Category Archives: self-development

Meh?

Meh – Word Of The Day

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I’ve had a great day today, so it’s meh to meh. However, as an anagram, hem will do.

Hem carries two meanings or tones, the first is to hem a garment, as in the hem of the shorts in the photo, or hemming curtains to make them look complete and drop properly. Secondly, hem can also be about restraint, not just in stitching, but in being held back, trapped, pinned, stopped. People feel hemmed in if they’re on a tight schedule that seems impossibe to complete, stuck in a role they don’t like, or if they’re in a room and cannot easily break through the throng of people. In claustrophobia it is that feeling of being trapped in a confined space and the fear of no escape.

Phobias are helped by therapy, sewing by those who know how, but feelings, well they’re down to us. The feeling of being hemmed in is surely a time to take stock, to talk to a confidant and tease the feeling out, to prioritise and make adjustments in the daily, time to self care. Feelings just are, they’re never meh, but they are always a communique to take note and take steps. Feelings, especially those that alert us to pressure, are the best time to be mindful.

“If you have no power, talk about your influence. If you have power, talk about the constraints that hem you in.”  Mason Cooley

like a spider's web
gossamer-like I'm tied
meditation frees

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under Haiku, life, mindfulness, psychology, quote, self-development

The Other “I”

Doppelganger

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(Image by Toby Dixon: found at https://i.pinimg.com)

The term alter ego was first used by the Roman philosopher, lawyer and statesman, Cicero. Cicero described a second self or other self, he used it to describe his close friend and trusted advisor Atticus, saying in a letter to him: “You are a second brother to me, an alter ego to whom I can tell everything.”

But alter ego has also been used to describe something else, a person who has a second self which is distinct and separate from the person’s true original self, they literally live a double life. Or put differently, the alter ego is a differnt version of you, it is another “I.”

We can see this in David Bowie/Ziggy Stardust, Barry Humphries/Dame Edna Everage, Ernest Hemmingway/Nick Adams. In the dark sense this is Jekyll and Hyde, or Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. In the hero sense this Spider Man/Peter Parker, Superman/Clark Kent. In the non-fictional sense they are projected or intentional personality, an alternate person, a way to express differntly. In the Fiction sense, it is a person thrust upon you or is derived from circumstantial change. But it can be dark and evil too, the unrecognised me as when the gentleman doctor Jekyll becomes the evil Mr Hyde when he takes a particular potion.

There is in some of this a hint of the shadow as described by Carl Jung where he talks about the shadow as being an unknown dark side of the personality, the unacknowledged, rejected least desirable aspects of oneself, manifests in dreams, and also comes out in the things we see clearly in others (ego, controlling behaviour, manipulative behaviour, fantasies, greed, lust). Shadow feeds the ego.

We all have a shadow, and some of us have alter egos, and some of those are dark. My late father was wonderful, caring, helpful, George in public and jealous, angry parent and husband in the home. I think we all have a bit of Darth Vader in our Skywalker. But if that is true, we also then have a bit of Skywalker in our Vader, depends where you’re standing and how you’re feeling, it’s never black or white. It gets dark when we fail to recognise who we are and how we are effecting others. It gets better when we acknowledge our other side and we put it to good use and it becomes creative potential (like Bowie).

I very much prefer Cicero’s original use in practice, that my alter ego is a close and trusted journey or soul friend. The twist is, if we have a good journey friend, they will point out to us the short comings of both alter ego, and shadow in due time. I hope you have a good journey friend, I certainly have a few, they are like gold, but a far better investment. Soul friends are the key to unlocking the shadow and pursuing the real me, that’s an alter ego we all need.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Love is Infectious

via Daily Prompt: Infect

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My love walking the beach.

When we fall in love there is a chemical cocktail that is released into the body, literally infecting us with those feelings we call love.

Being attracted to another stimulates the body. If you feel elated, over-the-moon, energised, then dopamine has been released in your system. It works for other forms of elation too, winning a prize, gambling, sport, and drugs. Dopamine is the pleasure chemical.

