Life Archery ~ Circles, Cycles, & Chakras

What in life are you aiming for?

Whether targeting your outer goals or your center within, practice & refinement are essential to hitting the mark. Yoga teaches us this simple & elegant truth. By repeatedly returning to our mat, we are asked to reflect & refine our awareness, pinning it down to a singular point in time; hitting the center of the soul with mindful accuracy.

Warrior Woman

For me, this means living in my creative flow, as it is where I am operating for the highest good and actualizing my greatest potential. The challenge is to simplify, removing all that is unnecessary, so that I can more easily connect to my creative muse and be in alignment with my spirit day to day, navigating the natural up/down cycles with consciousness and compassion. It is a goal I choose and one that I am learning requires accountability, responsibility and commitment in all that I do. It is what I call Life Archery.

Kenny Noland, Target Mysteries Aglow Series, 2002

Kenny Noland, Target Mysteries Aglow Series, 2002

Living mindfully means making that target...the soul center within...part of our everyday. The challenge is keeping ourselves aligned with how we choose and how we act. The nature of a target is the circling round a central axis. As a means to better understand how I might proceed, I turn to art as my inspiration. Painters have painted endless targets, Jasper Johns & Kenny Noland (1924-2010) come to mind. They each return again and again to the same circular motif. Different colors, brushstrokes and day of the week, but the endless cycling of existence is made clear through spinning wheels of color and tonal gradations on canvas.

Enso, a Japanese word meaning “circular form” is the symbol of Buddhist enlightenment. A target representing supreme freedom. In the biography of the Prajnaparamita master Nagarjuna, it states that whenever he taught in public, the master would appear as a luminous circle in order to reveal the true form of buddha nature: “Neither large nor small, neither wide nor narrow, neither good nor bad, neither transient nor eternal.”


Samsara, the endless cycle of suffering, death and rebirth to which life in the material world is bound, is what we all hope to escape, whether through meditation, vacation, or for some, sadly, addiction. Yet no matter what we might know or what we might do, we all get trapped, whether it is in a whirlpool of choices or distractions, or in the unexpected rythmns of life. Pema Chodron calls this shenpa Tibetan for “getting hooked.” Geting hooked is how we stay caught in the wheel of suffering. This journey we call life is represented by the bhavacakra, or Wheel of Life, a Buddhist philosophical and sacred diagram placed at the entrance to temples in India and Tibet. Comprised of concentric circles representing our karma, each spoke on the wheel represents the constantly churning turmoil of worldly existence and stages of awareness that trap us in suffering. The way out, according to Buddhist and Hindu philosophy, was through meditation and yoga.

Bhavacakra, (Wheel of Life), 19th century, Tibet, Rubin Museum, New York

Suffering is not limited to the mind but also manifests in the body. This painting from Northern India circa 1850, is an exquisite representation of the 7 chakras, or wheels, signifying sources of life force energy. Each glowin