Tag Archives: meditation

The Thin Place

via Daily Prompt: Thin

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Photo: My thin places are the bush: A walk trail near Bridgetown.

The ancient Celts believed that there were places one could go where people and the spirit world could touch. The Celtic influence on Christianity was such that this belief carried over, that the veil between heaven and earth was thin or transparent. The barrier between human and the divine were almost non-existent. For the ancient Celts these places were mostly forrest groves, but in other cultures they are rivers, billabongs, monoliths, mountain-tops, caves and more.

Not the same, but related in some aspects, the Australian Indigenous peoples created songlines, which trace the creation of the land, the fauna and lore, by ancestral spirits. Indigenous Australians used the songlines as navigation paths, for social connection, cultural knowledge – especially coming to know the flora and fauna, the availability of water, the types of seasons, and how it all came to be. Songlines are places to touch the past and the present.

My thin places are in the bush, these are liminal, threshold places, where the mind transcends the ordinary, where the soul is restored, where the heart is lifted, and the eyes are filled.

Thin places might be Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu, Uluru, Chartres Cathedral, the Pyramids, the Himalayas, the stars, meditation, music, art, and more, places or experiences of place that awaken the soul to something more, something outside the self, something veiled but near. Whether or not this is a spiritual experience or a transcendence of some other kind, thin places are restorative, they are places of contemplation, places of beauty, awe, play, rest, and renewal. We all need thin places, we will know them differently, but we will know them. They are treasures to fill the soul.

John O’Donohue wrote: “When you begin to sense that your imagination is the place where you are most divine, you feel called to clean out of your mind all the worn and shabby furniture of thought. You wish to refurbish yourself with living thought so that you can begin to see.”

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under bush walking, Country, history, life, mindfulness, nature, religion

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

13 Comments

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

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

20 Comments

Filed under creativity, life, mindfulness, music

I Churn For You

via Daily Prompt: Churn

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Image from b-i.forbesimg.com

Lyn’s parents left us a milk separator, and butter paddles, there was even an old milk churn in the shed, but no butter churn. Milk separators do just that, separate the cream/butter fat from the milk. Milk churns are misnamed in my view – they’re just a large metal container for transporting milk. Butter paddles and butter churns do something else, they turn the butter fat from the milk into actual butter, they produce something.

Emotionally we churn. Surely you’ve heard the term butterflies in the stomach, a reference to mild worry. I don’t make a habit of it, my stomach rarely churns, but there are those rare occasions. If I’m going to churn it will be heights. I was fearful of flying, and my first few flights were nerve wracking, but I’m getting better at it. I engaged with abseiling, that was certainly nerve wracking, but I found I could even enjoy it. But with each activity, the night before I would be churning, worrying, mulling it over. By the morning I was no better, often exhausted from all the useless churning because my sleep had been interrupted or prevented by all the worry. Now it’s different, I find a mindful approach is helpful.

All the ancient cultures and religions relate strong emotional fellings to the stomach, hence the term “I have a gut feeling.” A churning stomach is, for many, a far too regular experience. Churning stomach often results from anxiety and stress. While the habit in days gone by (in the West) was to prescribe something, eventually there was a realization that worry was different to stomach ailments or sickness. A churning stomach is simply the body getting our attention that we need to make some adjustments to whatever the body is registering.

The ancient cultures and religions, (and now) modern medicine, suggest more simple, even commensense remedies to help end the churning: Adjusting diet (reducing sugar, caffeine and alcohol, other stimulants, large meals in general), exercising, and ensuring adequate sleep. In addition, and more importantly, a mindful approach is beneficial: adjust your breathing (awareness, calm breathing), relaxation, reduce stress (awareness), meditate, rest, and adjust whatever it is that is the cause of your churning. If we don’t take steps to adjust and change, then why expect anything to be different? For me, rest, creativity (simply writing or painting is a wonderful reframing), exercise, and meditation make all the difference. Stop, breathe, reframe, and arrest the churn.

