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

Part 4 – From Spirit to Matter

COMING ALIVE – A Photographic Journey – 50th Birthday 2006


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

Part 2 – From Spirit to Matter

LEARNING HOW TO SEE – Zen Contemplative Photography

Photography as a Spiritual/Healing Practice Post NDE

Only six weeks after I emerged from my month in the hospital and just a few weeks out of bed recovering at home, I immersed myself in a photo workshop, “learning how to see” with Zen Buddhist Abbot and master photographer, John Daido Loori, Roshi.  I was healing from surgery and almost dying, and to those who viewed my images, my wounds were revealed without ever telling them my story.  Our assignment was to take a photograph that expressed the feeling of, “making love with light.”  At the time I was feeling deep gratitude for being alive and love for my brother who was at the hospital every one of the 25 days I was there.  This was my photograph.

As we were guided through the meditation to look more deeply into, around and through our photographs, to feel them kinesthetically and emotionally, my dyad partner for this exercise said she saw blood cells pumping through a vein. Physically she said she felt cold, and emotionally she felt sad but full of wonder. I had not told her that I almost died six weeks earlier and had surgery to save my life.

That weekend workshop revealed clearly for me that our inner landscape and outer world reflect one another and that photography was a healing modality. A small group of us practiced together meditating with our photographs for a few years after that workshop, unearthing and sharing deeper meaning, deeper stories, and healing for ourselves through our images. I continue this healing photography practice today, and love sharing it with others.

Love, like a glass urn born of molten heat, fragile and transparent… yet capable of holding tears of joy and tears of sorrow.  (poem that I wrote to go with the photo)

“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”  Photographer Dorothea Lange

Part 1 – May 3rd is My ReBirth Day!!!

This year is the 14th anniversary of my Near-Death-Experience (NDE), an event that profoundly changed my life on every level. Recently I’ve been contemplating those changes–– the after-effects of leaving a life behind, a fascination with death, years of seeking, of psycho-spiritual healing, and the circuitous path to here and now. All of this unfolding and replaying as I work on my memoir of my lived experience.

Companioning me through these years has been a deep desire to “see” completely/holistically, and to share with others. Whether this quest for Divine Sight comes from deep in my psyche or guided by Spirit, I do not know. But contemplative photography has emerged as my spiritual and healing practice, often times reflecting my attempts to integrate the after-effects of my NDE with my daily life and offering ever deeper contemplation.

The very first images came to me two months after my NDE, as I woke and sat on the edge of my bed. The early morning dappled light danced on the closet door as it filtered through tree leaves. As the sunlight grew stronger, my shadow came alive, solidifying from ethereal into real. I remember being ridiculously gleeful at the reassurance that simple play of light and shadow gave me. I was still here! I pinched myself…

“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”  Photographer Dorothea Lange

to be continued…

Receiving Photos with Eyes Wide Shut

…and other exercises using our chakras and all of our senses as “Portals of Perception,” tuning into the natural world around us…

Master photographer Dorothea Lange is quoted as saying, The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” The photography I teach helps us to “see” the non-dual relationship between self and other, to “see” our inner and outer worlds, and to express our Divinity, our Buddha Nature, through the lens of a camera as our focal point. The practice of viewing life through the confines of a lens, and our chakras helps us to focus, to tune out and to tune in to what and how we “see.”

Below is an example from a class I taught a while back. Our first exercise, working with our root chakra, was to find a place outdoors, to ground into and to comfortably and safely sit, becoming quiet and still. Closing our eyes, breathing into our belly and, for about 10 minutes, to just become aware of our surroundings. What did we feel, smell, taste, hear, sense… to our right, our left, directly in front and behind us? What about below and above us?  Then, keeping our eyes closed we snapped a photo in each of four directions.

I found my spot that day in the crook of a large Y-shaped cottonwood tree near a stream on the East Boulder Trail, in Colorado. The sun was warm and there was a light breeze. I settled in, calmed my breath, found my center and with my eyes closed, I quieted my mind. As I did this, I  began to notice my surroundings with my other senses. I could hear people and their dogs as they walked by. I felt the shadow of a bird as it flew past.

In that meditative space and time my ability to perceive opened and I “received” four photographs.  My senses and my camera were called to my right, to my left, down toward my feet and up into the tree. When I later looked at the photos, to my right was a very large Great Dane loping along, his owner far ahead of him down the trail. It was the bell on his collar that had called to me. To my left was a bird I heard chirping, as it sat on a wire. The photo of my knee revealed the sun spot I felt warming my legs. And the shot up into the tree, was of the light I felt filtering through the rustling leaves that I heard, along with one arm of the large Y-shaped trunk that I leaned against.

