Archive for the ‘The Beauty Path’ Category

The Secrets in a Rose

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

Photo by Pamela Hale

What do you see when you look at the center of this rose? What emotions do you feel?

When it appeared as one of spring’s first offerings in my garden, I marveled at the perfection of the folds and their graceful sweep. And, I am drawn to the center, wondering in awe at the source of this creation.

The center of all flowers must contain the mystery, the source of their blooming, the secret behind their fragrance and the perfection of their beauty. And of course, if we were to tear the rose apart to discover the secret, we would destroy it. Somehow it is the very form the mystery takes that is part of its perfection. The mystery unfolds on its own, in its own time and in its own way. Just as we do. Just as life does.

I’ve long associated the rose with the power of the Virgin Mary, especially since I live in Tucson, a region where the Virgin of Guadalupe is very present. My husband and I have visited the chapel and shrine to her in Mexico, where a peasant named Juan Diego had an encounter with her and found an imprint of roses inside his poncho afterwards.

For me, the energy and power of the Virgin Mary is paired with Mary Magdalene and the other Marys in the Christian tradition, and the rose reminds me of all of them. They are, for me, aspects of the Divine Feminine that we need desperately now, regardless of our religious beliefs.

And so I was delighted, after I took this photo, to read this article (https://www.thoughtco.com/sacred-roses-spiritual-symbolism-rose-123989 )on the sacred symbolism of the rose that expanded its meaning for me. It turns out that the rose is a key symbol dating from pre-Christian times and associated with devotion to the goddess Venus. For Muslims, roses are symbols of the soul, and are sprinkled through the ecstatic poetry of Rumi and Hafiz. Hindus and Buddhists consider than to be expressions of spiritual joy. And when the fragrance of the rose is present and roses cannot be seen, God is at work.

As for the “mystic rose,” as the Virgin Mary is called, I had never thought of the prayer Catholics offer to her being the “rosary.” The repetition of the rosary is meant to be like a “spiritual bouquet” offered to The Virgin. And since women are particularly devoted to her, she is a powerful spiritual ally for the feminine principle.

I learned that essential rose oil vibrates at 320 megahertz of electrical energy, the highest vibration of any oil. The nearest competitor is lavender at 118. It was humbling to learn that a healthy brain vibrates at a range of 71-90!

If a loved one gives you a rose, no wonder it’s considered a sign of true love. And pay attention to the color. White is said to represent purity, red represents sacrifice and passion, yellow suggests wisdom and joy, and lavender symbolizes wonder, awe and positive change.

I say, be your own lover and give yourself a rose. And you might consider that an invitation for a miracle or angelic encounter. When the deep power of femininity is called forth, mysteries can be solved, wisdom revealed, and the perfection of Beauty can become the medicine for all ills.

 

This post can also be seen on Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/58e17d4be4b03c2b30f6a7c2

What You See Is What You Get

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

IMG_4862

“This world is but a canvas to our imagination.”–Henry David Thoreau

When I traveled in Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan last fall, I was of course struck by the wealth of sacred art. The particular ceiling in this photo was taken in a private home, so these arts are not relegated to skilled monks or to antiquity–they are still practiced by village craftsman. (Granted, in Tibet these craftsmen are an endangered species, since the Chinese are co-opting and controlling everything about Tibetan culture.) Imagine living in a home where your neighbor painted this extraordinary piece of art.

How would looking up at such a ceiling every day affect your vision of the world?

I think sacred arts have been created for many reasons, but one of them must be that the piece of art preserves the vision of the sacred world–and the invisible one–and passes this vision forward, preserving it as part of reality.

When we create any kind of art we are preserving or encoding a view we have of a certain aspect of reality. In that sense, what we saw when we made the piece is what we get as a future.

There’s another sense in which “what you see is what you get.” All the theories that abound today about creating your own reality are based on the idea that our thoughts can become manifest. And our thoughts are largely visual. It’s as though we have a vision–whether it be of ourselves coming down with a cold, or reuniting with a friend–and often we are either grabbing a tissue or answering the phone, delighted at the “coincidence.”

