Finding Beauty As A Strategy For Survival


“The world is holy. We are holy. All life is holy. Daily prayers are delivered on the lips of breaking waves, the whisperings of grasses, the shimmering of leaves.”  - Terry Tempest Williams

As I do my part to help shape the world into a better place, I have many practices that help me stay positive. One that I find quite helpful is to imagine the things I love, the things about this planet that I find beautiful and hold dear, and consciously place those things at the forefront of my mind and in my heart. I then place everything else in the periphery so that all that is true stays within my awareness, but I remain guided as a creator, protector, and nurturer by what I love. If there is a persistent negative thought, perhaps something I am afraid of, I’ll spend extra time to guide it as patiently as I can into the peripheral space, as often as I need to. 

Chidākāsha is a sanskrit word that refers to the dark space we see in front of our closed eyes. This space is also considered the seat of visualization. This space and my heart space are where I consciously place the things I love. 

One of my most beloved writers, Terry Tempest Williams, wrote a book called “Finding Beauty In A Broken World”. In it, she writes about finding beauty as a strategy for survival. She writes about the virtues of stillness, of watching, listening, and slowing down. She also talks about the act of witnessing as not a passive act, but as a way of entering in and reconnecting. When we truly witness, without all of our projections and prejudices, when we truly empty is when we can actually enter in. This is akin to what the Buddhists mean when they say that to become empty is actually to become full.

When I personally need to invigorate my love, I look to the beauty of the natural world, and all the poetry woven within it. As an example and an offering, here’s a paraphrased story from Williams' aforementioned book: 

While she was in Utah studying a clan of prairie dogs, every morning Williams and her biologist would go to their observation post before sunrise. As the light of the morning sun began to strike the prairie dog village, slowly one by one each prairie dog would rise, stand out of their borough, face the sun with their palms pressed together, and remain standing in that gesture of stillness watching the sun rise for not just a moment, but for approximately 30 minutes. This ritual was repeated in the evening as they watched the sun disappear. What behooves them to do this, we don't actually know. There is not yet a biological or survival strategy explanation. So one has to wonder -- one gets to wonder -- about this beautiful gesture they make at the opening and closing of each day. It's an image I love to ponder.

What do you love and hold dear?