Thursday, 29 December 2011

Pain only exists in resistance.
Joy exists only in acceptance.
Painful experiences which you heartily accept become joyful.
Joyful experiences which you do not accept become painful.
There is no such thing as a bad experience.
Bad experiences are simply your resistance to what is.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy":

Unpacking the lyrics of the iconic happiness anthem to find surprising science-tested insights on well-being.
In 1988, Bobby McFerrin wrote one of the most beloved anthems to happiness of all time. On September 24 that year, “Don’t Worry Be Happy” became the first a cappella song to reach #1 on the Billboard Top 100 Chart. But more than a mere feel-good tune, the iconic song is brimming with neuroscience and psychology insights on happiness that McFerrin — whose fascinating musings on music and the brain you might recall from World Science Festival’s Notes & Neurons — embedded in its lyrics, whether consciously or not.

To celebrate the anniversary of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” I unpack the verses to explore the neuropsychology wisdom they contain in the context of several studies that offer lab-tested validation for McFerrin’s intuitive insight.

In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double

Our tendency to add more stress to our stress by dwelling on it is known is Buddhism as the second arrow and its eradication is a cornerstone of mindfulness practice. But now scientists are confirming that worrying about our worries is rather worrisome. Recent research has found prolonged negative cardiac effects of worry episodes, following a 2006 study that linked worrying to heart disease.

Here, I give you my phone number
When you worry call me
I make you happy

Multiple studies have confirmed the positive correlation between social support and well-being, and some have examined the “buffering model,” which holds that social support protects people from the adverse effects of stressful events.

Harvard physician Nicholas Christakis has studied the surprising power of our social networks, finding profound and long-term correlation between the well-being, both physical and mental, of those with whom we choose to surround ourselves and our own.

Cause when you worry
Your face will frown
And that will bring everybody down

Mirror neurons are one of the most important and fascinating discoveries of modern neuroscience — neurons that fire not only when we perform a behavior, but also when we observe that behavior in others. In other words, neural circuitry that serves as social mimicry allowing the expressed emotions of others to trigger a reflection of these emotions in us. Frowns, it turns out, are indeed contagious.

Put a smile on your face

Pop-culture wisdom calls it “fake it ’till you make it”; psychotherapy calls it “cognitive behavioral therapy“; social psychology call it story editing. Evidence abounds that consciously changing our thoughts and behaviors to emulate the emotions we’d like to feel helps us internalize and embody those emotions in a genuine felt sense. Paul Ekman, who pioneered the study of facial expressions,found that voluntarily producing a smile may help deliberately generate the psychological change that takes place during spontaneous positive affect — something corroborated in the recently explored science of smiles.

--by Maria Popova

Thursday, 22 December 2011

I am delighted by how much I enjoy Christmas these days, how I enjoy the preparation, the shopping , the festive lights , the warm greetings the sharing of memories.
It wasn't always that way for me. I can remember crying my eyes out at the thought of Christmas. Thanks to Tai Chi and inquiry Christmas is a very different experience now.

Growing up Christmas time was a nightmare for my mother. She had very little money then and put herself under tremendous pressure to have gifts for everyone from the milkman to the old school friend she only saw at Christmas. Presents would arrive in the door and be re-wrapped and sent back out. Many the box of chocolate biscuits was sadly re-wrapped and passed on. Once, we forgot to re-wrap she was so embarrassed when her 'friend reminded her of the mistake - every year !
(Pity she didn't have inquiry. )

As she got older she would get the flu each year, always as the pressure was mounting she would take to the bed. I would do the shopping and Mum would re-emerge on Christmas Eve. Then we would pack up and travel to my Uncle's rectory for the holidays.

She worked non stop once we got there, everything had to be perfect, the Christmas meal (a feast) took hours to prepare. Everything had to be home made and perfect.
Christmas night she would collapse into a chair and fall asleep exhausted at the end of the day.

Now I can see how crazy it all was. Then I believed that that was how Christmas 'should' be.

Now it is more about spending time with people than about the perfect present and the perfect meal.

When I recall the good memories from back then, it was the late night reading by the fire, the occasional deep conversation, but especially the warmth of Uncle Seamus's welcome, his delight in having us to stay with him for Christmas. I knew our presence made his Christmas. I just wish that my mother had realised more fully then that She was the Gift. It was not doing the cooking and presents, it was her loving us that mattered.

She did love us worked to do the impossible for us, burnt herself out for us.

Writing this blog has helped me to see more clearly that that was her path and in some strange way she loved it.

And so I'm dedicating this Christmas to the memory of Mother's Love of all Mother's love. That quality of loving that is beyond words to explain. That quality I am projecting on to Mothers is the deep mysterious connection that somehow nourishes our spirits.

May your spirit be fully nourished this year, may you feel the deep love residing in your own heart. And may you share it happily with those you meet.

Monday, 19 December 2011

"The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention... A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words."

-Rachel Naomi Remen
"The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention... A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words."

-Rachel Naomi Remen

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Repetition is a really powerful tool, whether you want to master an art like Tai Chi or master your mind (or both) practice is vital. The daily practice of Tai Chi trains your body and if done with awareness also awakens the mind.

I have found that watching my 'wandering' mind has made me very aware , aware of the often subconscious thoughts the stuff that robs my energy and my concentration.

If thoughts persists in interrupting my practice I will take those thoughts to inquiry, usually Byron Katie's four questions. Knowing that I will do this later is often enough to quieten my mind. It has become a practice and the repetition has taught my body-mind that I will work on the issue later and so it allows me to return my focus to Tai Chi.

Practice what you want to become.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The Power of substitution.
We have very little control over our thoughts, they just appear for example avoid thinking of a pink elephant. Try it now Force yourself not to think of a pink elephant with a curly tail. You can't do it .It's impossible.

The only way of consciously changing a thought or of making a positive change to a habit or behaviour is to substitute another. You can avoid thinking of a pink elephant by thinking of something that appeals to you even more. Like what you will have for dinner, or that fabulous dress you saw in town (if you were me).

You can stop suffering from negative feelings -not by suppressing them but by substituting positive ones.

You can give up limiting behaviours by replacing it with enriching ones. Instead of focusing on the diet you focus on becoming fitter and healthier. Instead of concentrating on the what you are missing (chocolate cake ) you concentrate on what you are gaining. Healthy fit slim body.

Substitution is immeasurably more powerful than willpower as an agent for change.

Monday, 12 December 2011

There are many ways we can take charge of our lives.

I'm going to review some of the ways that work for me in the next few days.

The first is to recognise that we do have choice.

Making a conscious choice to follow one direction in preference to another is
open to all of us.

We can change the way we think, we can change our childhood conditioning.

We can change our habits and our beliefs.

We can change the way we behave.

Recognising this is the first step in making it happen.

We can choose to stay calm even in difficult situations. We can make it our habit.
Here is an exercise to do just that.

Imagine yourself calm relaxed and at peace.

Tell yourself you have all the time in the world.

In your imagination, note your slow breathing, unhurried speech,relaxed gestures,
hint of a smile.

Now start pretending you are exactly like the person in your imagination. Act as
if you really are that person.

Just for a minute imagine yourself at work at play or in some social situation.
How does it feel to be calm and relaxed in that situation.

Imagine others seeing you as that calm relaxed person. How does that feel ?

