Grounded Presence


Yesterday, I tried a biofeedback monitor that focused on my heartbeat. As I hold the device, the red blinking light slowly changes to blue then green as I breathe in quiet silence and feel loving thoughts. This exercise moves my heart into a state of love. At one point I heard a siren and the light changed from green to blue to red briefly. My attention to my breath brought me back into my love space.


The goal is to lengthen my endurance in this settled presence. As I breathe with an open heart, my ability to stay in this settled presence allows me to listen within, grow roots into this experience and affords me more ease in staying with myself in a grounded and compassionate way. Grounded presence lies within a compassionate heart.


It took me a bit to find my loving thoughts, so preoccupied by my pain in the last few days. I feel so much pain around me and in my heart. It’s hard for me to discern what emotions belong to me. The more open I become, the more I feel. A hard lesson in boundaries and I’m paying attention.


Silence gifts me space to be with me. Whether I use a monitor or just intentional breath, day after day in this space I discover old habits and patterns invented for my survival that are way past their expiration date. Some of these habits are engrained in my personality, hidden in deep roots that take my full attention to uncover them. Others just flitter away like a fizzled-out firecracker. All experienced through the practice of silence.


Loving me takes patience. Loving me takes kindness. Loving me requires compassion, the deep compassion I feel for baby humans and baby animals. I deserve the same tenderness.


A Blessing with Roots

by Jan Richardson


Tug at this blessing and you will find it is a thing with roots.


This is a blessing that has gone deep into good soil, into the sacred dark, into the luminous hidden.


It has been months since the ground gathered the seed of this blessing into itself, years since the earth enfolded it.


Sometimes that’s how long a blessing takes.


And the fact that this blessing should finally show its first fruits on the day you happened by—


well, perhaps we shall simply call the timing of this ripening a mystery and a sweet grace.


Take all you want of this blessing. Take every morsel that you need for the path ahead. Let its fruits fall into your hands; gather them into the basket of your arms.


Let this blessing be one place where you are willing to receive in unmeasured portions, to lay aside for a moment the way you ration your delights.


Let yourself accept its inexplicable plenitude; allow it to give itself to sustain you


not simply for yourself— though on this bright day I might be persuaded to think that would be enough—


but that you may gather its seeds into yourself like the ground where this blessing began


and wait with the patience of seasons and of years


to bear forth in the fullness of time a stunning harvest, a plenteous feast.


Participants’ Reflections:

  • Thank you. I took ‘love’ from the first journaling and ‘blessing’ from the second one, and made it a gift of blessing. So, I have a gift of blessing for all of you. May you be blessed with the gift of love. Then I started thinking about the loving kindness meditation which starts with you and goes outward. A pleasant way to drift into meditation. And in the middle of it, I thought that a nice gift for me would be an ice cream cone!

  • Today it was hard for me to settle down in this quieting time. I was working hard on the first part, which I connected with patience for self and kindness and compassion. I realized how hard it is to do when I have a variety of thoughts in my head that just go, and that’s what I need patience for. It still kept happening. It was interesting and meaningful, that this is when it is beneficial to be patient. It would come back. I would feel that again. That was important for me. My mind was going like I had had three cups of coffee.

  • I struggled in my meditation this morning. I am feeling sad overall. Friday night I had plans with a friend and she backed out on me because of Covid numbers in the town. I was excited about having something to do with a friend during these times. I’m feeling sad overall. I’m still mourning the life I had pre-Covid. I had a glamorous job traveling throughout the world. I miss the travel and connections I was making, and obviously missing friends and family. It’s a reminder it’s a hard time. The monotony, I feel like all I’m doing is cleaning and cooking and going to the grocery store for my family. A couple of days ago we talked about an attitude of gratitude (see blog Dec 2). A couple of times in my meditation, I was brought to that. I need to keep remembering to be grateful for everything I do have even though it is so hard right now. I know other people have it so much worse. But still, I am mournful and grieving over the life I had. Just focusing on gratitude.

