Part 7 – From Spirit to Matter

Wabi-Sabi – Nature’s Imperfection

Seeing What Is 

Two years into California life I still felt unsettled, ungrounded. I had studied with amazing spiritual teachers, taken a trip around the world and photographed to my heart’s content. I was still living off of savings, not working. I sought advice from one of my teachers, guru Babaji, and decided to go back to school, to enter seminary. This provided routine, structure, and a community of like-hearted souls taking action in the world. It also created a great deal of angst as I vacillated between the idea of being a chaplain, or an artist, and worrying about how I would ever use any or all of my talents to create right livelihood. I had entered into another phase of integrating my NDE… the either/or mode, not this/not that, and couldn’t see the both/and  opportunities of being rather than doing. The more I struggled to understand the more resistant I became. One day my academic advisor suggested that I just step back and allow things to unfold.

Stepping back and allowing lead to a year in residence at Sonoma Ashram. There I learned how to breathe into a simple, albeit very structured, contemplative life. A life of seeing what is, no more – no less. I let go of more belongings, of inhibiting thoughts and negative beliefs. Baba would say, “Nothing is worth losing your peace.” And when I lost my peace, his reminder was, “Stop, take a step back…”  The daily practices opened my heart, I became more compassionate, and I learned to be still amidst the swirling Shakti energy that created daily paradox within our community of residents and guests.

Then the 2016 election happened. It felt like the earth shifted on its axis and she entered into a dark night of the planetary soul. I was ordained a couple of weeks later and it became apparent that my time at the ashram was ending. I needed to be out in the world, although I still didn’t know what I was to do. While I hunted for work, I sought refuge in my photography as a spiritual practice, walking every day, going to the ocean, or meandering around the ashram grounds. I found peace in nature and in seeing the Divine everywhere. Wabi-sabi – the imperfection of what is, nothing more – nothing less.  By summer I was on to my next adventure.

Visit more of my Wabi-Sabi collection HERE.

 

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”   –  Confucious

Join me and Kauakea in Hawaii Sept 22-28 for our Sisters-of-Spirit Retreat.  Slow down, wake up, and revel in wholeness while receiving the simple gifts of beauty and Spirit all around us, and in us… Learn more HERE.

Part 6 – From Spirit to Matter

Divine • Light • Mandalas  – Cosmic Consciousness Through the Chakras

Portals of Ascension

Seven years after my near-death-experience (NDE) I moved from Colorado to California to study more deeply with the spiritual teachers I had met through Mystery School. Seeking that Divine connection, that feeling of oneness, I continued my training in world wisdom traditions, spiritual psychology, Reiki crystal healing, and our Chakra system, becoming a skilled healer.

As often happens with near-death-experiencers (NDERs), in spite of the fact that I had a spiritual community, I didn’t feel like I truly belonged. Solitary, contemplative time exploring with my camera was my preferred way to ground into a sense of belonging with myself and my environment. To avoid increasing isolation, I sought connection with other photographers. During a short-lived stint with a photo club, I met someone who, like me, found photography both grounding and uplifting, and a way to create a deeper connection with self and others.

She also loved to photograph holiday lights, so we played with what I call “Camera Dancing™” ––moving the camera liberally, while using a slow shutter speed. It was so much fun! When I looked at the original images in photoshop, I thought kaleidoscope!  I mirrored each photo once, then twice. Amazing portals appeared! Spirit took over the process and the images came to life. I experimented meditating with them and found that I could unblock and re-energize stuck energy in my chakras, from root to crown. This collection has become one of my many creative, sacred, healing art tools I share with others.

Movement and mirror imaging come together to create Divine • Light • Mandalas

See slide show HERE

 

Transformative art must express something beyond where you are, it demands that you grow beyond your current self. This is where an artist’s angst and the pain of transformation coincide. You reach toward the true, the good and the beautiful and become a better person through the struggle.
—Alex Grey, artist

Join me and Kauakea in Hawaii Sept 22-28 for our Sisters-of-Spirit Retreat.  Slow down, wake up, and revel in wholeness while receiving the simple gifts of beauty and Spirit all around us, and in us… Learn more HERE.

Part 5 – From Spirit to Matter

Seeking Wholeness  – Divine Reflections in Nature

PHOTOGRAPHY AS A SPIRITUAL/HEALING PRACTICE POST NDE

The surgery, during which I had my near-death-experience (NDE), saved my life by gutting me from stem to stern, leaving me with an everlasting Buddha belly, a scar that I once considered having a tattoo created around, and my belly button off center. Processing and integrating my surgery and NDE involved recalibrating my negative body image, now distorted more than ever. The thought of being naked and vulnerable with anyone was terrifying. I needed to reclaim my divine feminine wholeness on all levels; emotional, spiritual, and physical. Communing with the beauty of nature allowed me to befriend my broken bits, and begin to put myself back together.