Our imagination is one of our greatest gifts lets use it to help us develop the skills we desire.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

A preview of Tai Chi for people signing up for the January Classes.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

An Old Japanese Love Warrior

--by Terry Dobson
A turning point in my life came one day on a train in the middle of a drowsy spring afternoon. The old car clanked and rattled over the rails. It was comparatively empty -- a few housewives with their kids in tow, some old folks out shopping, a couple of off-duty bartenders studying the racing form. I gazed absently at the drab houses and dusty hedge rows.
At one station the doors opened, and suddenly the quiet afternoon was shattered by a man bellowing at the top of his lungs — yelling violent, obscene, incomprehensible curses. Just as the doors closed the man, still yelling, staggered into our car. He was big, drunk, and dirty. He wore laborer’s clothing. His front was stiff with dried vomit. His eyes bugged out, a demonic, neon red. His hair was crusted with filth. Screaming, he swung at the first person he saw, a woman holding a baby. The blow glanced off her shoulder, sending her spinning into the laps of an elderly couple. It was a miracle that the baby was unharmed.
The couple jumped up and scrambled toward the other end of the car. They were terrified. The laborer aimed a kick at the retreating back of the old lady. “You old w*@#e!” he bellowed. “I’ll kick your a*#!” He missed; the old woman scuttled to safety. This so enraged the drunk that he grabbed the metal pole at the center of the car and tried to wrench it out of its stanchion. I could see that one of his hands was cut and bleeding. The train lurched ahead, the passengers frozen with fear. I stood tip.
I was young and in pretty good shape. I stood six feet, weighed 225. I’d been putting in a solid eight hours of aikido training every day for the past three years. I liked to throw and grapple. I thought I was tough. Trouble was, my martial skill was untested in actual combat. As students of aikido, we were not allowed to fight.
My teacher taught us each morning that the art was devoted to peace. “Aikido,” he said again and again, “is the art of reconciliation. Whoever has the mind to fight has broken his connection with the universe. If you try to dominate other people, you are already defeated. We study how to resolve conflict, not how to start it.”
I listened to his words. I tried hard. I wanted to quit fighting. I even went so far as to cross the street a few times to avoid the “chimpira,” the pinball punks who lounged around the train stations. They’d have been happy to test my martial ability. My forbearance exalted me. I felt both tough and holy. In my heart of hearts, however, I was dying to be a hero. I wanted a chance, an absolutely legitimate opportunity whereby I might save the innocent by destroying the guilty.
“This is it!” I said to myself as I got to my feet. “This slob, this animal, is drunk and mean and violent. People are in danger. If I don’t do something fast, somebody will probably get hurt. I’m gonna take his a*# to the cleaners.”
Seeing me stand up, the drunk saw a chance to focus his rage. “Aha!” he roared. “A foreigner! You need a lesson in Japanese manners!” He punched the metal pole once to give weight to his words.
I held on lightly to the commuter strap overhead. I gave him a slow look of disgust and dismissal. I gave him every bit of p#*$-ant nastiness I could summon up. I planned to take this turkey apart, but he had to be the one to move First. And I wanted him mad, because the madder he got, the more certain my victory. I pursed my lips and blew him a sneering, insolent kiss. It hit him like a slap in the face. “All right!” he hollered. “You’re gonna get a lesson.” He gathered himself for a rush at me. He’d never know what hit him.
A split second before he moved, someone shouted “Hey!” It was ear splitting. I remember being struck by the strangely joyous, lilting quality of it — as though you and a friend had been searching diligently for something, and he had suddenly stumbled upon it. “Hey!” I wheeled to my left, the drunk spun to his right. We both stared down at a little old Japanese man. He must have been well into his seventies, this tiny gentleman, sitting there immaculate in his kimono and hakama. He took no notice of me, but beamed delightedly at the laborer, as though he had a most important, most welcome secret to share.
“C’mere,” the old man said in an easy vernacular, beckoning to the drunk. “C’mere and talk with me.” He waved his hand lightly. The giant man followed, as if on a string. He planted his feet belligerently in front of the old gentleman and towered threateningly over him.
“Talk to you?” he roared above the clacking wheels. “Why the hell should I talk to you?” The drunk now had his back to me. If his elbow moved so much as a millimeter, I’d drop him in his socks.
The old man continued to beam at the laborer. There was not a trace of fear or resentment about him. “What’cha been drinkin’?” he asked lightly, with interest. “I been drinkin’ sake,” the laborer bellowed back, “and it’s none of your god d#*& business!”
“Oh, that’s wonderful,” the old man said with delight. “Absolutely wonderful! You see, I love sake, too. Every night, me and my wife (she’s seventy-six, you know), we warm up a little bottle of sake and take it our into the garden, and we sit on the old wooden bench that my grandfather’s first student made for him. We watch the sun go down, and we look to see how our persimmon tree is doing. My great-grandfather planted that tree, you know, and we worry about whether it will recover from those ice storms we had last winter. Persimmons do not do well after ice storms, although I must say that ours has done rather better that I expected, especially when you consider the poor quality of the soil. Still, it is most gratifying to watch when we take our sake and go out to enjoy the evening — even when it rains!” He looked up at the laborer, eyes twinkling, happy to share his delightful information.
As he struggled to follow the intricacies of the old man’s conversation, the drunk’s face began to soften. His fists slowly unclenched. “Yeah,” he said slowly, “I love persimmons, too…” His voice trailed off.
“Yes,” said the old man, smiling, “and I’m sure you have a wonderful wife.”
“No,” replied the laborer, “my wife died.” He hung his head. Very gently, swaying with the motion of the train, the big man began to sob. “I don’t got no wife, I don’t got no home, I don’t got no job, I don’t got no money, I don’t got nowhere to go. I’m so ashamed of myself.” Tears rolled down his cheeks; a spasm of pure despair rippled through his body. Above the baggage rack a four-color ad trumpeted the virtues of suburban luxury living.
Now it was my turn. Standing there in my well-scrubbed youthful innocence, my make-this-world-safe-for-democracy righteousness, I suddenly felt dirtier than he was.
Just then, the train arrived at my stop. The platform was packed, and the crowd surged into the car as soon as the doors opened. Maneuvering my way out, I heard the old man cluck sympathetically. “My, my,” he said with undiminished delight, “that is a very difficult predicament, indeed. Sit down here and tell me about it.”
I turned my head for one last look. The laborer was sprawled like a sack on the seat, his head in the old man’s lap. The old man looked down at him, all compassion and delight, one hand softly stroking the filthy, matted head.
As the train pulled away, I sat down on a bench. What I had wanted to do with muscle and meanness had been accomplished with a few kind words. I had seen aikido tried in combat, and the essence of it was love, as the founder had said. I would have to practice the art with an entirely different spirit. It would be a long time before I could speak about the resolution of conflict.
--by Terry Dobson

I was delighted to come across this story that delighted inspired and me when I first heard Ram Dass tell it many years ago. I hope it has inspired you too.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Monday's Mini Form

Love ... It surrounds every being and extends
slowly to embrace all that shall be.

- Kahlil Gibran -

Love is always Loving you.
Without this Love you cannot breathe,
as without air you cannot live.
Love is Meditation, Meditation is Love.
Heart has no frontiers;
Meditate on This.
You are this Love, You are That.
Simply be Quiet and stay as such.

This poem by Papaji never fails to inspire me and
renew my desire to clear out all the remaining blocks
to loving each moment, each encounter, each breath.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

There is always music amongst the trees in the garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it.
- Minnie Aumonier

Do Trees Talk to Each Other?
Don't trees only talk to each other in the movies? Professor Suzanne Simard of the University of British Columbia shares her latest research regarding forest ecosystems: amazingly, trees in a forest coexist in a synergistic web of interconnections, with the largest, oldest, "mother trees" serving as hubs. Because of the old trees linked into the network, the underground exchange of nutrients increases the survival of younger trees -- becoming a fascinating, real-life model of forest resilience and regeneration. This short video shares the intriguing science behind forest inter-connectivity.

