GEESE – expressions of infinity

GEESE – expressions of infinity

Drumsound rises on the air,
its throb, my heart.

A voice inside the beat
says, “I know you’re tired,
but come. This is the way.”

Translated by Coleman Barks

It was a still morning, with a few ripples in the wide expanse of the nearby waters.  On the far horizon there was a slight hint of the nighttime hues surrendering into the gentle oranges of dawn.  Then, suddenly, almost magically, there were sounds of joy percolating in the distance.

My mind danced with the disappearance and reappearance of silence and sound.  Like a heartbeat, the rhythm echoed the mysterious pulsebeat of life.  The sound was quick and had such pure, crisp openness that it conveyed completeness and wholeness.  No more, no less – past and future gathered and resonating in a timeless cadence.

The underlying silence was unruffled.  Each utterance left no residue as it rose and receded, again and again.  This rhythmic repetition slowly infused the sky with a beautiful sense of aliveness.  Within minutes one clear beat had magnified into thousands, seemingly gracing the world with remembrance of the infinite source of its teeming and cyclical vitality.

The carriers of this commemoration of life were flocks of geese flying toward the eastern radiance, their wings fluidly synchronized with the comings and goings of life.  They needed neither clock nor calendar nor compass to celebrate the newness of the day – or, even a season or direction.  There, in the mass of wings and sound, I felt my heart fly fearlessly with them, into the light.


This practice supports awareness of hearing. 


  • Intentionally minimize the potential electronic distractions in your immediate environment.  For example, silence the electronic device you are using, or shift it to airplane mode and remove any others, including those on your wrist.
  • Playfully shake out through your limbs.  As you do this, invite a sense of being fully supported by the earth beneath you – even if through a floor – and the ever-present space around you.
  • Take a moment to recall your human embodiment.  With one of your hands, gently squeeze your opposite arm from the hand to the shoulder.  Repeat on your other arm.  Then, using one hand on each squeeze your legs from as far down as you can comfortably reach up to your hips.  Wrap your arms around your upper torso and give yourself a hug.
  • Find a comfortable seated position.
    • If you are seated in a chair, rest both of your feet on the floor.


  • Gently stroke your face with your fingertips of both hands, from the center (along your nose) outward.  Do this a few times.
  • With your thumb and first two fingers of both hands, very softly squeeze the edge of your ear from the top, along the back and to the lobe.
  • Tilt your head slightly downward and cup your hands over your ears.  Soften the muscles across your face, shoulders, throat and chest.  If comfortable, invite a soft gentle breath, staying here until you sense some inner relaxation.
  • Bring one of your palms slightly in front of your mouth, and softly exhale into your palm through your mouth.  As you do this movement four to six times, notice the subtle sound.   Rather than labeling it with what it sounds like, just listen.  Imagine you are hearing this sound for the first time.
  • Allow both hands to rest onto your thighs.

Transition Back into Your Day

  • Gently close your eyes and sit quietly for as long as you are comfortable.
  • When you are ready, transition back into your day.  As you go throughout your day, consider listening anew to the sounds you hear.

This poem appears in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 46, 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.

TRAIL – inspiring prints

TRAIL – inspiring prints

Keep walking, though there’s no place to get to.
Don’t try to see through the distances.
That’s not for human beings. Move within,
but don’t move the way fear makes you move.

Translated by Coleman Barks


The trail welcomed me forward.  Each gentle bend seemed like a beckoning hand to “come, be here, and follow me until the next bend . . . and the next, and the next…”   It seemed to offer the reassurance that bend by bend, it would reliably lead me along each stretch of what was tangible and visible.  All I needed to do was be present with my walking.  Each stretch was a complete journey in itself.  Even though invisible, the trail would still be there along the invisible stretches that were ahead.

It took me a few bends to settle into a rhythmic pace of one footprint at a time.  At the start of the path, my steps had been so hurried that they had stirred up dirt and caused birds to suddenly fly away from their perch in the bushes.  There wasn’t any particular reason for my hurriedness, other than my mind needing time to recognize that this was time for walking, just walking, and not musing or idea-making.

As my pace slowed, I sensed the earth was softly recording each of my steps.  I couldn’t see mine, but felt prompted to emulate those of the deer who had walked earlier along the path.  Each of their hoof-prints had an evenness to their depth and a purity to their edges.  Occasionally, there were imprints from other animals, such as rabbits and racoons, that were equally as beautiful as those of the deer.

Like the bends in the trail, their prints – whether paw or hoof – felt like a quiet reminder to lovingly care for the way I move about in the world.  It was humbling to feel wrapped in the grace of life that has existed far beyond my individual or ancestral humanness.  There, in the seeming wilderness were wordless expressions of timeless wisdom shared by the animals, and the seemingly inanimate earth:  There is nowhere else to be other than where I am, and to be walking with all that is and ever will be.