Intimacy, closeness, bonding, means that oxytocin is in your system. Oxytocin is released when it gets physical, all that hugging, holding, kissing, touching, staring into each other’s eyes. Oxytocin calms and eneables intimacy and bonding. Sigh.

If sex is on the menu, then testosterone is in the system of both sexes. Testosterone is higher in males, and higher in male saliva, it is believed that kissing increases desire in both partners. Sex increases testosterone in the system.

Pheromones, those chemical messengers, also play a role in love, our noses are key to how we interact with others.

These chemicals work at the intense falling in love/sexual leel, but they are also released in long term relationships. They also impact in the four types of love, so that family, sibling, pet, and friendship also include feelings of love as these chemicals are released.

They’re the things I want to be infected with, the things of love, the elation, the focus, the bonding, the intimacy, belonging, joy, and the energy. Imagine if that infected the world!

The Beatles sang “All You Need Is Love” it was considered a trite song by many, and way too idealistic, and maybe that’s so, but there’s nothing wrong with poetic aspiration. I really liked then, Iand I like it now. And I beleive that love is all we need to change ourselves, and therefore, in turn, to change the world. It doesn’t seem that difficult.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under chemicals, community, life, love, mindfulness, psychology, self-development, Sex

Tree Talk

via Daily Prompt: Forest

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It was inevitable. I was born in Nottinghamshire, UK, and grew up in the midst of forests, and the famous one, Sherwood Forest wasn’t that far away. Migration to Australia brought a different experience of forests, and I have explored several. The writings of John Muir, Robert Frost, Wendell Berry, Judith Wright, Noel Davis, Mary Oliver, and many more, inspired my interest in trees. I worked in horticultural work and farming for a time, and learned so much about how trees are really our family, our life-line, our lungs. I am happy in a forest, which we generally call the bush. In fact I’d say I was a Nemopholist – a haunter of forests.

There’s a famous quote by John Muir that I love: “The clearest way into the universe is through a forest.” I think he’s right!

Forests have something special going on, they form habitat for many creatures, they are a special climate zone, they reduce salinity, and redistribute water, provide shade, timber and many by-products. The trees in a forest also communicate. Dr. Suzanne Simard of the university of Columia studies a type of fungi that forms underground networks between trees.

Older trees or “mother trees” are hubs in this fungal network. The trees communicate across species too, from Acacia to Eucalypt. Signals between trees can now be plotted, especially defence signals, through the build up and movement of enzymes. Tree communication is not a new thing, but study has now begun to show concrete evidence of it. The trees work to protect each other, help each other, feed each other, and look after young trees. So the forest is a series of interconnected families, a set of special relationships.

The forest thrives when there are enough mother trees and when the trees are interconencted. We too thrive when we belong to supportive hubs, and are nurtured by networks that protect, share, and feed us. The fungal network equivalent for us is love, empathy, and compassion, a special climate zone, a vital ecology. With love we thrive, we grow, we bloom, and we develop capacity to give out to others. The human forest needs an ecology of love, else the erosion to loss of community will be devastating.

Gandhi put it well when he said: “What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and one another.”

If we do to ourselves as the trees do to themselves, well, we’d be thriving and not just surviving.

For the article that underpins tree communication here, go to Do Trees Communicate With Each Other?  Its a wonderful read.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Filed under bush walking, environment, Forest, life, mindfulness, nature, self-development

3 Day Quote Challenge – Day Three

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Viktor E. Frankl, neurologist, psychiatrist, author, holocaust survivor. Frankl was the founder of  Logotherapy (Existential analysis). Frankl, a keen observer of human behaviour, and especially his own (much of his reflection came out of the camp life) wrote:

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

I love this quote because it is so encouraging, we are not disempowered by circumstance or situation, only by our own refusal to engage with change. Frankl had to adapt rapidly to the life in the SS camps. First he was sent to Theresienstadt Ghetto in (the then) Czechoslovakia. He was later moved to Auschwitz in Poland, and then to Kaufering (a satelite of Dachau), and then to the labour camp at Dachau in Germany. He worked in camp clinics to help give fellow prisoners mental health tools for survival, and he helped newcomers get over the shock. thus, challenge to change was in his own experience.

