St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), the remarkable abbess of the 12th century, was a renowned mystic, healer, scientist, writer, preacher, composer, and artist. She was born the 10th child within a noble family in the lush, green valley of the Rhineland that was burgeoning with rich soil and flourishing vineyards
As early as the age of 3, Hildegard experienced visions. Yet, it wasn’t until she was 42 years old that she began to write down her experiences. While "beaten down by many kinds of illnesses", she "decided to put her hand to writing". Once she did this, she "received the strength to rise up from (her) sick bed, and under that power (she) continued to carry out the work to the end." For the rest of her lifetime, she was a prolific writer.
One of Hildegard’s contributions that still remain important in our time is her idea of Viriditas. Translated as “greening power,” Viriditas can be described as the divine life force that lives and breathes within all living beings. This potent force is full of vitality, moisture, and fecundity, able to bring creativity and health into the world. It makes all things grow, expand, and thrive. And it is the force that returns, after being absent, when healing occurs after an illness. We experience it in the dynamic growth of plants in nature as well as our own sense of health.
“The soul is a breath of living spirit, that with excellent sensitivity, permeates the entire body to give it life. Just so, the breath of the air makes the earth fruitful. Thus the air is the soul of the earth, moistening it, greening it.”
- St. Hildegard of Bingen
For Hildegard, the Divine permeated all of life – every plant, every animal, every stone, every human being. Each was a small part or microcosm of the whole of God that was macrocosm. These physical manifestations in the world revealed to us the face of the Divine Creator.
“I, the fiery life of divine essence, am aflame beyond the beauty of the meadows, I gleam in the waters, and I burn in the sun, moon and stars ... I awaken everything to life.” — St. Hildegard von Bingen
As human beings, filled with the fiery power of life, we have the possibility to embody this radiant flame in our own balance of health and healing in our lives, aligned with nature.
most royal greening verdancy,
rooted in the sun,
you shine with radiant light."
"Glance at the sun. See the moon and the stars.
Gaze at the beauty of earth’s greenings.
What delight God gives to humankind
with all these things. . . .
All nature is at the disposal of humankind.
We are to work with it. For
without we cannot survive."
- St. Hildegard of Bingen
Hildegard honored the sacred connection to nature that creates harmony and vitality. She felt that if this connection was out of balance, then there was a drying up of vitality and illness could arise. One could reconnect with this powerful divine life force once again – filled with vitality and moisture - through creating healthy balance through rest, herbal remedies, and proper nutrition. At the core, Hildegard believed natural health was achieved through balance and prevention.
In her homeland of Germany, Hildegard is well known for her contributions to holistic health and wellness, as the founder of alternative medicine. The wisdom that Hildegard shared about natural healing, nutrition, and healthy living was a seed planted that continued to flourish into the future within the field of natural medicine. It can still be found within the principles of healthy living in our current times.
Interested in learning more? Join my upcoming classes on Healing with Hildegard starting in April. Sign-up here.
Diversity is the nature of the Universe. Look closely around yourself in nature. All that is there in the world emanates with beauty and with diversity. You see no repetition of sameness.
Look at the majesty of the entire cosmos. The lovely sculpting of the mountains, valleys, and rolling hills. The vast varieties of beautiful colors and shapes of the plants – from flowers and fruits to grasses and trees. And the spectacular forms and radiance of the stones such as amethyst, turquoise, citrine, and emerald.
John O’Donahue, the great Celtic poet and philosopher, speaks about the Divine as an artist who uses imagination for expression in creation.
“Everything that is – every tree, bird, star, stone and wave – existed first as a dream in the mind of the divine artist. Indeed, the world is the mirror of the divine imagination and to decipher the depths of the world is to gain deep insights into the heart of God. The traces of the divine imagination are everywhere. The beauty of God becomes evident in the beauty of the world.”
We see the beauty of the world in its diversity. And, in this, see the beauty of the divine imagination.
In the shining radiance of the sun, the moon, and the stars.
In the lapping of each new wave upon the seashore. A seashore that is scattered with shells, each one with an intricate and unique design.
The multitude of animals that move through the water and the land. Each one with a special ability.
The eagles that soar high in the sky on their majestic wings and see in the distances with their keen sight. The grand lions whose strength and courage carry them across the land as royal beasts. The buzzing bees that feed on the sweet nectar of blossoms while helping to provide food through their work for all human beings and animals.
We see that the Divine loves diversity……..…………..loves difference.
And the human being is truly a great expression of diversity of the Divine. An incredible masterpiece of creativity.
