LIGHT – eternal presence

LIGHT – eternal presence

Like a great starving beast
My body is quivering
On the scent

Trans. by Daniel Ladinsky

It seems fanciful that a new moon can appear to shimmer.  Yet, about once every eighteen months, there is a radiant glow around a new moon.  It occurs when the two orbs of the moon and the sun seem to mate in the daytime sky, and the moon apparently covers the sun.

I admire the odd and wondrous relationship between this unlikely pair.  They couldn’t be more different in their natures; yet, they have an intimate interconnection, modeling balance and altruism with their unique and vast differences.

The moon is tiny and constantly mobile, whereas the sun is massive—about four hundred times larger than the moon— and ever-steady and luminous.  The moon doesn’t produce its own light, yet its surface readily reflects the sun’s glow into the darkness.

The most enduring human cultures recognize the magnificent power and significance of these two spherical bodies.  They understand that for days and even longer, things can be turned upside-down before and after a solar eclipse.  There can be distressing energies, turbulence, and waves of negativity and misfortune – for all life forms.  They appreciate that a change in the gravitational pull may cause earthquakes and other terrestrial phenomena.

From ancient times, eclipses have been cosmic reminders to us to live with awareness and reverence for the unseen source of all light, i.e., the light behind the light.  The sun has not been just a practical guide for creating a human calendar marking days and nighttime, but also an archetype of the immortal, supreme light and love that holds life.

Poets like Hafiz remind us that light is always there. It will always illumine us, even if we ignore or forget about it, or when we think it has abandoned us in our bleakness. Like the moon, we have the capacity to reflect or eclipse the light, with the former the more normal way of being and the latter, temporary and occasional.

We can either look upward or downward to the glow, to the heavens or to cyber messages.  Both can take us inward, and both can impact how we interact outward.  For my guidance, I choose the more mysterious glow that shines in everyone and in all aspects of life, even when there appears to be total darkness.

This practice supports awareness of your inner light. 


  • Invite quietude—Turn your phone to airplane mode and put it aside.  Remove items from your wrists, such as your watch or any non-medical monitor.
  • Sit comfortably—Find a comfortable seated position, either in a chair or on the floor, where your spine is effortlessly upright.  Invite your body to be fully supported by the surface beneath you.  Wiggle around a bit until you sense a feeling of being grounded and maybe even firmly rooted like a tree.
    • If seated in a chair, place the soles of your feet on the floor. If your feet don’t reach the floor, please place a cushion or a block under them.
  • Invite openness and sense of relaxation in your hands—Give a gentle squeeze to each hand by placing the thumb of the opposite hand on the palm and wrapping the other fingers over the back of the hand, and squeeze.  Then, let your hands rest on your lap in any position that is comfortable.


  • Imagine you are surrounded by a steady, radiant glow of early morning light.  To do this, you might wish to recall a personal experience of being able to pause and absorb the beauty of a sunrise.
    • Invite a sense of this light being gentle, loving and peaceful with no other purpose than to be light; a light that if it had a wish, it would be to nourish, protect, care for and sustain all life in all realms without judgment or ranking.
  • For the next few minutes, imagine there is nothing more to do than just experience being supported by the earth and surrounded by early morning light.   Then:
    • Invite a sense that the immediate environment around you is sparkling with morning light – the area beneath, above and all around you, so that you feel enfolded in light.
    • Slowly, imagine you are soaking in this light through your eyes, skin, hair, soles of your feet, and palms of your hands.  Invite a sense of this soaking to the very core of your being – your heart-center.
  • Lightly touch your fingers of one of your hands to your heart-center.   Pause there.  Invite a feeling of the morning light steadily glowing beneath your fingertips.  As you breath in, the light radiates softly in all directions, like the sun.  As you exhale, the glow feels more rooted and grounded in the core of your being.
    • After a few breaths, silently say to yourself “Light is ever-present” a few times.
  • Bring your palms together in front of your heart-center.  Invite the feeling of the ever-presence of light steadily within you.  Imagine you are sealing in that awareness.
  • With your palms still at your heart-center, come to standing.  Remember the light within you and within your hands.
    • Offering light to the six directions– east, south, west, north, skyward and toward the earth – reach your hands upward into a v-position offering the light from within, and then back to your heart-center.  To make this offering:
      • Begin, by imagining you are facing east offer the light to the east all life in the eastern direction.   Remember to return your palms to your heart-center, receiving the light from the east.
      • Then, take a quarter turn to your right – to the south – facing all that lives in the southern direction.  Remember to return your palms to your heart-center, receiving the light from the south.

