Root of all these
One thing: love.
But a love so deep and sweet
It needed to express itself
With scents, sounds, colors
That never before
I watched a deer as it appeared on the hillside outside our apartment’s sliding glass doors. Grassy threads dangled from its antlers, giving it the appearance of having been adorned with jewels of the earth. For the past ten days it has regularly come to the same spot, just to stand and watch Jay and me as we go through the morning routines of exercise, having breakfast, and clearing the dishes.
The deer’s calm gaze often prompts me to pause and become absorbed in the stillness of its eyes. Its ears usually convey a vigilant alertness that otherwise is imperceptible. Its body and legs are motionless and its head still, slight tilted to offer it an unhindered view of us. Its peacefulness seems to melt away any sense of one looking at the other – i.e., the deer toward me, or v.v. – to such a degree that even the sense of me or it disappears. Instead, there is only that quiet gaze suspended in timelessness, free of labels and place.
Sages and saints give the name of Love to that wordless vastness. As the poet Hafiz says, it is a love “so deep and sweet” that it is forever present within the world. It is the root of the bud, the cry, the laugh, the wag of a tail, the arc of a rainbow, the gong of a bell, or the light of the sun. This is a love that it is beyond our wildest imaginations of hope and understandings of the world. While it doesn’t crave attention or expect accolades, when we surrender into its grace, it fills us with awe and love, giving us a renewed capacity for contributing to the wellbeing of the whole.
I am grateful for the deer for pausing outside our window. Like most part of nature, it reminds me to pause and notice the constant presence of loving wisdom woven into our earthly existence. The trees, for example, model within their beauty the enduring qualities of generosity, adaptability, letting go, steadfastness and serenity. I hope you will join me.
This short practice invites awareness of love.
- Turn your device to airplane and/or silence to minimize the disruptions for the next few minutes.
- Find a comfortable seated position
- If seated on a chair or bench, rest the soles of your feet on the ground.
- Gently squeeze your hands, fingers, wrists and forearms. Then relax your palm in your lap or on your thighs, whichever offers the most ease.
- Three times, with softly pursed lips, quietly breathe out through your mouth as if you are keeping a feather afloat with your breath.
- Note: you may instead take a quiet, elongated exhale through your nostrils if you are in a semi-public place and do not want to spread droplets into the room.
- Invite a sense of relaxation around your eyes, temples, back of your tongue, and center of your throat. Smile.
- Give yourself a gentle hug. Hold your opposite arm for several seconds. Smile.
- Shift the cross of your arms and repeat, still smiling with delight.
- Imagine you are smiling from the depth of your heart.
- Allow yourself to be filled with same delight that you have if you could hug your best friend or someone you love right now.
- Receive that delight.
- Imagine you are smiling from the depth of your heart.
- Rest one hand over the center of your chest. Then, rest your other hand on top.
- Allow delight of being hugged linger within your heart.
- Invite a sense of joy and buoyancy spreading through your upper chest area, and then slowly into your entire being
- If comfortable, close your eyes. Otherwise, rest your eyes in a soft gaze.
- Breathe quiet, calm breaths.
- Place one hand over the center of your chest – your heart center – and then place your other hand on top.
- Allow your eyes to rest in a gentle gaze, or be softly closed.
- Feel the touch and weight of your hands on your chest.
- Invite a sense of being comforted and held by the most loving, generous, compassionate, caring and selfless being.
- Smile as you welcome this loving presence into every pore of your mind and body.
- Stay here for several breaths, allowing your breath to become smooth and easeful.
- Release your hands wherever you had them before, i.e., to your lap or thighs. Quietly repeat, “I am love” twelve times.
- Savor each word as though caressing them with your breath (remember keeping the aforementioned feather aloft with your calm, steady, and gentle breath).
- Imagine you are giving voice to the eternal love that you are.
Transition back into your day –
- Sit quietly for as long as is comfortable.
- When you are ready, return to your day.
The poem is translated by Daniel Ladinsky and appears in Mala of the Love: 108 Luminous Poems, page 67, 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©2020.
Remember Books for the Holiday! Give someone a gift that will support their contemplative life: Our Inherited Wisdom: 54 Inspirations from Nature and Poetry, Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems, and/or Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems. For the latter two, my book publisher New World Library is offering a special 50% discount (and free shipping on orders of $20 or more in the US) on every book they publish, including mine! Simply enter the code “FRIENDS” at checkout by 12/21 on the New World Library website. For the former, please visit your local independent bookstore. Thank You!
Upcoming in January: New course “Transcendental Love” and updated course “Key Yogic Precepts: Their Vedic Roots and Practical Applications in Today’s World.” Both with College of Marin’s online classroom.