Cosmic Rainbow Hearts are tools for expressing love in your mind, word, & action.
They are an interactive mandala which is the physical manifestation of visions I experienced while learning the practice of Tonglen meditation.
Tonglen means “giving and receiving.” The receiving is when the meditator sets their mind on a person in need their life and imagines destroying their suffering using their highest wisdom and compassion . After their pain is vaporized the meditator sends their friend wonderful gifts on a bridge of light from heart to heart . This bridge expands limitlessly, and threads of healing light are sent to every living being in the cosmos. It's a beautiful way to think, isn't it.....
Audio recording of Tonglen
It was after 6 months of practicing Tonglen every day when the hearts started to appear in my meditations. At that point, I had practiced for myself, for my friends and family, and even for people that bothered me. My life had shifted radically as I began to heal through this yoga. I found myself more clear, calm, and loving on the inside and my world becoming more peaceful on the outside. Then one day in meditation, I as I began to offer the practice to all beings an image of a white heart with rainbow colors streaming from it popped into my mind. I imagined the heart was my heart, and it then streamed out to all the other hearts of living beings in the universe.
As I walk on this path I am learning that the way of yoga is the way of Tonglen - a continuous giving and receiving of love. For me, wisdom is letting go of fear in order to be free. And the love comes from the practice of connecting with my highest self. My whole life becomes an offering to love. After thinking this way for a long time, I was inspired to create Cosmic Rainbow Hearts as platform for myself and others to focus this healing intention and energy through art.
Please read on to learn more about the evolution of the hearts. If you are interested in commissioning a Cosmic Rainbow Heart, or hosting an event that includes them I would love to work with you!
I created the first Cosmic Rainbow Heart as a talisman for my friend who told me he was going to climb Mount Everest.
I felt a strong sense that he needed protection, practiced Tonglen for him and sent him a heart in the mail. He brought the heart with him on the mountain and survived the 2014 avalanche on the mountain, and then survived the 2015 disaster. In 2015, I used the hearts to raise money for Nepal's earthquake relief fund.
Then one day a dear friend was sitting at my kitchen table, crying in pain about his mother’s cancer.
He was so upset, and I listened to him and looked at the hearts on the wall. I took one down and said, I will practice Tonglen for your mother and I’d like you to give this to her, and maybe you can write her a letter telling her how much you love her. He wrote the letter and sent it to her and I sensed his relief at being able to channel so many complicated feelings and emotions into a piece of artwork.
After that, my life long best friend was pregnant with her first child.
Before her baby was even born, I was so excited to meet her. I painted her a beautiful heart and wrote her a love letter. You can’t see it in the picture, because it’s hidden behind the painting. It’s a secret love letter waiting for her to open when she is a young woman, many years from now.
Before I knew it I couldn’t paint enough hearts to keep up with the people who could use them. Loving children, friends doing courageous things. People I was deeply grateful for in my life. Family members I was estranged with. People who were sick. People getting divorced. People getting married. Teachers I loved. Grandparents, sisters, mothers, brothers. People who were heartbroken. People who were celebrating. People who were widowed. I made the hearts for all of these people and as I did I felt like I was stepping with them on the path of life.
One of my goals as an artist it to use art to heal and empower. Until this point, I could see the healing effects of Cosmic Rainbow Hearts on myself and the others I created them for which was amazing. But I wanted to empower anyone to create their own Cosmic Heart experience for the people in their own lives. I have this vision of everyone in the world using the hearts as a way of processing their emotions and communicating the things that were hard to say but needed to be said in the world.
I decided the only way to achieve that lofty goal was to simply start to use Tonglen and the hearts to change one life at a time. I put my trust that the way to do so would become more clear. I started volunteer teaching at Agesong, which is an assisted living community in Hayes Valley. (http://www.agesong.com/) Every week with the beautiful Liz Derenzy, I go visit the elders in their home and we teach Yoga, Tonglen meditation. After this the elders work individually on their own hearts co-create a Cosmic Heart Mandala. My job is to teach them the meditation, give them the template, and get out of the way.My experience at Agesong has been challenging, uplifting, sobering, heart-opening, and life-changing. As I work with this population I learn more and more about the preciousness and fragility of life and the strength and courage it takes to live it. Although I started serving the elders as their teacher, I find myself humbled to know that it's really me who is learning from their wisdom.
The Cosmic Rainbow Hearts are not finished until they are empowered by the user. They are a beautiful template for people to complete by writing a positive affirmation on the back. They can write letters, poems, phrases to themselves or others to seal in their individual message
Anais Nin famously said, "Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." It was in China during the Spring 2016 Triveni Yoga Teacher Training where Cosmic Rainbow Hearts expanded.
The graduation ceremony opened its doors to the public, and I was asked to teach Tonglen and co-create a mandala with over 150 people. The original Mandala only included 36 hearts, so I was at first unsure as to how so many people would be able to participate in a way that seemed cohesive. I tested different configurations, and to my joy, I found that there were infinite, repeating patterns within the pattern I created. Cosmic Hearts truly could expand in all directions without limits! It was an incredible experience to witness so many people quietly and lovingly practice art and meditation with the intention of helping others. Seeing all of the work together was profound-I imagined each little heart being jammed packed with love and intention, ready to go out into the world.