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Beauty and Mystery

Beauty and Mystery are connected. They inform one another and their dialogue is Grace. Beauty – that which enchants the mind and soul is in relationship with Mystery – the surrender into that which is beyond our understanding. This wondrous duo calls us to attentiveness.

Bringing attention and awareness to something that delights you is mystical and expansive. Contemplating Beauty and Mystery is about opening to grace. It is a presence – beyond the limits of old perceptions. This is a creative act.

 “When we become immersed in any creative activity, we bring ourselves a sense of rapt attention, of rapture, of departure from the ego, from time and place. We see into the heart of things and get a glimpse of something that was previously hidden. In this way, the creative act is a mystical experience.”

Gregg Levoy, author of Callings- Finding and Following an Authentic Life

Bowing to Beauty and Mystery

We can be so focused on the tasks of the day, that we overlook the beauty around us. One of the most luminous invitations in my life to stop and witness beauty comes from children. They are simply present with the fullness of who they are. 

beauty and mystery, youngster

Earlier this summer, I was with a special little girl enjoying an afternoon in the park. She herself is a radiant expression of Beauty and Mystery. We were heading for the playground when something caught her eye. In the inviolable way that children meet the moment, this exuberant little one stopped and allowed her curiosity to unfold.

What was it that brought her to detour for a moment? A seed pod of the humble dandelion. She responded to its invitation with a special kind of surrender- one that comes quite naturally to little ones. First, she stopped. Then she picked up what emerged on her path, looked at it and breathed into it.  She let the beauty infuse her!

Her presence to that surprise at her feet was her ritual. It was her bow to the mystical. Is there any other way to meet beauty but to breathe into it? This little one reminds us that we can let it inspire us with its grace. Bow to its speech. Or, to listen to its silence and to its glory. Recognize its gift with gratefulness. For a moment, it was as if she held our collective hunger and thirst for Beauty.

Why Do We Hunger for Beauty?

The lyricist Jim Croegaert writes; “Why do we hunger for Beauty?” Why indeed? Could it be perhaps to connect with something that is deeply mystical within us? To remember that are inherently whole and infused with grace?

In Animal Speak, Ted Andrews says that the butterfly tastes flowers by walking upon them. What would it be like for us to taste beauty as we walk upon this earth? To let it seep into the places where we yearn for its blessing? Into the deep of our soul’s longing or to invite it to touch our own healing?

beauty and mystery, butterflies

I learn, over and over again, that shadow walks alongside light. It does so within the world and it does so within us. Shadow and light are intimate friends, much like Beauty and Mystery.

Losing sight of this relationship solidifies my resistance. Thrusting the dark into exile only grows its resolve to get my attention. It is in these times, that I go for a walk. I turn my attention to beauty. As I stand before beauty and its mystery, the stranglehold of the frozen places softens and releases.

Beauty echoes a new sound within us…

Often, it is Nature that comes to greet me and takes my hand to dance with shadow and light – with the wild and wonderful music of grace. It becomes a choreography of the fullness and the texture of wholeness. That is the acceptance of all parts of me – even those that are still hidden in the crevices.

Beauty weaves a new speech and echoes a new sound within us. One with the timbre of wholeness and joy in simply being.

Being aware of Beauty and inhaling its presence around us is not a veneer – a covering to numb us. It is, however, a portal to expression; to the roots of who we are in the midst of what we are experiencing. It helps us to find the hidden treasures within us.

Beauty opens us to Mystery as it permeates the whole world so freely. When we allow it to infuse us, we, in turn, bring about beauty in the world.

Deep is calling to deep….

The poet Hafiz says: “How did the rose ever open its heart and give to this world all its Beauty? It felt the encouragement of light against its Being. Otherwise it would remain too frightened”.

Years ago, I made a week-long retreat in a place by the exquisite and mighty Atlantic Ocean. I have a particular affinity and love for the sea. It was there, in the silence and in the expanse of its beauty, that I met an ancient wound inside of me.