Video from KarmaTube

I love this video and feel that it confirms what we all know intuitively. Not only trees but everything in this vast universe is connected. I believe that love is the connecting 'glue' that binds us all to each other, to our past generations, to everything in existence. The more we can clear out our blocks to love the more we will help each other and our whole universe.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

We just finished the 'mini form'. Well done, it is great
to see how much ye have learned in a few short weeks.

A Spiritual Conspiracy
by Author Unknown

On the surface of the Earth exactly now there is war and violence and everything looks horrible. But, simultaneously, something quiet, calm and hidden is happening and certain people are being called by a higher light. A quiet revolution is settling from the inside out. From bottom to top. It is a global operation. A spiritual conspiracy. There are cells from this operation in every nation on the planet.

You will not watch us on TV. Or read about us in newspapers. Or hear our words on radios. We do not seek glory. We do not use uniforms. We arrive in several different shapes and sizes. We have costumes and different colors. Most work anonymously. Silently we work out of the scene. In every culture in the world. In large and small cities, in the mountains and valleys. In the farms, villages, tribes and remote islands.

We might cross paths on the streets. And not realize ... We follow in disguise. We are behind the scenes. And we do not care about who wins the gold of the result, and Yes, that the work gets performed. And once in a while we will cross paths on the streets. We exchange looks of recognition and continue following our path. During the day many are disguised in their normal jobs. But at night behind the scenes, the real work begins.

Some call us army of consciousness. Slowly we are building a new world. With the power of our hearts and minds. We follow with joy and passion. Our orders reach us from the Central Spiritual Intelligence. We're throwing soft bombs of love without anyone noticing; poems, Hugs, songs, photos, movies, fond words, meditations and prayers, dances, social activism, websites, blogs, acts of kindness ...

We express ourselves in a unique and personal way. With our talents and gifts. Being the change we want to see in the world. This is the force that moves our hearts. We know that this is the only way to accomplish the transformation. We know that with the silence and humbleness we have the power of all oceans together. Our work is slow and meticulous. As in the formation of mountains.

Love will be the religion of the 21 century. Without educational prerequisites. Without ordering an exceptional knowledge for your understanding. Because it is born of the intelligence of the heart. Hidden for eternity in the evolutionary pulse of every human being.

Be the change you want to see happen in the world. Nobody else can make this work for you.

We're recruiting. Perhaps you will join us. Or maybe you have already joined. All are welcome. The door is open.

Monday, 28 November 2011

We have reached the last posture of this 'mini form'. I have loved
teaching it and sharing the joy of Tai Chi. Allow this practice to
reveal yourself to you.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

where enquiry
hurries on
the hill shapes
take their time

take your time
the rise and swell
of the hills are yours
their weight ant implication
rest and aspiration
Thomas A.Clark

Thursday, 24 November 2011

A Serving of Gratitude May Save the Day

Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others, including romantic partners. A new study shows that feeling grateful makes people less likely to turn aggressive when provoked, which helps explain why so many brothers-in-law survive Thanksgiving without serious injury.

But what if you’re not the grateful sort? I sought guidance from the psychologists who have made gratitude a hot research topic. Here’s their advice for getting into the holiday spirit — or at least getting through dinner Thursday:

Start with “gratitude lite.” That’s the term used by Robert A. Emmons, of the University of California, Davis, for the technique used in his pioneering experiments he conducted along with Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami. They instructed people to keep a journal listing five things for which they felt grateful, like a friend’s generosity, something they’d learned, a sunset they’d enjoyed.

The gratitude journal was brief — just one sentence for each of the five things — and done only once a week, but after two months there were significant effects. Compared with a control group, the people keeping the gratitude journal were more optimistic and felt happier. They reported fewer physical problems and spent more time working out.

Further benefits were observed in a study of polio survivors and other people with neuromuscular problems. The ones who kept a gratitude journal reported feeling happier and more optimistic than those in a control group, and these reports were corroborated by observations from their spouses. These grateful people also fell asleep more quickly at night, slept longer and woke up feeling more refreshed.

“If you want to sleep more soundly, count blessings, not sheep,” Dr. Emmons advises in “Thanks!” his book on gratitude research.

Don’t confuse gratitude with indebtedness. Sure, you may feel obliged to return a favor, but that’s not gratitude, at least not the way psychologists define it. Indebtedness is more of a negative feeling and doesn’t yield the same benefits as gratitude, which inclines you to be nice to anyone, not just a benefactor.

In an experiment at Northeastern University, Monica Bartlett and David DeSteno sabotaged each participant’s computer and arranged for another student to fix it. Afterward, the students who had been helped were likelier to volunteer to help someone else — a complete stranger — with an unrelated task. Gratitude promoted good karma. And if it works with strangers ....

Try it on your family. No matter how dysfunctional your family, gratitude can still work, says Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California, Riverside.

“Do one small and unobtrusive thoughtful or generous thing for each member of your family on Thanksgiving,” she advises. “Say thank you for every thoughtful or kind gesture. Express your admiration for someone’s skills or talents — wielding that kitchen knife so masterfully, for example. And truly listen, even when your grandfather is boring you again with the same World War II story.”

Don’t counterattack. If you’re bracing for insults on Thursday, consider a recent experiment at the University of Kentucky. After turning in a piece of writing, some students received praise for it while others got a scathing evaluation: “This is one of the worst essays I’ve ever read!”

Then each student played a computer game against the person who’d done the evaluation. The winner of the game could administer a blast of white noise to the loser. Not surprisingly, the insulted essayists retaliated against their critics by subjecting them to especially loud blasts — much louder than the noise administered by the students who’d gotten positive evaluations.

But there was an exception to this trend among a subgroup of the students: the ones who had been instructed to write essays about things for which they were grateful. After that exercise in counting their blessings, they weren’t bothered by the nasty criticism — or at least they didn’t feel compelled to amp up the noise against their critics.

“Gratitude is more than just feeling good,” says Nathan DeWall, who led the study at Kentucky. “It helps people become less aggressive by enhancing their empathy. “It’s an equal-opportunity emotion. Anyone can experience it and benefit from it, even the most crotchety uncle at the Thanksgiving dinner table.”

Share the feeling. Why does gratitude do so much good? “More than other emotion, gratitude is the emotion of friendship,” Dr. McCullough says. “It is part of a psychological system that causes people to raise their estimates of how much value they hold in the eyes of another person. Gratitude is what happens when someone does something that causes you to realize that you matter more to that person than you thought you did.”

Try a gratitude visit. This exercise, recommended by Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania, begins with writing a 300-word letter to someone who changed your life for the better. Be specific about what the person did and how it affected you. Deliver it in person, preferably without telling the person in advance what the visit is about. When you get there, read the whole thing slowly to your benefactor. “You will be happier and less depressed one month from now,” Dr. Seligman guarantees in his book “Flourish.”

Contemplate a higher power. Religious individuals don’t necessarily act with more gratitude in a specific situation, but thinking about religion can cause people to feel and act more gratefully, as demonstrated in experiments by Jo-Ann Tsang and colleagues at Baylor University. Other research shows that praying can increase gratitude.

Go for deep gratitude. Once you’ve learned to count your blessings, Dr. Emmons says, you can think bigger.

“As a culture, we have lost a deep sense of gratefulness about the freedoms we enjoy, a lack of gratitude toward those who lost their lives in the fight for freedom, a lack of gratitude for all the material advantages we have,” he says. “The focus of Thanksgiving should be a reflection of how our lives have been made so much more comfortable by the sacrifices of those who have come before us.”

And if that seems too daunting, you can least tell yourself —

Hey, it could always be worse. When your relatives force you to look at photos on their phones, be thankful they no longer have access to a slide projector. When your aunt expounds on politics, rejoice inwardly that she does not hold elected office. Instead of focusing on the dry, tasteless turkey on your plate, be grateful the six-hour roasting process killed any toxic bacteria.

