Tag Archives: mindfulness

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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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

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

Our Kingdom for a … For a what?

Political praxis is never clean or simple. There are few examples of a golden age anywhere, or for very long where it is perceived. It seems to be a business of cut and thrust, a very dirty game to play in. It has been no dirtier than with the fall of PM Julia Gillard to third time challenger and former PM Kevin Rudd.

On the one hand I don’t want to lionise Gillard as suffering victim, nor on the other vilify Rudd as vexatious usurper. Politics is, apparently, like this.

Of course it has left some opining for those golden good old days. And there were some hopeful moments as when Whitlam brought us into the modern world, or when Don Chipp founded the Australian Democrats to keep the two main parties honest! When Hawke and Keating commanded real international respect (as opposed to the sycophantic Menzies or the weakness of Howard). Or when Bob Brown and the Greens had some leverage that mattered. But if you were looking for great moments in integrity and really fine leadership you’d be sorely pressed to find it.

What the current leadership wrangle demonstrates to me is the complexity of how unhealthy ego and party machinations towards survival dominate the process of actual leadership and government. Rudd has challenged three times. Those challenges in themselves have surely been debilitating, they take time, energy and focus. Both sides have also spent time in manoeuvring for factional and public support, surely this too is leadership sapping and distracting.

In the midst of it all where is the leadership? Where are the policies?

We are living in a time when our agricultural sector is in deep trouble, not just because of perennial or local weather issues, not just because of global warming, but because there are depressed markets, debt and financial\structural issues, competition and trade problems, labour supply and more. But who in Canberra is bothered?

For me the response to refugees has been devoid of compassion, but this has been lost in inter-party and intra-party wrangling. Refugees were both a factional Labor as well as Liberal casualty. People’s lives have been diminished by party ego taking centre stage and determining the tenor of debate, defence and strut.

Mining is currently sexy, but there is yet no policy for the future of mining, will it eventually suffer like agriculture?

Education is another sector. The Gonski reforms are at the very least an attempt to get beyond the the oh so clever petty State games of playing off the Commonwealth and at the same time moving towards a real national standard. The states opine, but look at the standards in some states! The public have begun to be seduced into thinking ill of it, and lately because it is attached to Gillard’s leadership.

The reforms that Gillard spearheaded were not sexy and have surely been a factor in her downfall, voters don’t like cod liver oil no matter how good it is for them. The mining tax would be an example, after all the corporate whinging about it few miners paid any substantial monies out of their hefty profits, which I would point out are derived from crown land (and therefore belonging to the government and therefore the people).

But in the end Gillard herself has suffered only what she herself brought upon Rudd when she challenged earlier. However, what is very different has been the spiteful narking about gender, it was never been overt, but it was there and it was subtly nurtured in the public. No male politician has been demeaned because of their gender, and no PM has been so harassed as Julia Gillard.

When leadership issues dominate ego clearly drives, but in politics it rarely seems to be healthy ego drive. There is little room for integrity, and there is little room for an attending to real public needs. Generosity and compassion are junked for toughness and testosterone.

Somewhere I\we have a responsibility in all of this, because we vote and so we do have some say. Yet as I look out on the political landscape in Australia (and indeed across the world) I feel less hopeful, for me there seem to be no real contenders worth my vote in the things that really matter.

My political fantasy is one where leadership draws from mindfulness and awareness, and holds the praxis of compassion to be the highest, and where all people matter. What would it cost to have an emotionally intelligent leader?

Perhaps when we cross the Rubicon (but never the Styx).

Paul

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