Category Archives: mindfulness

Of Each Other

Camaraderie – Word of the Day

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Westonia Mine 2013 viewing deck. Afternoon of the weekend road trip and Jon’s bucks weekend full of dinners, toasts, rock climbing, campfire, BBQ, late nights and more, a great time of camaraderie, a veritable esprit de corps. It was one of those weekends where conversations were both surface and deep, fun and meaningful. We were so relaxed and enjoying each other’s company, as it should be. There were no rules, no expectations, but we all managed to get along fine, even joking at each other’s expense on occasion, because, as we acknowledged, no one is perfect.

Camaraderie doesn’t just pop out of a packet (if it did it would be on the market by now), it comes as a result of humour, tears, anger, intimacy, trust, love and more. Camaraderie is the result of raw life, people learning to be with each other, learning about the other. Great feats can result from camaraderie because there is a strength in it that enables us to excell. But more than that, there is a tenacity too, there are many stories of people who survived amazing trials and struggles and who credit their friendships as the reason they got through. Stories of surviving the Holocaust, war, the Killing Fields, famines, earthquakes, cyclones … not just because certain ones were strong individuals (and they were) but also because they had networks, circles, friendships that enabled them to get through.

Simon and Garfunkle sang “I Am A Rock”, although on the surface it seems to be glorifying indivduality, the last words are ironic “And a rock feels no pain, and an island never cries.” In that song there’s a sadness about lost friendship, the rebuttal of friends in preference for painless solitude, neutrality, yet gaining a particular loneliness and isolation. The poet John Donne wrote in the seventeenth century:

No Man Is An Island

No Man is an island,
entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or thy own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore necer send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

 A sensational poem that speaks today (despite its masculine language), that no one can exist as singular, no one can flourish alone. The last line (which Ernest Hemmingway borrowed as a title for a book) simply means that the bells toll to announce a death, and at the same time they also announce that a part of us has died as a result, such is the connectivity of all living things. Camaraderie is honouring a natural connectivity, a vitality, of human thrive and flourish. We are stronger for it, less arrogant, more rounded, appreciated, accepted and accepting, given voice, given place. Identity is not lost in camaraderie, it is sharpened, matured. I often dream of a world where that connectivity would be the true mark of humanity.

A distant bell chimes
you have gone through the dark vale
but you are my cloak

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Fake News

Hoax – Word of the Day

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From the dawn of time to the Lock Ness Monster, to Joseph Goebbels, Lavrentiy Beria, the Vietnam lie, the Watergate Seven, to Weapons of Mass Destruction, to the constancy of daily lies pedalled across the world by politicians, media, businesses, rogue scientists, fundamentalist religious types (remember Jim Jones, David Koresh, Pat Robertson), or the hoax about a hoax – the radio show of Orson Wells which featured his War of the Worlds alien invasion, and which was said to have created mass panic and evacuation of New York, now proven to be an invention created from a handful of hysterical phone calls and an attack on a civic facility thought to be an alien fortress. It certainly helped Wells and the radio station maintain popularity and gain sponsors.

Hoaxes, scams, fake news have all been around since Adam (a story which includes a scam). Generally they fall into two categories, harmful (weapons of mass destruction), and harmless (Loch Ness Monster). They are all fabrications, lies. It is difficult now to believe anything that is reported in mainstream news, at least until it has been checked. But then, people can be fake in their relationships, pretending to be someone or something.

Black Lives Matter, #Me Too, are also testimony to how fake news, lies, fabrications distort race, gender, and destroy individuals and relationships. In Australia the plight of indigenous children removed from families, based on cultural arrogance and self serving mythology, and the devastating findings of the Royal Commission into Child Abuse has shown how fake reputations, scams and lies enabled vulnerable children to be broken.

Yet, I remain optimistic. In my daily journey I meet many, many people who restore my belief that most people value each other at some level, that the human endeavour is still somehow linked to the golden rule (treat others as you would want to be treated), no matter how we might feel that that is tenuous, the anecdotal evidence is strong. Importantly, I remind myself that there, as the old saying goes, but for the grace of God there go I! Who am I? No one is perfect, and so we need to gentle with each other.

Lies will continue, there will be hoaxes, scams, fake news and distortions. Our response surely must be to discern the truth, but also to hold each other in the space of love, trust, healing, and above all, to listen. The power of listening can be healing in itself, and in the long term the way to truth. To listen to the vulnerable (and who is not vulnerable in some way?), the broken (and who is not broken in some way?), to listen to each other generously and deeply. That way myths come undone, lies are made plain, pain is held, anxiety understood, vanity deconstructed, fear disarmed … in the end, in a world where fake news and distrust could overpower us, we have each other, not bury our heads in activity, but to value each other, build trust, support, resilience, that will enable us to face the world together. Together we can rise above fake.

