Tag Archives: meditation

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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Filed under beach, environment, life, mindfulness, nature, seasons

One of the Great Negotiators

Negotiate – Word of the Day

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Dag Hammarskjold (1905 – 1961) a Swedish Diplomat, economist and from 1953 – 1961 he was the UN Secretary General. He was also a deeply spiritual person, a contemplative who loved the medieval mystics. His book ‘Markings’ a journal of his spiritual struggles was posthumously published with a foreword by his friend, the poet W.H. Auden. He called his diary – negotiations with himself and with God.

Hammarskjold was propopsed by the British Foreign Secertary Anthony Eden who was impressed with Hammarskjold’s work in diplomacy and economics. The vote was almost unanimous in the Security Council and Hammarskjold was announced as the next Secretary General. The American and Soviet delegates thought Hammarskjold was harmless. He was reelected in 1957.

Hammarskjold was unaware of the nomination, and in fact thought the media report was a joke, and because it was announced on April 1st, he quipped that it was a bad April Fools joke. But it was indeed true.

Hammarskjold believed that relationships were important and that example was one of the best forms of leadership. He tried to meet as many employees at the UN as possible, he ate regularly in the staff cafe, he refused to use his private lift and opened it for general use, he established the meditation room (which he helped to design) which was to be for withdrawal and reflection, a place for silence, and a multi-faith space. He prevented FBI intervention at the UN that his predecessor had allowed at the height of McCarthyism. And he brought order and regulatory process to an organisation in crisis.

He was an able negotiator. He made some impact on relations between Israel and the Arab states. In 1955 he successfully negotiated the release of eleven US airmen who were prisoners from the Korean War. In 1956 he played a major role in ending the Suez Crisis, There are many other negotiations that he was involved in, and which demonstrate his capacity to work hard and achieve a positive outcome. Not everything was plain sailing though, the Congo was unresolved, interrupted by his death, and the Soviet interference and then occupation of Hungary was frustrating for Hammaskjold as there was little he could do to bring a resolution forward.

His role in the Congo Crisis was cut short by his death as the result of a plane crash travelling to Congo. There are those who still believe that Congolese rebels associated with mining interests were responsible for the plane crash, but no substantive proofs have come to light, including a UN 2015 investigation into the matter. Hammarskjold made four visits to the Congo. It was, as history has shown, a tangled web of politics and power plays. The USSR and the Americans had their own people on the ground and were manipulating much of the power play. The Congo had become factionalised on independence, and the popularly elected Prime-minister Patrice Lumumba was murdered. It was utter chaos.

J.F. Kennedy said of Hammarskjold: “I realise now that in comparison to him, I am a small man. He was the greatest statesman of our century.” Kennedy was reflecting on Hammarskjold’s death and on his own resistance to Hammarskjold’s policy in the Congo.

Extreme left and right views are critical of Hammarskjold, and in the main these revolve around the immpossible situation in Hungary, and the seemingly intractable problem in the Congo. But for me they are the proof, by comparison, of the majority of successes he was part of and integral to. His record stands as testimony to his great ability to network, form key relationships, to maintain a consistent approach, and to believe the best in people. His commitment was to keeping peace and finding better ways for nations to negotiate their differences. He formed the UN Emergency Response Group, and initiated the first Peace Keeping force. He was posthumously awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1961.

His strength came from his contemplative stance, especially meditation, and his sheer passion for peace in the world. His personal belief was that selfless service to humanity was crucial. Whatever you may think of him, he was one of the great negotiators of the 20th century.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

 

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Filed under history, life, mindfulness, politics, quote, religion, Spirituality

Paperbark Writer

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The paperbarks (Melaleuca – one of the 300 Myrtaceae family) are shedding a little later this year. Another theme of winter is shedding. Some animals shed a summer coat in order to prepare for winter, many plants shed their blooms and slow down in some part, some of our birds fly elsewhere for the winter though we get visitors from other shores. We, perhaps, can live unaware of our own needs. What do we need to shed in order to prepare? Mind you, the converse is also something that we need to attend to, what do we need to gather in, soak up, put on in order to prepare? Self care and nurture are fundamental to well being, body mind and soul. For me the continuity of writing and meditation are part of that nurture. How about you?

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” Albert Camus

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under bush walking, environment, life, meditation, music, nature, quote, seasons

SAD

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The last days of autumn, and the beauty of river and cloud along the Blackwood.

The days are shorter now as autumn gives way to winter. I am grateful for the change in season even though I don’t like the cold, somehow nature needs this, I tell my self, but I know deep down that I need it too.  But there is an impact that the seasonal change makes known as SAD (an auspicious aconym) or Seasonal Affective Disorder.

As winter progresses it is quite normal to feel tired and unmotivated, it is a form of the ‘blues’ but it now has a name – SAD. I think it’s probably an ancient hibernation process we are fighting, but that’s just a witsful guess, perhaps a latent desire to sleep in and ignore the cold air. However, exercise, dietary changes, sleep, meditation and a change in habit can recharge and motivate us. To do something different rather than force a summer routine into a winter context might be truly barking up the wrong tree. I note that several local young men are still clinging to shorts, t-shirt and thongs, and even though this week it has dropped to 3 degrees overnight, they are hanging on to summer as if to say, nature won’t force me to change. Yeah, right! It will.

SAD is best embraced and refocussed, a reframing of inner thought and responding energy, and to make friends with the season, and to live into it mindfully.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under beach, bush walking, life, mindfulness, nature, seasons

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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