Vest Unveiled – Mantra: Home is where my heart takes a stand.

 

Vesta Unveiled was my first mirror image­­––sensuous, fiery, revealing. Lilith Lingering and Pele’s Hula came to me during my first trip to Hawaii. Their movement reflects the power and grace I sought to regain, as my NDE’s life review had opened old wounds and shredded my self-confidence. The perfect symmetry of the mirror images metaphorically expressed my desire to feel whole again.

Their goddess names and mantras arose through deep listening, feeling, and meditating with each image, asking them, “what do you have to teach me about my Self, my true nature? I would then free-write; words of compassion, forgiveness and self-love tumbling onto the page. These images have become healing allies and friends, teaching me and others each time they are shared. I’ve been lead to create over thirty Divine Reflections in Nature, and am constantly in awe of the beauty revealed whenever and where ever we take the time to be truly present, and to see with our hearts.

Goddesses: Vesta is the Roman virgin goddess of hearth and home.  Lilith in Jewish legend is the first wife of Adam. Pele is the Hawaiian goddess of fire. 

Join me and Kauakea in Hawaii, Sept 22-28 for our Sisters-of-Spirit Retreat.  Slow down, reconnect, and revel in wholeness while receiving the simple gifts of beauty and Spirit all around us, and in us… Learn more at https://ljwdivinesight.com/healing-photography-and-retreats/sisters-of-spirit-hawaii/

Part 4 – From Spirit to Matter

COMING ALIVE – A Photographic Journey – 50th Birthday 2006

PHOTOGRAPHY AS A SPIRITUAL/HEALING PRACTICE POST NDE

These are a few photographs from my one-woman show that reveal my initial sense of… “Seeing What Else There Is,” illustrating my state of mind before, during and after my NDE, and celebrating my evolution. It’s about coming alive, and making the journey from harsh self-criticism to self-love and compassion. It’s about re-engaging and embracing my creative spirit. These images and the timeless universal wisdom in the  poetry, guide you through the process, as my heartfelt message becomes clear. “Don’t sleepwalk through life and wait for a crisis to make a change. Live each day to the fullest, be at Peace with your Self.”

MYSTERY • Pathways

At first the questioning, the seeking, trying to discover me “out there.”  The linen curtain shields the Great Mystery, the empty pathways metaphors for the search. There’s comfort in the aloneness that envelopes me as I wander mystical places. The path, not always obvious offers unexpected gifts when I pay attention.

DISCOVERY • Openings

If eyes are the windows of the soul, what are windows? They are symbols of my inward search regaining pieces of Self hidden or lost through time and disconnectedness. What part of me is in those rooms? What fears…what hopes? To dwell in this inner landscape is to acknowledge uncharted or previously unaccepted territory.

INTIMACY • Soft Light

Flowers, soft light, bright colors all nurture the soul.Accepting and embracing the abundance and beauty around us helps us to realize that the beauty resides within, radiating outward. This awakening ignites a renewed intimacy with life. Universal love exists in the center of a flower, the symmetry of a leaf and the reflection of a dewdrop. I am reconnected once again.

COMING ALIVE • Energy/Movement

Abstract explosions of light celebrate joy, transformation and wholeness at having reached 50. Captured while dancing along the path of the Botanic Garden’s “Blossoms of Light” exhibit, these images begin to express my renewed energy and essence. I am grateful to be alive. I have much to offer.

The wisdom in the poetry written within a year after my NDE, still holds true all these years later; like a guiding light through the times when I have been distracted from my vision, or temporarily lost in fear of not having, or not being enough. Integrating a near-death-experience into day-to-day life is not easy. There really is no end. You are changed forever because it lives on within, teaching you, informing you, transforming you.

Spirit always stands still long enough for the photographer It has chosen.” – Minor White

Join me and Kauakea in Hawaii Sept 22-28 for our Sisters-of-Spirit Retreat.  Slow down, wake up, and heal into wholeness while receiving the simple gifts of beauty and Spirit all around us, and in us… Learn more at https://ljwdivinesight.com/healing-photography-and-retreats/sisters-of-spirit-hawaii/

 

Part 3 – From Spirit to Matter

SEEING THE BOUNDLESSNESS of Time and Space

Photography as a Spiritual/Healing Practice Post NDE

During my NDE I took a fantastic ride, leaving my body, literally becoming a spark of light––first traveling along a circuit board, then flung out into the universe and through a life review––all in Imax 3D, 360 degree vision. Time and space know no bounds in an altered state, and words don’t really describe all the sensations. I didn’t know how to process what I’d experienced internally, so it began to appear outwardly through my photographs.