This poem appears in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 32, 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.   This reflection is inspired by “Celestial Light,” pages 235-238, in my book Our Inherited Wisdom: 52 Inspirations from Nature and Poetry.  KateVogt©2024.

EARTHWORMS – quiet hope

EARTHWORMS – quiet hope

Listen, if you can stand to.
Union with the Friend means not being who you’ve been,
being instead silence: A place: A view
where language is inside seeing.

Translated by Coleman Barks

I awakened to a quiet morning.  It seemed like no one or anything was stirring.  Even the neighborhood crows had yet to make their cawing praises to the opening of the day.  The raindrops had ceased to roll off the roof, and the wind from the overnight storm had disappeared.  There was a sense that, for a moment, the world had bonded together in reverence for the gift of life.

As I felt suspended in the feeling of peacefulness, the neighborhood slowly became enveloped in chirps and caws, chattering of young voices and eventually the clattering of garbage trucks.  Now hidden, the promise of tranquility remained untouched beneath the surface din.   The sounds would come and go; each one arising out of and fading back into the spaciousness for both simply being and endless possibility.

The messages of quieter qualities underlying daily existence continued throughout the day.  One such occurrence was the sight of two earthworms moving across our front steps.  They likely had needed a respite from the wetness of their usual home within the earth.  I laughed in seeing them.  Not because of their outer form, but at the irony of how these small beings noiselessly, and invisibly, go about their work as they turn debris into soil that in turn nourishes countless sentient beings.

I felt a sense of hope from observing their translucent bodies and appreciating why they have sometimes been referred to as the “intestines of the earth.”  Intestines, like other inner organs, renew and sustain the vitality of the organism, and for them the organism is the planet earth, holding all life.  The earthworms appear vulnerable, yet they are silent powerhouses of transformation, regenerating decay into viable renewal.   They even can regenerate lost body parts.

Free of feet, limbs, eyes and ears, earthworms rely on their ability to navigate from the inside out.  For me, their presence offers further inspiration:  to join together in reverence for life, its sacred interconnectedness and wholeness.

This short practice invites awareness of the unseen.

 Prepare – 

  • Begin standing.
    • Please minimize any possible interruptions, e.g., silence your phone, so that you can sit quietly for the next few minutes.
    • If comfortable, remove your shoes and socks.  It is okay to leave them on.
  • Wherever you are, notice the surface beneath your feet.
    • If your shoes are off, notice the quality of the texture, e.g., smoothness, coolness – just notice without judging.  Lift your toes, spread them apart, and then slowly lower the toes – starting with your little toes, then your 4th, 3rd, 2nd, and big toes.
    • If your shoes are on, notice the texture of your sock or inner sole of your shoe.
  • Still standing, imagine the layers of support beneath whatever surface you are standing on, e.g., the foundation of the building, the soil, the microbes and moisture in the soil.
  • With that awareness of the life beneath your feet, slowly walk in a clockwise circle.
    • As you walk, reflect on these words by Thich Nhat Hanh “Walk as if your feet are kissing the earth.”