Again, thank you for the nomination Soul Write Empire

Rules:

Thank the nominating blogger.

Post three quotes (one per day)

Nominate three bloggers each day, today’s nominations:

sumiswu8

Rohit Sahu

A Voice From Iran

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under life, mindfulness, psychology, quote, self-development, Therapy

Laughter Is The Good Medicine

via Daily Prompt: Laughter

Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Bean.

In a documentary he did on comedy I remember Atkinson saying that he’d modelled Bean on the great silent comedy actors, Buster Keaton in particular. Atkinson was quite serious about his comedy. Mr. Bean is not everyone’s cup of tea though. Comedy is a matter of taste, some people struggle to laugh at contrived misfortune, others don’t get certain types of jokes. I love all types of humour, and I struggle to be serious for too long. I think life without humour becomes a rut, which “is a grave with both ends kicked out” (attributed to Earl Nightingale). Unfortunately we have entered an age of poltical correctness that won’t allow for certain types of humour –  it would be hard to imagine Benny Hill starting out now.

I thoroughly enjoy the slapstick of Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, the satire of Monty Python or Littel Britain, the black humour of Blackadder, the innocent humour of the Vicar of Dibbley or Keeping Up Appearances, and the pointed humour of Yes Minister. The gentle humour in Friends, or the raucous Seinfeld, political humour with John Stewart. Some of you may remember Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, in Australia the Graham Kennedy Show, the Glass house and so on, too many to list here.

Humour is even acknowledged in religion. Osho taught that laughter was releasing, and held sessions in laughter release, he also taught that laughter brought energy to the fore and was for a few moments a meditative state. Both Jesus and St. Paul used sarcasm. The Christian Pentecostal movement encouraged holy laughter as healing. In the Medieval Church a mass was developed in France where the lowest of society were invited to take high position and celebrate their own version of the mass, a social inversion, pure comedy. It was an attempt to offer an opporunity to release social pressure.  Naturally, the Church hierarchy were horrified, but the Feast Of Fools is still celebrated (and still upsets serious minded purists, which in my view is a good thing). In his book, “My Spiritual Journey” the Dalai Lama, reflecting on the many sadnesses of exile and hardship, says: “… I am a professional laugher …”  There is even laugher yoga.

Laughter is also homespun, families have their own treasure chest of humourous moments. Some yo uhave had to have been there to really get the humour. Mine include dad handing mum the steering wheel when it detached from the column (as we entered the school parking lot). Or when our family were at a Chinese restaurant and the vegetable oil for the sizzle dish spilled onto a napkin and my yongest son said: “I’ll help” and tried to blow it out, turning it into a blow torch that set fire to my beard (fortunately quickly doused). We are still laughing.

Laughter is releasing and it is claimed that it brings several health benefits. It destresses, uplifts, it is contagious, breaks down barriers, is enjoyable … Some of you would be familiar with the maxim of the Readers Digest – “laughter is the best medicine.” I certianly feel much better after a good laugh.

I love a good laugh and I don’t mind being laughed about. I like ot think I’m a professional laugher – I hope you are too.

For those who are more serious minded a video about laughter 😊

sitting for dinner
my beard is aflame now
laughter douses it

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

14 Comments

Filed under Haiku, history, life, mindfulness, Philosophy/Theology, psychology, quote, religion, self-development, Uncategorized

3 Day Quote Challenge – Day 2

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Author Erica Jong is especially quotable, she has continually reflected on the human condition. I particularly love this one, and, though not always fearless, I’ve tried to apply this as my maxim:

“If you don’t risk anything you risk even more.”

