Category Archives: mindfulness

A Vague Thought

Vague

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‘Great Wave Off Kanagawa’, ‘La Vague d’Hokusai’ or ‘The Wave’ – by Katushika Hokusai (1760 – 1849) an artist and printmaker of the Edo or classical period. Hokusai was a prolific artist, and his paintings were popular in his lifetime, and in Europe and have become world famous since. It has been said that Monet was deeply influenced by Hokusai. He originated Hokusai Manga (manga = random drawings, so no connection with the modern usage of manga), a body of reference for other artists (some fifteen volumes).

In this painting, the waves have claws and are menacing, the humans in tiny boats are, by comparison, vulnerable and at the mercy of nature. Mt. Fuji in the background also dominates, the only natural thing not threatened by the water.

The connection to vague is of course the French translation = a wave of panic swept over me. So, in French the title implies what the painting is showing, the wave about to sweep over the fishermen.

Hokusai was concerned for the decline of society and was also seeing the end of the classical period. The painting shows judgement, the wave about to sweep over the fishermen and the community was a judgement on the people. I would retitle it – Nature Strikes Back.

The perspective of Hokusai is striking, because he is commnicating that the way Japanese society was behaving – it could not, should not continue.

But that is more real for us today because we have intervened in nature, with chemicals, polution, clearing, salinity, depletion of species, nature can strike back as a result of the changes it faces. Researchers have long been saying that weather patterns are changing, rainfall has changed, the earth’s atmosphere is warming. The positive is that there are many who are working hard to get our attention and change that.

In a more personal sense the painting speaks of consequences, if we don’t care for ourselves, if we don’t check our excesses, if we don’t care for others, then there are consequences that will affect us. Without reflective time, without some quiet within the daily, without healthy diet and exercise, without love and loving, without the capacity to listen and to share, to be creative, we are at risk of life sweeping over us with claws waiting to consume us. Mindfulness is not a mystery, it simply learning to to put our ego drive away and focus on the real self and its potential and relations. to use a cliche – stop and smell the roses.

But unlike the fishermen in the painting we are not at the mercy of such things, we can (we must) stop and take time, and we can work together on the crises that seem to surround us. And not in the least to begin to challenge the work ethic which will consume us first if we don’t.

Nature rises up
the claws of consequence
time to paint

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Galahs Partake

via Daily Prompt: Partake

It begins with one, two, then three, then more. They gather to partake in the most joyous fun together. It was raining the other day and we were sitting on the veranda watching the day go by, when nature’s jesters turned up. The ubiquitous Pink & Grey Galah, found almost everywhere in Australia. They love to play, and they love to play in the rain (when it’s warm weather that is). This group started with one then there were more. I love it when they hang upside down to get the full feel of the rain and get a wash. You can hear from there calls that they are having a ball. It’s a little like watching young children have fun together.

The Pink and Grey Galah or Eolophus rosiecapillus (although science is also saying Cacatua rosiecapillus) a cockatoo, is common across Australia. Its common name is derived from its colour – pink with grey. Our English word Galah is taken from the Aboriginal language Yuwaalaraay and their word Gilaa. Galahs form strong bonds as couples who mate for life, and they are known to become depressed if their mate dies. There is an urban myth that if one of the couple dies, the other remains celibate, but it has been proven that they do indeed find another mate. They can live up to thirty years in the wild. They are highly inteligent, social, and adaptable.

In Australia the word Galah has also been used as a euphemism for someone who is a loud mouth. In teaching meditation, the term for a distracted and busy mind was always a monkey mind, but I use the word Galah mind, it makes more sense when you have no monkeys.

But their playfulness reminded me of how humans generally lose their sense of play, we become too serious and dismiss play as childish, silly, immature or a waste of time. We crush the inner child at every turn with our grown up ways. Dr. Stuart Brown gives us a great way to look at play as important to our health and development.

Like the Galahs, we too need to hang loose ocassionally, we need to play in the rain, we need to partake of fun. And like the Galahs who grieve their dead mate, we grieve so many things in our lives, and there is a place for counter-balance, not as distraction, but as intentional. Brown talks about how we need play to be whole and healthy, how doing the most, what appears to be silly things, enable us to see life differently. In other presentations, Brown provided research of prison inmates whose childhood had been deprived of play, there is a correlation between play deprivation and development issues. Some sobering thoughts, but ones that affirm the need to play.