May this sweet awareness ripple into all of my ways of making imprints – not only the action of my steps, but those of my thoughts, gestures and words.  May my etchings, whether in my mind or the world, thus be seeds of gentleness that nourish the font of compassion and kindness for all.

This short practice invites awareness of the life beneath your feet.

Prepare – 

  • Please find a comfortable standing position, ideally barefoot.
  • Take a few moments to notice the connection between your feet and the surface beneath them.  Just notice and become aware of the sensations on the soles of your feet.
    • Invite your mind to pause so that you can truly feel the feedback through your feet without expectation, labeling, or other mental chatter.
  • Imagine the surface beneath you is welcoming your presence.
    • Even if you are not standing directly on soil or sand, invite your awareness of your standing on the Earth, which is a living organism and home to not only you but millions of different life forms.
  • Still standing in place, slowly bend one knee, then straightening that leg and bending the other knee.  As you do this, notice any changes in the sensations in the soles of your feet without naming or labeling the feeling – just notice.

Practice – 

  • Slowly begin walking around the area where you are.
    • Invite your awareness that you are walking on the Earth, a living organism.
      • Be aware of the quality and weight of your steps.
      • Pretend you want to leave as light a footprint as you can.
    • Notice the sensations in the soles of your feet.
  • Gradually lengthen the stride of your steps until you are taking giant steps.
    • Take three giant steps.
    • Again, try to leave as light a footprint as possible.
    • Notice the entire movement of stepping into the long stride and placing your foot down.  Notice the sensation in your foot as it connects to the surface beneath you.
  • Return to walking with your normal stride.
    • Imagine your feet are smiling.
    • Imagine the earth is smiling.
    • Notice the sensations in the soles of your feet.
    • Perhaps notice the quality of your mood without labeling or naming.  Just notice.
  • Slowly return to standing still.  Smile and thank your feet.  Thank the Earth.

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 2, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library.  The practice appeared in prior reflection in 2022 entitled “Walking.”   H E A R T H is posted each new and full moon on  KateVogt©2023.



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©2023.

SPIDER – Creating Graciousness

SPIDER – Creating Graciousness

And love Says,
“I will, I will take care of you,”
To everything that is Near.

Translated by Daniel Ladinsky

As I opened the front door, I was greeted by an elaborate spider web.   The main strands were anchored to the four edges of the doorframe, leaving the web undisturbed by the movement of the door.  The weaver was gracefully balanced in the heart of her newly spun home of intricately woven spirals.

Somehow the presence of this tiny being stirred a sense of graciousness within me. Perhaps it was simply because of the beauty and majesty of her artistry.  Or, it could also be because of the recent reminders of the fragility of all beings with the rampant destruction of so much life and livelihood on the island of Maui.  Whatever the reason, I found myself feeling a loving reverence and respect for this spider.

Across the globe, many cultures have revered the spider for modeling timeless qualities, such as patience, strength, gentleness, decisiveness, femininity, wisdom, mindfulness, wholeness, and infinite creativity.  They are reminders that we alone ultimately shape our own webs – whether our worldly connections of relationality, or our inner landscape that shapes our perceptions and outward actions.

Within this brief connection, I felt a kinship with the spider because my abode – even with its seeming permanence – is also vulnerable to the ever-changing winds and waters.  Still, humbly, compared to the brilliant exquisiteness of the spider’s home, I felt the clumsiness of my modern humanity with the walls and doors of my dwelling having origins in the woods and riverbeds, having been crafted by the hands of strangers. Like all living beings, we are temporary guests in our collective home.

Unquestionably, I felt an overwhelming sense of kindness toward the spider.  I carefully closed the door, honoring the spider and her choice for where to locate her home.  My comings and goings could easily be rerouted through an alternative door for as long as the strands of her web stretched across the front door.  The shift was a welcome reminder of the grace of living.

(For those of you who are curious, the web disappeared within a few hours.)


This short practice invites an awareness of the grace of unseen support and connection. 

 Prepare – 

  • Take a moment to create a quiet space where you can fully be with yourself.  For example, silence the digital device you are using and move others, including smart watches, to another room.
  • Then, while standing, allow yourself to spontaneously dance or freely and loosely move through your limbs.  Imagine you are letting go and releasing layers of tension.  Take as long as you want but try for at least one minute of playfully moving.