At first, it was harrowing to acknowledge it. I had relegated this dark to my inner bedrock. Instinctively, I followed my feet and was led to the water – to the edge of the sea. To the place where it meets the land and announces its glory with full force against the rocks. When we can’t fully inhale the grace in the moment, the Divine gives us tender acts of kindness that melt our resistance. This was one of those moments.

Across the horizon was a rainbow. A rich spectrum of light resting upon the ineffable beauty of the sea. I allowed myself to follow the array of colour right into the core of me. To where the arc could touch the long-burrowed memory. It pierced the wall with peace. “Deep is calling to deep” says the Psalmist. The journey of healing is a deep spiralling path.

Beauty saves us…

Beauty was the light that shone upon my fright. It accompanied me to the rubble. This moment was an illumination of the promise of Beauty: It never leaves us. In fact, Beauty saves us.

When we stand before beauty and its mystery, it impacts the stranglehold of the frozen places within us. Whether it is a humble little dandelion or the majesty of the sea, mystery enters our hunger. Beauty frees us and calls us to compassion. In turn, that opens our eyes to see the Other the same way. “Learn the music” say the Psalms. Learn the music of the beauty and mystery that you are. Let it sound within you. Let is sound in our world. As Rumi says, “Let the beauty we love, be what we do.” Let it touch the often wearied heart of the world. Our world is hungry for beauty. 

What Enchants You?

What enchants you and compels you to stop? Takes your breath away? Or, brings you to your breath? What is beyond words and understanding in its simplicity or in its grandeur? Is it a delicate beauty or a wild and fierce beauty? What feels like “light against your being?”

An Invitation…

Commit to noticing beauty once a day for 7 days. In the flow of your days, turn your attention to something that that takes you to the threshold of Mystery … It may be word, a picture, a sound, a gift from nature….

Take a few seconds to honour this beauty and mystery in your life and bow to it in any way that makes sense to you. It might simply be to say silently: “I breathe in this Beauty. Or, “I stand before Mystery.”

Then notice how this simple gesture opens the flow of Beauty within you. Let it land inside of you where the Source of the Beauty that you are reverencing actually resides. The external and the internal are magnified as One.

As a prelude to this practice, I invite you to watch a short 5 minute video produced by Gratefulness.org. It holds images of resplendent beauty.

I leave you with some beautiful words- an excerpt from the poem One Hundred Objects Close, by poet Mirabai. Translated by Daniel Ladinsky in Love Poems from God.

Let your heart touch something that
 makes your eyes smile… Look at beauty’s gifts to us-

Her power is so great she enlivens the earth, the sky, our soul.

beauty and mystery, pink buds on tree

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Be still and…

Be still AND know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10) The “and” is significant in this quote from the Psalms. It takes us to the abundance of gifts that emanate from stillness.

rippling water with grass and leaves along the shoreline.

Stillness invites us to remember our Divinity.

Be Still and know that… this is a fertile space. It is full, alive and vibrant. It is an energy. And, it helps us to restore our balance.  Here where the sounds from both inside of us and from our environment are calmed, we are free to simply be present. In this space, we are drawn to the richness that is now. To be still is to be open to the moment in its fullness.

“But I am here right now!” 

I was playing in a pile of Autumn leaves with a precious and precocious three-year-old. We were having lots of fun creating a mountain of colour and then jumping into it with such delight. I had just heard that the family was leaving the city, moving away. I looked at this little beauty and thought to myself- I am going to miss you. When I heard her respond, I realized I had said it out loud. She said: “But I am here right now!”  Then, she proceeded to finish her call to Paw Patrol to come help us with the leaves. Three-year-old wisdom brought me back into the moment that was full of bright giggles and imagination. By anticipating her departure, I had stepped over this very special moment in her presence.

I knew later that this little one had created a pause for me with her words. She took me to the “and” of stillness; To the call of “be-still” so I could receive the sacredness of all that the moment held for us.