Vision has been proven to affect performance so strongly that  most serious athletes visualize that perfect high dive or ski run. Since I’m recuperating from foot surgery and don’t want all the muscles in my left leg to forget they’re muscles, I’m picturing myself dancing, hiking and walking on the sand. Science tells me that my muscles will believe they’re really doing it.

The link between vision and manifestation works from the inside out, and also from the outside in. When I traveled to the Berlin Wall in the ’60’s, I was shocked to see the wall, even though I had studied about Berlin and knew intellectually all about the efforts to divide people from each other. We know there is a big difference between intellectual and emotional knowing. Once I had seen it, I knew I would always be against such walls and would take a stand for what unites rather than divides us. The seeing changed my mind and heart, and became part of me. What I saw was what I got.

So how can you use this notion that what you see is what you get? I can think of three ways:

1. You can purposefully go on treasure hunts for beauty. With your camera or just your physical eyes, you can collect images that will become part of you, in mind, body and spirit.

2. When you see something disturbing, do a re-frame. Instead of focusing just on how disgusting or sad or scary something is, you can ask what the deeper purpose of your seeing could be. That way, you will literally “see” this scene differently, as if you put a filter on your mental camera.

3. You can point out beauty to others. Everyone does not see the subtleties of the pearly light on the foggy mountains. Some people just see grey and “bad weather.” You can always ask if someone sees how many different shades of green there are in the forest. It may literally expand their vision, and thereby their experience.

Beauty is good medicine. If what we see is truly what we get, then I’ll choose beauty any day of the week.

Gross National Happiness

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Bhutan

I had the privilege of traveling to the little kingdom of Bhutan recently, and one of the many gifts I received from that visit was the inspiration to spread the word about GNH. For Bhutan’s policy-making is guided not by the GNP (Gross National Product) but by GNH–Gross National Happiness.

It’s more than just a cute-sounding idea. There are documents outlining the four pillars, nine domains, and metrics for weighing and measuring progress. (http://www.grossnationalhappiness.com/) This little country of only 750,000 people is a model for a self-chosen set of values based on something we all chase: no, it’s not money; it’s happiness!

Thanks to our trip organizer, Narayan Shrestha (founder of the non-profit, Helping Hands), we were privileged to have a private dinner with the mayor of Thimpu, the national capital. Kinlay Dorjee seems humble, sincere, and clearly devoted to increasing the GNH in the capital and throughout the country. He spent some time introducing us to the four pillars, which are:

1.  Good governance

2.  Equitable and sustainable socio-economic development

3. Preservation and promotion of cultural heritage

4. Preservation and promotion of the environment

Pretty wonderful measures for policy-making, right? Let me backtrack to the inspiring back story.

In the 1970’s His Majesty the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck observed that economic growth had become the measure of growth and success across the world and at both collective and personal levels. Given the costs we are paying for this ideology, this enlightened king decided he would focus on a different set of values.

He came up with GNH, based on the belief that collective happiness of a society is the ultimate goal of governance. His legacy to his son, the current fifth King Jigme Kheser Namgyel Wangchuck, was the job of creating an operational framework for the growth of GNH in his country.

Finding that the four pillars were not complete enough, the Royal Government of Bhutan initiated the Good Government Plus (GG+) in 2005. Then the Centre for Bhutan Studies and GNH Research worked on indicators that now classify the values into nine domains. They are:

  • Psychological wellbeing
  • Health
  • Education
  • Time use
  • Cultural diversity and resilience
  • Community vitality
  • Good governance
  • Ecology
  • Living standards

Can you imagine a day when your government might ask if these nine domains are being addressed before deciding on a policy? For example, what if deciding on a policy for immigration involved asking, “What policy will increase cultural diversity and resilience?”

Can you imagine a day when corporate boards and executives might ask themselves how happy they and their employees and customers are, using these nine domains? How are corporate policies affecting the health domain, for instance?

And can you imagine a day when you might ask yourself if the decisions you’re making in your own life are taking these nine domains into consideration? Is that decision you’re considering going to affect the ecology of the planet? Your relationship to ecology will actually affect your happiness.

