held in the eternal embrace of love.  Like the sky holding the cloud, love doesn’t grasp or cling to us.  It just patiently holds all of life.  And, as with Kabir’s imagery of the scale, love doesn’t erase the world.  Instead, it is the doorway within the world to infinite peace and calmness.

Sages and other wise beings, such as Kabir, speak of our essence as limitless love.  When the mind is clear, it is luminous and filled with boundless truth, light, and joy.

This practice supports awareness of peace and serenity.


  • Turn all electronic devices to airplane mode. If you are wearing a watch and/or any other wrist items, remove it/them. Ideally, place these items in another room.
  • Seated, allow your hands to relax, with the backs of your hands resting on your thighs. Relax the center of your palms and the fingers.
    • If you are seated in a chair, rest both of your feet on the floor.
  • Eyes closed, or open with a soft gaze, gently bring your attention to the movement of the breath. Without strain, slowly exhale. Slowly inhale.
  • Release any unneeded tension along your temples, forehead, and the rest of your face.


  • Softly bend your elbows and lift your hands and forearms away from your thighs. Allow your forearms to be somewhat parallel to the floor.
    • Rotate forearms and palms so that they are facing downward. Allow your hands to fully relax.  (Note: in this position your fingers are also fully relaxed and dangling downward.)
  • Slowly rotate your forearms so that your palms are facing upward. Keep a relaxed feeling in your hands – perhaps imagine you are holding fragile blossoms in your palms.  Invite a feeling of simultaneously letting go and receptivity.
    • Your elbows are still softly bent and away from your thighs.
    • Pause here for a few breaths.
    • If it feels comfortable, repeat silently, “I welcome eternal truth, light, and love” during the pause.
  • Repeat above movements of your hands and forearms from downward to upward for three or more times, pausing when the palms are upward with a few gentle breaths.

Transition Back into Your Day

  • Relax the backs of your hands onto your thighs. Invite your mind to follow the flow of receiving and offering the breath.
  • When you are ready transition back into your day.

This poem appears in Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems, page VII, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library.  The reflection and practice is an excerpt from my Our Inherited Wisdom: 54 Inspirations from Nature and Poetry, pages 332-337..
H E A R T H is posted each new and full moon on katevogt.com.  KateVogt©2023.

LOVE – hidden within the gray

LOVE – hidden within the gray

But love of God
hath so absorbed me
that neither love
nor hate
of any other thing
remains in my heart.



Yesterday was a foggy summer morning.  The air had taken on form and texture.  Like a freshly painted canvas, it was heavy and wet with soft, silvery hues.  A subtle radiance seeped through the thinner layers of the fog, revealing the presence of light.

While in many ways this was a typical coastal California foggy day, it felt instead almost hallowed   A tranquil, loving gentleness enveloped the hillsides and canyon of the neighborhood.   There was a near stillness, with an occasional cooing of a dove or rustle in the tree branches.

I was grateful for my diligence in observing my habit of starting each day outside.  Sometimes this is just a brief greeting of the day while feeding the birds.  The peaceful atmosphere yesterday felt like an invitation to settle in for my morning contemplation outside.

When I had looked through the bedroom window, the fog appeared to be a flat, lifeless mass of gray.  Although I am normally a very curious person, it took the force of my morning habit – rather than curiosity – to experience fog as the opposite of my mind’s predisposition toward viewing it as gloomy and foreboding.

Ironically, the fog made me aware of the invisible presence of the heavens. It was as though the gray melted the distances and differences. Instead of cloaking my view, it offered a palpable experience of a boundless heavenly embrace tenderly holding everyone and everything.  It felt like a love beyond partiality.

While I still prefer clear, sunny days, my heart has been bathed by the soft and quiet lessons of the fog. It has stirred an awareness of the grace hidden within each casual greeting, rustle in the branches, morsel of food, or comings and goings of life.  Unseen but present, there is heavenly love.

