“What is a camera? A camera is an extension of ourselves. An appendage to bring us closer to the universe. We created such an instrument, because we had lost the joy of pure seeing, of connecting up the unseen and heartfelt with the seen and not heartfelt. The internal with the external.” ~ Robert Leverant
I have recently been taking a class from my friend Ron on iphonography – taking pictures with the iphone. Until this class, I really never used my phone for many pictures preferring to use my Sony and Nikon cameras. However, once I learned about some great apps for pre-editing and post-editing, I have been taking pictures with my phone daily. I really love the app Camera+ which allows me to take fabulous macro pictures (without any special lenses) and Hipstamatic that has features to change the film and lenses. After I take the pictures, I use Prisma, which provides some great filters for making the photographs more artistic. My classmate, Bill, convinced me to create an Instagram account to post and share our creations – my account name is paintingsbypeggy if you want to follow me.
However, the key point of this blog post is not about all of the great new apps (although I highly recommend them), but the fact that taking photographs has made me more aware of my world and the beauty in the environment around me. When I first started taking painting classes, I noticed and paid attention to colors – I would look at the sky and name the paint colors from my palette I could use to replicate that color. I noticed the subtleties of the hues in the mountains and the range of values in a plant, animal or object. Painting made me notice and pay attention to the splendor of the world.
The desire to take photographs with my iphone has again deepened my attention to the world. I recently went to two art workshops: one workshop was in the desert mountains and the other in downtown Tucson. In the past, I would have driven to the workshop, parked and gone to class. But this time, I noticed all of the amazing things to photograph from cactus, mountains, flowers, churches, drainage grates, baby shoes in a shopping cart to a variety of other images full of textures, colors and magnificence . I took pictures before class, after class and at lunch. I really enjoyed my surroundings so much more because I was conscious. When I went to the grocery store this week and was purchasing water from a vending machine outside, I looked up and noticed the brilliance of two palm trees blowing in the breeze. I was aware; I was conscious, I was slowing down and taking in the world. I have purchased water at that machine for 10 years and never once saw or paid attention to those palm trees. It is so important to live in the present moment and really see the things around us. A few days ago, I was listening to a lecture and outside the window I saw an amazing sculpture garden and after the lecture spent time capturing the essence of these pieces of work. I am so grateful that I am consciously paying attention and seeing the world again and appreciating it instead of rushing from one place to the next without noticing the things around me. I am fortunate to have regained the joy of pure seeing and truly connecting to the world around me. It is so important to notice what you notice!
Do you really see the world around you as you walk, drive or move through your day?
What can you do to pay attention and "notice what you notice" each day?
"The life you know is a thin layer of the events covering a deeper reality. In the deeper reality, you know absolutely who you and what your purpose is. There is no confusion or conflict with any other person on earth. Your purpose in life is to help creation expand and grow. When you look at yourself, you see only love." ~Deepak Chopra
Sunday is the Law of Pure Potentiality according to Deepak Chopra’s book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. This law is the heart of all the other laws – if you get this one right, you don’t have to worry about any of the other laws. This law is based on the fact that we are, in our central state, pure consciousness. Our essence is pure consciousness and knowing we are gives us the ability to fulfill our dreams and relationships. All relationships are the relationships with ourselves. The good news is that we are already enlightened and everybody is already perfect, the bad news is that we have forgotten and that is why we live these less than perfect lives.
This is the day I focus on self-referral instead of object referral. Self-referral means that the internal reference point is my own spirit, and not the objects of my experience. In object referral, I am influenced by objects outside of myself, constantly the seeking the approval of others. In object referral, I feel an intense need to control things and have an intense need for external power. When I have a need for approval, a need to control things and a need for external power - my needs are based on fear. But, when I experience self-referral, there is an absence of fear; there is no compulsion to control, and no struggle for approval or external power.
In object referral, the internal reference point is your ego. We must always remember that the ego is not who you really are. The ego is your self image; it is your social mask; it is the role you are playing. Your social mask thrives on approval. It wants to control. And it is sustained by power, because it lives in fear. Whenever you feel powerless or fearful, it’s because you are in a state of object-referral. You define yourself through objects, which include people, situations, titles, possessions, and accomplishments. In life, those objects will change – your roles, jobs and possessions change and therefore it is not wise to define your identity and self-worth on your roles and titles. In object-referral, you feel good when your investments are escalating, your boss gives you a positive review, or your companion is happy with you. But when the market plunges, your boss criticizes you, and your relationship is challenged, you feel insecure and worried.