Is that too much of a stretch? When all else fails, remember the Monty Python mantra of the Black Plague victim: “I’m not dead.” It’s all a matter of perspective.

by John Tierney

I just had to share this article on Gratitude - so uplifting and inspiring.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Withdraw and Push.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Investigating Crossing Hands with Ray and Liam

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Breath and attain one-pointedness,
Then the harmony of heaven
Will come down and dwell in you.
You will be radiant with life.
You will rest in Tao.
Chuang Tzu

Friday, 18 November 2011

White Crane Spreads Wings

We are working being fully aware during the whole of an application.
Aware in connecting, yielding, and responding. This is interesting
and demands full concentration. When we can keep our attention with
the other person the work is more alive, exciting, and fun.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Start Where You Are

We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves--the heavy-duty fearing that we're bad and hoping that we're good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds--never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.

Looking at ourselves this way is very different from our usual habit. From this perspective we don't need to change: you can feel as wretched as you like, and you're still a good candidate for enlightenment. You can feel like the world's most hopeless basket case, but that feeling is your wealth, not something to be thrown out or improved upon. There's a richness to all of the smelly stuff that we so dislike and so little desire. The delightful things--what we love so dearly about ourselves, the places in which we feel some sense of pride or inspiration--these also are our wealth.

When we hear about compassion, it naturally brings up working with others, caring for others. The reason we're often not there for others--whether for our child or our mother or someone who is insulting us or someone who frightens us--is that we're not there for ourselves. There are whole parts of ourselves that are so unwanted that whenever they begin to come up we run away.

Because we escape, we keep missing being right here, being right on the dot. We keep missing the moment we're in. Yet if we can experience the moment we're in, we discover that it is unique, precious, and completely fresh. It never happens twice. One can appreciate and celebrate each moment--there's nothing more sacred. There's nothing more vast or absolute. In fact, there's nothing more!

Only to the degree that we've gotten to know our personal pain, only to the degree that we've related with pain at all, will we be fearless enough, brave enough, and enough of a warrior to be willing to feel the pain of others. To that degree we will be able to take on the pain of others because we will have discovered that their pain and our own pain are not different.

-Pema Chodron

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Pause for a moment and remember someone or something you love. . . . .

Imagine allowing your heart to fill with this love. . . . .

Now imagine this love spreading out and filling all your organs

Your Liver Your Kidneys Your Bladder Your Lungs . . . . .

Now let it expand and fill your Whole Body, to the tips of your
Fingers and Toes and right up to the top of your Head .

Take Your Time Slow right down and really feel this loving energy.

Now can you imagine this Love expanding beyond your Body and filling
the room.

Let it expand , through the walls, through the building , let it expand
to fill the whole world and beyond.

This Love Is Always Loving You . Always waiting for You to look inside
and Feel its Quiet Loving Presence.

Monday, 14 November 2011

I am too alone in the world, and yet not alone enough
to make every hour holy.
I am too small in the world, and yet not tiny enough
just to stand before you like a thing,
dark and shrewd.
I want my will, and I want to be with my will
as it moves towards deed;
and in those quiet, somehow hesitating times,
when something is approaching,
I want to be with those who are wise
or else alone.
I want always to be a mirror that reflects your whole being,
and never to be too blind or too old
to hold your heavy, swaying image.
I want to unfold.
Nowhere do I want to remain folded,
because where I am bent and folded, there I am lie.
And I want my meaning
true for you. I want to describe myself
like a painting that I studied
closely for a long, long time,
like a word I finally understood,
like the pitcher of water I use every day ,
like the face of my mother,
like a ship
that carried me
through the deadliest storm of all.
- Rainer Maria Rilk

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Today is World Kindness Day

Thich Nhat Hanh once said, "Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile and sometimes your smile is the source of your joy." Lets spread some love and kindness with our smiles today.

Investigating High Pat On Horse


Thursday, 10 November 2011

Hermits in New York

Let's take hermits. People today think being a hermit is a very unhealthy thing to do. Very antisocial, doesn't contribute anything to everybody else - because everybody else is busy contributing like blazes, and a few people have to run off and get out of the way. But I'll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you'll come to understand that you're connected with everything. That every little insect that comes buzzing around you is a messenger, and that little insect is connected with human beings everywhere else. You can hear. You become incredibly sensitive in your ears and you hear far-off sounds. And just by the very nature of isolating yourself and becoming quiet, you become intensely aware of your relationship with everything else that's going on.

So if you really want to find out how related you really are, try a little solitude off somewhere, and let it begin to tell you how everything is interdependant in the form of what the Japanese call 'jijimugi'. 'Ji' means a 'thing event,' so it means 'between thing event and thing event, there is no block.' Every thing in the world, every event, is like a dewdrop on a multidimentional spider's web, and every dewdrop contains the reflection of all the other dewdrops. But you see, the hermit finds this out through his solitide, and so also human beings can aquire a certain solitude, even in the middle of New York City. It's rather easier, as a matter of fact, to find solitude in New York City than it is in Des Moines, Iowa.

But the point is that a human represents a certain kind of development, wherein a maximal sense of his oneness with the whole universe goes hand in hand with the maximum development of his personality as somebody unique and different. Whereas the people who are of course trying to develop their personality directly and taking a Dale Carnegie course on how to win friends and influence people, or how to become successful - all those people come out as if they came from the same cookie cutter. They don't have any personality.

--Alan Watts

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Step Forward, Deflect Downwards & Punch from Heartworker on Vimeo.

In T'ai Chi we are reminded to forget self and follow the other,
another way of saying connect.

Connect with your whole self give the task in hand or the person
in front of you full wholehearted attention.

Imagine your energy reaching out to meet the person and surrounding
them with warm interested attention. Let yourself feel your energetic

We are so blessed to have so many ways that we humans con connect
and communicate, life becomes an amazing adventure when we begin
to see each encounter as the miraculous opportunity that it is.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Totality Not Perfection

The very idea of perfectionism drives people crazy. The perfectionist is bound to be a neurotic, he cannot enjoy life till he is perfect. And perfection as such never happens, it is not in the nature of things. Totality is possible, perfection is not possible.

There is a tremendous difference between perfection and totality. Perfection is a goal somewhere in the future, totality is an experience herenow. Totality is not a goal, it is a style of life. If you can get into any act with your whole heart, you are total. Totality brings wholeness and totality brings health and totality brings sanity.

The perfectionist completely forgets about totality. He has some idea how he should be, and obviously time will be needed to reach that idea. It can't happen now -- tomorrow, day after tomorrow, this life, maybe next life ... so life has to be postponed.

But if you have an idea what you want to be in the future, today you will live very partially because your main concern becomes the future. Your eyes become focused on the future, you lose contact with the real and the present -- and the tomorrow will be born out of the real with which you are not in contact. The tomorrow will come out of today, and today was unlived.

The English word devil is very beautiful. If you read it backwards it becomes lived. That which is lived becomes divine, and that which is not lived becomes devil. Only the lived is transformed into godliness; the unlived turns poisonous. Today you postpone, and whatsoever remains unlived in you will hang around you like a weight. If you had lived it you would have been free of it.


Saturday, 5 November 2011

Here is what science has to say about why geese fly in V formation.

I found it to be fascinating and inspiring.

As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following.

By flying in V formation the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.

When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone ... and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front.

When the Head Goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point.

Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

Finally...and this is important...when a goose gets sick, or is wounded by gunshots, and falls out of formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly, or until it dies; only then do they launch out on their own, or with another formation to catch up with their group.

Wouldn't it be great if we could learn to have the sense of a goose, and stand by each other like that.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Tai Chi Workshop In Blackrock Community Centre Saturday Morning Long Form 10.30 Short Form and Partner Work 11.30 -1

Untitled from ann on Vimeo.