This short practice invites awareness of the path of love.

Prepare – 

  • Find a comfortable seated position.
  • Slowly lean your right ear toward your right shoulder.  Smile gently and take few easy breaths.  Then, gently bring your head to center and pause.  When you are ready repeat on your left side.
    • Note:  If you have a condition that is irritated by taking your head to the side, e.g., positional vertigo, please make adjustments that are suitable for you.
  • Pause with your head to center.  Invite a few easy breaths.

Practice – 

  • Hold your hands in front of you with your palms upward, slightly cupped.  Imagine your hands are holding a boundless amount of love.  No matter how much you receive or give away there is still an overflowing abundance of love.
  • As though washing your hair and showering, bathe yourself in this love from the crown of your head to the soles of your feet as well as the back, front, and sides of your body and head.
  • Pause with your palms cupped in front of you.  An abundance of love still pours you’re your hands.
    • Lightly touch your sensory organs – nose, mouth, eyes, skin (choose one place, e.g., skin on your face), and ears.
      • If you are uncomfortable touching your face during COVID-19, please feel free to hover your hands over these sensory organs.
  • Pause with your palms cupped in front of you, again holding endless, pure love.
    • As though the love were rose petals, gently toss them upward and out into the space around you – in front, to the right, behind, and to the left of you.
    • Repeat this one more time.  Imagine as you release love in all directions that it is traveling the distances of the world from nearby to the farthest lands and people.
  • Pause with your palms cupped in front of you, still holding boundless love.
    • Bring one hand over your heart and the other on top as though you are sealing in the awareness of eternal love within your heart.  Invite all its expression of equity, kindness, and compassion to inform your thoughts, actions, and speech.
    • Bow your head slightly.  Invite all your sensory engagements to arise from your heart through your nose, mouth, eyes, skin and ear.  Invite them to be free of grasping and clinging and free of the conditioned filters that bring harm and injustice to others.

Transition back into your day – 

  • Relax your hands into a comfortable position, e.g., turned downward onto your knees.
    • Allow your eyes to rest in a soft gaze.
    • Invite an easeful, calm breath.
  • Stay as long as you are comfortable, perhaps following the rhythm of receiving and releasing the breath with each inhalation and exhalations.
  • When you are ready, return to your day.

This post is an excerpt of a 2020 post.  The poem appears in Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems, page 105, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library.  The photo is by Alexander Kaunas.  H E A R T H is posted each new and full moon.  KateVogt©2023.

Grandmother’s Love

Grandmother’s Love

yet one word
frees us from all the weight and pain in life:
That word is love.
Trans. by Robert Fitzgerald


I noticed a small rip in the flowery blue fabric. This caused me to look a little more closely at the quilt that I had had for about three decades. It seemed impossible that wear would ever show on something that had been carefully stitched by one of my grandmothers—my mother’s mother.  She was a corseted, strong woman who had always seemed to be the essence of durability. Her patterns were as firm as the shapes on the quilt.

More than one hundred clusters of colorful hexagons span the quilt’s surface. Like many who have little money, my grandmother let nothing go to waste. She had pieced together a home by patiently and creatively using and re-using whatever was available. The quilt, which is aptly called “Grandmother’s Flower Garden,” represents how she turned scraps into a lasting story of quiet love.

The hexagonal form of the quilt pieces is the most efficient use of material.  Bees construct their honeycombs with hexagonal shapes, where each side fits together without leaving gaps. Hexagons are found elsewhere in nature, such as in DNA, snowflakes, and crystals, as well as a large cloud formation over the north pole of the planet Saturn. The heart of two interlocking triangles—one facing upward and one downward—forms a hexagon, symbolically representing eternal, divine love flowing between heaven and earth.

True love seldom, if ever, looks for recognition. It just continues to express itself in different ways throughout our lives. For the most part, it is masked over by the despair and stress of mortal existences. Yet, there are the bees diligently pollinating plants and making honeycombs, and the quilting bees of women sitting around a table, stitching together the front and back of quilts. Their efforts and work remain mostly anonymous until there is a tear, or a decline in their population. Then we notice that the loving infrastructure is more fragile that we had imagined.