Sometimes we need to be life’s jesters, and make like a Galah (the bird, not the loud mouth).

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Mallet of Healing

via Daily Prompt: Mallet

Camille Saint-Saens is credited with the first use of mallet percussion in an orchestra in 1874.

The video is a performance piece by the famed percussionist Evelyn Glennie and guitarist Fred Frith (he of Henry Cow) improvising in a vacant factory. Glennie is internationally noted for her use of mallets, the striking sticks used to play a number of instruments like the marimba and the zylophone. Glennie is stunning to watch in concert, and what makes it more intersting is that since she was twelve, she has been profoundly deaf. Which goes to show that what we might consider as a barrier, a disability, an impediment or block may not necessarily be so. Glennie is on record (see her TEDx talk, also on Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=383kxC_NCKw ) as saying that deafness is misunderstood, and that she used other parts of her body to learn to listen.

In a twist of irony, the malleus or hammer shaped bone is a part of the ear, which for Glennie, is parallel to her work in percussion. The musical mallet is used to strike an object, an instrument, in order to create a vareity of sounds that will be heard. The act of striking is an intentional process, persistent, rhythmic, hopeful, that a sound will be yielded by wood, skin, or metal, that can be heard.

I am struck (no pun intended) by the idea, and the reality, that you can train yourself to listen with different parts of the body. Some of this we know – in some forms of meditation we are learning to listen with the heart, and also the body as a whole. Music can evoke a range of emotions too that enable us to listen deeply and with different parts of the body, the skin included. My heart races with some music, whereas with some other types of music my heart is overcome, other music makes me warm, or gives me goosebumps, sometimes I have different feelings around pieces of music, for me there is always a bodily reaction. For the musician it can be an ecstatic response, have you ever noticed of someone who is playing an instrument just how emotionally connected they are with what they are playing?

Clearly, if you have a passion for something, then that can sometimes help you overcome difficulties in order to follow and achieve that passion. And passion opens the door to the heart. Besides, we commit more to what we really love and enjoy most. If you have a passion for something, your heart is already deeply engaged, so that it is not just will power or intellect that drives you. Music also has an advantage in this as it is considered to be healing in its own ways.

How I see it, we need to open our hearts to that which can move and transform us, to find that which potentially heals us. We need to get in touch with what our passions are, and we need to deeply listen with out bodies. As passion strikes at our heart, just like percussion mallets, the door to healing and creativity opens, then, who knows what can happen? For Evelyn Glennie, percussion was a way to both listen, and to be creative, and in spite of her profound deafness.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Conscious Authenticity

via Daily Prompt: Authentic

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Sunset at Uluru, one of my many favourite photos of the rock, taken last year. Uluru is a well known Aussie icon. Primarily it is an indigenous sacred site, but in a broader sense it is a well known visual associated with Australia as a country. For us Uluru is as authentic as it gets for an icon, along with the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. But Uluru is a natural wonder. The icons created by human endeavour are sleek, well designed and engineered, repaired and maintained. But Uluru was forged through time, weathered, beaten by the elements, sometimes shedding its skin as layers peeled off. It is old and wise and has many stories to tell, It has scars and wounds to show beneath its grandeur and striking presence.

We are a little like that. Forged through time, we grow and develop, mature. Along the way we are a little weathered, and beaten by the elements. And there are, perhaps, times when we psychologically shed our skin. We may well feel our age, but not many of us would admit to being wise – usually that is a label applied by others who experience us, and yet, in my experience,  every person carries a wisdom of their own. And we certainly have many stories to tell, especially because we have wounds and scars that are our story.

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. 
"It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, 
long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you 
become Real.'
 
"Does it hurt?" Asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes." said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 
"When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, 
"or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. 
It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people 
who break easily, or have sharp edges, or have to be carefully kept. 
Generally, by the time yo are Real, most of your hair has been loved 
off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very 
shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are 
real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand. 

