12 07 2012

A great blog post (above) from Karl Duffy over at Mindfulbalance.  I’m so grateful for those in my life who walk with me and hold space rather than rush to fix.  A loving silence and courage not to fix is a wonderful gift. The quote is from Mark Nepo and you can find out more about him HERE.

Mindfulbalance

We have been battered by modern times into obsessive problem solvers, but as life pares us down into only what is essential, it becomes clear that the deepest sufferings of heart and spirit cannot be solved, only witnessed and held. I have struggled with this constantly. Just recently, after being away for two weeks, I returned to a tender partner who loving uttered, “I really missed you.” Instantly, I reacted by scanning for ways to solve the feeling – to limit my travel or call more often. I instantly tried to change my patterns of being away from the relationship, rather than just feel the poignancy of being loved enough to be missed.

Frequently, this reflex to solve, rescue, and fix removes us from the tenderness at hand. For often, intimacy arises not from any attempt to take the pain away, but from a living through together; not from a…

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Contemplative Photography 12

25 06 2012

This week’s contemplative feature is on the Elements which

have fascinated humans for millenia.

Take a moment to centre yourself and your spirit,

look at and through the images.

How many elements can you see?  Three? Four? Five? Six?

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Earth – Air – Fire – Water – Wood – Metal





The Miracle of Today

4 06 2012

People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle.  But I think the real miracle is not to walk on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle – Thich Nhat Hanh

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Did you notice the tree in every picture?   Slow down…

Another post in my Miksang and Contemplative Photography series.





Contemplative Photography 11

28 05 2012

Here is another post in my Miksang and Contemplative Photography series.

This post outlines the process that I follow when approaching Miksang.  I don’t have any official training but I outline here what I’ve learned as I go out and shoot with ‘a good eye, an open heart and an open mind’.

Try it for yourself.  It’s interesting (but not easy) to leave your inner critic behind and photograph whatever captures you, even when you’re not sure why.  That is easier said that done and I spend a lot of time ignoring the nagging, but still aware that it is there.

I carry my camera with me each day and I usually take a walk at lunchtime, mostly just to get me out of the office for a while. I don’t go out deciding to do a photo shoot, if it comes, it comes. I just walk, feel centred, wander and look. I enjoy walking meditation rather than being still. I clear out judgement and expectation and just see freshly and clearly. Think about your trip to work each morning. Whether it is a drive, a train trip or a walk to your home office, there are things you pass every day without even noticing them.

The practice of Miksang helps you notice all around you and see things, without judgement.  Most times, something will catch my eye, capture me, fascinate, surprise, delight or jar me. It demands a reaction, it stirs an emotion. I stop and often say “Whoa! Look at THAT”.  It attracts or repels me.  I get the feeling but I hold all judgement about whether it is a ‘good’ subject or a ‘bad’ subject, whether the light or angle or distance is ‘right’. For some reason, it has captured and connected with me, if not, I move along. Later I try to look deeply to see what it was that caught me.

Was it the shape? colour? texture? shadow? light? contrast? the grouping? the arrangement? the odd number? the symmetry or asymmetry? the negative or empty space? the angle? incongruity? context?

I don’t try to find a ‘better’ angle, I don’t zoom, I don’t crop, edit, straighten or do any post production. I shoot what I see. What you see is what I saw and what captured me. Hopefully the shot shows you things that capture my eye, my heart, my mind (when it is free from clutter and judgement).  So, that’s where I am on my journey into Miksang. I hope you give it a go as well.

If you’d like to find out more about Miksang and the art of Contemplative Photography, check out these links:

Miksang Institute for Contemplative Photography
Miksang Society for Contemplative Photography





The ritual of the martial arts belt

25 05 2012

I’m still working on my basic skills as a white belt in my martial arts class. I have my uniform now and consequently I’ve had to learn to tie my belt properly which is an art in itself. Last night, one of the black belts in the class took me aside to explain the ritual behind the correct knot.

White belt

One of the things I’m learning and really enjoying is the fact that no movement or action is wasted. I remember a time not too long ago that I wondered how much mobility I’d have and I would plan even short trips from my bed to the kitchen, taking used cups and books to drop off along the way and returning with supplies for the afternoon, to save another energy sapping trip.

I’m learning that every action in martial arts has meaning and fluidity. It might be a functional movement, one that allows you to defend. It might be a stretch that opens and lengthens part of your body. It might be a breathing technique or even a stance that helps maintain balance. Nothing is wasted, nothing is superfluous.