Some evidence I saw that these measures are working in Bhutan: the clean, sparkling rivers, which were like something out of a dream. Plastic bags are illegal; stores give out fiber bags. Tobacco is illegal and you cannot bring it into the country. People wear traditional dress–the men wear elegant robes over dark or argyle socks and dark shoes. The women wear lovely long skirts topped by jackets with a shawl collar often in a contrasting color. There is only a small military presence. Buddhist temples and other historical and cultural sites are beautifully preserved, and prayer flags fly everywhere there is a holy site or particularly stunning view.

Of course the country still faces challenges. But I was struck by the spiritual underpinning or energy, if you will, that was palpable everywhere. I felt an air of kindness, an atmosphere of reflection, an attitude of appreciation. This doesn’t stem from isolation; even monks were talking on cell phones. But it felt as if people had it straight that technology was not the end point. What they’re after is working with nature and with our own gifts, promoting what every human longs for: happiness.

 

 

 

The Stunning Light of One Life

Friday, June 21st, 2013

I drummed as people gathered and took their seats, and then welcomed them and explained the parts of the unique event to follow. Creating a memorial service for a woman devoted to indigenous spirituality felt like a huge responsibility, especially when I worry about people’s comfort levels with shamanic practices. But the family assured me that everyone there would appreciate knowing more about this tradition that meant so much to…I’ll call her Sophia.

The family chose an outdoor venue known for its beauty, and we had chairs set up  across from a semi-circular outdoor “stage,” where we put a 6- foot table that would serve as an altar.

The table was laden with bowls full of seeds, candies, feathers, glitter, cotton, chiles, raisins, popcorn and piles of photos, special objects and flower arrangements, feathers, beads and Native fabrics. It looked like a combination of an exotic kitchen and an outdoor market.

First, we called in the directions and created a sacred space, me using my rattle and spirit water and saying prayers, as we stood and faced each of the four directions, and then by touching Mother Earth and raising our hands to Father Sky.

Then we began an adaptation of an indigenous Peruvian despacho ceremony. I explained, speaking especially to the children, that we would be making a present for Sophia, a package packed with our prayers, our memories and our symbols of all that was precious about her life. For our simplified version, we would create three layers of symbols on tissue paper, representing the lower, middle and upper worlds.

On the ground below the altar, we had placed the green and purple ceramic urn with Sophia’s ashes, and her photograph. On a hand woven green and purple Peruvian textile, I laid out white tissue paper, which would become the outer layer of the despacho. Then came red paper for the lower world-the world of the unmanifest.

“Sophia’s life was like a seed that will grow through her children and grandchildren,” I told them. “So I need some volunteers to place seeds and other symbols of Mother Earth.” All the grandchildren ran up.  

After making a traditional Southern Cross of sugar, the children sprinkled seeds, and then spices for the flavors of life: cumin, cinnamon sticks and chiles for southwestern heat. We offered rose petals for the beauty of the earth, seaweed to honor all sea life, plastic neon bugs for the creepy crawlers, raisins to honor the old wrinkled ancestors, and candies for the sweetness of the earth.

The family came up and offered  “kintus” made of trios of bay leaves, into which they had blown their prayers. It was a beautiful layer, and I invited people to come and look at it before it was covered. (We were demonstrating creation and death.)

I laid out green tissue paper for the middle world-the one we experience with our five senses, and therefore believe is “real.” Family and close friends had brought symbols and placed them on the altar, and now they came up to place them into the despacho and explain their meaning.

There were photos of outings, cards from favorite restaurants. Thread from Sophia’s sewing machine. A single dice and a playing card. The grandchildren all brought drawings or letters, some placed amidst tears. A co-worker placed a fetish made by her office, a heart wrapped with a crystal. A daughter placed a small elephant that had been a childhood favorite.The middle layer was a fine mess, like life. Full of treasures.

We covered it with blue tissue for the upper world. More kintus. And now the grandchildren tore up cotton balls to make clouds. They sprinkled popcorn to honor the lightening spirits. They sprinkled glitter shaped like stars, feathers for the winged ones, silver and gold candies for the rain and sun, angels.

It was time to wrap it all up. Sophia’s closest friend came up and helped me fold it all by holding the package—now white—while I folded it in the traditional way and wrapped it with a silver ribbon and a golden cord. I held it up and said a blessing for Sophia’s soul—may she fly.