”No one can lie, no one can hide anything, when s/he looks directly into someone’s eyes.” Paul Coelho

”A lie cannot live.” Martin Luther King Jnr.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

 

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It’s A Moiety World

Moiety – Word of the Day

Australian First Nations

There are over 500 Australian Indigenous Nations, as you can see from the map, they have particular areas with distinct boundaries. The nations are formed from clan groups which have their own language and kinship system which is either patrilineal (descent is related to and traced through the father/male line) or matrilineal (descent is related to and traced through the mother/female line). Clan groups are formed from family groups.

There are three levels of kinship in indigenous society: moiety, totem, and skin names.

The term moiety comes from the Latin, meaning half. In moiety systems everything in the universe is in two halves, each a mirror of the other, and the universe only makes sense if these two halves come together. Moieties are patrilineal or matrilineal, so determined by either your father or mother, these are the two halves. People of the same moiety are siblings and cannot marry, they must marry people from the other moiety, and thus the two halves are brought together.

Kinship

That, of course, is a simplistic outline of what the word means, but it belies a complexity of culture that is rich in every way in real life. Whereas white culture has negatively impacted indigenous culture, it is not true in reverse. In fact, we have only just begun to learn from our First Nation people’s how we might better treat each other and the land, given that ecological relationships are so fragile here.

In indigenous culture they have retained something very precious, something we have almost completely lost, the ability of moiety systems to be support systems. If you have a row with mum or dad, you can go to another significant relative within the clan group and debrief, chill out, stay awhile till the heat dissipates and the possibility of return arises. My experience of working with young white people in family conflict is they either go it alone, maybe with a few friends, or sadly, on the streets. Indigenous youth generally look for family. What is important in this is that  while we revere the independence of white youth, we miss the wisdom of healing and wholeness as the moiety or halves work together for unity. No system is perfect, but some have stronger, lasting principles that have lasted thousands of years, like our indigenous peoples. It has now become critical in youth work to build resilience for our youth in trouble, but I think the foundation of resilience is clearly the clan, though, for me, that doesn’t equate to family per se, but rather to those relationships important to our vitality and flourishing. We should never be in survival, but two halves always meeting and making the universe right.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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My Personal Ecology

Flourish – Word of the Day

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Moon’s Crossing, Pemberton, a place where nature flourishes. Here the winter creek flows and sings over the rocks. I flourish here too, the smells, sounds, sights, sensations and feelings that arise here are all part of my living.

One of the earliest thoughts about flourishing came from the great philosopher Aristotle, he thought that flourishing was the highest good of human endeavours, and that flourishing was the aim of all our actions. Somewhere that got derailed. Just as the Greek culture showed potential to pursue its own thinking, the Romans happened with their civic culture focussed on empire. And, as they do, empires come and go, not unlike plagues.

Happiness became the human endeavour, a purely hedonic pursuit according to Martin Seligman. Seligman prefers to talk about Authentic Happiness and he has pinned his career on Positive Psychology, and its ideal of human flourishing. Seligman based flourishing on “Perma” which is:- positive emotion (happiness, pleasure, gratitude, joy), engagement (a state of flow), relationships (feelings of support, familiarity and security), meaning (belonging to and serving something other than self) and accomplishment (having goals no matter the size).

In the mid 70s David Holmgren and Bill Mollinson developed permaculture, a relations or ecology system of farming and gardening. Permaculture’s three main principles are:- care for the earth, care for the people, setting limits to populations and consumption. Permaculture is more wholisitc whereas Aristotle was focussed on the benefit to the community, and Seligman’s Perma is focussed on psychology, but the three work together, they are not mutually exclusive.

For me flourishing is having a personal ecology that consists of  mutually suportive relationships, a positive relationship with nature, a spirituality, creative expression, learning, and reflection. These are the things that sustain me, give me pleasure and enable me to flourish and be creative. This is my manifesto, my mantra if you like, it has taken some time to learn the health of it, but it is a gift of life for me now.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

 

 

 

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You Give Me Fervour

Fervour – Word of the Day

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When the bush comes alive it is with fervour! The colour is rich and varied, the smell is glorious, the hum of insects and the sound of birds is divine. We are currently in winter here, this was taken a few years ago in spring in the eastern wheatbelt after the rains had been the best for a number of years. Hoping the rains are good this year so that we get a repeat of these wildflowers.

Seasons come and go, in order, and generally predictable. But our personal inner seasons are nothing like that. I’ve had long internal winters which have given rise to colourful, intense springs of growth. I’ve had long summers of basking in joy and contentment. I’ve had autumns where transition and change have prepared me body, mind and soul for new experiences. They never come in order, they are never fixed in duration, they are unpredictable. If they were, then life would be dull.