Paul,

pvcann.com

6 Comments

Filed under Farm, life, meditation, mindfulness, psychology, religion, self-development

Nature As Talisman

via Daily Prompt: Talisman

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When I was in primary school one boy created a bit of discussion one day because he brought along a rabbits foot, and he explained that this was his lucky charm. I was bemused. I never had one, though I had some favourite things that were sentimental and had I lost them I would have felt out of kilter, but no talisman as such.

I have a book that belonged to my great uncle Davey who died near Arnhem, Netherlands, during WW2, it is somehow a connection to the past. It is a large book, written for adults but yet fits the description ‘ripping yarns’ a bit like the ‘Biggles’ stories for those who knew them. I had a fave knitted red t-shirt that I’d had for years, it had holes in it, fibreglass stains and etc. I still had it when I got married. Lyn threw it out while I was at work one day! We now ask before disposing 😂 I still have a bedside lamp that was modelled on the story and cartoon character ‘Noddy’, I might repair it one day, it’s sentimental. But really, if these were taken from me, I’d grieve a bit, but eventually I’d not miss them, after all they are merely material.

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The labyrinth is for me a practice of meditation, but it is also a symbol of life, reflection and journey. It comes closest to talisman, as I would miss this if it were taken from me, it is important to my rhythm and balance, it is life giving.

But even more than that, the photo at the top, which shows a segment of Billyacatting Nature Reserve near Nungarin, was a regular haunt when I needed to meditate and take time out from long days of driving vast distances. Why is this a talisman? Well, because for me it is life giving and healing. I find natural spaces enable wholeness and awareness more readily than built environs. I come alive in the bush in ways I don’t or can’t in urban spaces. I’m certain I would go on living if I lived in a major city, one like Beijing or Tokyo, LA, London etc., but I wouldn’t thrive, I’d merely survive in such places. But give me the bush and time to walk it, soak it up, commune, meditate, and engage with it, and I am revived, refreshed, and whole. The bird song, the smell of the earth, the blossoms, eucalyptus and other smells, the visual feast, for me the bush, and all that constitutes it, is my Talisman.

What’s your talisman?

Paul,

pvcann.com

19 Comments

Filed under bush walking, Country, environment, labyrinth, life, meditation, mindfulness, nature, Spirituality

The Noise of Silence

via Daily Prompt: Noise

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Nightfall just south of Marla (South Australia) so peaceful, the silence is powerful.

I often think of noise differently. I often hope my silence is noisy, as a sense of presence, a calm, so that my silence shouts to the world – there is another way. I was once in a contemplative space and someone interrupted the silence some of us were enjoying, and I quipped, sarcastically, “Is my silence interrupting your noise?” Sometimes silence isn’t noisy enough to grab other people’s attention so that they can see it, feel it, and know it. There are times I hope it is an example, as we say of meditation, we hope our non-reactive silence is helpful and calming. Remember the old saying: “Actions speak louder than words.”

With the noise of deadlines, electronica, health issues, discord, celebrations, shopping centres, busy roads, bustling streets, the jarring noises of life can be debilitating, energy sapping. But silence is a worthy noise. Silence is a contempative stance, a space to claim against the heft of noise, and a place to rejuvenate. It is pleasant work, and it is work because you have to work hard to make the time for silence, and to stick at it. But is work that is deeply invested in your health, body, mind and soul.

And silence is the only space in which we can meaningfully hold ourselves and others with an ear to empathy and compassion. I personally find my reflective and contemplative practices increase my ability to empathise, and to compassionately engage with others. For me an investment in silence is the best noise to engage with.

Paul,

pvcann.com

25 Comments

Filed under life, meditation, mindfulness, nature, self-development, Spirituality

Live in the Present Moment

via Daily Prompt: Present

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One of my favourite lines from Winnie the Pooh, and, as with many Pooh sayings, profound. Today is the present moment, there is no other.