For a long while, I had dismissed Sophocles’ words on love. They seemed to offer easy terminology to respond to the suffering of others. The simple phrase “frees us” shifted my perspective inward to recognize that, at the core of kindness, compassion, and service is a hexagonal garden of love. To know—and to be—that love is a lifetime of focus and work. I hope to take one small step each day by noticing a bit more of the lessons within everyday life.


This practice supports your awareness of love.


  • Find a quiet location. Silence your phone and other devices off or to airplane mode.
  • Seated, gently shake out through your arms and legs. Then, stretch out in any way that feels comfortable for you, e.g., reach one arm up and lean to the side.
  • Allow your hands to relax in your lap. Take a few smooth, easy breaths, perhaps noticing the gentle opening and releasing in your chest as you breathe.


  • Imagine yourself surrounded by six luminous orbs, each infused with love.
    • One sphere beneath you, one above you, one around each shoulder, and one around each hip. (This is like a circle of love around you.)
    • With your hands resting in a comfortable position, e.g., on your lap, take six breaths – Inhaling, invite each orb to slowly grow outward until it slightly overlaps with the adjoining sphere.  Exhaling, allow the glow of each orb to be a little brighter and softer.
    • Rest one hand on top of the other over the center of your chest, symbolically, your heart-center. Imagine that beneath your hands, there is another glowing ball of love.
      • Take another six breaths – Inhaling, invite the love from the core of your heart to grow outward until it enfolds all the other circles.  Exhaling, allow yourself to be bathed in love. Every cell, every atom of your being is soaked in love. For just one moment, allow yourself to let go into this ocean of love. Be love.

Transition Back into Your Day

  • Sit quietly for a few moments.
  • Lightly touch your nose, mouth, eyes, ears, cheeks, and skull. As you do this, invite the memory of ever-present love to settle into all your senses and your mind.
  • When you are ready, return to your day.


This reflection is an excerpt from Our Inherited Wisdom:  54 Inspirations from Nature and Poetry, Kate Vogt, Pages 320-325.  HEARTH is posted each new and full moon.  KateVogt©2023.

Please join me this summer for “Transcendental Love”  –
3 Thursdays (June 22 and 29, and July 6), 3:10 – 4:30 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time, Zoom.  For information and to register, please visit the College of Marin Community Education website.






LAMB’S EAR – gentle presence

LAMB’S EAR – gentle presence

Touched by all that love is
I draw closer toward you
Saddened by all that love is
I run from you.
Surprised by all that love is
I remain alert in stillness.

František Halas


There, in the dirt, was an empty hole.  Just the day before, there had been a thriving plant commonly called lamb’s ear.  I looked at the hole, feeling sadness.  Across the continent and an there are holes that once were homes, places of worship and schools, not to mention the accompanying absence of humans, animals, and even plants.

I was grateful for my attachment to this lamb’s ear.  Its disappearance gave me a way to just pause and honor the underlying grief around the small and big losses of the world.  The plant had been a daily reminder to be gentle and kind.  The presence of this plant reminded me that gentleness, kindness and generosity thrive in the midst of the more visible malice and disregard.

The furry leaves of the lamb’s ear always seemed like an invitation to bend down and greet them as I passed by.  My greeting was merely touching the soft and velvety leaves.  But, within that touch, I felt living gentleness and peacefulness.  This brought the reminder of a quote that I had heard long ago by Robin Wall Kimmerer that in some Native languages, the term for plants translates as “those who take care of us.”

The caring is most often that which is visible and recordable.  Hummingbirds, bees and other insects regularly visited this lamb’s ear for nourishment.   With antiseptic and other recorded medicinal capabilities, the caring could have extended to a temporary wrap over a wound, or a soothing cup of tea.  For the animal – likely a gopher given the dirt mound next to the hole – the caring was a full meal.