Each and every single person is an expression of beauty and of uniqueness in individuality.
Take a moment to look at the faces of each individual you encounter. You can see the evidence of their own personal stories of life upon their faces. The stories of their origin, their culture and traditions, their families, and their own life’s events.
Look into their eyes. You see the special expression of their own soul. What lives as joys and sufferings, passions and longings, gifts and challenges in their lives
Your own beauty and uniqueness lives within you as an expression of the Divine. Your warmth of love within your heart, the fire of passion and creativity in your soul, your inner strength and courage to bring forth actions in the world.
And yet, you, as unique and individual, are constantly changing and new. You are not the same this moment as you were yesterday. You grow, change, transform, in every moment.
And when you, as a unique expression of the Divine, come forward to offer your greatness, what a wonderful gift this is to the world, contributing to its wholeness and life. A creative expression of the Divine within you, shared with the world.
Diversity is the nature of the Universe.
We rejoice in and courageously honor the rich diversity within the Cosmos and expressed among individuals and across multiple cultures, religions and ancestral traditions.
The 9th principle of Creation Spirituality
Curious about the rich diversity of various spiritual traditions? Find out more in my upcoming class on the Introduction to Creation Spirituality.
Now, more than ever, it’s important for us to have a regular spiritual practice that we are committed to doing.
Our daily lives can become busy very quickly and even overwhelm us at times. The challenges and suffering that we see and experience in the world seem to be ever present. The daily surprises and threats to our well being as an individual, country, or world that come to our attention can be frightening and unsettling.
So, not only is it a wonderful idea, but it’s truly necessary for us to develop and deepen our spiritual practice now. For our own health and for the health of the world. Heal Yourself, Heal the World.
Here are 5 ways to help you begin or deepen your spiritual practice – simple and easy to incorporate in your daily life. Yet with profound benefits for your health and the health of the world.
Meditation is a space and time to come back to your true self. In quieting your mind and being present to the moment, you can connect to your Higher Self. This will support you in taking the steps on the journey in your daily life that help you grow spiritually.
Meditation isn’t a time to contemplate and think about your next steps. It’s a time for creating a space that is attentive and mindful of the present moment with an openness to listening.
If thoughts arise, you observe this and let them float away. You create an open vessel for higher wisdom to enter. Yet, what arises for you may come later on, after meditation. But meditation creates the fertile ground and the openness for it to come.
Even 5 minutes a day is helpful!
2. Art as Meditation
No, you don’t have to be a talented artist, if you’re thinking this! Art as Mediation is a way to connect to higher spiritual wisdom through art. It might be movement such as dance or Qi Gong. It may be painting or drawing. Or it may be through an instrument, singing, or chanting. Art as Meditation connects your creativity with matter. And, through you, spiritual energy will flow, guiding you on your path to further discovery and growth toward your Divine essence.
Practiced regularly it will develop a higher consciousness and deepen your wisdom.
Whether you’ve had a wonderful day or a difficult day, the practice of gratitude brings to your awareness the gifts that come each and every day to you. You soon realize there are many! Such gratitude is like an offering to the Divine – for all that has been given. And when such appreciation is a regular practice, a space opens for more gifts to flow into your life.
Every evening before you go to bed, recall or write 3 things from the day that you are grateful for.
Breathe in, breathe out. We often take our breath for granted. Yet it’s our source of life and one way we commune with the world.
In a deep inhale, into your belly, you help your blood be nourished, fueling your whole body. As you exhale, you let go of the waste the body does not need, detoxing your bodily systems.
Throughout the day, pause for a moment to inhale slowly through the nose, deep in the lungs and belly. Exhale through the nose slowly. At the end of the exhale through the nose, open your mouth and blow out any remaining air in your lungs until they are empty. Breathe in deeply again through your nose and repeat. This expels all of the used breath and fills your lungs with fresh, new air. Supporting health and well-being in your body.
This can be done in the car or as a short break at work or at the end of the day.
Silence, sweet silence. This practice can help you get in touch with the deepest spiritual center of yourself. When you enter into silence and stay there for a while, you can access that great river of health, abundance, wisdom, and guidance for yourself. The dwelling of your Higher Self. In the present moment, not the past, not the future. This space is always within you.
And being open to listening during silence will cultivate a space for communication. Maybe through an image, idea or thought that arises during the silence or some time after a period of silence.
