Living an artistic life

DesignALifeYouLove

I was chatting with my friend the other day about how much I dislike laundry. I actually have that conversation frequently. It’s one of my least favorite activities…right up there along any other cleaning-related  ideas. I’m not a fan of it so I rarely carve out space to do it and then it ends up just on my dresser and not in my dresser. At any rate, I had found myself in that situation of having laundry all around my room and just being frustrated. Obviously this is a perpetual problem and is something I’ve been aware of since…probably since I’ve been doing my own laundry. LOL, come on, don’t judge, I can’t be the only one out there that dislikes cleaning that much. So, I’m talking to her about it (amongst conversations of biocentrism and chakra energy) and she says to me, you just got to say fuck it and do it. Stop thinking about it and just do it. My response was something like, I’m not a Nike commercial, there are other things I’d much rather be doing. And she said, I know, trust me, I know. But I also know, and tell myself, that it’s helping my future self to do it now.

And it kind of blew my mind. Yep, just do it. Just get it over with so you don’t have to worry about it in the future. Such an easy solution. And I realized I was giving something so small and inconsequential too much power. So, I left work, went home and I wish I could say I just did it…just got the cleaning over with and the laundry over with, but I totally didn’t. I sat down on my couch and picked up the book on Dharma Art I was reading. And I shit you not, one of the first things I read was about how Dharma Art isn’t just about making masterpieces of art, it’s hardly about that at all actually. It’s about making your life your art, living artistically and coming from a beautiful and clear space so that everything you do is art, the way you put down your coffee mug, the way you do your laundry, the way you…<<<WTF? Really? The way I do my laundry?

If you want to become an artist and you want to have the best of everything, you can’t just have it. You have to start by paying attention to reality. You need to learn to eat properly, to cook properly, to clean your house or your room, to work with your clothes. You need to work with your basic reality. Then you go beyond that, and you begin to have something much more substantial. And beyond that, you actually begin to produce a master artistic world altogether. – Chogyam Trungpa

 

So I sat there. And sat there. And then a voice in my head said fuck it, and I just got up and put my laundry away. Hardly took anytime and I felt so much better afterward. But it’s not just about doing it. I mean, it can be, but then that feeling of resentment and irritation is allowed to exist and fester. That was the motivational point for me that night for sure, just fucking do it already. But I want to transform that into something beautiful. Not necessarily visually, but so it feels beautiful. And again, not just the action of doing it, but in how I feel while doing it. So while I was putting my laundry away, I tried to view it as an art project. How would I shift my perspective, how shall I smile with grace…can I turn it into something beautiful. I’m not sure I actually succeeded, but I did my best to not have a mantra of, I hate laundry, I hate cleaning, and more of a my environment is important to me and I want to nurture my environment. I want to nurture my environment as much as I want to nurture my soul, my friends, my family, my beloved. And that helped me make it in art. (As a side note, it was also interesting that I walked into the kitchen to get a glass of water and upon realizing my dishwasher was clean, just quickly put the dishes away. Smile on my face, body swaying to the beat of the music…a byproduct of approaching my room as a work of art. Hopefully that’s a sign that as you bring that perspective into one activity, it will slowly expand to more and more activities.)

And how often is much of our life that way? There are certain things we do that we do beautifully, artistically. And there are the other things we do that are  handled with much less grace and too much aggression (in Dharma Art, anything done with aggression is not art. Aggression is seen as a bit of the anti-art element). I brought this concept into my yoga class and it’s so easy so see the energy shift from poses we love to poses we don’t so much enjoy. The muscles in our face clench, our shoulders rise, the aggression is obvious. Just as it’s obviously serene when we dance and flow through postures we love and that feel juicy. Living artistically, approaching everything, even the most mundane of things, like laundry, is a challenge. It takes a developed discipline. It’s a challenge to come from a space of calm clarity, non-judgement and just being purely observational. I think this is especially a challenge when having unpleasant conversations with people who tend to anger quick and their words quickly become mean and harmful. In those situations staying calm isn’t always enough and I haven’t figured out how to dharmically approach those situations. But I hope to…to be able to gracefully converse, even about difficult stuff, to come from a place of satya (truth) and ahimsa (nonviolence). Dharma art is awareness, of self, of the world, of all of the gorgeous phenomena happening in our little nook of the universe.

