Balance and Purpose

Balance and Purpose

Many of us feel the need to ‘change the world’ at times. Whether this is from an altruistic base, like helping the disadvantaged, or from the ego by building a business or becoming a famous ‘influencer’, this need can lead to intense ‘outer’ activity and, potentially, change.

This motive of change can be applied to our inner world too.

Change is a powerful agent with all sorts of ramifications and repercussions, some good, some not so. Internally, its common to set up barriers against the change process, especially if the change is large and obvious, such as doubt – ‘will it really make any difference’? or excuses such as – ‘once things have settled down’ appear readily.

Why is this?

It is suggested that most of us are comfortable just where we are. As humans we are wired to survive, to look out for our safety. Change and the unknown future are potentially risky, so no wonder we can become anxious and invent barriers to stop our progress.

Conversely when we are not progressing, we can become bored. To prevent boredom we DO things, when we do things, we distract ourselves and, as a bonus we often achieve things, which is good right? Yes, it’s good to tick off jobs and to achieve, but in all that ‘doing’ its easy to forget about the importance of ‘being’, and, for a lot of people, ‘being’ is simply ‘doing’ nothing, so we are back to boredom. Its a bit of a paradox!

But what if you are present in yourself or meditating?

It may not surprise you that meditation is one of the greatest change agents, and that simply dwelling, contemplating or practising insight meditation can lead to deep and profound change, by your own process, and quite safely.

Change can lose its fearsome reputation if we can bring ourselves to think about it as a natural change of our inner self. When appraoching this we may find some deep psychological barriers to contend with brought about by our own particular circumstances and conditions. However, if we can bring our awareness to that continuing distillation as we meditate, we can often reach acceptance and embrace, with self-compassion, the motivating feeling underneath our inner fears.

With recognition comes release, allowing the natural processes to continue uninterrupted. Balance is restored, we can progress.

Progression as human beings is programed in. We are coded to change through the keyways of natural development, and its easy to see this through the development of a child – the formation and birth, the onset of puberty, adulthood, ageing, and the multiplicity of life and living that attends those stages.

But what about spiritual progression?

Whilst certain characteristics and inclination can be seen, spiritual progression is widely variable and has no such obvious development landmarks.

Whilst a young girl may struggle against the perceived indignity and real frustration of hormonal activity and menstruation, the naturally designed process of growing up will not stop – and that’s as it should be. How much easier for us if we had been spiritually programmed that way!

Instead, many feel an absence, a gap, a space that sits within the human and calls for ‘something more’. The gap of our cognizance, our connection, and our sense of being a part of that ‘something more’ – but somehow separated from it.

For many, the task of ‘inner’ or ‘personal development’ becomes a form of spiritual seeking for purpose, or an alternative to it. Personal development can center around specifics, such as our brain patterning and thinking, seeking authenticity; the schooling and balancing of the emotion, or perhaps it sits nearer the core, within the values and practices of a religion or a personal belief system.

Of course, we can shut our purpose life out by simply making the most of just living, cant we? – finding spiritual meaning and purpose takes effort after all! So, cant we just ‘go with the flow’ of the ups and downs, the excesses and depletions of what’s happening in this world? 

Many do, but then sometimes within the occupation of our lives we enter deep times, times of questioning thoughts brought on by meaningful or catastrophic incidents that bring us back to the enormity of what the life we are expending may be about. Times when the the idea of the importance of a more purposeful life may arise, and in response to that ‘something missing’, a deep ‘something more’ is needed …

Perhaps, at these times, we can come to feel and know that, somehow, we are not alone in all this. We are surrounded by the unseen, the unknown, in this incredible creation. We are organic life dwellers, multi-faceted sensers, translators, processors, holders, formed by the mother planet around us but host to something higher, a soul, a spirit and, if we enquire, we may find a belief system and more purposeful way of life to invest in. 

For we are in fact already connected from the inner to the outer, whether we are cognizant of it or not. And, if there is a creation, who/what is the Creator?

A great starter and balance for both the inner and the outer life is being out in nature, we respond to creation in a diverse number of ways, as too the planet and stars. When we are in and with nature we are emotionally, physically and physiologically balanced, and our well-being is increased.

As part of creation our being is also responsive the call of it, the sense that there is ‘more’ to do, more to be. Our emotions, which often stir in the great outdoors, are a vital connector and gateway to the passion and compassion of life.

Being in and with nature can be grounding, and yet uplifting, and it can softly and deeply reconfirm the portent and potent possibility that our life truly is.

