From the Heart…

Last Friday I posted A Question?

My question was about this…

… and I didn’t say anything else about it because I didn’t want to influence the response at all. And I would really like to thank everyone who replied. I so much appreciate the thoughtfulness and consideration that went into all of your responses.

Apart from A Question? I didn’t blog anything last week because I was so overwhelmed with sadness and I’m not going to go into that here. I do emotional literacy in the stereotypical English way – not often and not well! – but I was determined to keep sewing and I thought making something would make me feel better but I was at a loss for what to sew. So I thought I’d try modifying a New York Beauty block to make something like this image…

…which I drew and began to make a needlepoint piece of (destined to remain a UFO forever, I think) years ago. It was originally inspired by the quotation: ‘The person in the heart is is the person in the sun’ which crops a lot in the early Upanshads, particularly the Chandogya, but I modified the idea to have the person juggling rain drops because that struck me as more realistic.

To start with I was aiming for a modern solids look and thinking cushions but when I got to this stage I couldn’t think how best to quilt it and I thought ‘sometimes you just to give up to the universe’. That seems an odd thing to have thought out of the blue about the quilt, life and everything but I decided just to go with it. And for some reason prayer flags came to mind. Lately, I seem to keep meeting people enthused about all things Tibetan.

I’d heard of The Prayer Flag Project ~ A collective project spreading peace, good will and kindness, one flag at a time… but I’d never visited it so I looked it up and I was struck by how beautiful all the flags are and what a lovely sentiment is behind the project. There is also a flickr group you you might like to visit. I did some quick research on prayer flags and learned:

“Traditionally, prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The flags do not carry prayers to gods, a common misconception; rather, the Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space. Therefore, prayer flags are thought to bring benefit to all” Wikipedia


Lungta-style prayer flags hang along a mountain path in Nepal

“The ancient Buddhist prayers, mantras and powerful symbols displayed on them
produce a spiritual vibration that is activated and carried by the wind across the
countryside. All beings that are touched by the wind are uplifted and a little
happier. The silent prayers are blessings spoken on the breath of nature. Just as
a drop of water can permeate the ocean, prayers dissolved in the wind extend to
fill all of space.” The Prayer Flag Tradition at

I especially love the idea ‘All beings that are touched by the wind are uplifted and a little happier‘ and I wanted to make my sun/heart into a prayer flag.

And I listened to this You Tube Video of crystal singing bowls, played by Deborah Van Dyke and Valerie Farnsworth accompanied by the art of Jack Haas. It was like a sort of sewing meditation and might be worth doing from time to time just for the peacefullness of it. The sound is extraordinarily beautiful and the images are stunning.

And, beginning with shadow quilting, I listened and sewed in circles and cried a lot – which didn’t help with even stitches and straight lines but gave it a certain character – and I made myself a rule not to unpick anything and not to imagine it perfect but just to change direction or colour when I thought it looked like it needed it and to accept however it turned out (life, the quilt and everything!).

And I listened to this wonderful TED TALK:

Kathryn Schulz: Don’t regret regret

“We’re taught to try to live life without regret. But why? Using her own tattoo as an example, Kathryn Schulz makes a powerful and moving case for embracing our regrets”

And just kept sewing and doing all the steps of regret just how she describes. Except I still have a way to go before I can genuinely laugh at myself. Perhaps when I can, I’ll be able to write in an entertaining and matter-of-fact way describing what it was all about.

And then I received an email update from Susan’s Blog – Good Disruptive change – which I would highly recommend to anyone – and she had blogged a post called HOW TO BE YOUR OWN TRUTHTELLER where she says (among lots of other interesting things):

“When Peter Drucker observed that “no one has ever failed to find the facts he is looking for,” he was talking about confirmation bias, known as the most dependable of all delusions. What is confirmation bias? It’s when we pay attention to information that confirms what we want to believe, and ignore information that challenges it”.

So I sewed round in circles some more adding some reflection on confirmation bias into the mix.

