Finding the beauty
“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”
Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places, where other people see nothing.
This month's theme of Finding the Beauty in The Everyday is based on a simple premise and a simple practice that will allow the light to shine through the cracks of your wounded being. Please read the following very carefully, including the instructions at the end, as you will not be able to take part in this month's practice until you have completed the challenge.
Psychotherapist and spiritual teacher John Welwood says:
"When you recognize that the absolute beauty within you cannot be tarnished by your flaws, then this beauty you are can begin to care for the beast you sometimes seem to be. Beauty’s touch begins to soften the beast’s gnarly defenses.
Then you begin to discover that the beast and the beauty go hand in hand. The beast is, in fact, nothing other than your wounded beauty. It is the beauty that has lost faith in itself because it has never been fully recognized. Not trusting that you are loved or lovable has given rise to all the most beastly emotional reactions—anger, arrogance, hatred, jealousy, meanness, depression, insecurity, greedy attachment, fear of loss and abandonment."
So what does it mean to find beauty in everything when the world, including your inner world, sometimes feels so full of imperfection and ugliness?
Finding beauty means looking beyond what is traditionally perceived as beauty. It means connecting to moments of everyday beauty; finding beauty in the small things, the magic in the mundane, the flower growing through the pavement. Looking through the cracks and the flaws and seeing things in a new light. In doing so, we discover a new appreciation of life itself.
The Ancient Greeks believed that there were an infinite number of ways to see beauty. This is the origin of the word kaleidoscope:
Kalos = Beautiful + Eidos: Many Ways to See. There are as many ways to see beauty in this world as there are eyes to see.
Too often we are too distracted or busy to notice this beauty in the everyday. This was famously highlighted when Joshua Bell, a world renowned violinist, played a beautiful piece of music in Washington City Subway and no-one stopped to pay any attention. At one point a small girl stops, mesmerised, but is quickly tugged along by her hurried mother. If we all took the time to slow down and really open our eyes to the world around us, we could find beauty everywhere.
The Japanese have many beautiful ways of celebrating beauty. One such tradition is the tea ceremony called Wabi-Sabi in which only damaged or chipped pots and cups are used. This is a beautiful metaphor of being human: of how we may continue to serve with grace from this vessel that is us, despite our cracks, flaws, our imperfections.
Another Japanese tradition is Kintsugi: the art of repairing broken objects with golden lacquer. In this practice, there is no attempt to hide the damage, but instead an appreciation of the illumination that comes through the cracks. As Yoshida Kenko, a poet and Buddhist monk, says,
"Beauty is something inherently impermanent—an aesthetic that acquires almost unbearable pertinence at moments when an earthquake and tsunami may shatter existing arrangements"
The Navajo have their own tradition called the Beauty Way. This tradition is based on a ceremony that takes place when someone is sick, either physically or psychologically. The community perform a Beauty Way ceremony: the sick person lies in the centre of a ring and all around him/her people create beauty, through art, music, poetry, nature, incense, and eventually a beautiful sand-painting. Hozho is one of the most important words in the Navajo language. It means beauty, balance, order, harmony, the perfection of everything. To be “in Hozho” is to be at one with and a part of the world around you.
Navaho Beauty Blessing Prayer
Today I will walk out, today everything unnecessary will leave me,
I will be as I was before, I will have a cool breeze over my body.
I will have a light body, I will be happy forever,
nothing will hinder me.
I walk with beauty before me. I walk with beauty behind me.
I walk with beauty below me. I walk with beauty above me.
I walk with beauty around me. My words will be beautiful.
In beauty all day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons, may I walk.
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With dew about my feet, may I walk.
With beauty before me may I walk.
With beauty behind me may I walk.
With beauty below me may I walk.
With beauty above me may I walk.
With beauty all around me may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
My words will be beautiful.
And so, beauty is so much deeper than the messages we get about beauty from our society. Beauty is about being virtuous. Beauty is found in a good heart, in sincerity, integrity. Beauty is in the energy of all living things. Beauty is in the knowledge that nothing lasts forever.
We have a wonderful challenge this month which you will be able to access once you have absorbed the content here and the meditations. When you are ready, please email Louis on firstname.lastname@example.org with the following pass phrase: 'I am ready to find the beauty in my wounds'. When Louis receives your email, you will get access to the challenge. Everyone who made the webinar on Wednesday is already getting started with the challenge so do get involved as soon as you can.
Please find the links to the recording for the month's theme, Finding the Beauty in the Everyday. You can download the webinar audio version here to listen to at your own time or click on the image below to watch the video. And if you just want to listen to just the two meditations from the session you can download these here and here.
[00:00:00] Welcome Everyone
[00:00:23] Check In
[00:18:56] Finding the Beauty in the Everyday
[00:19:37] Meditation 1 - Connecting to moments of everyday beauty
[00:24:51] Sharing of Meditation
[00:27:18] Yew Mystery - Connecting With Yew Trees
[00:37:50] Beauty as a spiritual concept
[00:39:20] Ancient Greek Tradition
[00:40:28] Violinist Experiment
[00:41:47] Ancient Greek Morality
[00:42:29] Navajo - Beauty Way
[00:44:34] Navajo Poem
[00:46:20] Japanese Traditions - Wabi-Sabi
[00:47:59] Japanese Traditions - Kintsugi
[00:51:55] Community Sharing Space
[00:53:10] Setting Up Extended Meditation - Loving Your Wounds
[01:05:24] Underneath all these core wounds is just this part of us that wants and needs is to just feel loved
[01:11:22] Meditation - Connecting to the Power of Unconditional Love
[01:23:59] Sharing the Experience
3 Pieces of Alchemical Gold:
1. Finding beauty allows us to transform the tendency of the mind to judge things. When we look for beauty we see it in all things. We connect to all things and all people.
2. When we are busy or preoccupied with our thoughts and lives we miss beauty all around us. Beauty connects us to our heart space, to this space. The here and now.
3. Without death, it would be more difficult to appreciate beauty. Yoshida Kenko observed in his classic Essays on Idleness: ‘If man were never to fade away like the dews of Adashino, never to vanish like the smoke over Toribeyama, how things would lose their power to move us!’.
Wabi-Sabi - Japanese Tea Ceremony
Kintsugi - The art of repairing broken objects with gold lacquer.
Mono No Aware - a deep sensitivity to the transient beauty of things
The Primal Wound - a book about the core wound we all carry
The Inner Beauty Bible - a book about using ritual to connect to a space of beauty
Poem Orin L. Crain (from Meditation 1)
Teach me the art of taking minute vacations—of slowing down to look a flower, to chat with a friend, to pat a dog, to smile at child, to read a few lines from a good book.
Remind me each day that race is not always to the swift; that there is more to life than increasing its speed.
Let met look upward to the towering oak and know that it grew great and strong because it grew slowly and well