Love and forgiveness go together. In order to love ourselves and others we need to forgive ourselves and others for hurts real and imaginary. The course in miracles tells us all hurts are imaginary and whether or not you agree with this or not, the fact remains, that you suffer when you feel hurt.

Exercise Dissolving Resentment.

There is an Emmet Fox exercise for dissolving resentment that I have found to be really powerful in freeing up old hurts and allowing me to feel more loving and energetic.

Sit quietly, and close your eyes, allow your mind and body to relax.

Then imagine yourself sitting in a darkened theater, and in front of you is a darkened stage. On that stage place the person you resent the most. It could be someone in the past or present , living or dead.

When you see (or feel) this person clearly , visualise goods thing happening to this person - things that would be meaningful to him. See him smiling and happy. Hold this image for a few minutes and then let it fade away.

Next step, as this person leaves the stage, put yourself up there. See good things happening to you. See yourself smiling and happy.

Be aware that the abundance of the universe is available to all of us.

Practice this exercise daily for a few weeks and I guarantee you will feel a big change in your energy , and wonderful increase in your happiness.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Seeing the world as oneself - or as a lover - transforms ordinary reality and provides a greater sense of purpose.

by Joanna Macy

It is my experience that the world itself has a role to play in our liberation. Its very pressures, pains, and risks can wake us up - release us from the bonds of ego and guide us home to our vast, true nature. For some of us, our love for the world is so passionate that we cannot ask it to wait until we are enlightened.

To view the world as lover is to look at the world as a most intimate and gratifying partner. We find some of the richest expressions of our erotic relationship to the world in Hinduism, for example in Krishna worship, but this erotic affirmation of the phenomenal world is not limited to Hinduism. Ancient Goddess religions, now being explored (at last!) carry it too, as do strains of Sufism and the Kabbalah, and Christianity has its tradition of bridal mysticism.

It also occurs outside the religious metaphor. A poet friend of mine went through a period of such personal loss that she was catapulted into extreme loneliness. Falling apart into a nervous breakdown, she went to New York City and lived alone. She walked the streets for months until she found her wholeness again. A phrase of hers echoes in my mind: "I learned to move in the world as if it were my lover."

Another Westerner who sees the world as lover is Italian storyteller Italo Calvino. In his little book, Cosmicomics, he describes the evolution of life from the perspective of an individual who experienced it from the beginning, even before the Big Bang. The chapter I want to recount begins with a sentence from science: "Through the calculations begun by Edwin P. Hubble on the galaxies' velocity of recession, we can establish the moment when all the universe's matter was concentrated in a single point, before it began to expand in space."

"We were all there, where else could we have been?" says Calvino's narrator, Qfwfq, as he describes his experience. "We were all in that one point - and, man, was it crowded!" Given the conditions, irritations were almost inevitable. See, in addition to all those people, "you have to add all the stuff we had to keep piled up in there: all the material that was to serve afterwards to form the universe ... from the nebula of Andromeda to the Vosges Mountains to beryllium isotopes. And on top of that we were always bumping against the Z'zu family's household goods: camp beds, mattresses, baskets. ..."

So there were, naturally enough, complaints and gossip, but none ever attached to Mrs. Pavacini. (Since most names in the story have no vowels, I have given her a name we can pronounce.) "Mrs. Pavacini, her bosom, her thighs, her orange dressing gown," the sheer memory of her fills our narrator
"with a blissful, generous emotion. ... The fact that she went to bed with her friend Mr. DeXuaeauX, was well-known. But in a point, if there's a bed, it takes up the whole point, so it isn't a question of going to bed but of being there, because anybody in the point is also in the bed. So consequently it was inevitable that she was in bed with each of us. If she'd been another person, there's no telling all the things that might have been said about her. ..."

This state of affairs could have gone on indefinitely, but something extraordinary happened. An idea occurred to Mrs. Pavacini: "Oh boys, if only I had some room, how I'd like to make some pasta for you!" Here I quote in part from my favorite longest sentence in literature, which closes this particular chapter in Calvino's collection:
"And in that moment we all thought of the space that her round arms would occupy moving backward and forward over the great mound of flour and eggs ... while her arms kneaded and kneaded, white and shiny with oil up to the elbows, and we thought of the space the flour would occupy and the wheat for the flour and the fields to raise the wheat and the mountains from which the water would flow to irrigate the fields ... of the space it would take for the Sun to arrive with its rays, to ripen the wheat; of the space for the Sun to condense from the clouds of stellar gases and burn; of the quantities of stars and galaxies and galactic masses in flight through space which would be needed to hold suspended every galaxy, every nebula, every sun, every planet, and at the same time we thought of it, this space was inevitably being formed, at the same time that Mrs. Pavacini was uttering those words: "... ah, what pasta, boys!" the point that contained her and all of us was expanding in a halo of distance in light years and light centuries and billions of light millennia and we were being hurled to the four corners of the universe ... and she dissolved into I don't know what kind of energy-light-heat, she, Mrs. Pavacini, she who in the midst of our closed, petty world had been capable of a generous impulse, "Boys, the pasta I could make for you!" a true outburst of general love, initiating at the same time the concept of space and, properly speaking, space itself, and time, and universal gravitation, and the gravitating universe, making possible billions and billions of suns, and planets, and fields of wheat, and Mrs. Pavacinis scattered through the continents of the planets, kneading with floury, oil-shiny, generous arms and she lost at that very moment, and we, mourning her loss."

But is she lost? Or is she equally present, in every moment, her act of love embodied in every unfolding of this amazing world?

Whether we see it as Krishna or as Mrs. Pavacini, that teasing, loving presence is in the monsoon clouds and the peacock's cry that heralds the monsoon, and in the plate of good pasta.

For when you see the world as lover, every being, every phenomenon, can become - if you have a clever, appreciative eye - an expression of that ongoing, erotic impulse. It takes form right now in each one of us and in everyone and everything we encounter - the bus driver, the clerk at the checkout counter, the leaping squirrel.

As we seek to discover the lover in each lifeform, you can find yourself in the dance of rasa-lila, sweet play, where each of the milkmaids who yearned for Krishna finds him magically at her side, her very own partner in the dance. The one beloved has become many, and the world itself her lover.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Relax for a few minutes and feel the space around your body.

Feel the space above, below, in front, behind
and at the sides of your body. . . .

Relax even more and allow yourself to feel the presence
of your fingers. . . . .

The three dimensional presence of your fingers. . . .

Slow down and notice how your fingers feel. . . .

Now imagine what it would be like to feel the space between
your fingers . . . . .

Imagine what it would be like to feel the space between your
hands . . . . . .

Imagine feeling the space between your hands and the sides
of your body . . . . .

Relax, Relax , Relax into the feeling of space . . .

Notice how you feel when you have spent a few moments
focusing your attention on space or 'nothingness'.

According to Dr Fehmi (of Open Focus) when we pay attention
to space ,emptiness or silence the mind tends to relax.

I'm sure you will have noticed this while even reading the
exercise above.
These types of open focus exercises are of
great benefit to everybody who wants to learn to relax.

They are especially beneficial to those of us who also
practice tai chi.
The relaxed awareness of the spaces in and around
ones body awakens one to the aliveness of the spaces we
create and work with while practicing our tai chi.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

That Which is Looking

Only when you turn attention to awareness itself, there isn't anything behind it. That's what returning to the source means. It means that nothing is next. There's nothing behind it. With a thought there's always something behind it. There's always the awareness of thought. So awareness is behind it. With a feeling there's always something behind it. With the conditioned tendency there's always something behind it. There's always awareness behind everything that's perceivable. Everything that's thinkable. There's always something behind it: namely that awareness. Spirit.