So, the next time your being hums to the song of creation and your mind touches the seeking from the depth of the inside to the reach of the outside, know that it’s programmed in, you are the start of your keyway ‘home’, and fulfillment of your own possibility is part of the journey …

With best wishes
AL

See previous Blogs on Change – What is a Paradigm? Adapt or Diminish! and the Pillars of Purpose series here …

 

 

Sound and Silence

Sound and Silence

When I wrote this blog it was raining outside, mist sitting on the western hillside and a steady comforting hum in the air from the constant, gentle, deluge. It was early in the morning and the trees full of birds, each one calling into the new day to announce its aliveness and presence with their unique songs, trills, and whistles.

How comforting sounds can be.

Listening to sounds can induce many emotions. A friend of mine who could never conceive a child, cries even now at the sound of a baby’s gurgle, and who has not been moved by a song, connecting us directly to the feelings of the past, some sharp, some sad, some sweet, but always evocative.

As we grew up my sisters and I would put a particular record on the player (no ipods then) just to see our mother cry, which she did every time she heard this particular piece of music. We never did ask her why, and she never would tell us, perhaps a sign of the times when personal emotion was held private rather than something to seek attention from. Anyway, many years later when visiting her grave, we finally saw the reason for her tears. There on the gravestone of her younger brother buried next to her, was the title of that song ‘arrivederci darling’ – goodbye, ‘til we see each other again…

Sound itself is an energy transmitted by pressure waves; a sensation perceived by us as the sense of hearing. People with hearing loss can often ‘hear’ some sound, particularly the humming sound from a brass string or the boom of drums. However, as with any sense, if that sense is lost our amazing brain rewires itself to capture that under used section into the other senses, sometimes creating a ‘super sense’ such as increased sense of sight for the hearing impaired.

Sounds and Healing

Sounds have been used for healing for centuries to clear energetics blockages and reduce stress. From classical music and the sound of nature’s fauna, winds, and waters to percussive instruments like drums, gongs and singing bowls.

Listening to particular sounds can alleviate stress and expedite healing.

For some listeners, moving into a meditative state helps to calm the mind, and in turn the amygdala the brains emotion processor, allowing a cooling of process and a subsequent reduction of inflammation throughout the body. Turned outward, deep listening is a practice of deep connection.

It’s interesting to note that human beings only register the hearing of sound within a certain frequency, yet a person does not have to consciously hear something to be affected.

Watching a science based tv program on sounds that trigger fear recently, a low frequency sound was played to a group of people to (successfully) prove an increased fear activation, regardless of it being soundless. Interesting. On the other end, hearing sound from the so called ‘God Frequency’ – 963 Hz – activates the pineal gland, clearing brain fog, and giving cool clarity to thought processes and peace.

There is much more of the effects of sound on the human being to be discovered, but in the meantime the effects are certainly something for us to consider in our daily lives.

Silence

You would think that silence is the absence of sound, yet even silence can have a texture or resonance.

Who has not ‘heard’ the sound texture of a tense electric silence, perhaps with a felt potency within it that ‘anything can happen’, or experienced the awkward discomfort and tightness of a strained silence?

And what about the texture of silence after a stunning theatre performance before the applause breaks out to shatter it, or the deep dense quiet of a snow-covered mountain, the humming open silence of a dessert, or the full, soft silence of a rainforest?

Silence and Spirituality

For time immemorable people have used silence to connect with nature, the creation and the Creator.

I live on Whadjuk Noongar land in Australia, and Aboriginal people have a few words to describe silence, or deep listening. One of them, called ‘dadirri’, is practiced without judgement and with no expectation, it’s just about quietly waiting with awareness, and an inner open stillness.

Writing for Creative Spirits, Aboriginal Elder Miriam Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann described deep listening as “ … inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness. Dadirri recognises the deep spring that is inside us. We call on it and it calls to us … lived for thousands of years with natures quietness. My people today, recognise and experience in this quietness, the great Life-Giving Spirit, the Father of us all”.

Many spiritual practices include deep listening, such as the Budhist insight (Vipassana) meditation, or the Christian spiritual training of Lectio Divina, or Divine Reading. In all the phases of Lectio Divina – reading, meditating, praying, and contemplating –silence is practised, but in particular the last phase. In this phase a deep inner silence is mainatained, a open still awareness that is also an invitation to experience insights from the Spirit of God within.