The prayer bundle would be ceremonially burned by the family, and the ashes would be combined with Sophia’s ashes, and sprinkled as she had requested.

Now it was time for tributes and stories. People had written things, and people tearfully said things they hadn’t written. One of her daughters talked about Sophia’s beliefs, ending with her mantra—Walk in peace.

We closed the directions and the sacred space as I played my rose quartz crystal bowl, which produces a beautiful, reverberating sound that enters the heart. What we all wanted was to walk out of this ceremony and keep those hearts open paying forward the love we all felt. And so we listened to the reverberation, and I reminded us all that the heart’s love reverberates ever so much farther than this sound. We ended with, “May we all walk in peace.”

As I returned to my drum, which I played again as they made their way to each other, and eventually to food and drink and conversation, many whispered thanks. I was especially touched by one young man with full eyes, who said he had never experienced anything like this and that the power of it was almost overwhelming. And of course there were the children.

On my way home, my heart full from the love of this community, I had an extraordinary experience. I saw or felt a huge flash of light whip past the front of my car like a comet. It took my breath away. Tears came, as I felt this was an acknowledgement from the soul of this woman I did not even know. I could see and feel the stunning beauty of this one life, and the stunning beauty of each life. This light, this importance, this beauty of each life is what I want to always remember.

I came home and sat at my computer, and this poured out, along with my tears:

Oh, oh! The splendor of this one life!

It is like a star exploding!

And the whole cosmos applauds

As the fireworks resound throughout the blackness of space,

That is thirsty for light.

 

Oh, oh again!

Another burst of light as she transcends,

As she expands

Past her body

And flies

Free

Lending her light

To all who gather

At the well.

 

We earthlings have no idea

How huge this one life is.

Really, honestly,

How huge.

How bright.

How important.

How eternal.

How unforgettable.

It is awe-some.

Deserving of hands up to mouths,

In astounded speechlessness.

 

And this is just one soul

Making its transition.

 

Think of it.

What could yours be like?

 

Photographing the Unseen

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Most people approach photography in a documentary way photographing an event, a person or an object in order to remember it, or to say, “This is how it is.” We tell a story of what we see. But another way to approach photography is through the question, “What have I not seen?”

Now we’re on a treasure hunt! And rather than thinking of “shooting” something with the camera (or phone,) we might think of opening the lens to something new. Just writing that opens my heart to the possibility of a magic moment where I might discover…anything.

Instead of “capturing” a moment, I’m willing to be more passive and let something new present itself to me. It’s the difference between a reporter covering an event and two friends of lovers having an intimate conversation. I’m open today to having a heart-to-heart with the Creation.

This kind of experience opens our inner eye. We find that what was formerly unseen was there all along, but we weren’t seeing it. Maybe we weren’t slowing down enough. Or maybe we weren’t broadening our vision. Or getting close enough. Or maybe we were being too literal and saying to ourselves, “There’s a leaf.” Instead of looking at that object as a way for us to see how light acts.

And what happens when our inner eye is opened? Well, my experience is usually gratitude. Appreciation. That wonderful expansive feeling that comes from being opened to the beauty of something or someone.

So here’s an assignment for you:

Go out for a medicine walk using your camera. The kind of camera makes no difference. Set your intention by asking the Universe to reveal to you something you haven’t seen before. It could be small–like the inside of a flower or a curve of the mountain, or the way your friend’s nose looks when she laughs. You aren’t after masterpieces; the purpose is to open your inner eye.

Share what you find–others would like to see! And tell us how your inner eye opened. That is, when you saw what you saw, what did you see about yourself, or the world, or a way you could be? You can post photos at Facebook.com/PamelaHale9.

What does my wild heart desire, #2

Monday, February 4th, 2013

The second process I’ll use to explore what my wild heart desires is photography. I went on a walk in Catalina State Park, which is a treasure right next to my house. (I know, my wild heart is already grateful.) I took some photos—not thinking too much about why, except I was attracted to that scene—and now I’ll dialogue with them.

Seeing the great Catalinas, touched by the setting sun, I remember that my wild heart’s desire is always to live near beauty, with beauty surrounding me, and to be on the Beauty Path. That is, if for some reason I find myself in a place that doesn’t seem beautiful, I will find beauty there, or create it. Thank you for reminding me of how much I love beauty.