I feel the lamb’s ear had taken care of the inner me.  To reach toward the plant was a gesture of humility – I needed to bow down and let go of my acculturated human ideas of superiority and separateness from other beings.  Within the tactile connection there was the grace of loving joy upholding the preciousness aliveness of all life, regardless of label, shape, hue, texture, or sound.

The daily touch of the lamb’s ear gave me innumerable gifts.  Most importantly, it was the gift of a sense of the power of living with gentle presence.


This practice supports awareness of gentleness. 


  • Standing or seated, with your thumb slowly and lightly massage the base of your fingers, and then the palm, of your other hand.   Then, with both hands – and again lightly – make small squeezes up the opposite arm simultaneously.  Starting with your wrists, move upward over your forearms, elbow, upper arms, shoulders, and upper part of your torso.
  • Give yourself a couple hugs – changing the cross of your arms (i.e., left arm on top for one and right for the other).  If you wear glasses, please remove them for this next movement.
  • Lightly massage the back of your neck, your ears, and scalp.  Then, lightly move your palms across your face as though you are washing it.
  • If comfortable, stroke your torso, your arms one more time, and your legs.  When you are done, feel free to stretch, yawn, or moving in any way you feel inclined.


  • If standing, please find a comfortable seated position.  Invite an awareness of the parts of your body touching the surface beneath you – e.g., chair, bench, cushion, floor, earth.  In your mind’s eye, freely scan the entire area where your body and the surface beneath you are touching – without judgment, just noticing the sensation of sitting.
  • Lightly rest your fingertips and palms on the surface beneath you.
    • Invite an awareness of all earthly life being supported by our collective planet, whether sitting, walking, resting, slithering, crawling, swimming, or alighting.
  • Stretch your arms out to your sides. (Note:  please adjust as needed, being attentive to the current capacity of your shoulders.)
    • Invite an awareness of touching the air and space around you.
    • Breathe in deeply, and imagine you are reaching out from the center of your back through your fingertips.
    • On exhale, lower your arms and allow your hands to rest wherever they are comfortable.  Invite awareness of all earthly life – including you – similarly being held and nourished by air and space.
  • Place one palm and then the other over the center of your upper torso in the area called the heart-center.  Bow your head slightly.
    • Invite an awareness of the touch of your hands on your torso.  You might softly add a light pressure of your palms with a sense of loving reassurance that deep within there is steady, loving support wishing you safety, health, ease, and peace.  If comfortable, invite awareness of this unseen support gently caring for all earthly life – including you.

Transition Back into Your Day— 

  • Place your hands wherever they are comfortable.  And then, sit quietly for as long as you wish.
  • When you feel complete, return to your day.


This poem appears in Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems, page 73, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library.   HEARTH is posted each new and full moon.  KateVogt©2022.



PRE-DAWN ~ loving transition

PRE-DAWN ~ loving transition

Night is passing,
sun comes by dawn,
Awaken now, beauty’s essence,
heart of love.

Hakim Omar Khayyám
Translated by Nahid Angha, PhD


Most mornings I awaken into the near soundlessness of pre-dawn.  It feels like a generous pause, magically tucked between night and day.  There may be an occasional sound of leaves being rustled by the wind, but otherwise it is silent.  The nighttime calls of the local coyotes and owls have faded and left a silent opening to the first sounds of the day.

This sense of a quiet interlude seems to be echoed in the deep blue expansiveness of the sky.  Starlight has dimmed, and the starry constellations have lost their discernibility.  One or more planets might still glisten, but otherwise there is just a calm yielding of one phase of the daily cycle to the next.

Within this gentle transition, I often feel the presence of the surrounding hillsides and canyons.  It is as though they are stirring and slowly readying themselves to be the story-keepers of the activity of another day.  As part of the skin of the earth, they support and hold the long story of transitory earthly life – human and non-human.  Their presence feels like a loving welcome and embrace for all beings who have witnessed their morning awakening.