As well as a deeper spiritual connection, many people use silence regularly as a mental and emotional health tool. Whatever form it takes, from long walks to quiet sitting, the practice of silence is about becoming more attuned and responsive to the inner life of ourselves, rather than reacting to the outer. 

An informal way of practicing silence – and one that quickly reveals the fruits of doing it – is to simply choose a time to practice it. Famously, Actor Steve Mc Queen practiced silence for a whole day each month for most of his life. If a day is too long for you, start with less, even a tiny 3 seconds before responding to anyone can reveal so much, not least that mostly our responses are either reactive or empty, or are often not needed at all.

So much energy and presence can be gained by consicous silence.

Silence is a significant part of many contemplation and meditation practices, with mindfulness bringing in awareness of the moment-by-moment experience to the fore, rather than seeking to silence it. If, however, you choose to be quiet or meditate to find inner stillness, know that deep silence can be hard to reach and hold against the ongoing internal dialogue and noise, regardless of how quiet or fitting the place of practice is. Hence the term to accept before beginning a silent or meditation practice is to note the term used, a ‘practice’.

Moving toward more inner silence in our lives helps us to channel our energies, meditate and rebalance from the noise and activity of the experiences of outer life. It can allow a new perspective, and within that an opportunity to recognise the paradigms through which we view the world. In turn this allows the freedom of choice, should we wish to change or expand them.

Silence is indeed golden, a golden opportunity toward achieving a deep inner quiet, and the path toward equanimity and peace.

Lectio Divina, Mindfulness and quieting Meditations can be found here …

AL

Pillars of Purpose series – Forgiveness

Pillars of Purpose series – Forgiveness

Forgiveness is good for us. It is a voluntary process of letting go of feelings of offence, anger, hurt, and resentment – whether the person deserves it or not. Forgiveness releases the victim (that’s you) from being a carrier of bitterness and suffering. It is a natural resolution of a grief process.

 If I develop bad feelings toward those who make me suffer, this will only destroy my own peace of mind. But if I forgive, my mind becomes calm. Dalai Lama

Forgiveness is an act of love, undertaken by the mind as an act of will as much as love and compassion, and is a tool for growth and development. As such, forgiveness is a ‘pillar of purpose’, and a powerful resource in our lives.

Most religions of the world offer teachings on forgiveness.

In the Christian church forgiveness plays an important role as the basis for acceptance by God with Jesus asking in the last moments of his life “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”. (Luke 23;34). The phrase to “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us” in the Lord Prayer offer a teaching of both asking and giving.

In Judaism a whole day is dedicated to forgiveness every year – the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. During this time a person is to reflect and atone for any wrongdoing. On receiving an apology, a person who is wronged is religiously bound to forgive the offender and forgiveness considered a pious act (Deot 6:).

The word Islam has root in the word ‘peace’ with forgiveness as a prerequisite position to obtain ‘real peace’. The Qur’an holds that “those who pardon (forgive) and maintain righteousness are rewarded by God. He does not love the unjust” (Qur’an 42:40).

The Baha’i faith believes all human beings are equal in God’s creation – “forgive all, consider the whole of humanity as our own family, the whole earth as our own country, be sympathetic with all suffering, nurse the sick, offer a shelter to the exiled, help the poor and those in need, dress all wounds and share the happiness of each one” (Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy).

Hindus believe in karma and reincarnation and that forgiveness should not only be asked for and given, but that proper reflection and acts of charity, meditation and purification have place in the process. Forgiveness embraces the concept of mercy, compassion and grace with unbound unconditional love.  Forgiveness is seen as a restraint on the power of intolerance and hatred.

Traditionally Buddhism does not recognise that human dealings are ‘transactional’ so the idea of being in debt or needing to atone are not directly applicable. However, an interpretation of Buddhist forgiveness is to ‘let go’ of an offence, be released from suffering and increase harmony in life, rather than asking forgiveness from a person or God.

It can be argued that the inclination to forgive is present in us all – but is it? Morally we are brought up in this world of dualism … the sacred and the profane, saint and sinner, right and wrong. But surely it is in the wisdom distilled from the learnings of our lives, the experiences, understandings, and the compassion of forgiveness found, that gives us perceptions and insights into the purpose of life itself.

Our perception of right and wrong is subjective as Tolstoy said:

 It’s not given to people to judge what’s right or wrong. People have eternally been mistaken and will be mistaken, and in nothing more than in what they consider right and wrong.

