Friend, wake up!
Why do you go on sleeping?

Kabir

Wildfires are beginning to emerge in the area where I live, on the west coast of the United States.  I find myself longing for the fragrance of wet soil and the sound of raindrops on the leaves of the plants and trees.  Yet, recently when I awakened to flickering light on the bedroom walls, that inner longing was eclipsed by a rapt alertness.

Between the flickers of light, I could hear a slight static noise.  My mind pondered the source of the light. My ears were detecting that the buzzing was inside the room, prompting the thought that the aging electrical wiring was short-circuiting. As I listened more carefully, the sound was instead gentle rustling in the trees just outside the window.

The sound which had seemed disturbing had becoming calming. My mind eased into the quietness, allowing me to settle into quiet awake-ness.   While it seemed lightning – and possibly rain – was happening over the distant hillsides, I felt joyful being immersed in the awe of the bluish bursts of light in the room.  There was no need for pondering or ruminating, longing or desiring, or clinging or grasping.  It was more than enough to just be present within an expansive reverence for existence.

I feel confident there was lightning that night.  When I asked others the next morning whether they had been awakened by the lightning, they hadn’t.  With the flashes of light, I had been reminded that the impulse of fear is always nearby, ready to respond to life-consuming threats, such as fire.  And, that as a human, I have the capacity of discernment.  That discernment allows me to recognize whether there truly is a threat.  I can also choose whether to be cloaked by the realm of fearfulness, anger, judgment and hatred; or, I can choose to stay awake and notice the delicate messages of eternal wisdom within the awe of everyday phenomena.

My grandparents and generations before them had chosen the latter.  They lived with wakeful awareness of the grace of light. They recognized the presence of threats and fear without becoming cynical or cruel.  Instead, they chose respect for the joyous wisdom tucked within all life – e.g., the earth, plants, animals, birds, themselves and one another.  I choose to follow their choice and hope you will too.

Practice
This practice supports awareness of peace and serenity.

Prepare—

  • 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.

Practice—

  • Lift your hands away from your thighs.
    • Bend your elbows so that your forearms are somewhat parallel to the floor. Turn your palms downward and let your hands relax. (Fingers dangling downward.)
  • Rotate your forearms so that your hands slowly rotate inward toward one another, then upward, and then outward.
    • Keep a relaxed feeling in your hands. Elbows are softly bent and your palms relaxed and upward.
  • With your eyes open or closed, pause for a minute or so. Soft, gentle breaths.
  • Repeat above for three or more times.
    • Invite a feeling of simultaneously letting go and receptivity during the gesture and then pause.
    • If it feels comfortable, repeat silently, “I welcome eternal truth, light, and love” during the pause.

Transition Back into Your Day

  • Relax the backs of your hands onto your thighs. Allow your mind to follow the inhales and exhales for four to five minutes.
  • Then, transition back into your day.

The poem is an excerpt from a longer poem by Kabir.  The translator is unknown. The practice is an excerpt from my 2020 book Our Inherited Wisdom: 54 Inspirations from Nature and Poetry, pages 335-336.  The photo is by Leon Contreras.  H E A R T H is posted each new and full moon on katevogt.com.  KateVogt©2024.

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