To 'look within' doesn't mean to look for something really amazing to happen. To look for the states of consciousness to change. That's not what look within means. Have any of you looked within like that? I've spent so many hours looking within that way - not thousands, tens of thousands of hours looking within. And I was looking ... the same way we look outside. You know, like we're looking for something. And so you look inside. It's a great teaching, but then what do you do? You tend to look for stuff. Look for really groovy spiritual stuff to happen. Right? It's the same looking. It's not really different than looking for a million bucks, or a hot looking guy or gal or success. It's just looking for inner stuff. And there's a world of inner things and experiences, just like there's an outer world of things to look for.

But the inner world, it's not any more real or significant then the outer world. So to look within doesn't mean that, to look within in a way that you're looking for something. Looking for a treasure. It means to go to the root. And the root is the looking itself.

To turn within is to turn to that which is looking. So that we find out for ourselves that there isn't anybody that's looking! Looking is looking. There isn't someone there called 'me' that's behind awareness that's aware. Awareness is aware. It's the opposite: I'm not aware; awareness is aware of me. And this is quite a shock when you really come upon it!

This is really 'one without a second' as Ramana (Maharshi) used to say. That the self is one without a second. Without a second means: nothing behind it. No deeper return to go to. You've returned to your natural state. In Zen we used to call it 'taking the backward step.' We (generally) want to take the forward step: to pursue, to seek, to find. But the backward step is very simple ... return to what you are. Till that flash of recognition dawns, that awareness itself is what you are. Just like the flash of lightning in an empty sky - a spontaneous flash!

The easiest thing in spirituality is for it to become complex, instead of simple. But this is a very simple thing which is why it can penetrate so deeply. So quickly. So immediately.


Monday, 24 October 2011

Here is this weeks lesson for the tai chi beginners.

Introductory Form Brush Knee and Push from Heartworker on Vimeo.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

As my Master says :
" Inquire until there is no one left to inquire."

The habits of the mind are very hard to break,
and so it must be continued.
You have been ignorant for years,
so when you know the Truth
you must stay as such for some time.
What else is important ?
You have to be very strong.
Question the mind unceasingly.
Decide to never return to stupidness.

Once you are in silence
stay as Silence.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

The secret to a long and healthy life is to be stress-free. Be grateful for everything you have, stay away from people who are negative, stay smiling and keep running. --

Fauja Singh, 100-yr-old Marathoner

You can check him out on youtube.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter.

Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.

- Samuel Beckett

Monday, 17 October 2011

Here is this weeks lesson for beginners classes.

Introductory Form from Heartworker on Vimeo.

Here is a story from the Sufi tradition.

Shiek Nasrudin had a farm in the middle of the desert. Tired of travelling long distance to get water every day, he asked God to provide him with a source close to home.

When God heard his request he sent an angel to Nasrudin who said, " God would like you to dig a well. If you do you will have will have all the water you will
ever need." Then the angel left.

Forty years later when the angel came to bring Nasrudin to heaven, she asked him about his well. " God deceived me he exclaimed. I dug one hundred wells each fifty feet deep and I never found water." With that the angel replied " If you had dug one well one hundred feet deep instead of a hundred fifty feet deep you would have found all the water you ever needed."

In tai chi as in all methods the most important thing is to stick to your practice.
Your daily practice will develop discipline, and to me discipline means becoming a disciple to your higher self. It means to love your true nature enough to spend time each day to deepen that most fundamental relationship in your life.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

When I was a child my mother was constantly reminding me to count my blessings. My mother didn't have a very easy life. She lost her mother when she was five and a few years later a stepmother whom she also loved dearly.

She became a widow at forty five, my father was fun loving and care free , not the type to have insurance policies so she was left with three children and no income.

My brother was studying for the priesthood at the time and offered to take time out and work to support us until my sister and I were finished school. She wouldn't hear of it. " You do God's work and God will look after me " she said.

And so God did look after her, we lived near the university and she took in students during the term, she cooked and cared for them as if they were part of our family and many of them told us that, that was just how they felt.

She worked so hard and yet was always ready for a laugh, a trip to town with Auntie Peg, or a show in the opera house, sometimes I'd come home from school and there would be a note on the table, "Gone to a funeral with Charlie Brown please cook the tea for the boys." (Now not many people would regard a funeral as a day out but this is Ireland and a funeral except a tragic one is not always a sad affair. It's often a time to meet old friends and catch up and Mum loved that).

She always had her priorities right when it came to having fun. My brother was a missioner and Mum took every opportunity to visit him, if it was a case of new windows or a trip away, there was no choice, her bag would be packed and off she would go, counting her blessings and telling us how lucky she was to have such a full interesting life.

She is dead twenty years now and more and more I am realizing her courage and wisdom.

Lately I'm taking her advice on counting my blessings and have started to write them down each morning and again before I go to sleep. It proving to be a wonderful way to realize how lucky I am to have such a full interesting life.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Br.David SeindlRast a Benedictine monk now in his eighties says that as a teenager in Austria during the Nazi occupation he had never expected to reach the age of twenty.

Food wes scarce, his family often lived on little more than soup made from weeds and he was sure he'd be drafted and killed in combat.He remained happy despite all the dangers and difficulties, because against the backdrop of impending death,he had seen life as the gift it was.

That deep sense of appreciation has never left him. To Br.David greatfulness means experiencing ' great fullness,' feeling full in every moment, appreciating exactly what is. He says 'happiness is not what makes us gratefull; it is gratefullness that makes us happy.'

Here is an example of Br. David's exercises for increasing feelings of gratefulness in life. Each day he picks a 'theme for the day' to focus on. If it's water, for example,every time he washes his hands, waters the plants or brushes his teeth, he notices and appreciates the water and uses it as a reminder to be present in the moment in pure gratefulness. is his website.

Friday, 14 October 2011

I have been feeling a little out of sorts and in need of inspiration then i came across this video.It is well worth a watch.
Dewey Bozella was locked up for 26 years - a lifetime - for a crime he did not commit. This story is about the triumph of human spirit and living proof of the maxim: "never give up". One man's journey to reclaim his life, against all odds; a man fighting his biggest fight outside the boxing ring without any hatred or bitterness towards the system. Dewey Bozella - courageous, persistent, human and

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Our bodies do not lie, when we learn to listen to their often subtle messages, they become our best allies. Learning to pay attention to the feelings in our bodies as we chat with friends is a good way to begin to use this skill in daily life.

It has many benefits, firstly it quietens the mind's chatter so we actually hear what is bring said. This is really nice for the other person who will feel this consciously or subconsciously depending on how aware they are.

When we are listening to our on bodies as we speak we also tend to become more conscious of how the other person is listening (or not). I find this to be true even when I'm speaking with someone on the phone, by listening fully I know whether they are really 'with' me or not.

Listen fully and you will become aware when you are listening with an agenda, notice when you are just waiting tor them stop talking so you can have your say. When you notice this relax listen to your body and give them your full attention, you will find as I do (when I remember) that this way of listening is much more satisfying for you both.

Sunday, 9 October 2011


This is a really long interview and I haven't edited because I think it's well worth reading it all. Enjoy ! after all it is Sunday.

The Complete Interview: A Conversation with Acclaimed Artist Jane Rosen
with Richard Whittaker

Success in the art world is a wildly relative term. And no one would say that Jane Rosen has not been successful. But something happened that took her away from the kind of success she might have found had she continued to pursue her fast start in Manhattan.