It speaks to fear and anxiety, control and any dose of the “What Ifs.” I gaev someone a fridge magnet once that said: “The tomorrow you worried about is the today that you survived.” In that spirit Jong is urging us to engage with life and not let it cow us, besides, what have you got to lose?

Thanks again for the nomination by Soul Write Empire

Rules:

Thank the nominating blogger.

Post three quotes (one per day)

Nominate three bloggers each day.

My nominations are:

On A Mission

Sgeoil

Searching For Grady

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

 

15 Comments

Filed under life, mindfulness, self-development

Play Is Serious Business!

 

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Play, you know, the thing we do when everything else is achieved! This painting (used by Dr. Stuart Brown in his TEDx Talk featured in my post Galahs Partake ) by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, 1501, is entitled “Children’s Games” but if you look closely, not all of the characters are children, in fact there are many adults also at play. Brown asks what has happened to our society that such scenes are no longer part of our life style.

Brown believes that the root of losing play in our society is guilt. We have been well trained in our society to respect hard work at the cost of all else.

In the early 20th century the sociologist and philosopher Max Weber published his work “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit Of Capitalism.” This work explores the link between work, religious belief and capitalism. Weber’s work was well received, and was commonly called “The Protestant Work Ethic.” Weber lays the responsibility for the drivenness towards capital and work at the door of the Calvinists who held that play was trivial, even ungodly (this from the same funsters who banned musical instruments in churches in the sixteenth century, and influenced the practice of locking up public playgrounds on Sundays). Sadly, this work ethic caught on, and capitalism blossomed in a particular way, a symbiotic relationship, that in my view is destructive on every level.

The result has been an ever demanding economy in which we consume as we are being consumed, body mind and soul, so long as we remain ignorant of the dilemma.

In a more mindful way we need to get in touch with our inner child, to be free to be creative in our own way and not to be drawn into perfectionist behaviours of fun. To be free to leave some things incomplete (which is an acknowlegement that one day we will leave everything complete, and others will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves). In one sense play and letting go has something to give us by way of living as we are aging and preparing for death, the ultimate letting go.

In the short term, play enables us, releases us, heps us reframe and is just plain healthy. We learn more about ourselves and others in play.

That old saying is true: “All work and no play makes Jack/Jill a dull person.” The painting by Brueghel is a reminder that adults used to have fun in simple ways, and perhaps, life was less dull.

In a confronting way, the Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister once recalled that when she was grumbling about cleaning floors while she could have been studying for her degree, the superior commented “You have all the time there is.” We all have time. Play must be a priority, it must be intentional. Go play 🙂

For an MP3 of Krista Tippett, at On Being,  interviewing Stuart Brown for “Play, Spirit, and Character” (2007) go to Dr. Stuart Brown

Paul,

pvcann.com

27 Comments

Filed under community, creativity, life, mindfulness, quote, self-development, Spirituality

Bubble Wrapped Life?

via Daily Prompt: Bubble

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Image: id.marge.com

Who hasn’t enjoyed popping the air bubbles on Bubble Wrap, and who hasn’t danced around on it, or run on it. Most of us would have wrapped something fragile in it to mail to someone? And who wouldn’t want to protect valuable, fragile gifts?

Bubble wrap was invented through failure. Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes were attempting to make a 3D wallpaper in 1959, but it failed, however, the material they ended up with was useful for packaging fragile objects. And, in 1960, Bubble Wrap was born. I don’t remember it before 1973, but maybe I wasn’t paying attention!

Bubble wrap is a polyethylene product, a hydrocarbon derivative, and in the current situation, an unwelcome intruder in the environment as a non-biodegradable plastic. It will be hard for commerce to wean themselves from this highly effective and cheap product.