Margery Williams Bianco "The Velveteen Rabbit"

Unless we risk love, unless we risk vulnreability, we cannot become, we cannot be, And we cannot be real. The sort of risk I understand is expressed perfectly by the Skin Horse, that we loved and held to the point that we are both hurt and yet whole. But in the main it is our scars and wounds that really make us. They don’t define us, they help make us, help us to become, help us to grow and be authentic.

To be authentic isn’t to be a thing, to be some predetermined you, to be ‘someone’. Authenticity doesn’t come down from the heavens, it isn’t randomly assigned to you. To be authentic is to simply be the you you already are. But you can’t be that person unless you risk the scars and wounds of living, it is a slow thing, it takes a long time, but it is to have lived and to have been real.

As Brene Brown has said: “Authenticity is not something we have or don’t have. It’s a practice – a conscious choice of how we want to live. Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”

I really like that, “Life is a collection of choices.”  and, that it is “a practice, a conscious choice.” Authenticity is something we can do.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under bush walking, Country, life, mindfulness, psychology, quote, self-development, Uluru 17

Chiron’s Parallel Process

via Daily Prompt: Parallel

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The sort of parallel lines that matter to me. I’ve long held a passion for railways, and as a child loved following train tracks, I still do. This photo was taken at Dwellingup, at Hotham Valley Tourist Railway.

There’s a lot of talk today in therapy and social work circles about parallel process. Carl Jung coined the term to explain that those who take up psychotherapy and counselling do so because they have faced pain in their own lives. Jung turned to Greek mythology to help define what he meant. He used the myth of Chiron.

Chiron (if you remember) was the child born by the union of kronus and the nymph Philyra. Kronos was out looking for his son Zeus and he encountered Philyra and lusted after her. Philyra was having none of it and changed into a mare in order to escape. But Kronos changes into a stallion and overtakes her. Kronos rapes Philyra and departs, the result of this union is Chiron, a centaur. Philyra rejects the child. So the child Chiron is abandoned by both his parents. But Apollo adopts Chiron. Apollo (god of music, poetry, healing) taught Chiron everything he knew, and Chiron became a mentor to many.

Chiron became friends with Hercules, which was unusual because Hercules was always fighting with the Centaurs. One day in a skirmish, Hercules accidentally wounds Chiron in the knee. The arrows Hercules had used caused a would that would never heal (they were dipped in the blood of Hydra), and for an immortal like Chiron, this was an eternal would, a would never to heal. Hercules and Chiron work out how to end it, Chiron must become a mortal and die, so Chiron does by trading places with Prometheus. In death Chiron was rewarded for his deeds with the constelation Centaurus.

Jung was referring to the pain of Chiron’s abandonment as leading him to be such a great and understanding mentor for so many. In a clinical sense the term refers to how there is sometiems a similarity betwen the client’s and the therapist’s situations. Because they are similar, thus parallel. Sometimes the therapist may not realise and sometimes the therapist may erroneously beleive that what worked for their situation should work for the client and they may risk becoming directive.

For the rest of us it may be helpful when we are simply sharing, to note what comes up for us, and like Chiron, to find ways of reaching out to those we know and love, and to find ways of compassionately journeying with them, reflectively listening, and holding the space for them to speak and unburden. There’s nothing greater than love, especially offering non-judgmental love, and being able to share doubts, anxieties, joys and hopes. People around us may be in similar experience or situation, and though it is never the same, and though we must never be directive, we can all be there for each other and hold the space knowing we need that too, and knowing we can, in the end be part of the healing process by sharing our stories with them. And we all have something to share. In that sense we are wounded healers, helping others and ourselves to find healing through our woundedness.

As Irving Yalom says: “We are fellow travellers in our pain and joy.” 

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under Country, history, life, mindfulness, Mythology, Trains

Daily Prompt: Fret

via Daily Prompt: Fret

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As bricks and mortar age they fret, or wear away. The photo shows Balladonia Station homestead (c. 2007 © P. V. Cannon) on the Eyre Highway, east of Norseman. It is a conglomerate of 1890s to 1930s construction, but even the 1930s parts are showing their age, the mortar between the bricks has been fretting and someone has made a hasty repair to prevent the bricks falling away. The stone and bricks are also fretting.