Practice – 

  • Find a comfortable seated position.  As you settle in, again notice the surface beneath you. Silently offer a few words of appreciation for the layers supporting you.
    • If you are in a chair or on a bench, allow both soles of your feet to rest evenly on the floor or earth.
    • Allow your hands to rest wherever is most comfortable for you, e.g., palms down on your thigh, palms on top of one another in your lap.
    • Invite a softening in the small muscles around your eyes, nose, ears, tongue, and throat.
  • Bring your awareness to the sides of your torso and arms – left side and right side. Perhaps linger your awareness on one side, and then the other.  Then, return to awareness of both simultaneously.  Breathe with ease for a few breaths.
  • Bring your awareness to the lower half of your body, remembering the support beneath you.  Shift your awareness to the upper half your body (including your head).   Then, of your body from head to toe.  Breathe as effortlessly as possible throughout.
  • Become aware of the back of your torso and head.  Relax the muscles along the base of your skull, back of your neck, tops of your shoulders, and backs of your arms.  Breathe.
  • Imagine the inner workings of your body – e.g., your spine, bones, veins, nerves, tissues, and organs (including your brain).  Imagine all those areas relaxing and saying “aaaah.”
  • Place one hand on top of the other over your upper chest.  Imagine infinite spaciousness deep within the core of your beingoffering endless support, ease, acceptance, and clarity.  Imagine all your thoughts, words, and actions arise from that place.  Pause here for a few moments and breathe.

Transition back into your day – 

  • Sit quietly for a few moments.
  • When you are ready, return to your day.

This poem appears in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 76, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library.  The practice is from a prior post in June 2022.  H E A R T H is posted each new and full moon.  KateVogt©2024.



Tenderly, I now touch all
knowing one day we will

St. John of the Cross


Oops.  That was the thought I had as my boot began to slide.  My mind had been absorbed in the beauty of the surrounding hillsides.  It seemed that overnight the slopes had transformed from dull to jeweled shades of green.  The “oops” quickly brought my attention back to the trail beneath my feet.  It was a reminder that a slip of awareness could mean a slip in my footing.

I could feel my mind a little disappointed that it couldn’t continue to meander in its musings of the emerging sounds and colors of springtime.  It seemed to want to entice my senses away from the grey and rocky trail to search for sightings of wildflowers or songbirds.  The lure felt like commercials for not-to-be-missed experiences.

Finally, my mind settled into quiet joy of responding to the earth’s terrain, step by step.  Wherever I walk, the earth gives, receives and remembers.  My steps touch an unknown number of other beings – large and small, human and non-human – who have walked or lived there before.  Others will follow.

Near the end of the trail, one of the world’s most ancient insects appeared on the path in front of me.  A grasshopper led me to the end.  Together, we are an offering of hope for care, safety and peace for all.


This practice supports your awareness of interconnectivity. 


  • Begin standing, ideally barefoot.
  • Gently shift your weight forward and back, and then side to side.  As you do this notice the texture and feel of that which is supporting you, e.g., the floor.
  • Slowly walk in place, imagining as though you are lovingly touching the earth with your feet.


  • Standing, find a sensation of balance between your left and right side, and front and back of your body.
  • With your arms along the sides of your body, notice your fingertips are pointing toward the earth.  Imagine that you are standing upon all past and future generations.
    • Silently, offer appreciation for the abundance and support of the earth for all beings, including you.
  • Slowly, reach your arms toward the sky.  If comfortable, turn your face slightly upward.
    • Silently, offer appreciation for the vastness of all realms of life.
  • Softly, reach your arms out to your sides, elbows relaxed and palms upward.  Slowly turn 360° twice.
    • On the first turning, silently offer gratitude for the unseen layers of connection and support of all earthly life.
    • On the second turning, silently invite a prayer that all beings be cared for, safe, nourished and living harmoniously.
  • Arms go back along your sides. Take a few easy breaths.
  • If you wish, slowly walk for a few minutes.  Invite awareness of interconnectivity within and without.

Transition Back into Your Day— 

  • Come to a seated position.  If on a chair, gently rest the soles of both feet on the floor.
  • Allow your hands to rest in a comfortable position.  If comfortable, close your eyes.
  • Invite awareness of your breath.  Perhaps notice the gentle, rhythmic flow of the inhale giving way to the exhale, and the exhale yielding into the inhale.
    • After a few breaths, silently offer appreciation of the breath as a form of a gentle, loving touch, both outward and inward.
  • Sit quietly until you are ready to return to your day.

This poem appears in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 83, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library.  Photo by Matt Briney.  H E A R T H is posted each new and full moon on  KateVogt©2024.