Through the challenges of life, we come to realise that none of us are perfect, we are all affected by the conditions and experiences we face, and we all make mistakes. So, though the ability to forgive is in us, it can be challenging to identify the need for forgiveness in ourselves, and then bring together the ingredients and skills of what is necessary to enact it. It can take will power, emotional energy and effort to dig deep and find the reason why you do what you do; or to find the willingness and compassion to begin the necessary reflection to enter the forgiveness process.

Once we can ‘enable’ forgiveness in ourselves we can strengthen it by meditating on the reasons ‘why’ we should forgive, and when this achieved, we are able to bring the strength of this reasoning to the fore in times of weakness more readily.

So why forgive? Well, the main beneficiary is you and your well-being. It’s hard to live with unforgiveness and it can be very damaging. On a physical level it can disrupt eating and sleeping, and it can also affect you mentally, emotionally and spiritually as well as damaging other relationships around you. It can eat away at your peace causing suffering and bitterness that can affect your mental health, even changing the way in which you view the world at large. In the long term unforgiveness takes far more emotional energy, causes far more stress and unhappiness, than forgiving.

Learning to forgive, and letting go, is, as the Rev Martin Luther King, Jn said “…  not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude”

An analogy that helped me personally to identify a constant attitude toward forgiveness arose from Taoist story about the river of life, and ‘going with the flow’.  Recognising that unforgiveness blocks the flow of life energy, I began reflecting on the ‘wrongs’ of life that I held on to as bits of flotsam. With that came recognition that flotsam catches twigs and branches, which in turn snag or become a bed for stones. Following on from that, those stones build walls, walls become dams, and dams hinder or stop the flow of the river.

It is now a regular practice for me to catch things by noticing my internal reaction to people and things, so that I can let it go. Reflection, meditation and journaling practices have helped me uncover some ‘stones’ of hurt or resentment from the past and I use conscious awareness practices, contemplation, prayer and meditation as a bridge toward deeper understanding. I have found that acceptance and letting go aid forgiveness and help build the bittersweet territory of wisdom.

 It is the confession, not the priest, that gives absolution so, ‘if you don’t forgive sins, what will you do with them?’ (John 20:23)

As forgiveness is about becoming the person you want to be, or your perception says you ought to be, here are some practical suggestions to help relieve the suffering of the future, by remedy today.

  • Consider your own behaviour – was it childish or adolescent in the light of you age and experience – are you thinking and acting out in an age-appropriate way?
  • Bring empathy and compassion into your pain, work toward insight and understanding it
  • Find something good about the person or situation that offended you, then add to it
  • Stop taking offence – discern what it is in you that needs attention, and then give it
  • Stop blaming others – about anything at all
  • Refuse to be critical or negative – if you can’t say something neutral or nice, don’t say anything
  • Practice being thankful anywhere anytime – for your health when visiting the doctor; for the food when in the supermarket; for the provision of education when at college; the fresh air in the outdoors and so on.
  • Be more aware, practice contemplation and mindful meditation
  • Do small acts of kindness – start with one per week
  • Believe in yourself, and then believe in something more than you

In closing consider that receiving forgiveness carries a responsibility to change behaviour. Its ok to make mistakes, but the response is to take the necessary actions to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

For how can we not forgive when we are part of a creation that gives us all we need to flourish?

How can we not ‘go with the flow’ of the rich experience of life, loving, living and forgiving, within the unity for which we were created?

AL

Helpful meditations on site here ... Loving Kindness, Working with Challenging Emotions, Reframe with RAIN, Gratitude of Body, Big Blue Sky – and why not try one of our contemplations…

A Personal Experience of Meditation

A Personal Experience of Meditation

The timer goes off and you slowly start to move away from the meditative state, momentarily carrying a blissful sense of the stillness and silence within you and the flicker of pure happiness or joy.

You smile at the anomaly that all the circumstances surrounding you, from your own personal situation to the state of the world on the news, have not changed.

But you have.

You have opened your eyes and, just for a short time, see things through a slightly less clouded veil of habit and ego.

So for a while you remain in this deep well of well-being; perfectly poised in the balance that “nothing matters” and yet “everything matters profoundly”.

You understand the sages’ advice that time is so short we should all move more slowly. In fact for a few more moments, it will be impossible to do anything but move in a much more measured way.

Even though you are often aware right up to the moment the timer goes off that your mind is still getting periodically dis-tracted by a ‘treeful of monkeys’ throwing random thoughts, emotions and desires into the mix, you have slowed down.

You have gone deeper.

