Category Archives: Spirituality

Mnemonia

via Daily Prompt: Mnemonic

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I was never a mnemoniac. They drove me mad, I’d glaze over, and inevitably never grasp the process. One of the few I could ever quote was “i before e except after c” or “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” Probably because it was short. I had the attention span of a drugged monkey. I’m still hazy about which months have thirty days, the mnemonic never helped “Thirty days have (white noise) …” In reality I couldn’t be bothered. Even now, memorising lists results in “Just shoot me.”

Mnemonic ( comes from Koine Greek: μνημονενμα) which meant – a record of the past, and so we promote memorising for learning. But, mnemonic also means to be mindful.

And so there is another form of mnemonic I do relate to, and that is learning from someone’s life. A person’s life can be a mnemonic or pattern that inspires. The names that have inspired me include: Martin Luther King Jnr., Rosa Parks, Maximilian Kolbe, Sir Edmund Hilary, Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, Jimmy Carter, Simone Weil, John Muir, Dag Hammarskjold, the Dalai Lama, Parker Palmer, Aung San Suu Kyi, and so many others. I have taken something from each of them, something from their pattern of living, something that  inspires or makes sense. These people are living patterns, and through documentary, books, or watching them, I can see their way of being.

I’m not bothered how many days are in a month, but I am interested in mindfully attending to the wonderful examples of humanity around me, and learning from them.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under community, history, life, mindfulness, Spirituality

Go Minimal – Simplify

via Daily Prompt: Simplify

By way of mindful living, simplicity and minimalism have become bywords of a groundswell across the world to downsize and jettison clutter and unused material things. It seems to me that we are creatures of acquisition, we have to have stuff, but in the end it becomes dissatisfying, and we feel an urge to get rid of stuff, to downsize, simplify, minimalise.

In the 1970s came the BBC TV series ‘The Good Life’ a rollicking comedy, but with a serious undertone, that captivated many, and has inspired several generations to attempt a little of what they modelled. It’s a great story about Tom and Babara Good – Tom quits what he experiences as a meaningless job, and they put their middle class life behind them to live self sufficiently. It fed into permaculture, backyard farming and whole range of styles.

In the 90s Sarah Ban Breathnach published the beginning of a series of books called simple abundance. It was part of a worldwide movement at the time to downsize and take time. It wasn’t so much about self sufficiency as simplifying life. The movement was criticised as being popular among the wealthy who could afford to buy land in rural areas and drop out part time. For some, ironically,  it proved to be expensive to live simply.

In more recent years there has been a plethora of movements and leaders in the art of simplifying life.

The Minimalist Guys (https://www.theminimalists.com/game/ )  would be well known I’m sure. Their trademark is the the 30 Day Challenge. It’s game of throwing out (well giving away, donating, selling, etc.) what you are not using. The number items you throw out corresponds to the numerical value of the days in the month. So, Day one, throw out one item, Day two, throw out two items. By the time you get to Day thirty – thirty items (some friends of mine chose make that the day to toss out old mugs and cups), so a real challenge. There are many others now advocating the simple life, and with refreshing ideas on how to do it, like Lorilee Lippincott at https://lovingsimpleliving.com or the collective at www.anunclutteredlife.com .

Another way is the Small or Tiny House movement across several nations.

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It is very slowly catching on in some shires in Australia, but some shires are resisting or refusing to engage with this. Ironically, one of the issues is the cost in scaling down products for a small home. Some are on wheels, which gets around some regulations in various shires, as these are deemed moveable and impermanent. Local government can be weird about progress (but I’ll leave that for a rant later).

For many, these movements can be about gaining perspective, order, peace, and a mindful lifestyle. To undertake any of these simplifying ways helps the environment by reducing our carbon footprint, and the sheer materiality of our lives. Simplifying is a body, mind, soul, nature experience. I can’t argue with it, I believe we’re over-sized on every level as it is. It’s very hard to let go of stuff, but let go we must for the sake of ourselves, each other, and nature too.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Filed under environment, life, mindfulness, minimalism, nature, permaculture, Spirituality

Tend

via Daily Prompt: Tend

In the world around me the feedback loop is consistent: “I’m stressed, I’m frazzled, I’m bogged down in work, I can’t see a way through, I’m worried.” Anxiety, according to a multiplicity of studies across the western nations, is on the rise, and across age groups. I have friends who are afraid to take time off work for legitimate reasons lest they lose their job (which is unlikely), while other friends are reluctant to address work issues – they don’t want to rock the boat, they don’t want to risk their reputation, they don’t even stand up for themselves let alone other people. It’s almost like we’ve become servile, frightened people. In looking at it from a different perspective, people are overloaded and weighed down by work, responsibilities, and relationship difficulties.

Perhaps I sound simplistic, but my concern is that we don’t tend ourselves enough! Or, perhaps more accurately, we don’t tend to ourselves appropriately. We read about mindfulness, contemplative lifestyles, minimal living, self-care, but when do we actually put it into practice? My concern is that mindfulness is currently the most written about topic and yet is the least practiced way. Sure, we might go to yoga now and again, take the odd walk, meditate periodically, take the occasional break, but we are inconsistent, and lacking commitment to go the distance (which in fact equates to lack of commitment to self). And we suffer for it, we live in an imbalance.

Without mindfulness we are more vulnerable to the ills we read about, depression, anxiety, lack of self-worth and so on. Mindfulness is not a cure all, but if approached and lived in conjunction with healthy living and a balanced diet, then it is going to make a positive contribution to our overall health. Which is a reminder that there is no one way or silver bullet solution, we need a balanced life to survive.