I discovered the holiday light show at a local botanic garden and began experimenting with a slow shutter speed and camera movement. It was thrilling to see the results! Each image was completely different, depending upon whether I swooshed, wiggled, twisted, zoomed, or whirled. It was awesome, I felt like a kid discovering something new and wonderful. It made me happy! It became an annual holiday event, taking friends and family to the botanic gardens light show for what I call, Camera Dancing.™  

My desire for seeing and sensing movement while being stationary and still stayed with me, and I experimented beyond the light show, taking my camera dancing into nature. There’s a feeling of having a foot in two worlds or of walking between the worlds, peeking through the veil into the unseen. Objects are no longer identifiable by the mind. We no longer attach labels–– tree, leaf, rock, water––allowing us the opportunity to connect more deeply with the energy of our seeing, and to ask ourselves, where do I feel this in my body? What emotion does this image evoke in me?

I invite you to slow down, take a deep breath and focus for a minute or two on these photographs. Ask yourself those questions as you look into them.  Practice with your own photos or artwork.

Hawaiian Tapestries ©LjW 2006

“When our eyes are graced with wonder, the world reveals its wonders to us. So much depends on how we look at things. The quality of our looking determines what we come to see.” ––John O’Donohue, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace

Join me and Kauakea in Hawaii Sept 22-28 for our Sisters-of-Spirit Retreat.  Slow down, wake up, and heal into wholeness while receiving the simple gifts of beauty and Spirit all around us, and in us… Learn more at https://ljwdivinesight.com/healing-photography-and-retreats/sisters-of-spirit-hawaii/

Take a “beauty” break from the Chaos

Pictures are worth 1000 words. TENS of thousands of words have been penned to accompany the disturbing images of the powerful angry white men in our “reality-TV-show-government” yelling and sniveling, coming unhinged in public for all the world to witness. Just seeing those photos of rage, let alone hearing the lack of civility in those voices, has triggered memories of acts of violence for many (of us) who have been violated.

To comfort my own anger, despair, frustration, sadness and yes PTSD, I turned to mother nature, where I found peace, and strength and hope in the silence and beauty she offered. I’m very aware that it is a gift, a luxury, to be able to go to the woods or a stream or a beach to seek solace. So I say thank you to everyone who continues posting images and words of beauty, joy, peace, love and inspiration. We SO need that, now more than ever.

I share this gem from today. I invite you take a moment to pause, take a breath, and in a few seconds of silence, sink into the tenderness this Morning Glory holds. Be kind to yourself and take a wee break from the chaos…

click on the image for full color

Morning Glory

Spirit of Nature/Nature of Spirit – Sacred Self Care

Yesterday I invested in sacred self-care, tending to and mourning old wounds, traumas and disappointments –attuning my heart-mind with mother nature for her healing wisdom.  I invite you to unplug from the insanity in the world right now… as it appears it will continue.  Take time. Practice Self compassion and regenerate your courage and strength in the quiet beauty of nature. What we cultivate within, radiates out…

Walk gently.     Stop. Look. Listen. Feel. Breathe.      Repeat.

I share with you, what was offered to me:

The Yearling

 

 

Deer – a doe and two young ones, their loving message as they patiently allowed me to be right next to them, “Be gentle with yourself.”

 

 

 

Two Ravens

 

Two Ravens – enjoying the sun at the beach, cawed, “Dear One, You carry the shapeshifting magic within to create your own life.”

 

 

 

 

Snowy Egret

 

Snowy Egret – standing tall amongst the rocks, diligently stalking small fish for lunch, agreed,  “Summon your determination and self-reliance. Never give up.”

 

 

 

 

Hummingbird

 

Hummingbird – busily flitting to and fro, drinking the nectar of life added,  “You, who are fiercely independent, remember to also be playful and full of joy.”

 

 

 

 

 

A flock of Geese – gathered in pairs near a ‘heart’ tree, reminded me, “Do not fear venturing solo into the unknown, as you are never truly alone.

 

Click on each image to see larger

 

With thanks to Ted Andrews for the wisdom of Animal Speak.