I am reminded that I am always looking for my path. That the exploration–the finding and following my path–is a lovely adventure in itself. My wild heart loves that exploration and isn’t nearly as attached to the destination or the end result as my mind and my ego. Another good reminder!

This scene reminds me that reflections–even in an ordinary rain puddle–can be lovely. The way nature is reflected is a treasure, if we just remember to look. My wild heart loves to find lovely reflections, both in nature and in my own inner landscape. She loves the process of taking time, of looking and remembering to remember. She wants me to always allow time for this.

Finally, I stop and see myself–my shadow–in the landscape. What does this show about my wild heart? The photo tells me that my mind and ego tend to think my shadow–the parts of me that aren’t visible to me in “normal life”–show up in natural ways in order to be recognized and accepted. That means the parts of me that aren’t so nice and pretty are going to show up in my outer life through my relationships, and they’ll also show up in my inner landscape. And that is a good thing. My wild heart doesn’t care if I have imperfections. She’s all about discovery, exploration, venturing into uncharted territory. She says we can all have wonderful discoveries when our shadow shows up. Sometimes these involve healing old wounds and other times they involve seeing and recognizing our gifts.

What do these four photographs say to you about your own wild heart? I invite your comments!

Creating Beauty as a Safe Landing Space

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

It’s so easy and delicious for me to sink onto a place of beauty in nature and feel safe in that “All Is One” feeling. Next to ocean, or stream, or wind through the pines I am reminded of the life force that courses through all things. I am in my safe landing space at those times.

And then we know there are other moments. Moments that suck. Moments that are almost intolerable. Moments when we don’t want to be here. Moments when we feel like life must be against us. These moments do not feel like safe landing spaces.

So what to do? Especially since those ‘other moments” are when we need a safe landing space the very most.

Well, I say we create beauty. We must.

I love to talk about Victor Frankl, because he is the most extreme example I can come up with of a human who could create beauty out of the most meager ingredients. A concentration camp survivor whose whole family was exterminated, he credited his survival to his decision to find meaning in every day.

If he could do that in those circumstances, surely I can do it in mine.

But how, in those moments of despair, frustration, fear, or anger do we create beauty? There is a lot of ugliness in the world, after all.

I think it’s a choice. About how to see.  Without being a Polyanna, without denying, we can choose to see beauty.

I can choose to find the beauty in an ordinary task like peeling a vegetable that God made, or even cleaning a toilet I’m lucky to have. I can choose to find beauty in weeding a garden where I’m making room for new life. I can choose to seek out the beauty that accompanies some of the worst tragedies, where in the midst of great loss there is some moment of exquisite love. I can choose to not be blind, but just to see “through a different lens.”

Maybe this is part of our work on earth. At least it makes our journey here more lovely.

Do it for you. Create beauty just to make your day better.

Do it for someone else. See if that doesn’t make your day better too.

See if when you create beauty, it doesn’t make you feel safe somehow. Safe in the fact that you are a creator. Safe in the fact that there is beauty in the first place. Safe in the fact that creating beauty is a well-worn path. A sacred one. One which has eternity in it.

Ah, now you have landed. In a beautiful place. On solid ground.

Taking the Pilot’s Seat: Controlling Airspeed

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

When I walk on the beautiful land in the Sutherland Valley, beneath the Catalina Mountains, the land reminds me that Mother Earth has a heartbeat, a rhythm. Being in nature attunes my body to her rhythm and reminds me of my own natural pace. So does meditation—it is a way of stopping to check in with the Source, and with my own body/mind, and re-calibrating.

I need to change my “attitude,”—an aviation term for the angle of the airplane– to pull the nose of my airplane up a bit and slow my speed.

When I think of the idea of slowing my pace, my “small mind” immediately panics at the thought. What will I miss? What will I not accomplish?

Fortunately my “larger mind” responds by asking, “Where are you going so fast? What is your destination or goal that is so crucial? Isn’t the journey the point?”

My small mind says nothing.