Practice – 

  • Once you feel complete (with above), slowly move around in the space where you are, gently acknowledging and touching any plants nearby.  Please, no worries if you have no plants; instead, tenderly touch anything close to you made of natural materials, e.g., wood.
  • Come to the center of the space where you are, and slowly turn clockwise.  As you do this invite your gaze to soften with a sense of reverent lovingness and deep gratitude for the honor of safely being within your current space, and together with all that surrounds you.
  • Once again, slowly turn and reverently behold your surroundings.  This time, turn counterclockwise.  Feel free to pause in any direction and just breathe.  Imagine you are also being embraced in loving kindness from the air, space, and fullness of all within your surroundings.   If comfortable, allow yourself to softly receive and be enfolded in the ever-presence of kindness and loving support.
  • When you feel ready, come to a seated position.  If comfortable, softly close your eyes and lightly and tenderly place your fingertips on your eyelids.  Imagine you are receiving the loving touch of the divine (or, your choice of whatever you hold as most sacred or supreme).  Pause here and invite a silent self-promise to see the world through the eyes of the divine.
  • Release your hands into a comfortable, relaxed position, e.g., onto your lap, and imagine your open palms are receiving eternal, loving kindness. And, that kindness seeps through your fingers and palms into your arms and torso and bathes all your cells from the inside out, and then pours into the core of your being – your heart-center.

 Transition back into your day – 

  • If you wish, remain seated for as long as is comfortable, quietly observing the gentle flow of the breath.
  • When you are ready, return to your day.


This poem appears in Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems, page 8, 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.

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To register and for information, please click here.



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

As I sat down on a park bench, a nearby shrub seemed aglow.   The glistening was evenly spread throughout the bush, giving the appearance that someone had hung strands of sparkling lights between the branches; instead, it was the afternoon light revealing the otherwise hidden artistry of a spider.

The light danced across the lacey network of satiny threads.  Across the space between the shrub’s branches, different colors seemed to playfully take turns shining fully.  No hue lingered longer than any other, each gracefully bowing to their collective source – the eternal light.

In the background, the air carried a faint fragrance.  The sweetness of the scent pulled my awareness back into my everyday senses.  I had been captivated by the glowing threads as a potent reminder of the mysteriously beautiful and sacred grace of light.  Somewhat ironically, the aroma arose from the bush.

The shrub was the ancient herb, rosemary, which has long been revered as holy.   Sprigs of rosemary have traditionally been used to offer blessings for the deceased as well for the living, e.g., weddings.   The aromatic presence of rosemary clears energetic obstacles, and invites liberating energies of reverence, love, compassion and joy.

It is no wonder that this plant was lit up by the light.

This short practice invites awareness of daily light.  
You may wish to read through this practice the day before practicing.

 Prepare – 

  • Rise early enough time before dawn so you can:
    • First, take care of your early morning hygiene and any personal habits.
    • Then, make your way to a window or outdoor spot where you can witness the first light of the day for at least five minutes.
      • Unless needed for a medical condition, leave your digital devices, including those on your wrist, behind.

Practice – 

  • Standing or seated, face the eastern direction where the sun rises.
    • Find a comfortable position.
    • As though you are meeting a close friend, invite a sense of ease – and perhaps delight – into your awareness.
    • If possible, allow yourself to be fully present for the next few moments with the rising of the sun.
      • Promise your mind that there will still be time to do all that it wants to do.  Perhaps let it know that for now it gets to take a little break from its constant work to run ahead of itself, full of anticipation, expectation, and evaluation.
  • Once positioned, lightly close your eyes for one or two breaths.
    • Invite your entire eye area to relax.
  • Gently open your eyes, yet “see” with your entire being.
    • Imagine your entire being is made of tiny eyes, all soaking in the full experience of morning’s first light.
    • Try to wholeheartedly be present with dawn – the sounds, the sensations, the fragrances, the shapes, the colors, and the forms.
      • Perhaps note your overall mood, feelings, impulses, and awareness; however, invite a sense of friendliness toward yourself, setting aside judgments and self-criticisms.
  • Note:  You may be used to only using your eyes for observing an occurrence such as dawn.   If you choose to use only your eyes for this part of the practice:
    • Consider the advice from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “The hardest thing to see is what is in front of your eyes.” and “We see only what we know.”
    • Consider advice from all the many sages across the ages to try seeing from your heart, i.e., observe with loving awareness.
  • Feel free to stay and quietly observe as long as comfortable.
  • Silently acknowledge your inner light.
    • Take one hand over your heart, and the other on top.
    • If comfortable, close your eyes.  Otherwise, allow them to remain open in a soft gaze.
      • Notice the gentle weight of your hands over your heart-center.  Perhaps smile.
      • Acknowledge the loving Light within your heart and its endless capacity for compassion, kindness, equanimity, and joy.
      • Breathe three breaths.
      • After your three breaths, three times reach your hands from your heart up toward the sun and back to your heart.

