Ah, not to be cut off,
not through the slightest partition
shut out from the law of the stars.
The inner — what is it?
if not intensified sky,
hurled through with birds and deep
with the winds of homecoming.
Rainer Maria Rilke
As a child, I felt the sky was home. Life around me seemed to confirm this feeling. The sky was predictably always there. And, it seemed to hold and guide all that I experienced. Even the adult conversation around me consistently referred to overhead happenings. Thus, the sky became my deepest and continual sense of home.
I grew up on the Great Plains in North America where temperatures and winds can substantially vary within a single day. My parents and grandparents would consistently consult The Old Farmers’ Almanac, which gave insight on possible weather patterns and the better times to plant to ensure the optimum conditions for healthy crops.
I would observe the adults and their nearly daily almanac references, and noted that the tone and spirit felt similar to when they entered into prayer or spoke of God. It conveyed, and transmitted to me, a sincere reverence. When I watched them walk across the land or go about their work, they moved slowly and carefully. Their eyes were attentive to what they were doing, and always showed an awareness of the sky.
These adult behaviors and attitudes silently affirmed my relationship with the skyward beings – the birds, clouds, planets, and stars. Through my young mind, it seemed reasonable for our family rhythms to be in concert with the sky. At the beginning of the day, the arrival of sunlight brought the melodic sounds of the birds and the urge to wake up. And, in the evening, the fading of the sun’s light brought a sense of comfort, as though the earth and all beings were being tucked into a calm slumber for the night.
These, and other regular connections with the sky, imprinted a sense of the sky as a reliable and mostly comforting presence. Extreme storms or stretches of drought are less comforting. Yet, even then the sky is ever-present. Wherever I have travelled or lived, the sky has always been there. It is forever home.
This practice supports awareness of inner spaciousness
- Seated or standing, stretch your arms and hands open and upward. As long as it is comfortable for your shoulders, really stretch from the center of your torso.
- Invite in an awareness of the soft and generous spaciousness of the sky – boundless, formless, yet quietly ever-present, holding all.
- Soften your stretch somewhat. Imagine as you do this that the spaciousness of the sky is pouring into your upper torso.
- Stay there for one or two seconds. Tilt your head slightly upward and smile. Breath in deeply.
- Gently lower your arms, bringing your palms over your heart center – one hand resting lightly over the other.
- Bow your head slightly.
- Allow your eyes to rest in a gentle gaze or, if comfortable, allow them to close. As much as possible, release tension around your forehead, cheeks and eyes.
- With your palms, still over your heart, recall the feeling of the soft and generous spaciousness of the sky. Imagine that gentle vastness is present within you under the surface of your palms, skin, bones and tissues of your torso. There, in the core of your being, is your boundless, ever-free essence.
- Feel the touch of your palms over your heart center. Imagine with this touch you are sealing in the awareness of your ever-present inner spaciousness.
- While being absorbed in the feeling of spaciousness, allow your breath to effortless rise and fall. You may wish to lower your palms onto your thigh or lap in a comfortable position. Or, continue resting them over your heart center.
- Stay here for as long is comfortable – absorbed in a sense of infinite spaciousness – inside and out.
Transition Back into Your Day—
- Slow lift your chin to a neutral level. If you had your eyes closed, slowly open them. Taking your time look around the area where you are – perhaps noticing the space everywhere – between the objects, above you, below you.
- Sit quietly for a few moments.
- Then, again reach your arms and hands open and upward. Lift your chin again and invite a smile.
- Lower your arms. And, when you are ready, transition back into your day.
This poem appears in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 54, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library. Photo by Gino Santa Maria. HEARTH is posted each new and full moon. KateVogt©2022.
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