Symmetric patterns

Symmetry is a sameness that persists when we change point of view. Rotate an object or move to another side, and it looks the same. Many in mathematics, science and art, find symmetry beautiful.

Awareness of symmetry

Many spiritual traditions find meditating upon symmetrical patterns to be calming, grounded in finding the stability despite change and difference. The symmetry may be repetition over time, such as the rhythm of music, or the movements of breathing or walking. Meditating upon one’s breathing or walking is a tool for grounding, but also for studying deviations from the rhythmic pattern, as in mindfulness meditation or walking meditation. Over time, patterns of walking and breathing repeat, such that one , deep sameness despite superficial differences over time or space. The ancient practice of walking in a relatively small figure 8 pattern is repetitious but difficult enough to create deviations in balance and gait, thus challenging and stimulating the bodily feedback mechanisms involved in bringing one back to balance. As you breath notice the patterns of movement, the up and down motion of belly. Alternatively, notice the feelings against the tip of the nose. Watching one’s breath seems simple, but the mind wanders. These mental deviations are an opportunity to practice bringing attention back to the breath pattern, and learning one’s own thought patterns, studying the details of the thoughts and feelings without value judgement.  Ultimately, one finds that the one thing that doesn’t change while meditating is a general consciousness that is present even when the mind wanders. In Vedantic wisdom traditions this Consciousness (with a capital C) is God, a Divinity within all beings.

Another form used in meditating is a symmetry over space, such as in a circular or spiraling mandala. We provide a guided meditation on golden angle spirals in our “beauty and science of spirals” and our spirals for meditation coloring book. Because such spirals occur throughout nature, one can practice this type of meditation on nature walks. A variant is the activity of mindfully painting spirals of a pine cone or coloring the floral spirals in our coloring book.


Social symmetry:

Golden rule of neighbor as self

Who is my neighbor?
Stories and parables addressing this question include the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37, below St. Bonaventure’s Church, Raeville, Nebraska). Also see Tales of Trust and forgiveness. The Isha Upanishad says both you and your neighbor are the universal Self, and that when one realizes this, one’s fear vanishes.

Unity in diversity

Symmetry is a sameness that persists when we change point of view. Rotate an object or move to another side, and it looks the same. This is similar to a deeper unity or sameness despite different perspectives.