The demands of daily life and the issues of the day are fast closing in on you, but you still feel that lingering connection to your, gradually receding, meditative state. Somehow you understood the wise words of the mystics, although you neither know how or why, that:

All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well”.

Although, as your rational mind tells you, in the material realm, they are most clearly not.

You know of the fear and despair the scientists feel, and the frustration and anger of the young. You have felt it too.
How can you not when you really think things through? But you sense too the antidote contained in acceptance of the statement, “This too shall pass”.

Everything, shall pass, sooner or later. And the acceptance of that fact brings settlement.

Without doubt, in the not too distant future, our little planet will have changed so much that it will become increasingly inhospitable to us guilty humans, as well as to many other much more innocent creatures.

Yet in another realm of understanding you feel the strange hope in the words of the Desiderata and know that:

“You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and stars and whether it is clear to you or not, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

Your human life has a purpose, it has meaning; for the short time we are able to remain on Earth, we have to connect into that and be as … and do … what we can to fulfil it.

Despite the weight of the encroaching future of the world you ‘re-member’, you link back to the feeling of being momentarily totally happy and at peace.

You touched the one thing that all a human really needs, as the yogis say, to unfold the spiritual life is to be patient in all circumstances. And then the cheerful monkey in your mind makes you laugh at the fact that “patience” anagrams to “peace tin”.

And what is meditation, (or gardening, or painting, or poetry writing or even washing up with awareness,) except the practice of being patient, for however long you are able to keep faithfully paying attention. Allowing a mantra to help clean out the chambers of the soul and, as Mirabai Starr so sweetly puts it, “Wait for the grace to come.”

So you wait. Stay calm. Put on peace and hope to get some spiritual wisdom.

And sometimes in those peaceful moments you do just ‘get it’.

You are suddenly part of that greater whole. The one underlying current of the energy of peace gently throbbing in the heart of all.

And you stay a moment, you pause in time, realising you are in it now…

 

Guest Blog by Amanda Brown, Yoga Practitioner and Teacher UK

Access meditations … here …

AL

Quantum Physics – Mysticism or Science?

Quantum Physics – Mysticism or Science?

In previous blogs we raised the seemingly mystical, that is the possibility of changing our inner world and so changing our external reality.

This is a bit like a caterpillar being released from the pupa of its past, to become free to be the butterfly that God intended it to be. I recognise that such thoughts may sound a bit airy fairy. However, underlying this supposition and comprising the focal point of this short series of blogs is quantum theory.

Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.[1]

Quantum theory demonstrates through its many applications that our world exists in a probabilistic and not a deterministic dimension. In other words – what happens to us is not inevitable. The rules we rely on in our everyday lives break down.

Quantum theory (Quantum Physics) highlights that all matter is essentially comprised of energy. It ties our inner world to the outer world in ways that had not been imagined or understood by previous generations.

This and the ensuing chapters reflect on the science of quantum physics, on neuro plasticity, on human design; and on the nature of the creation, to demonstrate the way that the unseen world impacts us and in turn how we can take advantage of the unseen world.

In truth, some of the world’s recent mathematical and scientific revelations expressed through quantum physics and chaos theory can sound mystical – revelations that go far beyond ‘common sense’.

In C.S. Lewis’s book, That Hideous Strength, the magician Merlin, advisor in King Arthur’s court, was described as ‘the last vestige of an old order in which matter and spirit were, from our modern point of view, confused’. For after him came our scientific rationalist world that depended on the five senses (sight, taste, hearing, touch, smell) to determine what is possible.

After him came the modern man to whom Nature is something dead – a machine to be worked, and to be taken to bits if it won’t work the way he pleases.’[2]

Merlin should have stuck around for a few more centuries.  In the closing decades of the 20th century there arose a new mysticism, a mysticism of quarks, of neutrons, of different futures, in fact a future defined by our growing understanding of quantum physics.

What is unusual is that while inventions such as MRI machines, computer chips, atomic clocks and lasers all depended on an understanding of quantum concepts, and physicists know how to use the equations of quantum mechanics to predict all kinds of things, it remains little understood.

Caltech physicist, Sean Carrol, says: ‘quantum physicists are like people with i-Phones; they know how to use them and can do some great things with them; but if you ask what’s going on inside their i-Phone they have no idea.’

But this hasn’t stopped speculation as to what mechanisms are at play – these mechanisms are known as ‘interpretations’. Two of the most accepted are the Copenhagen Interpretation and the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI) which I will address later in this series.