Dressing for class is a ritual in itself and reminds me to stop, reflect and focus. Here is the meaning and ritual of the belt tying and why it is so important to martial artists.

The belts are LONG. They wrap around your body twice.  To start, you fold it in half lengthwise to find the centre. It must be even and symbolises the importance of balance, reminding us that there are two sides to training – the study and the application.

You then seem to put the belt on backwards by first placing the centre of the belt over your navel (your centre) and taking both ends around your back. The placement on the navel reminds us that we have received life and we are also givers of life. It reminds us to respect all those we come into contact with as co-creators.

When we cross the belt behind our backs, it reminds us to be prepared for things that are unseen, things that can go on behind our backs.  As the ends return to the front, we remember that ‘what goes around comes around’ eventually. The belt is now encircling us and we’re holding an end in each hand towards the front.

We cross the two ends over which reminds us that we can be double crossed behind our backs but also right in front of us too. We must be prepared for whatever difficulties come our way because they can come from various directions.

We bring one end of the belt up and under the waist which starts the knot. One end is now held up and the other down. This reminds us that there are two directions for us to travel – we can get up and we can fall down. It is important to keep getting up and striving to improve ourselves.

The Belt knot

The last part of the knot tightens the fastening. It reminds us that we need to be steadfast in whatever we do. It does not slip. The knot forms an arrow shape and reminds us that we can find our direction in life. After the knot is complete, we again check that each end of the belt is perfectly even.  We are balanced and ready to go.





Giving yourself a break today

23 05 2012

This is from Karl Duffy at Mindfulbalance, a blog I visit regularly for some wisdom and balance. This entry really captured me this week as I’m feeling the growing pace at work. Projects are starting to take shape, priorities shift, deadlines close in and I have to juggle too much information in my head. I need to slow down, consciously. I need to remember that I’m more important, my health is more important and my wellbeing is more important than my work. It’s okay to be kind to myself and take some time to stop, breathe and rest my mind. Phew.

Mindfulbalance

If you’re like me, so much of what we twirl around with in the mind is, frankly, a waste of time. It doesn’t solve a problem, prevent a bad thing from happening, or bring us to peace with others. And it’s deeply unnatural. As we evolved, our ancestors probably experienced more physical but less mental fatigue than most people today in the developed nations. Consequently, our bodies are adapted to weariness – but our minds are not. For a brief time – finals week, an intense month at work, a demanding year with a new baby – OK, sometimes we just have to crank the mind up into overdrive and tough it out. But as a way of life, it’s nuts.

We have to take a stand against the crazy mental busyness that has become the new normal. We’re bombarded with things to think about all day long, flooded with…

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Contemplative Photography 10

21 05 2012

My approach to contemplative photography (or Miksang) has been quite intuitive. I’ve read everything I can find and am developing my ‘eye’ but it’s hard to describe miksang without it sounding like a riddle.

Miksang, or contemplative photography is more of an ‘approach’ or a ‘way’ rather than a set of rules. To me (and remember I’m only learning), it is about going out with an open heart, open eye and open mind. I clear out judgement and expectation and just see freshly and clearly. Think about your trip to work each morning. Whether it is a drive, train trip or walk to your office, there are things you pass every day without even noticing. Miksang helps you notice all around you and see them, without judgement.

I usually take a walk at lunchtime, mostly just to get me out of the office for a while. I don’t go out deciding to do a photo shoot, if it comes, it comes. I just walk, feel centred, wander and look. I enjoy walking meditation rather than being still.

Most times, something will catch my eye, capture me, fascinate, surprise, delight or jar me. It demands a reaction, it stirs an emotion. I stop and often say “Whoa! Look at THAT”. I hold all judgement about whether it is a ‘good’ subject or a ‘bad’ subject, whether the light or angle or distance is ‘right’. For some reason, it has captured me, if not, I move along. I’m look deeply to see what it was that caught me.
Was it the shape? colour? texture? shadow? light? texture? symmetry? asymmetry? space? angle? incongruity? context?

I don’t try to find a ‘better angle, I don’t zoom, I don’t crop, edit, straighten or do any post editing. I shoot what I see. What you see is what I saw and what captured me. Hopefully the shot shows you things that capture my eye, my heart, my mind.
So, that’s where I am on my journey into Miksang. I hope you give it a go as well.

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If you’d like to find out more about Miksang and the art of Contemplative Photography, check out these links:

Miksang Institute for Contemplative Photography
Miksang Society for Contemplative Photography








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