In beauty is truth. In this simple statement is found all the power that you will ever need in life. Find what is beautiful for you and you will find your own truth. Find your own truth, and you will find your power.
When I speak of finding your power in life, I am not talking of power over anyone else. I am talking about the power of the integrity of your own spirit, a power which is awakened by beauty. Then you can accomplish anything that you set your mind and your heart to accomplish.
Many years ago, I was down in the jungles of the Yucatan working with a shaman healer of Mayan descent. This was an elderly woman of tremendous physical presence and power. The first time I ever met her, I could see a coiled rattlesnake behind her eyes, which were kind and gentle, and I knew that I would never cross her. Yet her grandchildren ran in and out of the yard with gleeful abandon, interrupting and asking to be told a story, and then another. They were completely confident being their own exuberant, laughing selves with her.
I learned much from this woman, even as she challenged and confronted me with some of the most arduous and terrifying physical ordeals I have ever faced. One of the most important things she taught me was how to listen from my heart.
In some respects, I have always experienced life from my heart. My father was an angry man, often slipping far beyond anger, into pure rage, and the doors to my soul, to my feelings, to my heart, would close. As young as age 5, I used to climb high up in the apple trees and sit for hours, writing to open those doors.
My parents were very artistic people, and I have been surrounded by beautiful works of art throughout my entire life. I even learned how to play the piano as a young child. In art, I have always found the expression of the human soul that can transform my point of view from one of desperation to one of total bliss in the blink of an eye.
Nature, when we experience the majesty and the beauty in her, has this same ability. I remember the first time I met this amazing Mayan woman. As we were speaking in her garden, an exquisite green hummingbird flew between us and explored a fuchsia bush. She nodded toward our guest.
"Watch how the hummingbird hovers in front of the flower. Pollen is power to that tiny bird. See, she waits until just the right moment and then joins with it. She takes what she needs and flies away.
"When power comes to you," she said as we watched the hummingbird fly off, "be still with her. Don’t discuss it and bleed the energy away. Just hold it. Slowly she will begin to dance with you, but only if you are patient and listen for her voice." She took both my hands and touched them to her heart. My own heart swelled.
I realize, upon reflection, that this is what happens to me when I am in the presence of art that is great for me. I stand before it and listen with my heart until just the right moment; then I join with it and my heart swells. Art is the pollen that I need to find my own power; it transforms me.
"Beautiful music wakes up the spirits," she said to me on another occasion. "They sleep and wait for us to come and entice them to awaken. That’s why I sing and say beautiful things to my spirits."
I don’t know that this woman of the Yucatan jungles was talking about the music of Beethoven, Mozart or Placido Domingo, which is what I think of when I think of beautiful music. It really doesn’t matter. Beautiful music is what wakes up the spirits. Specifically, it wakes up the integrity of your spirit.
The same thing happens with all forms of art, whether it is the magic and artistry of nature, paintings, photography, poetry, literature, dance: it wakes up the spirits within us and makes us soar. Art is the language of the soul. Whether it is visual, musical or lyrical, art has the ability to raise our frequency, to lift up our spirits until we are in our highest self.
As Agnes Whistling Elk, an elderly woman from the far north of Canada and another of my fabulous shaman teachers, once said to me, "The eyes have a closer kinship with the ears than you realize. Your eyes echo and this causes vision." That’s how you know it is art that is great for you: it echoes in your soul and gives you vision.
It doesn’t matter what others think about the art that moves your soul. What matters is the way it elevates your spirit and your consciousness. So often in life, we find ourselves carrying around a bagful of stones, a whole bagful of conceptions and misconceptions that weights us down, limits our growth and puts a fence around our consciousness. We think that everyone has to appreciate what we find beautiful and important in life. We think there must be something wrong with us if we don’t revere what others say we should. The ego mind reaches out and grabs control of us. When the ego mind is in control, we get lost in our judgments; we get lost in the criticism of others. We forget where we’re going, why we’re alive, what our purpose on earth is.
I don’t know that I fully appreciated the transformational power of art until I learned how to listen with my heart that day in the Yucatan. When you listen with your heart, you move to the center of your own personal truth in life. This is when you are the most powerful, when you are living your own truth and not someone else’s. You are seeing the world through your own eyes, living life through your own ideas and not someone’s idea of who you should be and what you should be doing. There is no greater power in the world than the power of living your own truth; then nothing can throw you off balance for long, even when it comes at you with unimaginable force and speed.
It is the beauty with which you surround yourself that awakens you to the power of your own personal truth. Spend time this season exploring beauty. Winter is a great time to visit libraries, music stores, art galleries and the boutiques of your village or city where artists showcase their wares. Watch the magnificence of storm clouds as they gather on the horizon. Become as the hummingbird in search of your own special pollen.
When you find it, sit with it until it begins to dance with you, and awaken to your own power and beauty in life.