A key issue scientists face lies in the fact that the position, spin and momentum, of any quantum particle is unknown until its measured. The particle is in many states at once – it’s not here or there; instead, it’s here AND there, at the same time. This sounds crazy and does not fit with our world view – so how do we explain it?

In a sense Merlin represents what we’ve got to get back to, in a different way.

Quantum physics tells us that we live in a participatory universe; a universe where we now know that we are not passive beings but change makers. This is because quantum physics tells us that the very act of observation changes the observed. It suggests that what we do with our consciousness impacts our surroundings.

So, as the physicist John Wheeler said ‘‘the old word ‘observer’ simply must be crossed off the books, and we must put in the new word ‘participator’. In this way we’ve come to realise that the universe is a participatory universe’’[3].

Nothing is fixed or stable and all things are in constant transition from one state to another, so we need to abandon our preconceived notions of reality and recognise that we are both the observer of our own reality and the participant in it.

We both impact and create our own reality.

In the strange world of quantum physics … ‘you can ‘dance’ with the illusions of time and space, choosing your ‘steps’ based upon things and events as they now are, or you can ‘dance’ with your dreams, choosing your ‘steps’ based upon things and events as they will be. (unknown)

 

Guest Blogger  Dr Brian Gordon, OAM

References:

1 John Dewey, ‘The Quest for Certainty’, 1929

2 Sacred Tribes retrieved 17 July 2007 from http://www.sacredtribes.com/issue2/STJ-finals/lewis-grahame-paganism.pdf

3 ‘ Physics, Buddhism and postmodern interpretation’ Journal of Religion and Science Vol. 21 Issue 3 pp 287-296

 

Access meditations … here …

 

Twixtmas Reflections

Twixtmas Reflections

Twixtmas is that quiet, special time betwixt and between the Christmas gatherings and the New Year celebrations. Twixtmas offers a quiet time, a time to rest, reflect and, perhaps, make a New Year’s Resolution.

New Year’s Resolutions date back over 4000 years from Ancient Babylonian celebrations which included paying off debts incurred in the previous year, returning borrowed items, and planting new crops. The celebrations lasted for 12 days in March, and then the timing changed with the onset of the Romans bringing in the Julian Calendar, and the start of the New Year then began on January 1st.

Interestingly the Romans had a God of New Beginnings called Janus. Janus had two faces, one for looking back and reflecting on what has past, and one looking forward to new beginnings.
Leaping forward to the late 1800s, new year’s resolutions took on a more moral and spiritual nature and, over the last century, have also encompassed denying aspects of worldly pleasures, the invoking of self-discipline, compassion of others, and a deepening of held values.

Today, we are so busy with work and the myriad of entertainment, stimulation, and distraction options, it is easy to let slip those importance’s of life – our values, and to live, learn, give and grow.

So, the challenge for us is to find time in this often-frenetic end of year/start of year activity.

Twixtmas is a time to embrace; a time to pause, self-measure and take stock. A time to look back and reflect and discern if what we say we are, is what we know ourselves to be.

Insights arising from this gentle and important practice can form a fundamental part of how to move forward in life and supply the seed of any New Year’s Resolution you may make.

Especially at this time of year, I spend time in nature, read inspiring books and writings, listen pod casts and do Lectio Divina to help deepen my response to the gift that life is. Recently I came across something that originated in Japan with the idea of promoting reflection which caught me immediately, it’s called a Tanka.

Like a Haiku, the Tanka is a poem of sorts. It has a strict structure of lines and syllables, and it need not rhyme.

Here’s an example of an ancient Tanka by Izumi Shikibu which I hope you will find time to reflect on.

How invisibly
It changes colour
In this world
The flower, of the human heart.

And another, this a more modern sample to spend time with by Andrea Dietrich:

We ran gleefully
Chasing the summers fireflies
Putting them in jars …
Those warm nights of our childhood –
They flickered, and then were gone.

Whilst I value the reflections that arise from these evocative Tanka’s, I have also found that the process of writing one is quietly satisfying and cultivates a rare peacefulness. In turn, having moved into a more reflective mood during the writing of this blog, I pass a reflection that arose in the process.

A life without reflection lacks the insight, understanding and foundation on which our deeper soul and spirit life depend.

Unfortunately, its not a Tanka, but I hope it is something that will encourage your own reflection.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas, a Quiet Twixtmas and a Happy New Year

AL

Access mindful meditations and Lectio Divina here …