Join me for my upcoming class Ecological Roots of Spirituality:Ancient Roots and Modern Relevance.  Mar 28 – Apr 11, 2024, 3 Thursdays, 3:10-4:30 p.m.  Pacific Time, Virtual Zoom Classroom through College of Marin.   Click here to register. 

OAK TREE – loving connections

OAK TREE – loving connections

what happens to the scale
when love


Translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Ancestors.  That was what was on my mind as I gathered oak leaves from our deck.  With each stroke of the broom, I felt reminded that behind every living being is an ancestral story.  Whether known or unknown, the ancestors are present in the continual making of that tale.

It seemed like a mundane task to be sweeping leaves after the recent winds and rains had loosened them from the tree.  Yet, I felt graced by the vitality and generous abundance of the oak tree branching over our deck.  Squirrels and winter birds were surviving the chillier months because of this tree.  And, the leaves I was gathering would eventually become usable compost to nourish other plant life.

The oak tree reminded me of my grandmothers.  Like the oak, they were the living embodiment of resilience and strength.  Their presence exuded a noble beauty.  They were wise, well-grounded and had an expansive reach; furthermore, they were endlessly resourceful in addressing their challenging conditions and situations.

As I swept, I felt the loving connection of life’s ancestries.  The broom moved back and forth.  I stood still between the side-to-side movement. The present holding the past and the future.  Seen and unseen simultaneously present.  Everything breathing together.  The trees exhaling usable oxygen, and then taking in the carbon dioxide offered by humans and other moving beings.  Divine love infusing the to and fro, removing all separation, revealing love, pure love.

This practice supports awareness of love from the inside out.


  • Hug yourself. Shift so that your other arm is on top, and re-hug yourself.
  • Gently squeeze each arm, one arm at a time, using the opposite hand. Begin at your shoulder, then move down to your elbow and then your wrist and hand.
  • Pretend to wash your face with your fingertips.
    • For example, gently brush your fingertips up from your eyebrows to the hairline, and then down across your temples and cheeks.


  • Find a comfortable seated position, either on a chair or on the floor.
    • Allow your spine to be in a neutral, upright position and your breath to be free and unhindered.
  • Rest the back of one hand, i.e., palm upward, in the center of your lap.
  • Then, as though holding hands with yourself, rest the other palm in the palm in your lap (i.e., the palm is upward on your lower palm; and downward on the upper. The palms are at a 90-degree angle).
    • Imagine that your lower palm is the hand of your most loving friend.
      • Relax the muscles in that arm. Invite the relaxation to flow from your heart-center, shoulder blades, shoulder, entire arm, and fingers.
    • Invite your upper hand to soften and receive the loving support.
  • Allow your eyes to gently close, or find a soft gaze.  Relax the muscles across your face. Allow your breath to be soft and smooth.
  • Stay for as long as comfortable, preferably at least one minute with each hand on top.

Transition Back into Your Day— 

  • Place the backs of both hands on your thighs. Invite a few full, gentle inhalations and exhalations. Allow for a slight pause between your inhales and exhales.
  • Sit quietly for a few moments.
  • Give yourself a hug and sincerely say to yourself, “I love you.”
  • When you are ready, transition back into your day.

This poem appears in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 34, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library.  The practice is from Our Inherited Wisdom:  54 Inspirations from Nature and Poetry, authored by Kate Vogt, page 317-318.  Photo by Jan Huber.  H E A R T H is posted each new and full moon on  KateVogt©2024.


MUSHROOMS – ancient beings

MUSHROOMS – ancient beings

You’re in my eyes.
How else could I see light?

You’re in my brain.
This wild joy.

If love did not live in matter,
how would any place have
any hold on anyone?

Translated by Coleman Barks

 There was a shift in a neighborhood hillside, resulting from an immense amount of rain over the past few weeks.  With that amount of moisture, I had anticipated the possibility of an alteration.  My mind had imagined a slippage of the soil down the hill, or the unseating of a boulder or tree; however, the shift caused the reverse.  Instead of the hill bringing damage to our neighborhood, it brought the opposite.