Each pre-dawn offers me a humble reminder to slow down and prayerfully notice the ever-present grace of life’s transitions.  In walking, there is a transition from one foot to the other.  Between receiving and letting go of the breath, there are transitions.  In conversations, there are transitions.  Every blink of an eye is a transition.  The coming and goings of the waves, seasons, and lifetimes are transitions.  With tomorrow’s pre-dawn, I will begin anew.  Please join me.

This practice invites you to slow down and notice transitions.


  • Remove any potential distractions—for example, take off your watch, and put your phone on airplane mode.
  • Find a comfortable seated position. Invite your facial muscles, neck, and shoulders to relax.  If you are in a chair or on a bench, comfortably rest both feet on the floor.


  • Calm your primary senses:
    • Eyes—Close your eyes. Gently and lightly rest the pads of your index fingers on your eyelids. Let your ring, middle, and little finger pads rest on your cheeks. Pause here with a few easy breaths. Invite your eyes to relax away from the lids, i.e., let them take a break from their almost constant use during the daytime.
    • Ears—While keeping your index fingers on your eyes, add an additional relaxation away from outer stimuli. Do this by closing off sounds by lightly pressing your thumbs on your front ear flaps.
  • With your fingers still in place over your eyes and ears, breathe up to seven (7) even, smooth breaths. Stay within your comfort level.
    • If comfortable, invite an effortless awareness of the transitions between each inhalation and exhalation.

Transition Back into Your Day—

  • Release your hands into your lap. Your eyes may be closed or in a soft gaze.
  • Sit quietly for 3 minutes or longer. Silently set an intention to prayerful notice and offer gratitude to small transitions throughout the day, e.g., when you are walking.  Seal that intention in by giving yourself a hug with appreciation that you will do the best you can and generously accept your own efforts no matter what they are.
  • When you are ready, return to your day.


This poem appears in Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems, page 9, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library.   The practice is an edited excerpt from Our Inherited Wisdom: 54 Inspirations from Nature and Poetry by Kate Vogt, page 311.  The photo is by Brad Mann.  HEARTH is posted each new and full moon.  KateVogt©2022.

OAKS – mighty beings

OAKS – mighty beings

There’s a tree that existed before the woods,
in age twice as old.
Its roots suffered as the valley changed,
its leaves deformed by wind and frost.
People all laugh at its withered aspect,
caring nothing about the core’s beauty.
When the bark is all stripped off,
only essence remains.

Trans. by Tony Barnstone


Rustle. Rustle. Rustle.  I turned around expecting to see another walker on the path, but there was no one there.  No person. No squirrel.  No sign of a moving being.  Perhaps I had imagined the sound of movement behind me.  The long shadows likely had amplified my awareness of being on a quiet, and somewhat remote, pathway late in the day.

There was a warmth in the air and few rays of sunshine lit the path ahead.  Spiderwebs glistened in the light, offering a quiet reminder of the life around me.  A light breeze moved the webs in rhythmic waves revealing silvery threads stretching from the circular masterpiece to a vast network of thick, curved branches.

Oak trees lined the pathway.  Their crowns intertwined forming a lacy, green archway overhead.  Faint traces of light blue showed through the openings, reminding me of the expansive space of the sky and universe beyond.  Surely if the soil were transparent, another network would have been visible – the roots reaching outward and downward while steading the trunks and limbs, which appeared more than twice the age of the eldest human.

It was humbling to consider their oak relatives elsewhere in the world with a lifespan up to one thousand years.  And, even more humbling to appreciate that their ancient relatives reach back millions of years.  It is no wonder humans have long adored, admired, and even worshiped these magnificent tree-beings.  Their longevity and expansive outer form invite a broader view of life beyond the entanglements that we have created for ourselves, inspiring a pondering and embracing of larger life purpose and meaning.