She visited the Bay Area, where she lived on a horse ranch south of San Francisco. The exposure to the beauty of the place—the coast, the hills, the redwoods—made a deep impression. One day, as she stepped out of her house, she looked up and saw a red-tailed hawk soaring above her. “As I stood looking up at the hawk, in a voice as clear as day, I heard these words: ‘Tell my story’.” Rosen’s drawings and sculptures are born from the perennial questions: What can nature show us? And what is seeing? Her work shows us something about that. I met the artist at her studio and ranch in San Gregorio, California to talk specifically about seeing…
—Richard Whittaker

Jane Rosen: It’s a hard word for me, “seeing,” because I’m firmly convinced that seeing has nothing to do with the eyes in that way. I’m not saying it doesn’t include the eyes. An impression comes in. It may come in through the eyes. When I’m looking at a bird or an animal, especially when I’m drawing it, the key is the shift in cognition where—and I know when it happens, I can sense it.

Richard Whittaker: Are you talking about drawing?

JR: I’m talking about life. When we talk about taking in an impression, most of the time I’m not taking you in, I’m trying to make an impression on you. I’m going out. And there’s a shift that happens when I’m drawing or when I’m looking at the dog or a horse or looking at someone in my mind’s eye, there’s a shift where something in me listens, but not with my ears. There’s another kind of listening. It’s kind of like from the knees up to the shoulders is like a receiver or a satellite dish allowing something to come in almost through my middle. It could be seeing who someone is. It could be seeing the dog in the gallery when the owner said, my dog doesn’t need water.

RW: Yes. I wanted to hear about that again. It’s an example of this kind of seeing you’re describing, right?

The first look is a word, a name.
To me anything that is attached to
words and names is a mental looking.
JR: Yes. So, I’m standing in the gallery when a woman walks in with a dog and the dog is saying to me, I want water. It was a big Bernese mountain dog. I could see it in the dog’s posture, it’s presence—but it’s a double thing, seeing the dog and also a listening in yourself. So I asked the woman, Would you mind if I gave your dog a bowl of water? And she said, “Oh, my dog has had water and isn’t thirsty.” So I said to the girls at the gallery, do you have a bowl? They gave me this big stainless steel bowl and I went to the bathroom and filled it with water and came back. The woman says again, adamantly, “Trust me. It’s my dog and it’s not thirsty!” Well, as soon as I put the bowl down, the dog started drinking and practically drank the entire huge bowl of water. Then it licked my hand. [laughs]

RW: That is really a seeing, but not what we think of.

JR: Right. But seeing isn’t what we think it is. What we call seeing is “looking.” Looking is when you go out and you look at something. You have a number of facts about that thing and you put them together as a mental construct. Okay? When students in my class look at the model often they are not seeing it. Paul Klee said to his students, “Yes. I want to draw what I see, but first you must see what you draw.”

RW: I agree, we don’t see very much, but what is it when someone stops and keeps looking and then starts to see more, literally.

JR: But that means they kept looking. And that shifts what I would call cognitive gears—so there comes a new moment. The first look is a word, a name. To me anything that is attached to words and names is a mental looking. Then, I think there is a looking with your whole body as if there were tentacles that sense and touch the totality of the thing you’re looking at so that the tree stops being leaves, branches, roots. It starts becoming a clustering, a gathering, a drooping, a lifting, a turning.

RW: I wonder if there are levels of seeing. Because one day I was looking at a sky full of clouds and realized what an overwhelming amount of complexity and detail I was taking in by looking, and how utterly impossible it would be to capture it in words.

JR: What if the dialogue we’re having revolves around finding the right word so that we both know the experience attached to that word? As a teacher, there’s a huge difference, for example, between a sketch and a study. They can be called the same thing. A sketch is something that’s sketchy. Looking is sketchy. A study is where you’re studying with your body, let’s say the dog [pointing to her dog]. You’re observing the various movements and states and gesture, the presence of restfulness. You’re then translating what you see from this study to a piece of paper with the physical marks you’re making. And you’re also mentally using the laws you understand about drawing to create an illusion on that piece of paper. To me, seeing is having all of these things simultaneously in place, that open a feeling for the life of the thing you’re observing.

RW: You say you’re “studying with your body.” Would you say more about that?

JR: Okay. A simple way to talk about it is, I have something called synesthesia. I hear form. So when I’m looking at your shoulders, it could be a staccato note if you’re tense. It could be a rhythmic roll of a stone dropping into water and the rippling out. When I look at it, I hear it. I hear the pieces in the studio. Like yesterday, that big bird on the left. I could have done that carving with my eyes closed. I can see with my eyes closed.

RW: Do you use your hands for that?

JR: Yes. I use my hands to see.

RW: So the sensation through your hands?

JR: I don’t know the name of it except I hear it as a vibration.

RW: Do you touch?

JR: Yes. But I don’t have to physically touch you to touch you. Literally, if I was going to draw you, I’d [she starts moving her hand and making sounds that go with the different lines she’s tracing in the air] So I hear it. Which is probably why I became an artist.

RW: Earlier you used the word listening. I mean this whole word “seeing” is—what is it?

JR: You say, “I see what you mean.” So that’s not a visual thing.

RW: No, not at all.

JR: It’s an understanding.

RW: Right.

JR: To me, the act of seeing is coming into an understanding of the whole of what’s occurring. Like when I’m struggling, for instance, with that drawing of the coyote I did. First, I saw a lone coyote on the hill and the coyote is standing next to a young deer.

RW: Really?

JR: Yes. I have a photograph. The young deer is hanging out with the coyote and I become very interested. The coyote is there day after day on the hill at about 2pm. So now, I’m looking until I can see what is happening.

The only way I can come to an understanding is by drawing it. See those two drawings? [we walk over to the drawings] I figured it out. I took the photograph, which is as abstract as this drawing, the silhouette of a coyote and the bambi! So then I start to draw the coyote and I start to understand that he’s an older coyote. He’s alone and not interested in the deer. He’s more interested in eating gophers. There’s a little bit of his former life, but he’s been rejected from the pack. He’s quite beautiful and he has more of the presence of a dog. So now I begin to see who the coyote is and I’m looking to try to do a drawing of the essence of that coyote. So learning to see is learning to put together my sight with my sensation, which can take in a much larger view.

RW: So this is a seeing that is really coming into contact with what’s there and “looking” isn’t really connecting with what’s there.

JR: No. And what’s there is never what you think is there. It just never is that. One of the things I find remarkable happened from that amber drawing I did of a hawk—the falcon is Horus in Egyptian art. The falcon was considered to be the highest energy because it is that which see in and out simultaneously, which was the energy of the sun. So I thought, okay, I’m going to learn about the hawk, and I’ve been drawing hawks a long time. So that amber drawing of the hawk, Dave Nelson, the hay farmer…

RW: This is your neighbor. He’s not an artist.

JR: Right. He grew up on this land. He goes to pick up his mail at the post office where Leana had put up a little announcement of my show with the hawk on it. Dave calls me up and says, “That’s a damn good drawing of a hawk! If you don’t mind, if I could get me one of them announcements I’d like to take it to Kinko’s. I’m going to blow it up and make me a poster of that hawk. I spend all day with those hawks cause I’m on my tractor and those hawks follow my tractor to eat the mice that get pulled from the haying.” He said, “I know hawks.” And he did. “Damn good hawk!”

I said, “Dave, I’ll give you a drawing of a hawk.”

He said, “I don’t have any money, Jane.”

I said, “Well, you’ve got hay. I’ve got horses. I’ll trade you a hawk for the hay.”

He said, “Okay. That’s a good deal! I’ll take that deal.”

So I’m drawing this hawk for Dave, and Gus Gutierrez—who takes care of the property—comes into the drawing room and looks at the hawk. He doesn’t know anything about this deal. He says, “Jane, if you don’t mind me saying, if you put glasses on that hawk it’ll look just like Dave Nelson!” [laughs] So without me knowing it, my seeing of Dave on the tractor and just knowing Dave, somehow it got into the drawing of the hawk and damned if it didn’t look just like Dave Nelson!