To be still is to be in the moment…

What does it mean to live in the NOW? I am still learning, but what I think it to be is that we allow ourselves to be fully aware. We let go of the past and we let go of the future. Resting in this haven , we are free. We are reminded that we are held ever so lovingly just as we are. No “shoulds”, no conditions, no judgments.  It is where we can know the purity of being and open to the gift of life celebrated in one transitory moment.

As we stand in awareness of our experience in the present moment, we realize that it is all we have. We become more fully aware of our true essence – of that which is Eternal. The old tapes stop running and the future fears calm. We meet who we are because who we are is here, not there. Too often we step over ourselves to get over “there”. We rush passed the only place we can experience being grounded.

When we feel engulfed by the many tasks that can fill a day and we move mindlessly from one thing to another, it feels impossible to be still. Most especially if we are in a state of overwhelm. However, in between all those things that occupy us, there are transitional moments. Gems of stillness. Sometimes we are going so fast they may be imperceptible. If we take a moment to observe, we can see that there is a natural end of one thing and the beginning of another. These are thresholds – transitional moments that call us to into attention.

be-still-crossing-a-bridge

Thresholds and Transitions

Being aware of transitions and thresholds is one way we can cultivate taking notice, to find our breath, re-calibrate and come back into our bodies. The root of the word transition is “transire”- meaning to go across. The pause is like a bridge. When we cross mindfully, the space between one thing and the next thing becomes a portal of peace.  The bridge provides an opportunity to be still and attentive.

We often physically cross the bridge that gets us from one task to another, but we arrive feeling scattered and fragmented. Moving on autopilot mode, we can get caught in going full throttle. We may get “there” physically, but we have left who we really are behind.

The act of taking a pause, making the moment sacred, is about bringing all parts of us home. It is also an empowerment for our senses. We can step out of the conditioned clock-time, ground and re-ignite our senses to receive the fullness and richness of the present moment.

Sunny day with grass and trees.

The Universe gifts us with wondrous displays of stillness. 

On June 21, for example, the Northern Hemisphere welcomes the Summer Solstice. The word Solstice means “the sun stands still.” It marks the longest day of the year and so then, the threshold moment that turns us towards the lessening of light.  As the sun “stands still’ we pay homage to the fullness of the it’s light upon us and to the abundance of bloom and colour and warmth. At the very apex of summer’s expansive energy, lies the moment of change. It is the gateway to balance. The path is now turns toward the shortest day of the year and to contraction. The pause marks the moment.

We are also invited into the awareness of pause in the natural world.  Notice the momentary stillness in the ebb and flow of a wave; or in the almost undetectable moment when the night turns into day or even at the bottom of our breath between its the exhale and the inhale.

Committing to a pause… to be still

To be still is a significant act of awareness and even surrender. It is a holy pause; an offering of reverent attention to the present moment. We re-inhabit our physical body, ground and align with our spiritual and emotional being as well. We tune into the grace of the moment and honour both letting go and receiving. Our own ebb and flow is one with the movement of the Universe.

The moment in which we are rooted holds all the grace we need. NOW is the only place where we meet Presence. We encounter a stillness that defies passivity. We are free of the past are free of the future. And so, the NOW becomes ALL time.

NOW is not about clock time. Yes, we all have responsibilities that fall into the designs of clock time. To be still in a holy pause is about detaching from the overload whilst being aware of Presence. Each moment fully inhabited is a sanctuary. It is an embrace of Eternal time. It is a practice of gentle awareness.

Tips for being still and mindful of the moment

Consider some of the times in your day when you can be still and mindful of the moment.

  • As you rise from sleep into wakefulness pause in gratitude.
  • As you shut the door on your way out, honour the gateway that moment is as it takes you into your day.
  • As you lay your baby down for a nap, reverence the silence before moving on.
  • As you wait at the red light whether walking, busing, driving, cycling…. Bring your attention to the stillness.