Bubble wrap is also a metaphor, as per the image above. The desire to protect ourselves, our family, and our friends, is a powerful one as the saying:  “Don’t bubble wrap your kids” indicates. I’ve known parents prevent their children from doing all manner of normal play activity in an endeavour to protect them from physical harm. And local government have compounded the matter by overprotecting communities with by-laws. Pool fences come to mind (how on earth did we ever survive without them?), my own children quickly leaerned to conquer pool fences as do many children, nor have they prevented drownings. In one classic case of beaurocratic madness one family I knew were ordered to put in a pool fence around their new pool, which was not far from the farm damn, and also near the river, anyway, you get my drift.

But there are all sorts of overprotection, emotional, mental, physical. In my work, I encounter parents who overprotect around grief issues, as if not talking about death will make it go away and their children will not be upset!

I might be good to bubble wrap and ornament to send overseas, but it is counter-productive to bubble wrap people. Psychologists can now show that overprotecting our children can cause anxiety, can erode self-esteem, and in some cases can result in anorexia. Just some of the results of over-protecting. and like its plastic counterpart, the psychological bubble wrap will be difficult to abandon for some.

Psychotherapist Michael Ungar Overprotection Leads to Psychological Damage has written on the dangers of overprotecting children. One of his main points is that we actually neglect our children when we prevent them from experiencing risk, we do them a disservice in preventing them learning to face problems. Australian advocate for children at play Maggie Dent, has long pushed for play grounds that are real (like they used to be). One school in Perth has reintroduced tree trunks as climbing aparatus, a major step away from the culture of overprotection.

In 2009 journalist Lenore Skenazy coined the phrase “free range kids” following the liberating experience of giving her daughter more freedom in public, and on her own at the age of nine. www.freerangekids.com

I find it refreshing that there are parents and individuals willing to confront the bubble wrap parenting methodology. But we are on notice as adults, do we overprotect ourselves, are we so risk averse that we will no longer “have a go?” And are we guilty of squashing our inner child? We need more free range adults too!

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Observe, Notice, Be Mindful

via Daily Prompt: Observe

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A tree growing from the rock at Billycatting nature reserve, perhaps a bird or the wind took the seed there? This was further along a side trail along the rock, and not immediately evident. I only noticed it when I stopped and really looked.

And that’s it really. Observation or noticing is one of the ways we become mindful of our immeditate environment, how we attend to living in the present moment. Observing or noticing is to stop and take note, to absorb our surrounds, to focus on what is immediately around us, to take in  and soak up what is there, in front of us.

Of course, that way of being mindful is applicable on the micro and well as the macro level. It can be externalities or internal to us. To be mindful of our feelings is to notice what is going on inside of us, and to work with those feelings non-judgmentally, but especially to know that feelings are just feelings and are not descriptive of who we actually are, and can be worked through, enough to change the negatives. Working with our feelings is crucuial to our growth and development, especially our mental health. We can get trapped in negative feelings and feel that we will never escape them, but sometimes this is simply a rut we have entered and which needs diverting. Mindmaps can be helpful and unhelpful, but we participate in their design and existence, we are not passive victims who are hostage to our feeelings or our circumstances. In essence, we can rewire the brain, we can train the the brain. It works by experiencing change and not in knowing about change. But it begins with awareness, observing, being mindful. As Einstein once said: “Nothing happens until something moves.”

Below: Dr. Dan Siegel on neuroplasiticity.

One of my ways of observing myself and my environ, my experiences, is through meditation. Meditation is a brain changer anyway. The deeper the engagement of meditation the deeper the latent observation that arises afterwards. But even sitting having coffee somewhere, to intentionally notice what is going on within and without oneself is powerful.

There is a problem at the moment with any discussion about mindfulness, different groups believe they have a truth or a way. Some have gone down a pure clinical mind path, others have developed exclusive spiritualities, others, a science only approach, as if they’re all mutually exclusive. Which is ironic, because binaries are hardly mindful! Mindfulness, true to itself, belongs to no one, and is for everyone, and is a mix of all those things, that’s what makes it so potent.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under bush walking, life, mindfulness, nature, quote, self-development, Spirituality