I remember Thich Nhat Hahn’s cautions about our pace, his advice about mindful walking and mindful eating and avoiding multi-tasking.

My small mind points out how many things I accomplish by multi-tasking. Is that really true? Recent research points out that our brains don’t operate at maximum efficiency when we do more than one thing at a time. Maybe we are sacrificing focus, intensity and depth of thought, excellence in problem-solving.

Perhaps I suffer from the aviator’s dreaded plague, “get-there-itis,” the disease that leads to unwise decisions like flying too late, or into bad weather, or when sick, or in conditions outside our expertise. If we crash, we might ask ourselves what was so important about that destination and how much time we really saved.

If I take time to gaze out the window, perhaps I’ll really see something like the scene in the photo of the water and cloud formations along the Sea of Cortez. What’s the hurry, really?

These are thoughts each of us must bring to consciousness as we pilot our way through a year that may challenge us to drop old patterns, to take responsibility for our own energy, to ask treasured family and friends to support us as responsible pilots who have taken the left seat. We may not be able to manage the strong winds of life, but we can manage ourselves.

What are your thoughts?  Interact with us at Facebook.com/FlyingLessons!

 

A Little Story of a Different Lens

Monday, September 26th, 2011

My friend and assistant Cynthia Wheeler was in Encinitas CA with me this week, enjoying a respite from the Tucson heat and enjoying the beach. The other morning she came back from a walk breathless with excitement.

“I met a young woman on the beach, “ she said, “who saw me taking pictures of the sand spirits I found in the sand, and offered to take a picture of me using my camera.  I thanked her and asked her if she had ever seen the sand spirits on the beach. She looked puzzled, and so I showed her one.

‘See this figure on the sand? ‘ I pointed. ‘If this stone were its head, see how the streaks in the sand look like a robe, and these streaks around the shoulders…’

‘Oh! It looks like an angel!’ She was excited. ‘I needed this today!’

‘And so I told her,’ Cynthia went on, ‘that if she asked her angel—her sand spirit—something, she would hear an answer.’

‘I will?’ Her eyes widened. And so I assured her that if she listened with her whole being, of course she would. And, I suggested she google Sand Spirits and find the Insight Cards and even join us on the free webinar. She said she was going to go right home and do that!’”

Cynthia is so generous by nature that I wasn’t surprised that she had struck up this touching conversation with a stranger. What did surprise me was the reminder that even people who walk on the beach all the time may never have seen the figures nature has created there. I often hear people say, “I’ll never see a beach the same way again.” And I think that is a lot.

If we begin to see even one thing in a new way, our whole life can change in that instant.

May something appear to you in a whole new way today!

Pam

P.S. Join us on our free webinar Thursday at 4PST! It will be recorded, so be sure to sign up even if you can’t attend.(Sorry–you’ll have to copy and paste this long url into your browser!  http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e4u7zku02c910453&llr=bvhm8ccab

P.P.S.  Go to Facebook.com/PamelaHale9 to see the photos of sand spirits I found this week in Encinitas!

Lessons from nature

Monday, September 27th, 2010

This weekend I was at the Rocking X Ranch, having my own retreat with my husband. Across the creek from this group of chairs is a long and wide patch of blackberry bushes, partly visible in this photo. The blackberries were ripe, and so of course we picked all we could reach.

I always learn from picking blackberries. Here were the lessons they taught me this time:

1. Blackberry juice is a powerful and brilliant dye.

2. Greed can hurt you.

3. Overreaching is not always a wise idea.

4. Cost benefit analysis can be done very quickly. (Are there enough berries in there to justify climbing in and risking more scratches?)

5. Sometimes your harvest falls apart in your hands, and in such cases the best move is to eat and enjoy.

6. You may think you’ve looked hard, but coming back in the other direction, more abundance may be revealed.

7. You never know what planting one vine may create down the line. (Jon’s mother swears the whole patch started from one she planted years ago.)

8. On a given day your crop may look meager, but by the very next day you may have abundance.

9. Gratitude makes the eating sweeter.

10. Look under. Look up. Look between. Look around. Look ahead and look back. Expect to find and bring a large container.

11. Persistence pays.

12. A pie made from what you pick will be the very best.

13. Nature gives and gives and gives.