This moment this love comes to rest in me,Rumi
many beings in one being.
Trans. by Coleman Barks
It was one of those transformative moments. As I rounded the street corner near my home, my five- and-a-half-year-old neighbor Emma greeted me with a big smile. She held up her palm and said, “Look.” Her younger sister Ali quickly rushed forward, one hand upward, and with delight said, “Meet Magenti.” Teeny, hairless, caterpillars were gliding across both girls’ hands.
Instantaneously, warm memories flooded into my mind. I found myself marveling at how something so distant in time can be so present. I could feel the feet of the caterpillar creeping across my arm. Yet, that was a memory from decades ago when my older sister Gail and I would sit on the sidewalk outside our back door and wait for the caterpillars to crawl onto the warm concrete.
We could be completely absorbed in watching their patient and quiet movement. Even though they moved slowly, they made steady progress. When we picked them up to place them on our limbs, they would continue advancing to fearlessly explore the foreign terrain of our skin.
In hindsight, these insects were great life teachers. Whether they knew it or not, they were headed to winged transformation. Some would become moths and others magnificent butterflies, but they didn’t try to rush ahead, or bypass their caterpillar stage. They relied on their entire being to navigate their immediate environment.
When unchecked, caterpillars are harmful to gardens and crops. Yet, their graceful and light presence inspired my sister and me to be gentle, peaceful, and take care not to cause them any harm. They sparked some of our deepest feelings of attentiveness and tenderness toward another being. I saw the same caring behaviors in my neighbors Emma and Ali as they showed me their caterpillars.
Life’s wisdom is tucked within these small and least glamorous moments. They have the potency to be like a flash of lightening that melts the boundaries of time and space, shape and form, age and size. We are able to instinctively recognize that this ever-changing outer whirl of measurement and judgment is a projection of our inner architecture of desires, aversions and fears. Such moments offer a glimpse of what Rumi calls, “many beings in one being.”
It may seem boring, or maybe even arduous, to be more attuned to small moments. Our human minds like to be entertained and dazzled, but also disengaged and slothful. We have an extra challenge to attune our inner antennae toward transformative qualities of lightness, steadiness, patience, and quietness. Yet, in addition to my regular inner contemplative focus, I will endeavor to be attentive to the little moments every day. I hope you will join me.
This practice invites sensory awareness and relaxation.
· Turn your electronic devices to airplane mode. Remove any non-medical measuring devices, such as your watch.
· Stretch out through the palms of your hands and arms. Roll your wrists and ankles around. Then, find a comfortable place to sit. For example, this could be on a cushion on the floor, or on a chair or bench. Breathe a few smooth and easy breaths.
· Gently stroke one hand with the other. Then, lightly stroke your legs, arms, and face.
· With awareness of being human with multiple ways of experiencing the small moments of life, lightly touch
- Your nose, acknowledging it is the portal of breath and smells. Invite a quality of relaxation around your nostrils.
- Your mouth, acknowledging it is the portal of taste, nutrition, speech, and kisses. Invite a quality of relaxation around your mouth, and at the root of your tongue into the throat.
- Your eyes, acknowledging they are the portals of sight – colors, shapes, and forms. Invite a quality of relaxation around your eyes and at the back of your eyes.
- Your skin, acknowledging it is the portal of touch. Invite a quality of relaxation on all surfaces of your skin, especially in the palms of your hands, soles of your feet, back of your body, and your face.
- Your ears, acknowledging they are the portals of hearing. Invite a quality of relaxation around your ears.
- Your head, acknowledging it is the CPU of memory, thought, and processing. Invite a quality of relations in the center of your skull.
- Your heart center, acknowledging it is the seat of your eternal self. Invite a quality of relaxation around the center of your chest.
· Invite a quality of softness and gentleness into your inhales and exhales. If comfortable, close your eyes. Otherwise, leave your eyes in a soft gaze.
· Sit quietly. Imagine you are being breathed – the breath comes in, then goes out.
Transition back into your day –
· When you are ready, return to your day.
This poem appears in Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems, page 80, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library. Photo by Bankim Desai. H E A R T H is posted each new and full moon. KateVogt©2020.
NOW AVAILABLE! Our Inherited Wisdom: 54 Inspirations from Nature and Poetry by Kate Vogt. BookLife Review: “Both experienced meditators and those still learning to cultivate intentionality and presence can gain much from this paean to thoughtfulness and peace.”