Self-referral is identifying with your inner self – the unchanging essence of your soul. On Sunday’s you practice this state and have an internal sense of joy regardless of what is happening around you because you aren’t identified with objects or events. In self-referral, you experience your true being, which doesn’t fear any challenge, has respect for all people, and feels beneath no one. For this day you have no compulsion to control, don’t seek approval or external power. When you are true to yourself, you are immune to criticism and your soul recognizes at its deepest level that everyone else is the same Self in different disguises.
I practice this law through meditation, spending more time in nature, practicing non-judgment of my self and others, listening more intently and finding time to be silent. The mantra for The Law of Pure Potentiality is “Om Bhavam Namaha” which translates to “I am absolute existence.” The affirmations for success are:
Do you spend most of your life coming from a place of object-referral or self-referral?
How can you practice the Law of Pure Potentiality in your life?
“Everyone has a purpose in life… a unique gift or special talent to give to others. And when we blend this unique talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy and exultation of our own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of all goals.” ~ Deepak Chopra
Saturday is the Law of Dharma according to Deepak Chopra’s book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. According to this law you have a unique talent and a unique way of expressing it. There is something that you can do better than anyone else – and for every unique talent and unique expression of that talent, there are also unique needs. Dharma is a Sanskrit word for purpose. Our dharma shifts and changes over our lifetime as our awareness changes and it becomes the fabric of our life. When I examine my life over the years, I see that my dharma has changed many times during my life.
To begin to determine your dharma, you should make a list of all your talents and the things you like to do. This list is about what you believe about yourself and not what others like your parents, siblings, spouses and friends think is your purpose. Your dharma doesn’t have to be illustrious like Martin Luther King Jr. or Mother Theresa. You can be a great cook, listener, musician, caregiver, teacher, gardener, artist, comedian, mechanic, photographer, parent, or whatever you love to do. Ask yourself. “What to you do where I lose track of time and am in the flow?” and this is probably your dharma. When I paint or make a lesson plan, I get lost in the creative endeavor and when I look at the time I realize that hours have gone by on the clock. Currently, my dharma is being an artist and meditation instructor. I also think that part of my dharma is to spread happiness, so I try to bring a smile to as many people as I can, even those I don’t know, when I am out in the world.
The key thing about expressing your dharma is that your ego is not involved. Asking “What’s in it for me” is the internal dialogue of the ego. Asking, “How can I help” is that internal dialogue of the spirit. In shifting your internal dialogue from what’s in it for me to how can I help you automatically go beyond the ego into the domain of your spirit.
When you are in your dharma, your actions are spontaneously right and everything just flows; it is simple and easy and effortless. You start to automatically know what to do in any situation.
The mantra for The Law of Dharma is “Om Varunam Namaha” which translates to “My life is in harmony with cosmic law.” The affirmations for success are:
What is your dharma?
How do you express your unique talents and serve others?
“I want to sing like the birds, not worrying about who listens or what they think.” ~ Rumi
Friday is my favorite of Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws of Success – The Law of Detachment. It builds upon Thursday’s law of setting intentions; you set your intentions, but you detach from the outcome of how they come to fruition. Detachment is not apathy; it is a state of non-attachment. The goal is to live your life with passion, but don’t be passionate about the outcome. If you are attached to your desire, then you limit yourself. Have a desire and then release it to the Universe. I have found that when I release my intentions and desires to the Universe, the outcomes are far superior to what I imagined. When you detach, you are open to the infinite possibilities of life. When you relinquish your attachment to the known, you will experience the fun of life– the magic, the celebration, and the adventure.
Attachment is based on fear and insecurity and we experience this when we worry. Brene Brown shares, “the problem is, worrying about things that haven't happened doesn't protect us from pain. Ask anyone who has experienced a tragedy; they'll tell you there is no way to prepare.” Practicing the Law of Detachment has really helped me worry less and if I catch myself worrying, I stop and detach and tell myself that I will deal with the situation if it actually arises.