As I looked through files for the memoir I’m writing, I rediscovered photos I had forgotten and many took me right back to a very specific place and time, to a memory, an experience of all my felt-senses, because it wasn’t and isn’t separate, it IS me. I clearly remember feeling safely held, leaning against the strong trunk with its rough bark, in the crook of that cottonwood tree…with the warm rays of sun and the light breeze…

This photograph jumped off the screen and as if it were an old friend and I heard her say, “There’s something more here, do you see it? How would I look in Infrared B&W?”  That’s how the magic happens. The images speak if we listen, offering an amazing perspective we wouldn’t ordinarily see, because we don’t take the time to see or to listenWhat about the nature of this tree, and its insistence to be seen again in a new way reveals or reflects my true nature today… your true nature?  As a famous prophet said to his disciples…“ if only you have eyes to see and ears to listen…”

Master photographers, Minor White and John Daido Loori taught this deeper way of “seeing,” and nature was often their muse. That old cottonwood offered a fresh perspective long after our first encounter. Never underestimate the wisdom of the trees, or any other element of nature. We have much to learn from all the elements time after time. And, beyond photography, in my daily life, I often ask, “what else is there to see,” so the seeing becomes the being. If what I’ve shared here intrigues or inspires you, give it a try.  Feel free to send your photos, along with any sensory and emotional perceptions that arise. I’d love to hear from you. And if you’d like to study with me on-line or in person, please drop me a note at

We’ll be practicing this at our Healing Photography Sisters-of-Spirit Retreat in Hawaii June 23-29.



©2018 LjW Divine Sight

Chakra Colors from Hawaii – The Healing Power of Flowers

Beautiful flowers are in such abundance in Hawaii… The sight of them brings me much joy!  Everything about them radiates healing. These gifts were received during our Sisters of Spirit Healing Photography Retreat in August. Stay tuned for future healing photography retreats…

Click on one image to scroll through the gallery

Sisters of Spirit Retreat • Aug 8 – 14, 2018 • Big Island Hawaii

Email me directly or visit Sisters of Spirit to learn more…


SUN UP SUPing on San Francisco Bay

I had a particularly creative and joyful week that I must share…

Last Saturday I saw the documentary movie The Salt of the Earth about the life and work of world-renowned photographer Sebastiao Salgado. The film is gut-wrenching and ultimately uplifting and inspiring. A must see if you are the least bit interested in the state of the human condition and the earth on a global scale.

Thursday I had breakfast with photographer Jerry Downs. I met Jerry in Boulder several years ago. He grew up in the Denver area and now lives in San Rafael – we are literally neighbors. As VP/Education Director of the Marin Photography Club, I asked Jerry to speak at our education evening April 14. I’ve been a big fan of his images and story telling for years. Jerry has a profoundly joyful way of viewing the world…you can see for yourself in his new book Why You Were Born

THEN, same day…I had lunch with Pulitzer Prize Winning Photojournalist Deanne FitzMaurice of San Anselmo – also a neighbor. I’ve invited her to speak at the Marin Photo Club in November. Deanne’s advice when I asked her how she approaches her particular work photographing people, she said, “you have to open your heart, be willing to be get to know them and their story.”!/index

That evening I saw a preview of The Water Diviner, opening later in the month, a movie directed by and starring Russell Crowe. BONUS!!! He was there and did Q&A for an hour afterward.

Friday I joined a few fellow photo club members for sunrise on Ring Mountain in Tiburon. We had an amazing morning…seeing, photographing and sharing. Out of the images I took that morning this is the one I love the most.  The morning air and water were unusually calm. Our spot facing east overlooked the San Francisco Bay from Tiburon, midway between the Richmond Bridge to the north and the Golden Gate to our south. As the sun came up and reflected on the water I saw this tiny figure below, a lone stand up paddler gliding across the water. I watched as he/she approached the sun’s reflection. This is the result with my 300mm lens.   This tiny paddler in the vast expanse of liquid light fills me with joy, hope, awe and wonder at the magic and mystery of life. I would love to hear what it evokes in you.

Thank you to all who contributed to such a stellar week.  Blessings, Lisa

Sun Up SUPing on San Francisco Bay

Sun Up SUPing on San Francisco Bay ©2015 LjWinston