In the moment our left and right hands are brought together to form one point before our heart, it is not too difficult to experience the oneness this symbol represents. I'd like you to explore this gesture to see what it holds. Bring your hands together slowly with some sensitivity and awareness. As you do, place the focus of your mind in your hands. Notice how you are actually coming closer to yourself, traveling that distance from separateness to intimacy you may not have known was right there in your own life. Please do this with care several times. How do you feel as your hands approach each other and finally touch? It is not uncommon to experience a deep satisfaction as this gesture is made, almost as if one has come home.

This coming together of your hands acknowledges the oneness of their world. We can also use this gesture to represent the ending of other dualities whose real, interdependent nature has been misunderstood. Imagine for a moment that you hold good and bad, right and wrong, and self and other in your hands as you bring them closer together and let them finally touch. It can be quite powerful to experience, or at least to imagine, those separate lives returning to the one ground from which all life comes. . . .

Every day before I begin to write, I incorporate this gesture into my work. I light a stick of incense and with quiet concentration place it into the incense burner. Then I place my hands together and offer three standing bows. I don't have any particular thoughts in mind as I do this, but I am aware that my intention is for my prayerful attitude to be felt everywhere. When we offer this act of intimate touching without touching, and do so with humility and respect, the union it creates can, if only for a moment, repair what life has broken.

Let me suggest that you practice this gesture a few times before writing. As you repeat the gesture, it is best if you avoid allowing it to become automatic. Rather, allow the intention behind the gesture to come through every time. Bring to it the sense that you are offering medicine for a world in need, a world gone mad. This will help you to remember that as you make this offering, small as you are, you are actually gathering the entirety of the world in your own two hands. The spirit with which we do this is what draws the shattered world back into one and helps us to touch our true nature, our authentic selves.

Please begin by offering this gesture to yourself. Be the one giving and the one receiving. Do this silently several times. Let the gesture enter your imagination. Do it with reverence. When this reverence permeates your experience, walk slowly around your room while maintaining this gesture with your hands. Notice how walking with this prayerful gesture, and breathing quietly, changes how you feel and see as you walk. If you like, you can bow to the floor you stand upon, the floor that supports you. When you do this you are bowing to the floor, to the ground, and to the ground beneath the ground. Why not offer a bow to that which really supports us?

Once you have made this bow, please keep walking and allow your eye to be caught by something: your chair, for example, the one you sit on when you write, or your desk. You might also choose a flower in a vase, or a photograph you keep near you. Anything. Everything. After all, each thing your eye rests upon is an element of your daily life as you live it, which includes your creative and spiritual life. These lives cannot be separated. If you look deeply enough at the objects in your room and consider what role they play, what practical and symbolic value they hold, you will surely find something of sacred relationship to yourself and your world in each of them. This is not just poetic wishful thinking. The sacred and the practical are also One. But you must look. Seen properly, there is nothing that does not receive this bow. How about the cup that holds your pencils and pens, or the air conditioner? Even the air conditioner may receive this gesture and, with you, come back to One.

Please do this entire exercise now — and when you bow, I hope you will allow your head to lower a little toward your heart as an expression of surrender. Do your best to give yourself entirely away. If you bow with sincerity, you will find something waiting for you here. Perhaps you may want to walk outside and offer this bow to some trees, or a river, or the entirety of the empty sky. If you are fortunately enough to live in a place where this may be done, why wait?

Peter Levitt in Fingerpainting on the Moon