I saw how far I have come with detachment a few weeks ago. I went to a show and took a different purse. The next morning I got up to go to yoga and when I went to move my wallet back to my everyday purse it was not there. The old me (prior to a daily meditation practice and following these laws) would have freaked out and I would not have gone to yoga class. I did a quick check on my credit cards and there were no new purchases and I put a hold on my credit cards. I called and left a message at the restaurant. The restaurant didn’t open until 11:00 AM and Centennial Hall didn’t open until 10:00 AM. So, I could have stayed home for the next few hours and worried about what might happen. I have had my wallet stolen from my office at NAU, from my shopping cart and from the Cancun airport when the security machines were down. Therefore, I know the realities of having my wallet stolen, but I stopped the worrying in my mind and said to myself, “okay, if my wallet actually was stolen, then I will begin the process of canceling cards, getting a new license etc. when I know for certain this has happened.” Having done all I could at the present time, I went to yoga class. During class, I really worked on living in the present moment and focusing on the mind-body connection. Sure, thoughts about the wallet popped into my head from time to time, but when they did, I took a breath and came back to the present moment and said “nothing bad is happening in this moment.” After yoga, I went grocery shopping and while there my bank called. My first thought was that they were calling to say that there was unusual activity on my accounts (okay so I still need more practice on positive thinking and not catastrophizing), only to have the bank representative tell me the restaurant had found my wallet and I could pick it up at 11:00. Detaching from worrying really helped me enjoy my morning yoga workout and accomplish tasks before I went and picked up my wallet. It was a happy ending and because I detached I didn't spend hours worrying for no reason. Friday is a great day to let go of worrying about things that might happen or what others think.
The mantra for the Law of Intention and Desire is “Om Anandham Namaha” which translates to “My actions are blissfully free from attachment to outcome.” The affirmations for success are:
How can you detach from worrying?
How can you practice the Law of Detachment when you set intentions?
“Inherent in every intention and desire is the mechanics for its fulfillment… intention and desire in the field of pure potentiality has infinite organizing power. And when we introduce an intention in the fertile ground of pure potentiality, we put this infinite organizing power to work for us.” Deepak Chopra
Thursday is the Law of Intention and Desire according to Deepak Chopra’s book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. I focus on my intentions and desires every day prior to meditation, but on Thursday, I spend more focused time on my intentions and desires and I write them down. It is important to set intentions so we know who, how and what to spend our time and energy on in life. When I don’t have clear intentions, I am like a hamster running on the treadmill of life and getting nowhere fast. When we bring our attention to our intentions and desires, the energy flows and we are more at peace and consciously making decisions on what to say yes and no to in life.
Attention brings us in to the present moment where we plant the seed for future transformation. Whatever you put your attention on will grow stronger in your life. Whatever you take your attention away from will wither, disintegrate and disappear. It is important to acknowledge what is no longer serving you and let that go and don't give it any more attention. On Thursday we write our intentions and desires down. We look at the big picture and list the things we want materially, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Make a list of your desires and review it regularly. Your list will change as you grow and evolve – that is why we do it every week.
There are things that you can do to strengthen your intention statements and make them more effective. Write them as if they have already happened and in a positive format, don’t use words like NO or NOT if you can avoid it. For some reason, the unconscious mind, which holds the mind-body connection and the power of manifestation doesn’t hear these negative words. Examples of positive statements would be “I am healthy.” “I am strong.” “I am kind and compassionate.” Some examples of intentions you might want to rephrase would be “I do not have allergies” – you could rephrase it to state, “I breathe clearly.” You could rephrase “I will be pain free” to “I am healthy.”
Intention is the real power behind desire. Intent alone is very powerful, because intent is desire without attachment to the outcome. Desire alone is week, because desire in most people is attention with attachment – you have a desire and you want to be in control of how it happens. One of the most powerful lessons that I have learned is to set my intentions, but detach from the outcome and how they come to fruition. Many times the Universe has a much better plan and the outcome far exceeds my expectation.
The mantra for the Law of Intention and Desire is “Om Ritam Namaha” which translates to “My intentions and desires are supported by cosmic intelligence.” The affirmations for success are:
Do you set your intentions and desires?
Do you detach from how your intentions and desires are achieved?
Peggy Steffens is an artist and Chopra Certified Meditation Instructor
My goal is to build a community with like-minded individuals who want to grow, share and learn from one another. Please post comments to enrich the experience for all.