A Heart of Stone – Interconnectedness

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I live in a wonderful part of the country, a place full of wonderful people and beautiful countryside.  However, there is a movement that is bubbling underground that has the potential to galvanise this sleepy side of Yorkshire and create a ground swell (literally) that can turn into positive action.  I am speaking of the Harrogate Rock Hunt.

This is a group of children and adults alike who are painting and hiding small rocks.  Sounds slightly silly when you say it like that, but in reality there is something quite powerful in this seemingly innocuous act.  It is bringing a community together, young and old, and potentially behind a social movement.

There are three elements as I see it.  Firstly there is the fun side of painting rocks and hiding them.  A bit like hide and seek, just with a smaller and less obvious opponents.  Secondly, there is the back to nature aspect and sharing both the outside and the poignant messages that can be found on some of the rocks (I liked ‘SMILE’ this morning).  Finally, there is the more serious social agenda to it.  A lot of these rocks can be found in an area called Nidd Gorge, a place of stunning natural beauty.  Here is a small podcast that I did this morning while walking on it, in it and around it.

 

As you can hear (through the breathlessness and poor audio) the area is a haven of beauty and one that should be preserved.  It is a place that is open to all and the nature there is stunning.  I have seen Barn Owl’s, Deer, Red Kites, Wood Peckers.  In fact the list is endless, however, the most important part is PEOPLE.  I have seem people, young, old, single and in families enjoying this and it is right on our doorstep.  There are development plans, you’ll hear what in the audio, and it is wrong.  So wrong.

So what Harrogate Rock Hunt is doing is getting people out there, getting them into it and enjoying it.  What, I hear you ask, has this to do with my usual content?  It has everything to do with it.  Nature is where true connection can occur, both with nature itself, but with people.  Connection is everything because it is the oneness of our existence.  We are connected on so many differing levels that to destroy a small part of what is around us is to destroy part of us.  To deny its importance is to deny OUR importance and any blindness to our mindless actions will slowly lead to our hearts turning to stone.

The painting of these stones may have started as an innocuous action and a bit of fun, but it has the power to soften our own hearts and minds, reconnect us to nature and in turn maybe, just maybe, galvanise positive change, thus leading to a healthier and happier future.  If that makes for more painting of stones that make people smile then I’m all for that.  Wouldn’t you be?

To connect on Facebook I can be found at www.facebook.com/headtoheartnetwork

I want to dance

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There I was, at the end of Grasmere water, watching kids splashing and playing in the water.  I was reminded of the child that is in all of us; the one that has somehow become lost and silent as we became older.

Do you remember playing on your bike, cycling fast, arms raised aloft, smiling from cheek to cheek?Do you remember snowdrifts deeper than hedges, igloos dug deep, warm and cosy?

Do you remember Grandparents knees, sat upon, riding like a cowboy through the wild west?

My mind forgets but my heart yearns for those experiences.  However, the day to day of life has become a barrier to my hearts needs and the desire for the warm and the loving embrace of these memories.  What appears left now is the cold as stone feeling in my chest.  Somewhere a small child cries out from the darkness.

I believe that we all want to be able to reconnect with our inner child whether we have suffered upset and trauma or have had an idyllic upbringing.

I believe that as we grow older our inner child stops dancing, cease to laugh and play and loses their sense of freedom and unabashed openness. I for one from a very early age seem to grow up very quickly and I lost the sense of fun and joy that I had quite early on. For me laughter and dancing was replaced by an inner dialogue that was critical and self-reflective, and while that may be my make up, I now believe that the inner child is still there; just waiting to dance.

Don’t we all just want to spend time laughing and playing and splashing in the water?

Age should never really be a barrier to Joy, in fact joy should grow as a result of age, nurtured by an experienced, wrinkled hand and careworn face. The child never ages, it is only the body that becomes aged and infirm, and as such we need to accept that time is not on our side but a joyful heart is eternal.

I know a great many people who seem to have a carefree attitude and strong sense of fun. However, when you scratch the surface they seem to have the same insecurities and worries as everyone else. It just seems as if they had been able to drill through the barriers and we often build, in order to be able to engage with their inner child.  Indeed, the dialogue that they have, appears to be light-hearted and free-spirited, whereas those who have lost touch, appear to be serious and contemplative. We all have the same make-up, it would appear, but somehow, they have been able to bypass a negativity bias that has built up overtime.  If we truly have that child inside, then surely, we can ALL reconnect?    

I am resolved to take the inner dialogue, that I have, and invite it in for a ‘cup of tea’, ask questions of it and where possible challenge it.  Like ‘The Preacher’ in Poltergeist 2 (Henry Cane), the voice is keeping me blocked from my Own True Nature, the inner joyous child who simply wants to dance, ride hands free down the road on his racer.  So I will try and silence its negative tone and look to challenge its theories and look towards aging as disgracefully as possible.

Will, I do ‘naked snow angels’ in winter?  Perhaps not, but then again ….  Who knows where this may lead.

New Year … New You?

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2016 for me was one that has been full of highs and lows.  Good times and not so good passages of play.  It has however moved on from 2015 and was leaps and bounds away from the fateful period of 2013.    That was a bad year and one that I have referred to a number of times, so no need to go over it here.

So, to recap 2016; it started out tough, eased up a little, got smoother and towards the end of the year there is a feeling of being a little battle weary and drained.

That’s the dance of life though … tough isn’t it?

2017 however has been a LOT smoother and for a number of reasons.

With the passing of the years we find that there is an inevitable ebb and flow to this thing we called life.  There is a passing of time (if you believe that it is actually such a thing as time) and an inevitable “changing of things”.  Impermanence is a big thing in Buddhism and is the declaration that in this world there is nothing that is fixed and permanent.  It all changes.  That can be quite a difficult concept to hold onto, or is it let go of?