Transition back into your day – 

  • Sit – or stand, if you have been standing – quietly for a full breath.
  • 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.  Photo by Kelly Sikkema.
H E A R T H is posted each new and full moon on  KateVogt©2023.

Inner Well-Being:  Ancient Perspectives and Practical Insights.
To register and more information, please visit College of Marin Community Education.



God is a pure no-thing,
Concealed in now and here:
The less you reach for him,
The more he will appear.

Angelus Silesius

A nighttime wind had faded into a morning calm.  Like a friend who had lovingly left a present by the door, the wind had graced us with her own gifts.  The front steps and surrounding area had been transformed into a colorful tapestry of green and yellow leaves.

The leaves seemed to be peacefully resting.  Their small groupings resembled the way they would have gathered only a day before – on the branches of their mother tree.  Even though the tree had yielded them to the wind, they seemed far from being complete with their life journey.

I found myself absorbed in the tranquil presence of the leaves.  Already they had been through stages of transformation, having grown and developed from buds and lived high above the ground.  They’d just completed a stormy passage and quietly settled into another form of contributing to the well-being of the web of life.

As though welcoming the freshly fallen leaves, a monarch butterfly swirled overhead.  And the morning sun revealed insects, including a stream of ants.  Just as I had bent down to look more closely, a ray of sun gave the leaves the appearance of being a glistening and undulating ocean. To my surprise, a silvery, miniscule slug with a whale-shaped body traversed this sea of leaves.

The true gift from the wind for me was the reminder that life’s secrets are hidden within ordinary moments.  Here, I found lessons in letting go, not clinging and integrity.  I felt bathed in joy, beauty, and light.   I witnessed a quiet trust in life’s continuous flow of reciprocity and inter-being-ness.  And, I came away feeling humbled as a human to recognize that non-humans – such as the leaves and slugs – are great teachers for living more prayerfully and reverently.

On a practical level, I have a fresh appreciation of fallen leaves as silent symbols of the sacred web of existence.

This short practice invites awareness of reverence for everyday life.


  • Find a quiet spot to sit free of distractions.  Place the digital device you are using on silent.  Remove any extra digital devices from your body, such as a smart watch, and in the space around you.
  • Wherever you are seated – on the floor or on furniture – gently align your ears, shoulders and hips so that your spine is supported by its natural curvature.  (If you are seated on a chair or a bench, please rest the soles of your feet on the floor or a cushion.
  • Slowly, invite an awareness of being gently held by the earth beneath you.  Settle into that support.
  • Once you feel grounded, invite a sense of the lightness of the air and space surrounding you.  Return to the sense of being gently held by an invisible hand, not only beneath you but lovingly around you.


  • Invite a sense of your skin and muscles relaxing across your face and full body.  Perhaps allow yourself to relax a bit more into being invisibly supported beneath and all around you.
    • Take as long as you need to slowly release unneeded tensions.
  • Once you feel you have relaxed a bit more than when you started, imagine your organs and deeper tissues are quietly being held by the invisible support of your breath.
    • Again, take as long as your feel you need to feel yourself settling into the gentle caress of the air within you.
  • As you sit quietly being held, perhaps allow yourself to notice those parts of yourself – e.g., physically or mentally – where you are holding yourself away from the support.
    • Allow yourself to tenderly and lovingly acknowledge these parts of you that may feel vulnerable and need to be where they are for now.  Perhaps reassuring them you have noticed them and will come back to them later to find the support they need to share they reason they are not ready to trust.
  • If your eyes have been closed, gently open them.  Allow yourself to look around as though you were gazing upon long lost friends.
    • Imagine they – regardless of their form of existence – are smiling and returning your loving gaze.  Take your time.
  • Perhaps take a few moments to stand and move around.  Imagine your feet – and perhaps your fingers – are caringly touching the sacred, ever-present essence of life.

Transition Back into Your Day

  • If standing, again find a comfortable seated position.
  • If you wish to make an affirmation:
    • Reach your hands out in front of you – palms softly relaxed and turned upward.  With your hands softly outstretched, imagine invisible loving support is pouring into your palms and filling your entire head and body.  As you receive this support, allow yourself to lovingly hold it and simultaneously allowing it to seamlessly flow into, though, out and around you.  Quietly, say “Thank you: I love you and care for you.  I am your offering through all I touch, see, hear, and say.”
  • Sit quietly for as long as you wish.
  • When you are ready, return to your day.

The poem appears in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 39, 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©2023.

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