Living in the pesent moment has deep roots in many cultures. Living in the present moment is aided my a number of helpful practices, all mindful, all

I am told that among the Australian Aboriginal peoples there is Digerie, a contemplative practice. Notably, the word digerie is the root of digeridoo, the wooden wind instrument. Buddhism, Hinduism, Tao, and several other practices, all encourage meditation in some form. Even within the Christian tradition, meditation developed in the desert monastic communities of the third and fourth centuries. Now there are other non-aligned forms of meditation. Jon Cabat-Zinn at MIT has done substantial research in meditation, showing that it has multiple benefits. Meditation is a pure form of living in the present moment, putting aside all distraction and pressure and focussing on one’s breath and mantra is releasing. To put aside the current crisis, to let go of the tyranny of time, to engage with stillness and breathing is fabulous. Through meditation I can live in the present moment, and I find I’m better for it. I notice more about my responses, behaviour, and thinking. I am challenged to let go of the past and embrace the present. The stillness grounds me so that I am able to face doubt, and the endless permutations of my mind (the monkey mind, of which the Aussie version is a tree full of Galahs).

Jan Glidewell once said: “You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present.”

When our lives are completely filled up with the stuff of doing, there is little time for being. Be still for a moment, breathe, focus, let time slip away, and make space in your arms for the present.

Paul,

pvcann.com

25 Comments

Filed under life, meditation, mindfulness, self-development

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

Can You Hear That?

via Photo Challenge: Silence

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Can you hear that? No? Exactly, relative silence.

Gordon Hempton and John Crossman published their book ‘One Square Inch of Silence’ back in 2009. It was an attempt to highlight the need for silence for healthy living and for the environemnt in general. It is a noise control project and has had some positive responce from commerce and industry in the US which is where the study was based. The book is a great read, and is really a biography of Hempton’s physical journey to establish if one square inch of silence could be found.

The photo is of Jindalee Breakaway, and there, there was the sound of birds, and wind, and nought else. But the search for outer silence is one thing, and can never trump the search for inner silence. My meditation teacher always said, you should be able to meditate in an airport lounge. And I laughed then, but now I know it to be true.

But the double bonus for me, as some of you know, is to meditate in the bush – this is a literal heaven. There I am nourished and truly flourish and become whole.

Paul,

pvcann.com

8 Comments

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

Meditation: the static life

via Daily Prompt: Static

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I really like and need meditation, I like its many forms too. Static mediation, sitting and focussing on breathing and being faithful to my mantra is my main form, and brings me joy. But another way of mediation I love is, as I have written before, is the use of the labyrinth, which can take any form or way you like. But no matter the form, the walking clearly isn’t static, and yet, the movement of the body acts like a mantra, it enables focus through rhythm. And so stasis, or the slowing of the inner self is possible. For me it is one of the greatest forms of prayer. It is mentioned in all the great traditions, and not least non-religion, and including Christianity, which surprises some, and is a point of dialogue and connection across beliefs. For me it is a greater connection with being and spirit, a sense of wholeness. It is said that meditation is a form of maturity in prayer, it is the setting aside of agendas and attending to awareness.

In the christian tradition, the antecendents of modern meditation are found in the lives of the desert fathers and mothers, those who formed commnities in the deserts of North Africa, the Middle East, and Syria. Their emphasis was on silnece, and contemplative prayer forms. I love the following quote from one abba Arsenius: “Why, words, did I let you get out? I have often been sorry that I have spoken, never that I have been silent.” which reminds me of Monty Python and a scene from the Holy Grail where God rails against the noise of “all those miserable psalms.” The point being that endless repetition without mindfulness dulls us.

I’m not sure where you’re at, or what you think of meditation, but what I do know is that the world could do with a bit more silence each day, a little more thought for the other, a little more engagement with becoming rather than just doing. A little more stasis would be good all round.

Paul,

pvcann.com

24 Comments

Filed under Alt-Religion, community, kayaking, labyrinth, meditation, Spirituality