Our inner seasons are indicative of our lived reality, the stuff of relationships, love, joy, pain. It is the complexity of body, mind and soul as a receptor of a multiplicity of experiences. It is gift and loss. It is the giddyness of aspiration, and the sober nature of graft and heft. It is our senses open and engaged. None are negative. Winter is essential, a season of withdrawing, waiting, refreshing, washing, grieving gives way to spring. Winter waters spring. As we befriend our inner winters, we become wiser, integrated, stronger for the journey. Without rain there is no blossom, no juice. As we rejoice in our summers we store up memories that give back to us over a lifetime. Each season is lived and embodied, a respository of awareness. Nothing is lost. Each one gives me fervour, fervour for life, love and purpose.

Currently I’m in an autumnal time of reflection and revision and I’m seeking that next step into spring. I wonder where you are at?

dark clouds surround 
the rain falls inside of me
cherry blossom glows

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

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A Friend

Introduce – Word of the Day

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I hardly need to introduce Augusta, and this particular part, the Blackwood River, as it is a constant reference in my writing. It is my favourite place and our true home. I first came here with a close mate, Nigel, in 1981 on a sudden whim, the same road trip which ended in meeting lyn, who would later become my wife. Lyn and I ended back here on our honey moon road trip in 83. And for nearly every year after we brought the kids for the summer holidays. Finally, we knew we wanted to live here so we eventually bought our home here, a place where we feel at peace, and where we feel that affinity with nature and community. This shot is the jetty where the river walk begins to pass the shire caravan park, and looks across the Blackwood to East Augusta. We were on a walk, as we regularly do, and I just loved the winter clouds and how the light played with them and the water, and the colour tones were unusual to the eye, hence the photo.

To return to the theme of affinity with nature, I find that my contemplative stance is richer in nature. I also experience nature as a soul friend, one who awakens my eyes, my heart to the deeper things, a spititual awareness, and one where I begin to feel more whole. Here my senses are engaged and I feel stimulated. Here I am content. so in that sense, I’m introducing you to my friend.

“Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there.” Gary Snyder.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Affinity With Nature

Affinity – Word of the Day

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Yet another winter storm was coming, hot on the heels of the first of the season, the waves were really pounding all along the shore. Thankfully the strong winds had pushed the first lot through to the wheat-belt. The dark, rain leaden clouds were a wonderfull counterpoint for the sunset, accentuating the colour.

Nature never ceases to amaze me, whether it be the thought of galaxies beyond, our own solar system, or that part of the earth where I live, there is always something to marvel at from the most simple to the really complex. Colour, texture, smell, sound, taste, it’s all there.

We are dependent on nature, we need food and water for starters, oxygen, resources.

But I think we can be interdependent. As we live into the environment, we can manage our carbon footprint, manage our extraction and usage of both finite resources and renewables. We can help to establish regrowth of vegetation, and help repair after disasters, we can return some land to native vegetation, and we can value add what we harvest or remove, there is no limit to what we can positively do in this relationship.

Nature heals, forest bathing, meditating in the open, natural medicines, audio and visual pleasure, olfactory stimulus like petrichor, touch, the sun on skin, the wind around me. My mind is stimulated too, so much to learn, so much adventure, so much to reflect on. Just to be in nature is a wonderful experience for me.

I feel an affinity, a closeness, with nature. I love the feel of sand and rock, and they tell their own story. The streams, rivers and ocean speak, sing, and invade the senses. Eucalyptus like a balm. Dolphins and birds communicating. Sunrise and sunset drawing awe and emotion. I feel whole in nature, I heal better in nature, body, mind and soul. I feel at peace, and am often content in nature. Nature is always conversing, always reaching out to me. And I get perspective, I am part of something bigger than myself, that in itself is medicine for the soul. It’s not about me, it’s not just about everyone, it’s about everything, every relationship of nature.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Stay in the Game

Crestfallen – Word of the Day

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(Photo: radiotimes.com) Andy Murray not winning Wimbeldon.

One of Murray’s comments: “It’s not the end of the world to lose.”

Losing a game can leave us crestfallen, disappointed, whether it be tennis, soccer, Zelda or Monopoly. A natural response if you’ve invested everything on winning your game. If you aim at winning, if you want to win, and you lose, then disappoinment is a likely outcome, otherwise you really didn’t invest very much in winning in the first place. Unrealistic expectations, perfectionism, overconfidence, fear of failure, can all lead to disappointment too.

There are different types of disappointment. I’ve already mentioned losing, then there’s getting what you want and not enjoying it, and there’s the not knowing what you really want.

You have to get back in the game.

If you stay in that place of feeling crestfallen you will be miserable. If the feelings aren’t acknowledged and owned there will be little movement forward, and depending on the disappointment there may be periods of anger, grief, sulking, despondency, depression, self-criticism, blaming (all the usual supects) … If you respond passively you’ll give up.