Tending self is about taking breaks, going on holidays, exercising, spending quality time with family and friends, meditating, reflecting, and just getting down to being. Tending self is not about a singualr focus on the self, it is really a focus on relationships (which means a relationship with nature too) and health. Is it selfish to tend to self – well yes, but in a positive way. The word selfish has had some really bad press over the years, but to be selfish is to really look after oneself, not to exclusively self-indulge, but to care for oneself as one has need. If we are to flourish we need to nurture ourselves. Sometimes I think we need to be a little more selfish and tend to self, only then can we tend to others and the world.

A Senryu

Toast while driving
narrowly missing the turn
late for mindfulness

©Paul

pvcann.com

 

 

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Life Isn’t Black And White!

via Daily Prompt: Silhouette

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Locomotive tender, part of the Gwalia Museum, makes a classic silhouette against the light. We could talk about the merits of silhouettes, or the creativity of black and white photographs. But I’m drawn to the grey.

There’s talk everywhere about colouring within lines, following numbers, obeying laws, sticking to the unwritten rules we all “know”, doing it right, being a “good” citizen. Rules and laws are black and white, literally – print on paper or, as folk lore, mores, they are etched in the community psyche, but one needs discernment to navigate life, one needs to appreciate and savour, even learn to trust the grey. The movie Inception illustrates this perfectly as it has no heroes or villains, each character has to deal with their own subconscious, and their own shaddow. Inception is an abstraction of what real life is actually like, but we all take moral positions and justify them, black and white, but the reality is life is beyond our controls and manys the time our rules don’t fit, don’t work, and we have to find another way through.

Life is a series of relational encounters where we flex and compromise and move, sometimes in a direction we’d never thought we would or could go. A bit like dancing. In this dance of life I live by two main principles, loving my neighbour as myself, and doing no harm, I’m not perfect, but these two principles even roughly applied help me navigate the stultifying black and white and live into the grey of reality. Grey is relational, affective, heart over mind. Black and white are sharp polarities, divided, forceful, demanding. Grey is softer, warmer, blended, forgiving, neutral, open.

I like my silhouette, but it is softened by the grey. Live into and appreciate the grey.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Trill of my Life – Or, how science fiction saves the world.

via Daily Prompt: Trill

 

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Trilling? Well not quite, Nicole De Boer as Ezri Dax a Trill, as seen on Star Trek. And no I’m not a true Trekkie, but I did enjoy the show. In general I enjoy science fiction, it is another world, and yet it isn’t. All fiction is, in some way, related to real life, where it differs is that fiction can abstract, take licence, and allow fantasy. Fiction can be quite potent in confronting social justice issues. Take any of HG Wells’ works, Orwell’s 1984. Look at District 9, a movie that speaks to racism; Ursula LeGuin’s (who, sadly, died this week) The Dispossessed, a book about racial inequality; or Samuel Delaney’s Neveryon, a series about power, race, sexuality and aids, or Octavia’s Brood an edited collection by writers inspired by Octavia Butler, essays that speak to injustice and inequality. Star Trek was doing it very early with racial creations that confronted our constructs of race, it addressed class, wealth, inequality, power, race and sexuality.

Science fiction enables us to question our values, especially our inherited values, while enjoying being entertained, we are encouraged to look at difference, and to question power relationships, and to seek justice, in some cases restorative justice.

A basic musical Trill consists of a rapid alternation between two notes. A Star Trek Trill was a humanoid native to the planet Trill and who were inhabited by a symbiont, thus two lives in one body alternating. Science fiction enables us to trill inwardly, to look at different sides of an issue – of what might appear to be singular, but is in fact complex. Perhaps to trill is to possess a 20/20 vision in emotional intelligence?

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under community, nature, politics, Science, Space, Spirituality

Dominant Red

via Daily Prompt: Dominant

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Red soil is dominant in our center – hence the well known term Red Center. And so is Uluru in the distance. There is a connection, the sand is the breakdown of sandstone of which Uluru and many of the formations in the Center are comprised of, as well as some granite outcrops. The dominant red colour is caused by the presence of ferric iron oxides, and also certain types of organic matter, which cause the redness in both rock and sand.

The redness changes with the light, as might be expected. Dawn and sunset intensify the colour, which over an hour becomes a beautiful pallette.

I found myself singing “Red soil in the sunset” (with apologies to Nat King Cole and a horde of others who sang “Red Sails in the Sunset).

I love the colour, I find it captivating, moving, exhilarating. We all know red to be the colour for danger. I read somewhere years ago that red is the colour of action, and in ancient eastern culture red is the root chakra symbolising life and energy. Red also has the slowest wave lengths yet it is the most stimulating colour, it has that affect on me. My fave and dominant red is Shiraz 🙂

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Up Around the Bend

via Daily Prompt: Horizon

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For me the horizon is an invitation to discovery. What is up around that bend? (queue Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Up Around the Bend’) And the horizon is a metaphor for life. What comes next? It can be engaged immediately, or I can wait and savour the moment, take my time. I don’t want to conquer that bend, I just want to see what it is inviting me to, what gift is offered, and what wil I take from this moment? A little bit like my meditation practice, there is the horizon of stillness, and I wonder what that will bring to my life, what gift will arise? I’ve never been disappointed either way, and there’s always a new horizon.

“There’s a place up ahead and I’m goin’, come along, come along with me.” (John C. Fogerty)

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under bush walking, Country, meditation, nature, Spirituality