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.

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