When the mind is empty, the heart is deeply moved by all mystical and poignantly beautiful things in the world. Recently, I saw a video of a brown little bird called the canary da mata. Perched on a log of wood, this little bird spread out its wings like a semi-circular fan and raised them to the heavens even as it looked up at the skies. It did this once. It did this twice. And a third time… Apparently, it does this every morning at sunrise. Words fail me as its beauty fills me…
Life is mysteriously, magically beautiful. Allow its beauty to enter you every day, for, to experience beauty is to experience your inner health fully in a wholesome and pleasing way. Indeed, pure beauty is a physical healing force. We catch our breath in its marvellous vibrations, stirred to our very depths.
An experiment in truth. We’ve often heard how stress works on us. Beauty works on exactly the same route but with opposite effects. As we already know, we always carry in us germs and bacteria of all kinds. Now we are learning a little more about our workings vis-a-vis these little ever-floating organisms. A scientist put cells in two petri dishes. In one dish, he placed nutrients, in the other, toxins. Half an hour later, he observed that the cells had moved towards the nutrients… And in the second dish, the cells had moved away from the toxins and closed themselves! Just imagine what happens inside you when you drink in a beautiful sunrise or the uplifting actions of the canary da mata! Your cells literally open themselves out and bask in the sweet nourishment provided by you. Your mind sends signals to the hypothalamus saying, “It’s a supportive environment!” which in turn, directs these positive signals to the pituitary gland which then transmits them to all the cells in the body.
When you go through a breathtaking experience, it’s a pranayama-plus-exercise. The word aesthetics is, in fact, derived from the term ‘I breathe deeply’ or the more colloquial ‘I gasp’. Pure innocent pleasure and delight do that to us. We breathe like we’ve never breathed before — in wholeness of body and spirit, in integration of order and emotional energy, in an inner environment suffused with harmony. The Wise say, “God is breath passing through you.”
I promise you, I felt this intensely when I read the true-life anecdote about Lawrence Anthony, a legend who lived in South Africa, who wrote The Elephant Whisperer and exhibited immense courage and resourcefulness in rescuing wildlife from human cruelties. It is known that he rehabilitated many elephants from all over the world. His rescue of zoo animals in Baghdad during the US invasion in 2003 is epic.
On March 7, 2012, Anthony died, leaving behind his wife, sons and grandsons. Two days later, 31 elephants from different parts of the wild reached his home to bid him farewell. It is said they walked over 12 hours to get to his South African home. They stayed outside his home for two nights without eating, only mourning, showing deep respect, affection and gratitude. And on the third morning, they left as silently and reverentially as they had come.
A window of beauty. Each and every one of us needs such a ‘window of beauty’ to look through and allow the hard crust of cynicism, bitterness, guilt, hatred, illness to be gently and persistently dissolved to give way to a soothing, luminous inner hush. Then life does not become a struggle for survival or merely a corporate climb up the ladder or a race against disease and time, but a silent, still, mystical realm where you step out of time for an instant to touch eternity. And you are exactly where you are, seeing with your heart. It is about taking the day off to do nothing or do something that you don’t do the rest of the week. Take a long, slow walk letting your feet touch the welcoming earth, your eyes touch the cooling greenery, your skin touch the bracing breeze. Or get into a hobby or personal ritual to bring out your blessings and the things and feelings that are tender and beautiful in you. Catch a musical drama or film, attend a talk, stand-up comedy or poetry-
reading session, paint a butterfly or lie on the sand and listen to the sea…
Light little lamps. In a neighbourhood with a high crime rate in Kingston, Jamaica, streets were cleaned of graffiti and garbage, broken lights fixed, flowering plants sown… It brought hope and security. Skill-development courses, family support programmes were initiated on the hopeful heels of the clean-up drive. And the crime rate dropped dramatically. If you find life difficult, think of ways you can infuse beauty into it. Light your own little lamps. A cartoon titled Frank and Earnest by Bob Thaves shows a guy drawing the curtains apart and telling the other guy, “I don’t think I’m letting sunlight in when I open the curtains. I think the darkness is going out.” The sun is never sure if it will be obscured by clouds the next morning, yet it continues to shine. Next day, even the next moment, is a mystery. Just keep shining and give your best. Feel the thrill of living. Be like the lotus and thrive in all conditions — research is on to duplicate the lotus leaf surface-effect and manufacture repellent coatings. Deflect negativism with grace — like the lotus leaf.
A voyage so beautiful… When you take life as a mystical voyage on a spaceship called Earth around a massive fireball called the Sun, wearing your space suit — the body — you begin to understand the importance of travelling light in mind, body and spirit and living in wonder, in “a land of contrast and incredible intensity where the sky is the size of forever and the flowers the size of a millisecond.” These incredibly beautiful words are written about the alpine tundra by Ann Zwinger and Beatrice Willard in their book The land above the trees.
Even a molecule of our DNA, according to science, has an intrinsic elegance, clarity and harmony in its structure. It is what makes us mysterious and luminous when we awaken the light within. It is important for all of us to focus on the beauty of life’s moments and allow all our anger and frustrations and stress turn to peace.
The writers are authors of Fitness for Life and Simply Spiritual – You Are Naturally Divine and teachers of the Fitness for Life programme.