Andy Murray won the Men’s Singles title at Wimbeldon in 2013, and did it again in 2016, which shows that if you persist and reorient, you can achieve your goal. If you fall off the horse you need to get back on and have another go. However, if there’s no horse handy then:-

  • Acknowledge your feelings (talk to someone, journal, reflect).
  • Adjust your expectations (make changes, consult, revision).
  • Revise your plans (rechart your approach).
  • Have a contingency or backup plan.
  • Be mindful in your responses (meditate).
  • Acknowledge that disappointment is normal and can be a time of learning.
  • Above all be kind to yourself.

Some quotes I really like around the subject of disappointment:

“What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” Friedrich Nietzsche

“Life is like phtotography. We develop from the negatives.” (motivational-well-being.com)

And, from Elena No Brainer:-

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Elegant Humanitarian

Elegant – Word of the Day

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Audrey Hepburn (1929 – 1993), a personification of elegance. Certainly petite, refined, beautiful, and yes, elegant. But no matter who or what, we place that descriptor upon people or objects, it is our perception of them, not as they see themselves or how they experience themselves. We know that to be true because at times we are sometimes aware that we don’t see ourselves as others see us. Having said that, I’m happy to say that I think she’s elegant. I really enjoyed Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but have seen most of her movies over the years. One of the contributing factors to her elegance was her stance, dress and movement – as a child she had learned ballet, and this was clearly formative.

She was ten when WW2 broke out. Her English/Austrian father was involved in the 1930s with the Dutch and British Fascist movements. Ironically hepburn and her mother were involved in fund raising for the Dutch Resistance, though by the time the Germans had invaded Holland, her father had left the family for England then on to Ireland. The war left an indelible imprint on her, she recounted the horror as a child of the invasion, the fighting, the death of family (an uncle was executed as a reprisal), seeing Jewish people being transported, especially children her age, firing squads and more. The food shortages were severe at the end of the war and Hepburn suffered acute anemia, repiratory problems, and edema which resulted from malnutrition.

Hepburn had a long association with UNICEF, having been one of the recipients of international aid in areas devastated by the war. Her formal association began in the 1950s when she narrated two radio programs for them. In 1989 she was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador of UNICEF. She served in that role until 1992, travelling to Ethiopia, Turkey, Venezuela, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Sudan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Somalia, to promote aid programs and listen to needs on the ground. She advocated for clean water and vaccination programs in particular, lobbying the UN and national governments.

During the Bangladesh visit she was observed hugging children who were covered in flies, she had no aversion, only compassion.

Two of my favourite Hepburn quotes are:

“Taking care of children has nothing to do with politics. I think perhaps with time, instead of there being a politicisation of humanitarian aid, there will be a humanisation of politics.”

“The ‘Third World’ is a term I don’t like very much, because we’re all one world. I want people to know that the largest part of humanity is suffering.”

I think her true elegance was in her humanitarian work, that she loved the unloveable, wasn’t afraid to get dirty, was passionate in her advocacy and lobbying. She brought a gravitas, dignity and integrity to the role. Which brings me back to the comment I made earlier, elegance in looks is about perception and description, but elegance in behaviour is something more, it is that inner beauty we speak of, embodied, tangible, and lived, it is real. Hepburn lived her humanitarian work. Hepburn once quipped that ordinary working women could achieve her fashion look easily (and told them how). I think everyday people can achieve her lived elegance in compassion.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Frazzled Cafe

Frazzle – Word of the Day

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She only sleeps all day but she’s still frazzled after eating and wandering around the house for a short time. Misty (not my cat) is a rag doll, and just lolls about in typical rag doll ways. But her answer to stress, and she does stress because she hates even small changes to the house or routine, is to rest up, chill out and take time. Not a bad example, though avoidance isn’t helpful for the long term, but resting when frazzled is always a good thing.

I’m finding more and more that the juggernaut of work, even working at play, is dominating people’s lives. My conversations are often around how others feel overloaded and stressed as they try meet their own expectations or the perceived expectations of others. Solutions and judgment are not helpful in such circumstances.

Comedian Ruby Wax, whose book “A Mindfulness Guide For the Frazzled” was published in 2016, has written about slowing down and taking time. But she has gone a step further. Wax has been instrumental in creating Frazzled Cafe  in the UK, a charity set up to provide a listening, non-judgmental space for conversation for those who are overloaded and stressed. What a simple and yet brilliant idea.

Journey friends are so critical to sharing the load through meaningful silence and open, safe conversation. For some that’s possible through friendship, or a professional mentor (coach, life-coach, mentor, or counsellor, professional supervisor), for others, opportunities like Frazzled Cafe are a gift in a stressful world. So, next time you’re chatting with friends, value the time, and know that you’re giving and receiving something quite vital, that release of what must be said.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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