Schedule an hour or even half an hour a day to practice silence. Turn off any device or electronic that communicates or creates sound. Put down all reading material. You can sit quietly, staying in the present moment (not thinking of the future or the past) OR engage in an activity that does not require you to use language (reading, writing, listening, speaking). Taking a walk in nature or gardening are possible activities, again staying mindful of the present moment.
At the end of your silence, express gratitude for this time and continue on with your day.
Which practice resonates with you? What spiritual practice have you developed already? What would you like to develop more? In healing yourself, you can also heal the world. Write a comment and let me know.
In our lives, it is through the work of spiritual practice
that we find our deep and true selves.
Through the arts of meditation and silence we cultivate a clarity of mind and move beyond fear into compassion and community.
The 4th principle of Creation Spirituality
Needing a little more guidance in deepening your spiritual practice?
Click here to find out about my classes at the Fox Institute.
Click here to learn about my Healing With St. Hildegard group events in my Viriditas Home Studio for 2018.
Click here to learn about my Healing With Mantra group events in my Viriditas Home Studio for 2018.
Sometimes it’s hard to wake up and face the world each morning. Especially these days. We brace ourselves for the news that we may hear of what has happened in the world in the last 12 hours. What conflict has escalated in our country? Or in the world? Was there another school shooting? Are we on the brink of nuclear war?
And that may be before our morning coffee.
Then there are our own personal pangs of suffering. That physical pain that is acting up in the body. Our loved one that is suffering with a difficult situation in her family. A dear friend who is ill.
There is so much pain and suffering in the world. And given our technological advances in these recent years, we have access to hearing about the pain and suffering of so many in the world – every minute of the day, if we so choose.
How do we move forward on any given day amidst this suffering? And still maintain our own center, strength, and radiance?
Our strength finds its way through compassion. Compassion can become our healing salve for ourselves and others. Compassion as a response to ourselves and to the world can help to open hearts, make loving connections, and heal.
This is where the Dalai Lama’s words start to make sense to us. “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
But what is compassion exactly? And how is it different than sympathy or pity or empathy? And how does it help us and the world to deal with the suffering we meet every day?
Compassion is becoming aware that someone is suffering and then desiring to relieve that person’s suffering through taking action.
Compassion is a natural feeling that arises when we see the suffering of another and that is the springboard for us to take action to alleviate the suffering. We may witness what seems to be obvious pain – either physical or an emotional upset. Or the pain may be more hidden within.
Almost every person in the world suffers from pain in some way. They desire to find peace and happiness in their lives and struggle to do so. Thus, there is suffering.
Holding compassion for another person, you can create a safe and sacred space for this person as they experience the pain they’re feeling. You’re there for them as a support and loving presence. You help when needed.
You allow the person to experience the difficult time, learning and growing from it. As challenging times often bring this. You don’t judge or feel pity toward the person, nor see them as victims. You are fully present with love and care for the person moving through a difficult time.
Bringing compassion to ourselves in times of difficulty is also a gift. This arises as we become aware of our own suffering within our body, emotions, and thoughts. We desire to be relieved of this pain and then take steps to alleviate the suffering.
It may seem like it’d be easier to practice compassion for ourselves, but this is typically not so. It often is more difficult. It’s not usually something we have been taught or practice on a regular basis. And yet, self-compassion can heal your body and mind, opening your heart to others.
We can remember the ancient Tibetan Buddhist blessing to support us in self- compassion:
May I be filled with loving kindness.
May I be healthy.
May I be peaceful and at ease.
May I be happy.
And we can also use it to practice compassion for others:
May you be filled with loving kindness.
May you be healthy.
May you be peaceful and at ease.
May you be happy.
Practicing compassion for ourselves and others makes us happier and healthier. It brings us a sense of inner peace. It strengthens our relationships and communities. It promotes peace in the world.
And today it can give us a guide for getting out of bed each morning and facing the world without despair and fear. But with strengthen, hope, and renewed energy for making a positive difference in the world.
The basic work of God is compassion and we, who are all original blessings and sons and daughters of the Divine, are called to compassion.
We acknowledge our shared interdependence; we rejoice at one another’s joys and grieve at one another’s sorrows and labor to heal the causes of those sorrows.
The 10th principle of Creation Spirituality
Want to strengthen your practice of compassion? Click here to find out about my class in February.
I was born in London, England, educated in Switzerland, and am fluent in English, German, Spanish, and French. I hold a Doctorate in Ministry Degree and Masters Degrees in Counseling Psychology and Education. Also, I am an accomplished artist and educator. I use all of this and much more when helping others heal their souls.