The notion that we can’t control what is or indeed what isn’t going on in life is quite a complex one and to try and work out what areas we are in control of has the potential for us to lose our minds.  The simplest approach is to not take any position and accept that life is in constant flux and change and that we are NOT in control of what happens.  We are in the flow of life, but life dances to its own tune and we have a choice.

If you try and make structures of solidity, rules and laws that are impervious to change, it can be quite destabilizing to your Own True Nature (OTN), your core sense of self.  This core essence of you is deeply connected to the flow of life and it is ONLY through your strong, and misinformed connections to EGO and personal ideals, that you find there is a tug between what is “conceptually real” and “really real”.  If you look at life from a fixed position you will struggle. There is no wiggle room for real life to have its ‘dance’ and you will find your “constructed life” sat looking miserable by the side of the dance floor, arms folded and un-engaged.

We often believe that all want it to be stable, safe and for life to be mapped out.  In effect, watch what is going on around you from a safe and protected position.  Or so we think, but the reality is that life isn’t set up like that and perhaps all we really want to do is dance, unencumbered by shame and the fear of embarrassment.

In 2017, I took a slightly different position to my old way of thinking and one that I hope will carry me through 2018 and beyond.  I slowly, and it was and still is slowly, started to look at life as an ever changing, variable and exciting opportunity.  I have realised that life is a dance that needs my “shapes’ to be cast upon it.  To deliver a bit of dad dancing upon the dance floor, all arms and legs flailing in wild abandonment, and I needed to do it because it felt good, I needed it for my soul (head and heart) and I had to show to others that shame and fear are stages to work through, not reasons to stop.

Like any dance, “Life”, if entered into has an immense power to it.  If you step into it, rather than simply observe it, you can feel its movement and its energy all around.  You will get a sense on a micro level of the connected and inter-dependent nature of you and your surroundings and as a result you will start to feel safe in the knowledge that you are part of something much bigger and not simply an unimportant observer of it.  You will become resilient to change because you are part of the whole and not apart from it.  Your previous immovability to life’s push and pull fades as your acceptance of life’s impermanence reveals itself more fully.  You are part of a much bigger dance yet your moves are welcomes, honoured and accepted.

So, when 2018 comes around, don’t do the usual New Year Resolutions ‘thing’, do something radical.  Just let go of your attachment to control and simply fall into what is.  Take part in life.  Observe it with open and conscious eyes and fully awaken to the changeable nature of the world around and dance with it.  You’ll find it’s a caring and considerate partner.

 

Why do I say Namasté?

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I have for a long time had an interest in ‘people’.  This is what led me to do a Psychology Degree in the early 90’s and I was always invested in understanding what drove people to do what they do.  I have always been intrigued in how people work, interact and perhaps ultimately I was looking to try and establish a way towards a form of best behaviour because I felt that everyone has ‘goodness’ in them.  I still believe this to be the case although the last 30+ years has led me to places where I felt that goodness was illusive, not only in others but also in myself.

When I started to heal from my second, and latest breakdown, I re-established a reflective approach towards self-awareness but from a slightly different stance.  When I had my first breakdown in 1993 I found that I isolated myself from others and layered upon my sense of self an outer protective coating.  A shell that in time only got thicker and heavier, ultimately weighing me down.  The new approach that I took this last time was more aligned with my ‘old way’ of seeing the world.  One that was less about deep self-reflection and was more socially and globally inclusiveness.  I started to open up to not only myself and my own strengths and weaknesses, but also others with compassion and understanding.

By taken a slightly different perspective on this thing called ‘life’ and particularly my place in it, I started to feel more deeply connected to the core of who I was, my Own True Nature (OTN), and those people around me.  I have started to slowly feel complete and whole again.

In Hinduism the word Namasté means “I bow to the divine in you”, and in some of the writing I sign off using this word.  It came about as a ‘gesture’ and one that sounded ‘spiritual’, but as I have continued to use it a couple of things have changed for me.

Firstly, while it still has a ‘spiritual’ meaning for me and one that I am not ashamed to express, I am more aligned to the power behind the use of the word.  The word has an energy and intention to it, perhaps a bit like “God Bless You” but with a more individualistic slant and less of a deity based one.  My faith however is one of inclusion of many paths to enlightenment and it especially encompasses the seeking of ‘gnosis’ (knowledge) and this may or may not include God.  In all honesty I am uncertain, but one thing ‘is’ for certain, I am not going to throw the baby out with the bath water and that means that I will hedge my bets and be open to many routes to wholeness.  This includes the intention to share, via the language that evolution (of God) has given me, the power of spoken words and the energy and meaning a word generates.

Secondly, the definition of Namasté is important because it recognises a connection between you and me.  Us and the world.  The world and the universe.  By recognising the ‘divine’ in you I am recognising the spark of humanity that may also lay underneath layers of past and present experience (good or bad) and those that are in me.  It allows me to remember that I am not alone and that I am part of a collective whole that is called humanity.  By me recognising that in YOU, I too may have reflected back on me and this opens me to the goodness in everything.  I can step away from fear, doubt and withdrawal from negative self-talk and step towards OUR shared humanity, no matter what it looks like.

So by using the word Namasté, I am able to connect to you, me, and if there is, ultimately a divine force.  So there is a power in this simple seven letter word, but there is no fear for me in its use and even in its Hindu etymology, because it’s use and intention is well intended and very much from the heart.  Words have the power to move and to energise as long as the intent is sound.  In this case this simple word has been very important to me and has made an immense difference to my life.

Namasté