“Awareness practice is not just sitting meditation or meditation-in-action alone. it is a unique training practice in hose to behave as an inspired human being. That is what is meant by being an artist.” -Chogyam Trungpa

So take a moment to consider yourself as an artist. I am a believer that we are co-creators of our lives. I usually think in terms of law of attraction, what you put out you get back, and all of those ideas. I truly believe that you can manifest your intentions if coming from the right space. Dharma Art encourages us to go next level and to not just be a co-creator, but BE a work of art. Live as if you are a work of art. It’s not just about putting out the outlines of life into the ether, but also about adding the color to every detail of life. I tend toward visual art, but even consider your life as a symphony, the way the notes flow and merge and caress the ears, touching your heart, making you weep tears of joy and beauty. Or a succulent meal you are cooking that makes your mouth water, your stomach growl…Find something you naturally do and love and is your art, and then approach everything, your whole life, in the same manner.

Let go of aggression, of judgement, of self-hate…You are the artist and the work of art. Your life is art. Live life artistically.

 

 

The wonder of awareness

Yoga is…

 He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.
Albert Einstein

The wonder of awareness. Everything we do is wonderful. Or at least at some time it was celebrated. Watching my nephews grow up, I realize  that we celebrate each moment of growth. The milestones we reach are celebrated and those around us look upon us with smiles as we realize we have achieved the next step. Even the things that now to us seem banal but were such milestones growing up. Crawling, sitting up, walking, talking, gripping, clapping, and as we get older going to school, writing print, learning cursive, getting A’s…It’s crazy how once even getting A’s, even excelling in the classroom, becomes a regular thing. We stop appreciating and celebrating like we did before it was a standard. Our standards are being re-established with each achievement, with each moment as we journey through our experiences, perceiving the phenomenon around us and loving the experiences our friends engage us in. We celebrate the next big thing, the promotion, the finished painting, the newest family member.

Yoga is the same way. As we progress we may forget the wonder we brought with us that  first time on our mat. How excited and curious were we as we first started flowing through the postures, balancing on one leg? The first time we lifted our legs in bakasana or reached for our heels in ustrasana. There are some days where it’s all about finding our edge, being curious and playful in the postures, advancing them and exploring the limits of our selves. Let’s make today about the wonder. The wonder you bring to life. Being in awe that you are here, the awe in each posture/moment, the awe of your energy and your mind/body connection.

 

Wonder
Wonder

 

It’s a fast-paced life, for me.

We read all the time about how a fast-paced life is bad for us. How we need to be more mindful and move slowly through life. That if we feel stressed out there something wrong with our life and the decisions we have made.

But I’m calling bullshit on that.

I like my fast-paced life. I choose to live a fast-paced life every single day. I get stressed out. I feel like there’s not enough time in the day. I am running from one thing to another. And I love it. And yeah I talk shit and complain. I’m enjoying a human element of knowing what stress is, knowing that I have the power to change it, but knowing that I enjoy the little adrenaline rush I get from it. And ironically, knowing that I like this like stress and invite the stress, kind of stresses me out a little less.

Don’t get me wrong, things seem to be a little extra stressful right now, and a bit extra busy at work, but my routine is the same. I love waking up in the morning when I do. I love when I wake up and do the stair stepper while checking my email. I enjoy being an art director and all the responsibilities and stresses and things that come with that job. I love that I spend all day rushing to meet deadlines and working the nonprofit life because the results of my stress maybe, just maybe, are helping to save a life somewhere. And then I love rushing to shut down my computer and drive to the yoga studio where people trust me to guide their yoga practice.

I knowingly choose this.

Sometimes it’s that stress that makes me feel alive. Makes me feel connected. Helps me reach my goals and be more productive with my life. I do more and accomplish more when I have the most to do. And I’m not talking spreadsheets or data analysis…I paint more, I read more, I meditate more, I do more yoga. These things become crucial in a fast-paced life.

I run around all day. Having meetings, designing projects, ADDing on Pinterest, guiding yoga and my heart races wondering if I will survive. I IM my friend and tweak out b/c I have so many things to do on my to do list. Sometimes I cry to let that frustration and fear out. My head is a whirlwind of voices and demands.

But I love it.

I feel that pulsing energy rush through me as I teach my vinyasa flow, carefully paying attention to each student, striving to help them have the best experience possible. Their smiles and their sighs let me know that my stress is serviceable.

And when I finally walk through my door at night, I let out a deep sigh. All of that stress from the day is dropped at my doorstep, to be picked up on my way out. But in my home, I slow down, feeling and embodying the balance, the yin to my day’s yang. I get into my own element, into my own soul, and stretch my body free of the stress, artistically express what my soul still has to say, and I quiet into myself. Here, art is for me. Here, the yoga is for me. Here, I am for me.

But it’s knowing how much I do during the day, all of the stress and rushing around, that helps me truly appreciate when I slow down and take time for me.

It’s a fast-paced life, for me.

This IS your life. It already started

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“This is your life. It already started.”

These words brushed across my ear as I was stretching my body into a forward fold.

I had just spent the last couple of hours painting. I was trying to stand and paint. I sit all day so I try to paint standing now. Counterbalance my day with my night.

I was changing my painting a bit, getting freer with it. I started this painting a while ago and I reached a point and simply stopped. It’s a habit I have. To start something, reach a point, stop, and walk away from it. I sometimes think I have a fear of completion. But I’ve been working on that idea. Finishing things. Do you have that problem? I love to start things, it’s all exciting and fresh and new and then I become critical and stop. I’ve really been trying to not do that with art.Not being afraid of what the outcome will be but simply trying it. What’s the worst that could happen? I’m releasing the fear…fear of, well, probably tons of shit. But it’s better to just try it and actually do the art, than have a ton of blank or canvases half-finished sitting around me. If I am going to buy the canvases, I need to fucking paint on them.

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I’ve been working on discovering a safe place to paint from. I have so many critics in my head that I have had to learn to shut them up so I can just get shit done. I’ve started to do that with meditation on the breath. And more than that, awareness of the breath and meditation on my art. I am aware of my breath, that I am breathing, where I am sending that breath (when I paint it’s usually to my hand to help me make smoother strokes). It’s been creating more of a tranquil space. My mind kind of leaves for a while…takes a break from the day life, and I just flow. I just create. I just, paint. Most of the time it’s not any good, lol. But I’m less scared about that and more excited about the release I am experience and about the space I can visit for a while to relax.

So I was in this space when I had taken a moment to consider my painting. The voices suddenly decided to make an appearance again. “Name it Creative Energy” came into my mind. I looked at the painting, heard the name and liked it…saw how I could grow it and how that idea gave my painting life. Gave it a direction. Before I had just been painting, but now…now I knew where I had been painting from and what I was painting. I became excited about visualizing what that name meant and what I wanted to do with the painting now. “Make that area pulse more, add life here, why is this so dull, make it stand out…”And the voices started to grow, I was losing my breath. I was leaving the meditation state.

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I looked at my bookshelf, picked up a book, and opened up a page. I have no idea why. I haven’t looked at this book in ten years, but I opened it and read:

“Listening carefully to the tone, where or how does it move and in which direction? When you discover the answer, the tone itself will reveal many directions. do not try to control it yourself!” – Miyajima Sensei

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I instantly focused on my breath, quieted my mind, went back to my easel and began painting again. I trusted in my connection to the universe and didn’t try to control my brush. I had been given a name for the painting, and I breathed that into my body and embraced that concept, and I breathed it out through my brush onto the canvas.

I continued painting for a while and came to a natural stopping point. And it was here that I was in that forward fold. I was doing some gentle yoga moves to release my muscles and my body. I was slowly releasing the intensity of painting and equally as slowly was allowing the mind back in.

And I started thinking…I wonder if people will like this new direction…I wonder what everyone is doing…I wonder if I have a text message…I wonder if so-and-so is angry at me because I needed to stay home and do art…I wonder if it’s stupid that I chose to stay home and do art instead of going out…I should have just gone out…I’m not going to have any friends…well, I do have so-and-so and so-and-so…I’m not completely alone…but I won’t have those friends…they should be okay I’m in this space…You can imagine this went on for a few more thoughts and it ultimately it ended with an, “as soon as I’m…” statement. I have this vision of who I should be and what my life should look like. And most of my thoughts end there. I think it’s one reason I don’t finish paintings…I have an idea of something, but I’m scared it won’t turn out. And so my thoughts turned to, As soon as I’m…

A new voice piqued in and shrugged, and said, “This IS your life. It already started. Don’t miss out on what’s happening now for what you are hoping for in the future. The future will come regardless, enjoy now so you can enjoy the future. Live now.”

I’m making the choices and the decisions right now that are not only making me happy, feeling healthy and right, but are also growing me for the future I think the universe has planned. But to get there, I have to live now.

This IS your life. It already started. Don’t miss out on today waiting for tomorrow.

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Lines of focus

I forget the breath, and start to analyze

Breath in. Breath out. I’m watching the breath, being the breath, embracing the breath.

Breath leads my focus. It’s where the meditation begins. Going deeper into the breath narrows my focus. Distractions drop away as I consider the breath, the aspects and what it is saying. I look at my canvas, I pick up the brush – all with the rise and fall of my breath. The lines begin.
Line leading line following line.

lines
Line after line line

 

I deepen the gaze, narrow my focus. I unfurl my brow and breathe in the lines. I lengthen my breaths, matching exhale to inhale. It invigorates. I think to myself, “I think I am actually present right now. How awesome. I should tell —- . I wonder how I did it.” I glance at the lines, they have taken on an interesting flow as I lost my breath and entered into my mind. I had started analyzing. I brought myself back to my breath. I sat in stillness. Reconnecting to the breath, allowing energy to flow through me. I stopped analyzing the lines and just became the lines. The lines were expressing what I needed to express, what I needed to channel. I don’t need to analyze it yet, right now I just need to do it, to breath it, to create that focus. The lines, my focus, the union of body and breath. I took a breath and picked up my paintbrush.

 

I forget the breath, and start to analyze
I forget the breath, and start to analyze

 

I became entranced with the movement of the lines, the quality of the lines, how the brush was setting paint down and how if I adjusted my hands mid-flow it altered the line. What it looked like was unimportant, the breath and energy I was channeling was creating a focus I need. The chatter in my head is overwhelming, frustrating, distracting and inhibiting. The focus that connecting my breath to painting lines is a relief. It focuses my mind so I can find a bit of peace and quiet. The to do lists on 20 different projects drip away, the awkward conversation I had that afternoon and analyzing people’s reactions seemed ridiculous to waste my time on. What my schedule looked like seemed manageable and I started to trust in myself and in the universe. People may actually like me…and quieting my mind and using the breath and my art to release some ideas and thoughts no longer serving me. My breath drank in creative energy as the line danced upon the canvas. And my breath distinguished the destructive energy I was holding on to.

Lines of focus
Lines of focus

I hung the painting back on the wall and just kind of stared at it. My mind still quieted from the artistic mediation I just experienced for two hours (time flew). I just looked at it for a while and then cocked a hip and leaned to the left. In doing so I realized the interplay between the lights and the darks. The lines all depend on how you look at them from a specific angle. Which is exactly what my thoughts try to do…consider all of the perspectives. Glancing at it now, it pulses with energy…seems like all of the thoughts I usually kept in my head were expressed in the lines instead. I channeled them onto the canvas so my mind could quiet and enter a focused, artistic meditation. For those two hours my mind took a breather and my destructive energy was creatively channeled from my chest, down my arm, into my fingers and along the lines of my brush and into the focused lines on the canvas.

 

Depends on how you look at it
Depends on how you look at it

 

And then I went out to my balcony to enjoy the fresh air and to release and restore in my hammock.

 

Channeling

I was meditating last night and an image came through me…I was living it and seeing it simultaneously. I was a vehicle for the universe. I could tell I was a bit of a newbie at this. I was sitting outside on my hammock, listening to a mantra meditation, feeling the breeze across my face, the moon shining softly down. I would start to deepen into meditation and feel the earth pulse through me. I would tense up hoping to channel stronger energy, when really I should have been relaxing. The experience ebbed and flowed and I saw me living it and saw me painting it…

It’s this gorgeous meditative series rooted in channeling the energy of the universe through your body and out your hands in a Reiki style exertion of energy.

Hoping to harness the idea that one can be relaxed and be a vehicle for energy to flow through but being able to have the conscious awareness to channel for a specific reason…healing, truth, loving, etc.

I envision white light connecting through the meditators crown of the head and flowing through the body experiencing a transformation…an alchemy if you will…of universal energy into an intentional energy.

When my mantra was over, I went inside and drew the experience…just a quick sketch and I hope to step away from the hectic pace of my life to sit down with that vision. I hope to be able to share it with the world, what I saw and what I felt when having that experience. Hopefully sooner than later the visual’s will manifest and I will share. I already know that healing energy will be the first of hopefully many…I am in the midst of healing myself…and I have been told by nearly every energy worker I’ve been to that I have healing hands. It’s time to turn my focus there…

 

Meditation

 

Cheers~

Passion

Do you feel that passion? The kind that keeps you up at night the kind that drives you forward? The Kind of passion that you think about every waking hour, Dream about through the night, And constantly crave?

The kind that you won’t let you settle for second-best. The passion that gives your life meaning? It gives you spice And entices you to dance with it.

The kind that isn’t comfortable but keeps pushing you to your edge making you explore your own abyss.

Passion that regularly taps you on the shoulders remind you that it’s there. It’s seductive. It’s mesmerizing. It has you entranced so you think of nothing else.

This passion comforts and claws. It torments and soothes. It is the devil and the angel. It is the vixen and the virgin. It bursts and flows through your veins. Part of your innate being, part of your soul.

That passion ignites fires and boils the waters. It is everything and nothing. It is infinite.

It is that kundalini snake coiled at your spine, that begs for exploration.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Go now and explore. Don’t get comfortable. It’s a journey.

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I don’t know why, I swallowed a fly…I guess I’ll die

It’s one of those days. Maybe it’s the weather…the weather that forces you inside, into your introspective depths.  And as I explore my soul and self, I find myself unworthy.

I was recently called an “American” in the derogatory sense that “I have everything but still want the one thing I don’t have.” Or something like that. It’s weighing on my heart. It was a response to a statement that I had made about my being successful. And in some ways I am successful. I have a great career in the area I choose (Art Director), I teach yoga, I’m learning the violin, I do my own art, I have amazing friends and family…and yet I want a special connection with someone.

Admittedly I may be watching too many Ally McBeal reruns.

But right now I am overwhelmed with sadness, and I’m not really sure why. Well, that’s not true, I didn’t swallow a fly, but I swallowed a mountain of unworthiness. I am not the amazing artist I want to be, and don’t deserve to be called an artist. I am not the amazing meditator/yogi I want to be, and don’t deserve to be teaching. I am not even a whole, satisfied, happy person, so I don’t deserve a special connection with someone I love.

As is said often about me, I’m amazing on paper, but in reality, it turns out I’m just a Monet (yes, flashback to Clueless, how embarrassing.) I half-ass most of my stuff and try to blur it out so everything thinks I am amazing but if you look closely, it’s mediocre. It’s like I love and leave quickly so I don’t have to dive into the depths and see my truth. I live in complete antithesis of how I want to live.

 

If only I could live up to my full potential. Bring the notes on the paper swirling into life and luminescence.  I don’t want to be as bright as the sun, for that is my balance. I want to be quiet and soulful like the moon. I would like to bloom into the void lotus I am, softly unfolding and sharing my velvet petals one at a time.

I’m caught up in my head though, too concerned about society than myself. Too wrapped up in axioms and mores that may not be mine. And if I’m not careful, I will swallow the mediocre, marinate in it, become it, and I guess I’ll die.

Potential

 

My soul is a bit crazy

Feeling a bit crazy

It’s amazing all the shit that can happen. And it’s so fucking stupid that here I am again…still with an aching heart and a confused soul. It all really does happen all at once and in a mean fury. Or maybe I just refused to recognize the warning signs so the universe needed to slap me in the face. And the punchline is that I just need to focus on myself.

It’s so interesting how you can be living life thinking that you are supporting yourself and living for yourself and then to all of a sudden realize you have no idea who you are or what you need and that you’ve just been barely surviving and not actually nurturing your soul. I’ve been doing and accomplishing so much over the years. I have been forging an amazing life and feel pretty damn successful for my age in a variety of areas. And don’t get me wrong, I feel great about it and know that they are all steps to living the life I dream of. My life is still all about art, yoga and music. But despite the fact that those are really the only three things in my life (outside of friends and family) I am stressed the fuck out, sleeping all the time, not working out and eating like shit.

It’s like a whirlwind has picked me up and is swinging me around and around and around and I have no idea how to find a dristi, a focal point, and yet I keep going. And it’s sad, I’m not too sure when this whirlwind came. I’m not sure how long I’ve been picked up into it. I realize that I could easily say it was a few months ago, back in September, when I had car problems, I was the sole designer for my job, all of my freelance clients needed something, blah blah blah. I think it’s been longer than a few months.  I think I haven’t been cultivating a calming energy…probably since I graduated college. Damn. Seven fucking years.

Feeling a bit crazy
Feeling a bit crazy

 

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve done a lot in those seven years and it has been amazing. I was focused on building the life I wanted and of which I dreamed (yes, I just redid that sentence so I didn’t end on a preposition.) But now it may be time to cultivate a space for myself so I have time to fucking enjoy what I’ve been building. I am tired. I need to now slow down and enjoy it all. That’s not at all to say I’m going to stop progressing, but I think for a moment, I can slow down and just spend time loving…loving myself, loving my art, loving my family and friends, loving my job, loving my cats, fuck, just loving life. I can take a moment to rest and relax. Maybe read a few of the hundreds of books I own (I literally have purchased probably 25-50 new books and have had the time to read not even one of them.)

I do work a lot. And that’s good and fine. But I need to find the time to curl up on the floor in my 10lb blanket (Love love love and love to my Mom for making it!! Here’s the concept behind it.), cuddling with my cats, enjoying their company. Or even getting back to my personal art and enjoying what I with that. I probably could be an amazing artist. Some of my recent work is pretty damn good. I surprised myself anyway…and I do want to play the violin…just for myself. I basically love to express myself and I have given myself little time to explore my self-expression. And that is central to my life.

I have a pretty awesome life. I’ve been moving so fast I didn’t even realize it. I mean, I “knew” it but now it’s time I fucking slow down, rest up and enjoy it!

 

Experiencing a merge

Tonight I feel like I connected with myself. The first time in a long time. And I wasn’t even trying. After a long, exhausting and painful day, I slopped down and had some dinner. Turned on the computer and tried to disconnect with reality. And I was succeeding. And then I was suddenly overwhelmed with the need to do art. Not do any specific kind of art, I just wanted to be making lines, no purpose, no design, just art. I slept the computer, turned on Type O Negative, grabbed oil pastels (because I don’t usually work with them, just thought they would make less of a mess), and sat down with a big pad of paper.

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I just started making lines. No real purpose. I had seen a few images today I had connected with and was thinking about their lines and what I liked about them. It turned into a very awkwardly drawn body. I stared a

t it and suddenly knew that I should draw the energy centers. I started with the root chakra, making a very large red blur of color. And while I was doing that, I remembered some visions I had just before drifting to sleep last night and knew that was what I was supposed to be doing. And I proceeded drawing the other energy centers. And I really just focused on the way the color left the pastel and went on to the paper, the beautiful, uneven lines it made. And I watched as my hand moved the pastel across the page, how my fingers held the pastel and how my wrist turned as I made circles with the pastels. Pete Steele was singing in the background. It was a really intimate phenomenological moment. That one when you literally watch like an outsider what you are doing and yet at the same time being consciously/unconsciously(?) intentional in movement. Time stopped. I stayed on one color and focused on that energy center for as long as I was drawn to it. I noticed how I responded to various colors. Sometimes my hand moved quicker, sometimes slower. And then I realized I was out of space, still had to do the last chakra and that I really wanted to stretch my legs. No idea how much time passed. I stretched while looking at what I had spent time doing.

And I realized, maybe for the first time, I read myself in my art. It was like I had done a tarot reading…I was looking and could read in my art exactly where I was at as a human being. What I needed to be working on and what I needed to do to grow. I was excited to quiet my mind for long enough to listen to my energy. It’s been so long since I’ve felt quiet. I find it, at times, during yoga. In yoga class I feel my muscles like I watched my hand. I feel the pleasure of stretching them and releasing the emotions from them. But it doesn’t carry with me. But I had another little taste of the calm tonight. I felt that moment where the ethereal and corporal meet…where they merge and connect. You feel the beauty of each of them, simultaneously.