Week 8 – Acknowledging Beauty

The Beauty of the World
As we look to see the beauty of the world, it is our own beauty that is reflected. The more we know our own light the more we see that light reflected. There is beauty behind all things, beyond perception, beyond the obvious, there is beauty to be found. When we slow down and observe more deeply we are more likely to see the beauty because, when we slow down we are closer to our own.
The world reflects back to us who and what we are. Whenever we see beauty, in nature, in people, when we see kindness acted out, qualities of patience and gentleness, then we are perceiving those qualities inside ourselves. When we can look beyond judgement to see the qualities in others and in the world, we are recognising and acknowledging them inside ourselves. The world we see is a reflection of us, both the dark and the light are reflected. We look at the dark to change it. We acknowledge the light to expand it.
When we see the light in others, pause for a moment and acknowledge that light is within us too. Great teachers allow us to see the light, they reflect back our light, they allow the light within us to shine. It is a duty to see the light, but, more importantly, to acknowledge that it is what is within us that is reflected. We deny it, we cannot accept it in ourselves, because it seems hidden by darkness, but if we can, even for a moment, acknowledge our own light, it will allow our light to expand.

Exercise – Acknowledging Beauty
When you observe someone performing a natural act of kindness or generosity, if you see someone being loving or tender, or just naturally enjoying themselves, with simple laughter, pause for a moment and acknowledge that quality is inside you too, even if you don’t use or express it very much. Remember that you only recognise it in others because it is a reflection of you. Do this as often as you observe any positive quality in someone else. Once you acknowledge that quality then you could go further by expressing that quality yourself, in as natural a way as possible.

Chi Kung Exercise – Energy Flow
This uses the circles of light exercise but goes a little further. Do the exercise standing up but have an upright chair easily accessible. Go though the movement working with the breath. Breathe up the spine and down the front of the body. Do it about six times and then quietly sit down, remaining centred.
Close the eyes and, without the movement, breathe up the spine and down the front. Feel as though the breath is going from the navel, down to the base and up the spine to the crown, as you breathe in and down the front of the body as you breathe out. Again about 6 breaths then just sit and feel the energy flowing around the circuit.
Now, still sitting, very slowly use the arms again to draw the chi up and around. Feel the movement on the hands and internally. Finish by just sitting.
This exercise helps to deepen the feeling on the energy in the hands. If you get that deeper experience then apply it through the whole sequence.

Exercise – Releasing
As an alternative way of releasing use the bow and arrow exercise from the Eight Silk Brocade.

Stand in horse riding stance and draw the arms in towards the heart.
Draw the bow and arrow, sinking down and breathing in, up to the point of tension. Hold at that position breathing naturally, feeling the tension in the body and thinking of what it is you want to let go.

When you are ready, release the position, extend the arms are then breathe in drawing the arms in towards the heart. Feel that you are drawing in love to your heart. Hold the hands at the heart feeling the love at the heart, breathing naturally

Repeat several times, until you feel that you have fully released it. Always finish with the love at the heart.

Exercise – Embracing
Like last month observe yourself with awareness, as if you were watching someone else but now take it to the next step. Last month we watched ourselves without judgement, observing thoughts and activities from an impersonal perspective. This time look a bit deeper, observe your personal motivations.

Spend time each day watching yourself, at least fifteen minutes. When you observe yourself in a particular situation, performing a particular act, or conversing with another ask yourself “What is (Your name) really looking for here?” Remember you are watching as if you are separate from your body and personality. Look beneath the surface past the obvious gloss and observe the moments when your actions are really a disguise for “getting what you want” or “looking good in front of others“. In other words look for the underlying selfishness that the ego would rather you did not see. Shine the spotlight of your attention onto this motivation.

Now for the important part; when you have done this, when your self observation reveals an aspect of your personality that hides behind the veil of selfishness, wrap your arms around yourself and say “So what.” What does it matter any way? You are still loved by God. You are still perfect. You, the real you, hasn’t changed at all. In other words embrace yourself and everything you do, especially those moments that you have formerly hidden from. Those are the areas of your life that need the most love, the most compassion. If you can embrace them in yourself then you can embrace them in another. If you hide from them in yourself then you will project them onto whoever is in front of you, finding them guilty for the sin you have committed.

A Longing to Return
If we steal from someone we steal from ourselves. If we curse someone, we curse ourselves. If we judge someone we judge ourselves. If we love someone we love ourselves. There is nothing that we do that does not reflect back to us. It reflects back to us because we are not separate. We might feel separate, and therefore feel that we can judge others, but because we are not separate, then we judge ourselves.
We have a longing, a deep unfulfilled desire, to return to wholeness. This longing is hidden from our mind, but it is held deeply within us. It is a longing that gives a deep sense of being unfulfilled, a sense that something is missing, a sense that there is some purpose to our life that we should complete. This underlying longing is our desire to return to unity, a deep inner need to once more be whole. And while that longing remains unfulfilled we will continue to harm ourselves, unconsciously, by hurting others.
At some level we know this to be true. There is a place inside that recognises the damage we cause by careless talk and whisper. When we touch this place we no longer see the separation and we know the truth of our nature. Everything we do reflects back, because we are one. There can be no pain except we feel it.
We can choose which to experience. Every criticism reminds us of our longing to be whole. Every judgement reminds that we have not yet returned. Every harsh word is a reminder of what we are not. Yet every expression of love is a reminder of our truth.
We look to accept every aspect of ourselves. To recognise every emotion and feeling because they remind us of who we are not. In life we hide these aspects of ourselves, but we are able to accept them if we are prepared to look. It is harder to accept the truth about ourselves, the peaceful, loving, kind and compassionate side of us. It is hard to accept this perfection because we feel that we have not fulfilled ourselves and we feel guilty.
It is a question that we must all ask ourselves. Are we prepared to accept the truth about ourselves and satisfy that deep longing within us, or will we continue to deny it. It is the hardest and easiest thing that we are asked to do, accept the truth about ourselves.

Recognising the Gap – The Power to Choose
(from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey)
Frankl was a psychiatrist and a Jew. He was imprisoned in the death camps in Nazi Germany, where he experienced things that were so repugnant to our sense of decency that we shudder to repeat them.

His parents, his brother and his wife died in the camps or were sent to the gas ovens. Except for his sister, his entire family perished. Frankl himself suffered torture and innumerable indignities, never knowing from one moment to the next if his path would lead to the ovens or if he would be among the “saved” who would remove the bodies or shovel out the ashes of those so fated.

One day, naked and alone in a small room, he began to become aware of what he later called “the last of the human freedoms” – the freedom that his Nazi captors could not take away. They could control his entire environment, they could do what they wanted to his body, but Victor Frankl himself was a self-aware being who could look as an observer at his very involvement. His basic identity was still intact. He could decide within himself how all of this was going to affect him. Between what happened to him, or the stimulus, and his response to it, was his freedom or power to choose that response

In the midst of his experiences, Frankl would project himself into different circumstances, such as lecturing to his students after his release from the death camps. He would describe himself in the classroom in his mind’s eye, and give his students the lessons he was learning during his very torture.

Through a series of disciplines – mental, emotional and moral, principally using memory and imagination – he exercised his small, embryonic freedom until it grew larger and larger, until he had more freedom that his Nazi captors. They had more liberty, more options to chose from in their environment; but he had more freedom, more internal power to exercise his options. He became an inspiration to those around him, even to some of the guards. He helped others find meaning in their suffering and dignity in their prison existence.

In the midst of the most degrading circumstances imaginable, Frankl used the human endowment of self awareness to discover a fundamental principle about the nature of man; Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose.