The Angel that presided o’er my birth
Said ‘Little creature, form’d of joy and mirth,
Go, love without the help of anything on earth.’
The fall season seems to offer new experiences. Most recently, it was a rare sighting in our neighborhood. We expect to see the deer eating the ivy, spiderwebs spanning across open spaces and squirrels hiding acorns. In the fall there is an occasional family of wild turkeys walking along the street, yet our year-round rodents usually remain invisible.
So, I was surprised to see a grayish-brown mouse making its way across the sidewalk. And even more surprised that the mouse paused and looked at me, perhaps as curiosity; or, perhaps the pause was a reminder that I was the invader of the territory of this small mammal whose ancestors have lived on the planet much longer than my human ones.
I had grown up being frightened and somewhat repulsed by the sight of a mouse. Yet, somehow the brief meeting with tiny being left me feeling humbled. Yes, mice are considered invasive for consuming gardens, crops, and other human food sources.
Yet, looking into the eyes of this neighborhood mouse, I saw a representative of a creatively resourceful and diligent community. As a group, they collectively adapt to ever-changing conditions, and value cleanliness. They move swiftly with agility, yet are able to be completely still. I find these qualities inspiring and humbling.
The presence of this mouse seemed like an invitation to notice the nuanced shifts of the fall season. Not only had the colors of the leaves changed, but the sounds and smells have become more muted over the past few weeks.
This awareness infused me with an unshakable sense of humility for the grace embedded in the fall season. Life begins. Life recedes. Fall represents a slowing down and a returning to the earth. It brings gentle reminders that the words human and humility are closely related through the root word humus, or dirt, soil, earth.
The mouse disappeared into its hidden underground world. Perhaps it was a divine messenger carrying boundless wisdom, or at least a reminder to humbly notice the subtle, the spurned and the small. Whatever the reason, I thank the mouse for pausing and getting me to pause and be a little more aware.
This practice fosters awareness of the nature of fall.
- Remove any potential distractions—for example, take off your watch, and put your phone on airplane mode. If comfortable, remove your shoes.
- Either standing or seated, curl your toes under and then lift them up. Do this a few times.
- Gently shake out one leg a few times, Then, the other. Shake out both arms, either one at a time or simultaneously
- Breath in through your nostrils while inhaling. Then, quickly exhale through your mouth while making the sound of a quick “hah.” Repeat three times.
- Reach your arms into a v-position, palms rotated toward one another (i.e., not facing forward). Stretch out through your fingers. Inhale deeply a few times. Exhale through your nose in any way that feels comfortable, e.g., quickly, slowly, etc.
- If comfortable for your back, bend forward, bringing your fingers down toward the earth. Then, come to an upright position sweeping your arms outward and upward, back to a v-position. Exhale, return to a forward fold, hands toward the earth.
- (Optional: Simply stay upright through your spine and move your arms upward and then to the sides of your body.)
- Repeat this forward fold movement six to twelve times.
- As you exhale and bend downward, silently say to yourself, “I let go of all thoughts that are troubling to me or to others. I let go of all behaviors that are troubling to me or to others. I let go of all forms of self-knowledge that are troubling to me or to others.”
- As you inhale and rise upward, silently say to yourself: “I reach up and outward. I am whole.” (Feel free to modify and personalize the wording.)
Transition Back into Your Day—
- Sit quietly for a few minutes.
- When you are ready, return to your day.
This poem appears in Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems, page 11, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library. The photo is by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash. HEARTH is posted each new and full moon. KateVogt©2022.