Wherever rooted, the oak is a steady witness.  As a continual bearer of wisdom to whomever comes near, the oak emanates strength, steadfastness, and stability; conveys contentment, community, connection, and completeness; and, bears beauty, breath, and balance with grace and serenity.

Oaks are known for their resilience, often withstanding severe weather conditions and inhospitable growing conditions.  They are also unsurpassed earthly friends, endlessly offering shade, shelter, protection, healing, solace, and nourishment to animals, birds, insects, humans, and all beings.  Their trunks are transformed into musical instruments, boats, furniture, wine barrels, houses and sacred arches.

Rustle. Rustle. Rustle.  The scurrying sound of an oak leaf pushed by the wind along the surface of the path.  Together, the wind and leaf offered an invitation to pause and notice the true loving essence beneath the color, age, shape, and all other superficial outer labels and measurements.  More often I will try to pause, firmly planted, inviting connection to heavenly truth and honesty with earthly roots.  I hope you will join me.


This practice invites awareness of living with a steady yet light presence. 


  • If comfortable, remove your shoes and socks.  Then, stand either on the earth or bare floor.  Lift and spread your toes a few times, then curl them under once or twice.
  • Invite your weight to balance evenly between your feet, i.e., with somewhat equal weight on your left and right foot, and the front and part of your feet.   If it feels difficult to sense a balanced weight, please no worries.  Feel the support of the ground beneath you.  Silently offer gratitude for this enduring support for all life.
  • To an extent that is comfortable, bend both of your knees coming into a half squat.  Please take care to keep your directly over your ankles, i.e., not leaning forward.  Your arms may be at your sides or on your waist.  Pause here a few seconds and feel the strength in your thighs and appreciating the support beneath you and within your own body.  Then, return to standing.


  • Still standing, reach your hands toward the sky.  Please take care and do this in a way that feels comfortable for your shoulders.  Imagine as though you are firmly rooted to the ground beneath you.  Simultaneously you are lifting upward through your torso and arms.
  • Softly spread through your palms and fingers.  If this creates tension in your shoulders, neck, or face, invite your elbows to bends until you feel some ease in your body and breath, wiggle your fingers and sway your forearms as though being gently moved by a breeze.  Silently, offer gratitude for the expansive space that holds the entire universe.
  • Slowly lower your arms, crossing your arms across your upper chest and allowing each hand to rest on the opposite upper arm or shoulder.  Allow yourself to receive a hug from yourself.  Slightly bow your head and silently offer appreciation for all that you are and all that and those who have and are supporting your in endless ways.  Thank them for being your earthly kin.  Then, change the cross of your arms and thank yourself for being an expression of love and friendship toward yourself and life to the best of your ability.  Pause here, inviting a gentle, easy breath.

Transition Back into Your Day— 

  • Transition to a seated position.  If you are in a chair or bench, please rest the soles of your feet on the ground.  Rest your hands over your upper chest, either with palms together or one hand lightly resting on top of the other over your heart-center.
  • Gently recall the strength and support beneath you, the lightness above you, and the kinship around you.  Invite in a glimpse of the feeling that from the moment of your birth you have been held, lifted up, and loved within and without.  If you have a particular faith, silently offer prayerful gratitude for the presence of sacred grace in every moment.   Pause here, inviting a gentle, easy breath.
  • Allow your hands to rest wherever they are comfortable, e.g., on your thighs or on your lap.  Sit quietly for several minutes.
  • Then, when you are ready, return to your day.



This poem appears in Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems, page 123, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library.  The photo by a photographer who goes by the nickname AVTG.  This HEARTH is posted each new and full moon.  KateVogt©2022.




Enjoy gems of natural beauty 
& #naturesutras

invitation to connect

Are you wondering if this is the right time for a Living Wisdom Mentoring session?
upcoming events

©2019 Kate Vogt. Privacy Policy. Portrait Photography by Paulina Paczkowska