And in the end I felt a lot wiser but not much happier and I had pretty much run out space for any more stitching and I realized the flag was finished.

But I’d noticed the other flags tend to have names and words on them and I had been naming it the ‘Heart of Sorrow’, which doesn’t seem quite right for a wish for all beings to be ‘uplifted and a little happier’. And I did think it looked quite bright and cheerful and I like the idea that from the heart of sorrow something hopeful and happy and beautiful could emerge but I still didn’t feel hopeful and happy and beautiful and I was concerned that it might just be sending out vibes of sadness and unstraight lines so I didn’t feel comfortable with embroidering those words on.

So asking for really genuine responses, positive or negative, was a way of testing the response of the universe to see if this could be a prayer flag at all.

And I couldn’t be more pleased or surprised by the responses.
I’m very encouraged by all the suggestions of radiating/bursting with love/happiness/joy/life. And I was particularly surprised by M-R saying: ‘a gift of love to someone who might need to be cheered up’ and Helen’s suggestion: ‘like a comforting embrace, and like it’s sending out calming and loving thoughts to someone who needs it’
Apparently hanging prayer flags on a sunny windy day is auspicious!
So Thank You VERY much to everyone who commented.

I think I will link it up to the The Prayer Flag Project. I think I’ll call it ‘From the Heart…’ and rather than embroidering words on, I’ll leave it to speak for itself.

Edited to add: Thanks to everyone who has commented or emailed I think the whole process was surprisingly helpful and I’m pretty much back to normal now and somewhat wiser for it :)

Edited to add: This is continued in the following post, here.

9 thoughts on “From the Heart…

  1. Kelli

    What a touching story, and a beautiful prayer flag, Janine. I'm sorry for your sorrow, but it's truly inspirational that you've turned the process of your emotions into something so stunning. xo


  2. OksanaB

    Janine, your prayer flag/quilt is perfect! Thank you for sharing your story on the blog. It's amazing that you were able to channel your negative emotions into something so beautiful. Keep quilting!


  3. Karen

    So sorry you are sad, that is a beautiful expression of sadness. Like Sue said, I will taken many things from what you have posted here – truly wonderful.


  4. M-R

    What a thoughtful and interesting post, Janine. I'm glad you are feeling better. It's hard to be in those down spots and so important to remember that they will not last. It's wonderful to have such a great project to help work through the sadness. :)


  5. Lucy @ Charm About You

    Janine I've been out of the loop because I'm ill but I wanted to comment on this amazing post. The prayer flag is truly stunning and such a great intent. I enjoyed all the links and think you're definitely on the right track. I hope the sadness lifts and I'm sure this positive and beautiful heart will help :)
    Huge hugs xxxxx
    I'm reading the secret and getting positive myself… might make a flag as a reminder!


  6. Benta At SLIKstitches

    What a great post, in itself it was soothing and calming, and I haven't even followed the links yet.

    I am so sorry that I blatted on about the quilt being such a happy thing, obviously my empathic sensing powers are cr@p, but if you can pour your sorrow out and make something so lovely, it sounds like a great arrangement!


  7. Katie

    I'm sorry to have missed this when you orginally posted it. I am still trying to catch up with blog reading across the board.

    I absolutely love your prayer flag and that you were able to talk honestly about the process of creating it. I'm sorry that there was sadness at this time, but know that we all go through those times. The fact that you worked through it to create something for the world to benefit from just speaks volumes for your soul.

    I have been secretly lurking on the Prayer Flag blog and have yet, only thought about diving in to creating something in that vein. I have long been fascinated by Tibetan practices (as well as religious/spiritual practices around the world) and one day want to travel there. I'm happy to have seen your prayer flag featured on their blog. I hope you create more as they come to you.

    I'll cut this short here as I don't want to go on in the comments. I could probably talk about this for days, but will have to return to this post to check out the videos and links you shared. I need to get to bed right now. :)


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