One morning after a particularly heavy rain, the hill literally mushroomed into life.  Birds were singing, squirrels chattered and the deer quietly meandered and grazed among the new grasses.  The hill itself had become a collage of brilliant greens and browns, featuring speckled creamy tan and golden yellow mushrooms.

The appearance of the mushrooms made me smile, in part because they bloomed overnight, seemingly out of nowhere; but also, because they are some of the most fascinating beings on earth.  When the only possibilities seem dire, mushrooms appear in abundance.  They take decay and usher in hope and renewal – e.g., wildflowers can grow out of the transformative work of mushrooms on decaying leaves or branches.

Not surprisingly, the mushroom ancestry is considered to be more than a billion years old.   The part that appears suddenly after rains – or, after devastations, such as wildfires – are the fruits of their invisible origins from a vibrant, underground web of life.  Their presence offers reminders of the delicate inter-weaving of all life as well as the constancy of transformation.

Personally, I have come to consider mushrooms a bit like loving tricksters: they blossom out of darkness, reveal life in the midst of seeming death, and flower out of the invisible.   In addition to being symbols of balance, or the simultaneous holding of all opposites, mushrooms magically show up to nourish, purify and transform whole environments.   I’m glad that they show up as potent reminders that loving wisdom lives.  The mushrooms remind me that love is still present here and now, even in the smallest particles of existence.

This practice supports awareness of possibility.  Allow for a minimum of ten minutes.  Invite a soft and receptive gaze throughout.


  • Find a place where you can sit quietly. Please remove any potential digital distractions, e.g., watches and electronic devices (other than the one you are using).
  • Once you come to seated, take a few moments to notice how you feel, being as non-judgmental as possible.
    • Perhaps ask your body, “How are you doing today?” and then notice anything that arises in your awareness.  And/or, check in with your mood or breath.
  • Without trying to “fix” whatever your noticed, instead invite an awareness of whether you instinctually feel like moving, breathing, etc. in a particular way.  Then, allow yourself to follow that instinct.
    • If nothing arises, please no worries.  This is only an invitation.


  • Once you feel ready to focus on a simple practice, find a comfortable seated position.  If you would feel more comfortable reclining or standing, please feel free to again follow your instinct.
  • Bring one hand – or, both hands if that feels more natural – into your line of vision.
    • Observe your hand(s) – the front, back, the shape and the types of movements.  Notice how your hands feel, e.g., slightly tense, somewhat stiff or achy, or perhaps relaxed.
    • Open and close your hand(s), perhaps noticing any mood shift between a closed and open palm.
    • Ask your hand(s), “How are you feeling in this moment?”  “Is there anything you need, or I can do for you?”
    • Please invite this exploration to be with as little judgement and analysis, just noticing your hand(s).
  • Without trying to “fix” whatever your noticed, invite yourself to lovingly support your hands in any way toward which you instinctually feel draw.
    • Examples might be: nothing; holding one hand in the other; kissing your fingers or hands; saying “thank you” to them; or, anything else.
  • Invite both your hands to rest wherever they are comfortable, and in any position that is comfortable.
    • Note:  for some, this might mean resting them on a cushion or some surface other than your lap or thighs.  Invite yourself to notice and care for whatever your hands find most supportive.
    • Invite a sense of ease and support into your hands – your palms, backs of your hands, fingers, thumbs and wrists.
  • For several minutes, continue sitting with your hands supported, quietly breathing – easefully inhaling and exhaling.
    • If comfortable, with each inhalation, imagine as though infinite loving and peaceful possibility is flowing into your hands; and with each exhalation, infinite loving and peaceful possibility begins to flow throughout your cells.
      • If you find this accessible, perhaps slowing invite this possibility to spread beyond your body into all directions – above, below, and horizontally (east, west, south, north) – as an offering to all life.

Transition back into your day –

  • Perhaps once again notice the hand you began with (or, both if you started with observing both).  Invite an awareness of the space around your hands and fingers, and with that the awareness, that loving possibility is nearby.
  • Bring your hands to your shoulders – each hand the opposite shoulder – and give yourself a hug.  Reverse the direction.  You are filled with infinite loving and peaceful possibility.
  • When you are ready, return to your day.