The owner was in process of repairs, but it would be an enourmous task and very costly (distance from any city would mean high transport costs). We were fortunate that day as the manager was home and showed us around and gave us quite a bit of the history of Balladonia. One snippet was that Balladonia was part of the crash site for Skylab in 1979 when it re-entered earth’s atmosphere (the local roadhouse has memorabilia pieces from the Skylab on display). A lot of history has passed through this place.

Buildings tend to fret on the outside earlier due to exposure to the elements of weather. We tend to fret on the inside ealier because, unless we take care, we are exposed to the ravages of hurt, grief, anger, worry, anxiety … which, while normal life experiences, can become embedded and drive us, wear us down, drag us low.

We really need good boundaries, supportive relationships and conversation with deep empathic listening, even having accountability partners who hold us to account on our issues. An ability to reflect, journal and meditate can be a wonderful help. Reality is perception, but comfort and solace is human friendship, the very best antidote to fretting. The old saying, prevention is better than cure, rings true, though it’s never too late to make repairs.

The Roman poet Aulus Persius Flaccus (34 – 62 CE) wrote: “We consume our tomorrows fretting about our yesterdays.”

Living in the present moment is one of the few ways of not being consumed by our yesterdays or even our tomorrows. Maintaining perspective is another. That’s why we need others around us, they can help to keep us grounded and true to ourselves.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under Country, Farm, history, life, mindfulness, quote, Space

Shine On You Cranks

via Daily Prompt: Crank

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I found cranks fascinating. They have the role of enabling movement in an engine. I really enjoyed drawing one in my high school art class, there was something about the smooth, machined metal, the shadows, its inherent strength, and above all, the fact that it was oddly shaped, offset. I used to see them as bent out of shape. Which is part of the the word’s origin: from the middle low German it gives us wrinkle, and in Dutch it gives us crinkle. So that out of shape look is also the origin of its name.

Of course there are parallels in human behaviour. If you’re labelled a crank it might be that you’re grumpy, or that you have very strange ideas, or behaviour.

What I get from that is that we’re all a bit of a crank. Ever since the 70s we have accepted that we’re all on a spectrum, no one is perfect, and we all have some behavioural oddities, imperfections, obsessions, phobias, anxieties … who hasn’t had some wacky idea they’ve clung too, who hasn’t exhibited weird behaviour at some point – and who are you to say you haven’t? By whose measurement or definition can you evade the spectrum of life?

So, there are two sides to crank, we have both the capacity to drive something, to turn something, and we have the capacity to be difficult, grumpy or odd. At our core we’re all a bit bent, but yet it is our very bentness that gives us possibilities.

Some famous creative types who were also deemed a bit odd, and who also fascinated me would include Byron, Shelley, The Earl of Rochester – John Wilmot, Baudelaire, Pushkin, Van Gogh, Beethoven, Newton, Poe, Hemingway, Brian Wilson, Syd Barrett … the point being, that sometimes their quirks, oddness, and bentness enabled their creative juice to flow (and sometimes the reverse or both).

You may remember the 2001 movie ‘A Beautiful Mind’ based on the real life story of 1994 Nobel Prize winner and mathematical genius John Nash. Nash suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, and was unwillingly institutionalised several times. He slowly recovered with help, and returned to teaching at Princeton. Nash wasn’t bent in the sense that Byron was bent, but he was not like other people, and in that sense he was of a different order, yet a genius and great contributor to understanding maths.

One of the best autobiographies I’ve ever read is of a woman who battled with schizophrenia when everyone thought it was MS. Elyn R. Saks (‘The Centre Cannot Hold’ London, Virago, 2007) pushed through ilness, institutionalisation, misdiagnosis and more to become a lawyer, and a psychiatrist. It is a truly heart rending story, but also a wonderfully inspiring story.

All of the above were thought to be cranks in the plain sense, that they were just a little mad, and in some ways they were/are. But most simply suffered from a variety of physical and mental ilnesses, which, today, we know is not a barrier to anything (except our judgmentalism perhaps). And, as I stated at the begining, we’re all on some spectrum, along with all of them, so who are we to judge? We’re all a bit mad, a crank, odd in some way. But we all have capacity to shine, to create, to contribute in the simplest ways where we are, sometimes in spite of the things that dog us, and sometimes because of the very things that dog us.