If you have only a few seconds:

  • Take a deep breath. A gentle, conscious breath is a mighty force of healing. It scans the body, nourishes, moves stagnant energy, grounds us and realigns us to inner wisdom.

If you have a few minutes:

  • Stretch and move your body. Take a short walk.
  • Do the “4-7-8 breath” three times: Breathe in to the count of 4; hold to the count of 7; breathe out to the count of 8.
  • Sit by or in sight of a tree. Just sit. Let in the beauty.
  • Do the Cortices. This is a simple, effective BodyTalk technique that balances the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Click here for a short instructional video by a BodyTalk colleague.

The poet Hafiz says, “Now is the time to know that all you do is sacred”. We remember our sacredness in our pausing. We receive and let go in our stillness. Here, we bask in merciful grace. Be still and…

Maria is a Certified BodyTalk and Reiki practitioner in Toronto ON. If you would like to explore cultivating balance click here to book a session.

The Whisper of Mystery

I took this picture on a walk one summer evening before dusk.  I was in awe of the gentle colour and quiet splendour that filled the sky.  As I held my gaze upon it, I realized that the whimsical cloud pattern, the unique palette, the whisper of mystery before the end of the day, was all being showcased on a limitless sky. The contours of this exquisite beauty sat in the Infinite. They filled the canvas that can hold both storms and dark clouds, rainbows and sundogs.

We too are a limitless sky. We are infinite space. It is difficult to believe sometimes especially as we stumble through so many human experiences. However, what if it is our stumbling that opens us to the encounter with the Infinite One?

As infants, we do not experience ourselves as being separate. We are One with all there is.  Even the sky is a part of us.  As the course of our human story evolves, we somehow begin to lose that inner knowing.

We develop habits and patterns that may have been instrumental in protecting us or in helping us to navigate life most especially during turbulent times. Subconsciously we begin to attach to them. This in turn creates the very contracted and constrictive space where we lean on expectations and belief systems that no longer serve us. We react to life situations with old patterns and conditioned responses. Our true essence is obscured by our perceptions. But that is not the end of the story.

The Wisdom of our bodies…

Our bodies carry wisdom- the innate wisdom that is the memory of Light within us.  It does not ever ask us to prove our worth. It does not subscribe to a particular belief or dogma. It does not demand conformity.  It does not measure or count. It is inclusive. Imagine being so unconditionally loved!

The Sacred inside us allows us to see all the beauty on its canvas. What is moving across it is not always easy. It is not always what we want. But if we can meet all that we experience with presence; with gentleness and compassion, perhaps even with awe, we begin our way back to our true home. To the place where we are One.

This does not mean that we step over the painful places of our lives or over the dark emotions that can sometimes bring us to our knees. In fact, we must tend to them and do so with loving kindness and with faith. We grieve as honestly as we dance. We cry out our lament to heaven. This is the path of the soul- to open to the Sacred that has never leaves us.

Acceptance…

Mark Nepo says: “A life of spirit, regardless of the path we choose, begins with a person’s acceptance that they are part of something larger than themselves.” If we can accept, not with a sense of defeat, but with the light of the heart, we move from contraction to expansion.

When I stumble in that very constricted space where nothing but the darkness is visible and breath is laboured; When it feels like the abyss is too, too deep to even imagine connection with all that is, I pray a prayer that I learned in one of my very first BodyTalk classes. It always reminds me that we are limitless and we are loved.

Here is a way to practice stepping into the expanse of your being:

Find a quiet space where you will not be interrupted. Take some deep breaths. Take your time with this. Be aware of your breath and let it guide the pace.

Place your hands on your heart and imagine pure, green, healing light emanating into them. With your breath, allow the light to infuse your entire body. Then, slowly let it fill the room you are in… then let it expand into the building… flow into your neighbourhood…, then the city…, the province…, the country… the continent…, the earth…, the galaxy…, the universe. That is how expansive you are. This is the whisper of your Mystery!


That is how expansive you are. This is the whisper of your Mystery!

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