losing its name
a river
enters the sea

John Sandbach


“I want to jump in the river.”   That is how a young boy decided to engage two strangers in a conversation.  He smiled as he spoke and playfully watched to see how we would respond.  My friend Jay and I were sitting on a bench and the boy was with an outing of pre-school children.  The group had momentarily paused.  Other than the boy, the children were quiet and seemingly unaware of the large river and the ships that passed nearby.

Before either Jay or I could respond, the teachers began to encourage the children to move forward.  The boy turned and looked at us, smiled and said, “I can’t swim.”  And, then he disappeared among the other little bodies and large backpacks.  The group moved toward a large grassy area where they silently sat and began eating their lunch.

One of the adults from the group joined us on the bench.  In the few moments while she was getting seated, I was absorbed in the words spoken by the boy.  Even though he was young, his short statement was an opening to many possibilities.  My first instinct was that to jump into the river would mean death – physical death.  Yet, so many sages from around the world speak of another death – one of being like the river.  One who jumps into the river is free of clinging, self-centeredness, anticipations, judgments, hatreds and fears.  The river gracefully surrenders to the ocean.

Like the boy, the woman only had a few moments.  As she spoke about her medical conditions and life experiences, the river made gurgling sounds as the water moved against the banks.  A barge passed by, and the river moved on.


This practice supports awareness of fluid vitality. 

Prepare –

  • Standing, pause and notice your energy and how you feel, e.g., calm, agitated, dull.
  • Gently shake out through each of your limbs, one at a time.  Imagine that you are releasing tension from your muscles.
  • Invite your body to spontaneously move.  If nothing naturally arises, lightly twist your torso from side to side a few times, move your hips in circles, or dance around.
  • If comfortable, give yourself a big hug and invite an inner smile.

Practice –

  • Continue with a more playful form of movement in any or all of the following ways, for about a minute:
    • Move as though you are piece of kelp in the ocean, moving with the ebb and flow of the waves.  If comfortable, invite arms to slowly swish around as you sway from side to side; or,
    • Imagine you are walking downstream through a shallow creek.  The bottom is sandy and a little uneven, so you need to use your torso and arms to stay balanced; or,
    • Rest on the floor on your back.  Imagine you are floating on a quiet and calm pond on a warm summer day.
    • While doing any or all of these, notice the sensations and feelings, albeit imagined, of being moved or moving within the water.
  • Pause, standing with your feet hip-distance apart and your arms relaxed at your sides.  Take note of any shift in your energy from when you first began.  There is no right or wrong, just noticing.

Transition back into your day – 

  • Come to a seated position.  Invite your lower body to be supported by the surface beneath you, and your spine to rise gently upward.
  • Lightly close the lids of your eyes, bow your head slightly, and place your hands over your heart center (one hand over the other).
  • Invite your awareness to the gentle ebb and flow of your breath – a slight expansion of your torso and belly on an inhalation, and a gentle relaxation on an exhalation.  Stay here and breathe for a few breaths.
  • Relax your hands in any position that is comfortable, e.g., palms upward on your thighs.  Pause and sit quietly.
  • When you feel ready, transition back into your day.

This poem is from Mala of Love:  108 Luminous Poems, page 107, by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt (editors), published by New World Library. Photo by Justin Wilkins.  HEARTH reflections are offered on each Full and New Moon by Kate Vogt.

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