This poem appears in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 48, 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 on  KateVogt©2023.


Please join me for my 2024 Winter/Spring classes:
Feb 22 – Mar 7, 2024, Pathways to Peace: Truthfulness, Non-stealing, Compassion and Other Universal Principles – Register here.
Mar 28 – Apr 11, 2024 Ecological Awareness in Spirituality: Ancient Roots and Modern Relevance – Register here.
Both classes meet on Zoom, 3 Thursdays, 3:10-4:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

SPIRALS – life cycle

SPIRALS – life cycle

For everything there is a season,
and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, a time to die…

Ecclesiastes 3.1

It seems I’ve been traveling quite a bit in the past couple of months.  Between the ups and downs of airplanes, I felt the undulating cycles of life.   The trees and plants are in different stages of emerging and fading, creeks rejuvenate after a stretch of drought, the moon waxes and wanes and the tides rise and fall.

The ancient cultures understood the constant rhythm of the universe, with one cycle gliding into the next.  They experienced life as three threads spiraling 3-dimensionally at lightning speed, clockwise and counter-clockwise and in different directions around an unchanging core.   Messages about this awareness were recorded with spiral carvings in caves, tombs, rocks and pottery around the world.

Even though our modern-day world is composed of straight-edged shapes in our architecture, furniture, streets, and screens, we exist within spirals.  In nature, there are eddies, whirlpools, wind and smoke patterns, and lunar and solar cycles.  Swirls and florets appear in elephant’s tusks, horns of wild sheep, pinecones, flowers such as the sunflower and calla lily, snails, snakes, shells, and galaxies.   Besides a corkscrew-like umbilical cord and coiled inner ear, our bodies have whorls and waves in our fingertips, blood flow, navels, and bones, muscle, fascia and breath.

The natural forces of our existence radiate together in proportional harmonics defined by the Golden Spiral and Fibonacci progression, mathematical truths on the radiating movement of energy.   Like an eternal song, everything vibrates together as a universal octave with eight steps and seven intervals.  We see seven reflected in our days of the week, colors of the spectrum, and religious symbolism.

When I read this verse and/or hear it sung by the Byrds in Pete Seeger’s  “Turn! Turn! Turn!,”  I feel a hidden nexus within the dynamic spiraling of opposites.  Polarities seamlessly somersault, fold and unfold.   Blossoms appear and fade away, the in-breath cycles into the out-breath, and I sense the harmonic movements of nature.   What on the surface seem like linear, isolated events – such as spring, summer, birth, death – are instead moments of life arising and returning to the eternal source, again and again.

This practice can be done seated or standing.   It is an exploration of the movement of sound.  I suggest you read through the practice before beginning.

Preparation –

  • Hug all your bones by tightly squeezing all your muscles from head to hand to toe.  Hold the hugging for three to four seconds.
  • Release.  Be sure and let go through the palms of the hands and forehead.  Smile and breathe freely.
  • Repeat two more times.

Practice –

  • Open your mouth to create an extended “aah” sound.
  • Imagine the pathway of the “aah” sound:
    • begins at your navel,
    • travels upward through the torso,
    • across the back of the throat and palate, and
    • out of the mouth.
      • You may find it helpful to gently drawn in and up on the abdominal muscles to strengthen the sound.
  • First, imagine that your “aah” is bounding up a ladder.
  • Then, imagine that your “aah” is bounding up a spiral staircase.
    • Play with the spiral of traveling counter-clockwise and clockwise, and broader at the base or narrower at the base.

Transition back into your day –

  • Take a few minutes to sit quietly.  Relax your hands and let them rest comfortably in your lap or on your thighs.  Allow the eyes to be open with a soft gaze, or gently closed.
  • Invite the feeling of spaciousness in all your cells from the heart-center outward, from the tips of your fingers and toes and the crown of your head back into the center of your heart.   Clarity, openness everywhere.
  • And, then transition back into your day.

This post is an excerpt from my book Our Inherited Wisdom:  54 Inspirations from Nature and Poetry, pages 151-154.  HEARTH is posted each full and new moon.

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