  • Thank you for sharing. There’s so much truth in everything you said, it’s important to feel the sorrow. I know I tend to push it away, I shouldn’t feel sorrow, I’m lucky to have this. But I feel sorrow. If we allow ourselves to feel the sorrow, we give space for other things to move in. Thank you for expressing that.

  • Thank you so much for your writing this morning. When you were talking about the trees and roots, I was reminded of an article I read in the New York Times about that book about trees and how they communicate. They took fluorescent photos of how the roots go down and fungi communicates along them. It looks like veins in our body. The old paradigm was that each tree stood separately in its own world, and if you cleared everything around it, that one tree would bloom and have everything it needs. They found out that is wrong; it’s the old paradigm. The trees are healthier when there is a diversity of trees and when there is more about them. They are literally all connected underground. It’s like us in this meditation. I am not a tree standing here alone. Neither are any of you. I am not in the Universe. I am the Universe. The image gives me a feeling of being held and then I am not alone.

  • There is an old paradigm of beliefs that no longer apply. Learning about the new paradigm lets us spread out our roots and breathe deeply and really own what we are feeling. Which is the practice in the new paradigm.

  • Thank you so much. So powerful. I’ve never thought of a blessing as having roots. I love that concept. It relates to the intelligent trees, to community. Blessings have roots that go way back, and reminds me that this moment is right now, I don’t have to project it into the future. Life will not always be this way. To live in expectancy and not project it.

  • I’m reading this book Recovery Dharma, and I am writing down behaviors that are harmful to me. I liked what you said about the little animals and babies, having compassion for them. To have compassion for myself in the process.

  • I learned from a writing teacher, that when I think about writing but am stopped by my inner critic, to write down the negative self-talk. To wear out the critic, and then the space comes to express yourself. I’ve written whole pages of ‘I don’t know what to write, or to think.’ It does come up. It’s a gateway to move into opening up.

  • One of the paradoxes we find ourselves in during this current situation, while we are so isolated, we haven’t been as interdependent socially because of the threat of Covid. On one hand, we are isolated, but on the other hand we are closer in different ways more so than ever before. I’m grateful for this daily meditation community.

  • And the fact that we practice presence through silence, through what we do everyday, we’re spreading peace interdependently in a good way.

  • Let’s be superspreaders of light.

  • This morning I could see a dim flickering from a nightlight. I closed the curtains and the nightlight got bright. I have to remember to do that for myself and keep turning to the light. I keep praying for more strength than I have now, for the light in me to keep going. The other morning, I saw two squirrels playing on my fire escape. One of them went to the corner and reached over and touched my wind chime. I’ve thought about this so many times. It was delightful. I want to reread today’s poem because it says blessings take time. Blessings can take years and I’m hoping to get help for my family member. Hoping he’ll get stronger. I’m hoping I’ll get strength.

  • That’s what we do here. We practice shining our light, and we shine it when others can’t and when we can’t, others shine their light.

  • I’ve done a good amount of crying in this group. One of the paradoxes is that I don’t remember a time in my life that I ever shared my vulnerability as much as now. One of the wonderful things is that there is all this support that was latently there and it took ourselves being vulnerable and sharing to evoke it in everyone else. I really think it is like the tree roots being a superorganism. This group is a superorganism. It is far more than the sum of its parts. There is a synergy here that none of us could have imagined in advance.

  • I was thinking of a song “we are sending you light to heal you and to hold you.” I’m thinking of writing poetry related to the themes of our meditations. I asked a friend who is a poet what is poetry. My friend said, “Poetry is essential.”

  • Thank you, each and every one of you for sharing your heart, your thoughts, your tears. All are welcome. All are received with respect in love and light. I feel the light we each shine on ourselves in reverence to our own growth and also on each other. That’s what this community is. Thank you for making it so rich. I hope you all have a blessed day and be present with yourselves, be kind with yourself.

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