Syd Barrett (1946 – 2006), musically talented, sadly succumbed to psychadelic drug usage, to the point that the other members of Pink Floyd removed him from the band in  The four part song ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ was written to honour Barrett, who had enabled Pink Floyd to move, to create and develop their own style. A truly creative crank.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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3 Day Quote Challenge

Day Three – Wonder

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“The sense of wonder is our sixth sense.”  D.H. Lawrence

I love the work of D.H. Lawrence, and especially when he is speaking to our inner ability to wonder. Wonderment refreshes the senses, but as Lawrence is suggesting, wonderment is innate in us, it is our ability to see the world through different eyes, eyes that revel in nature, in sunsets, in love, in compassion, in poetry, in simplicity, humility, integrity, passions … Imagine a day without wonder! No? I can’t either, I’d dry up and fade, besides I have jawdropping moments of wonderment daily. for me wonderment is a key to my creative flourishing, the juice of passion.

My nominations for today:

Soudip Ghosh

A Canvas To Describe Feelings

Sgeoil

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Deplete or Regrow?

via Daily Prompt: Deplete

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Another shot of one of my many favourite spots – Boranup Forest. This a Karri Forrest in Western Australia’s South West corner. The additional beauty of it is that it is a re-growth forest. All the woodlands of Western Australia’s southern half were depleted from the time of the arrival of the first while colonists and into the 1960s, when people became more aware of the damage and danger instripping our forests, and the fragility of life in some the biospheres.

Trees were cut down in swathes for fire-wood, railway sleepers, locomotive and stationary engine fuel, building materials, and simply stripped out to provide farming land. Land 400 kms east of Perth was decimated in the harvest of timber for the railways and private consumption, as well as the highly prized market for sandalwood. Photographs of the era show depleted vegetation for hundreds of kilometres in every direction. Much of this is now State Reserve and regrowth has been successful.

MC Davies was the principal mill owner and operator at Boranup from 1886 – 1910, Karri was logged and milled for local and international export. The operation ceased in 1910, but not before massive clearing of the ancient forest had left it decimated. Farming was introduced where the forest was cleared, but in the 1920s the State government encouraged a regrowth forest, the results of which we see today. Amazing really, this forest is only 107 yrs old, and yet it looks like it’s been there for a lot longer.

This regrowth forest is also saying something else. As humans we have the capacity for blind, selfish, consumption. We also have a wonderful capacity to help heal our natural environs. For me, the various regrowth forests are a sign of hope, that we can make it in the scramble to halt global warming and work with climate change. If we can manage to sucesfully establish a regrowth forest, then surely there is much more we can put our minds to and achieve. The regrowth forests are, for me, a metaphor for the regrowth of our relationship with all life forms. when we regrow or restore or heal relationships of all forms, we in turn grow, and are also restored and healed.  There is a mutuality and vitality, a flourishing, when we respect other forms of life.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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3 Day Quote Challenge

Day Two

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Taken at a junction on the River Walk above Flat Rock, Augusta.

"... Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference."

From: 'The Road Not Taken' by Robert Frost

When I chose this one it dawned on me that I had another ‘road’  or direction quote. Well, so be it. Life is indeed a journey along a path – our path. And that is Frost’s point, we have choices, they are our choices as to which way to go. At the heart of these lines is the call to authenticity, will we go the road well travelled – the predictable, comfortable, everybody is doing it road; or the road less travelled – the one that is going to stretch us, deepen us, cause us to question (and question ourselves), enable us to grow, the one that includes pain or discomfort, love and love lost ….?

Frost, ever the subtle poet, guides us discretely to the thought that authenticity is about being true to self and honouring that which only we can bring to the world, to community. This not new, but Frost is original and profound, giving a new angle on life through his own experience. For Frost, the authentic person can only be truly themselves if they take their own path. It is an acknowledgement that no one can carry us or do it for us, no one else can be us. Frost doesn’t preach or moralise, he simply honours his own authenticity with – “And that has made all the difference.”  He rejoices in his choice to go his way, to therefore become himself, no matter what he meets along the way.

Today’s Nominations:

On A Mission

Soul Therapist

Moira

Paul,

pvcann.com

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