RW: Well, I wanted to go back to where you mentioned earlier something about this bar of light that falls into your studio. Now you said that this bar of light has…

JR: It changed my life. I always had studios where there were no bars of light coming in because that kind of light changes everything, completely washing out the pieces. And at first, I was very upset with the lighting.

RW: Right. There’s a huge contrast between the shadow and the direct sunlight.

JR: All day from dawn until dusk you get extremes of light bouncing all over and it was interfering. Then, just sitting in this chair day after day, week after week—I never did free-standing, vertical pieces like this before; my hawks were all low to the ground, like the Egyptian wing piece—but what started to happen was I started to listen to the light. I started to catch the light at various moments where the light would inform what the height of the piece needed to be, or the turn of the head. I started seeing the light as a help rather than trying to control it. Being in relation to the light was a big thing!

The other thing is that I’m very involved with vertical and horizontal movement, a movement in and out and a movement up and down. An inner emotional stance is an outer visual one. If you get nervous, for example, all the energy seems to go up. Your jaw tightens and your eyes scrunch and you hold your breath up high.

So there’s this movement of going out to the piece, like if you shot an arrow out to the piece. You’re looking at it, but there is also a filtering back so that you’re also aware of yourself and the piece. So that’s a movement in and out. And the movement up and down, I start to wonder, isn’t this a cross? These pieces become representations of a seeing both in and out. And the light, which I resisted enormously, became the teacher.

RW: Right off you said that “seeing has nothing to do with the eyes.” I looked up the etymology of perceive: to obtain, to gather. Apprehend: to grasp. Here we are in the world, so what are the modalities of knowing or receiving the world?

JR: A couple of things. One is the word to attend, attendez, to wait. Attention is to wait.

RW: If you are waiting with attention, there is an openness, right?

JR: Right. So when you talk about seeing what is real, to me, there is an invisible reality behind the visible reality. What I think it’s supposed to look like, I have to let go of, in order to see what it is. That demands attending to it—in other words, waiting—allowing the impression of the bird to come in, rather than going out to it. It’s a really subtle shift.

I keep thinking of working yesterday on that big bird and just seeing myself, literally, start chiseling away at something that looked right, like it was supposed to be there. But I was listening and it’s as if the stone started to speak to me rather than me imposing on it—even to a point where under the chin, unhh, get this off! Then it just started chiseling while I’m thinking, “What the hell are you doing, Rosen? I started using the tooth chisel, and I saw Alex hold his breath—because, with the beak, one mistake and it’s over. And sure enough, a piece of the beak came off. All the Provencal limestone has lots of fossils and shells in it. So it’s inconsistent to carve.

RW: So you can’t count on how each piece will break off.

JR: You don’t know what part is attached to what part. And it came off and I looked at it. It was exactly what was needed, and I never would have figured it out.

RW: Can we say there was a seeing there?

JR: You’re serving something else. You’re not in charge. In fact, if I can be so bold—[laughs] best case scenario—you’re an objective bystander. You’re just there and it’s moving through you, and you’re not in the way. ‘

RW: I’ve sometimes wondered, in terms of being in the world, what is the deepest way of being here? It has occurred to me that, when one has gotten down to the almost metaphysical place of our being here, that this is a place simply of witnessing.

JR: Okay. The practice in the studio is a practice of seeing. If you are speaking of how to be in the world, I don’t know how to say it. We almost always have a vested interest in the outcome of a sculpture or an idea, or an idea about how we want the world to be or how we want ourselves to be and, as a result, we don’t see the sculpture, the coyote, the world or ourselves. So if you let go, which is what happened to me yesterday, and you follow it, there is a moment where this other kind of reality becomes visible. That’s what I think seeing is.

RW: Beautifully put. Our thoughts and desires are always interfering—but not always. Because something can happen, an opening. I’m just sort of riffing on that because another thing about the moment…

JR: Great word, by the way. I don’t mean to interrupt, but “riffing”… When you said, “I’m just riffing on this,” I understood what you were doing. It’s like jazz. You were looking to find the chord of it. There’s an example of seeing what you were looking for—in a word.

RW: [laughs] Language is another subject, language and seeing, that I thought we might touch on, but just to finish this thought, which is that in that moment when something really does quiet down, it’s a moment of silence.

JR: But not always. Because here’s the most shocking thing. Often the largest silence I experience is in the midst of noise. All my ideas and the cacophony actually pulls something out of my belly because of the absurdity of it, and there’s a double experience. This is where the quote from the Mundaka Upanishads is appropriate: “Like two golden birds in the self-same tree, intimate friends, the ego and the Self dwell in the same body. While the former eats the sweet and bitter fruits of the tree of life, the latter looks on in detachment.”

It relates to this because sometimes—I’ve seen this with students. If I can keep them mentally occupied by giving them three conflicting directions of what to do with their drawing tools, their minds are so busy trying to figure it out, that something more essential can come out and it goes I’ll try. It’s like our personalities can blow up so much, sometimes like a balloon, that they burst and the little impartial guy living in the belly, who hardly ever gets a chance to come out goes “I’ll draw that. I’ll try.”

RW: [laughs] I wondered about seeing and presence. That’s not a word we’ve used yet, but I have a feeling there’s a connection between presence and seeing.

JR: I agree. If you talk about being present, I would say that in order to see anything you have to be in play rather in fast forward or instant rewind. You have to be present.

RW: I almost want to ask how can one see without being present?

JR: You can—on the rare occasion, as I was saying. If there’s so much cacophony, it brings up something so fierce in terms of a desire be free, it can give rise to a presence to the cacophony. And the cacophony, like any good mouse, when you turn the light on, it disappears!

RW: So here’s another big question. When are we simply dreaming, or in the grip of an illusion? This is tricky, because I can imagine something and maybe it is a kind of seeing, or I can imagine something and it’s just an illusion.

JR: Right. So you’re up a creek, basically. There are rare moments in the studio where there’s an absolute authority. Something is really there. By the time you’re figuring out what it is, it’s over. You are then going to talk about it. But there are crystal clear moments. The rest of it is probably suspect.

RW: And that leads to this question. Who sees?

JR: Yeah. It’s a conference. It’s not a “who.” I think I said this to you in our first interview. We talked about Mark Rothko. I don’t remember the words I used. But when I speak of seeing I feel that the mind is open and in a relationship to the hands working, which opens a feeling of being more fully alive. That is what I call seeing.

RW: I wanted to ask you something about the sensitivity of animals. I used to throw a ball for this dog who would fetch all day long. One day I was reaching my hand into the mailbox when I spotted the dog watching me at the foot of the driveway over a hundred feet away and I got an idea. My hand was still in the mailbox and I thought, I’ll start with the tiniest movement possible and slowly progress toward the gesture of throwing a ball and see at what point, the dog recognizes that the game is on. So Kpoly had his eye on me. And at my tiniest first movement, as insignificant as I was, he just shot into a state of total preparation, “Let’s go! I’m ready!” How could he have read what seemed to me an imperceptible event? It almost scared me. I could not have conceived of this.

JR: Yes. Because he wasn’t reading your movement. He was reading your energy. So long before you even made your first movement, he was listening to what you were conjuring up. If you watch animals here, you see an absolute, attentive awareness with their whole being.

RW: In modern life, we have no idea of what that is.

JR: Yes we do.

RW: I don’t think so. I didn’t. I had no idea.

JR: I do. It’s called the instinctive life. When a mother runs out to grab her child without even seeing a car. Our instincts take over. Mostly we’re in our heads. If you get down in your body, you have a chance of hearing that.

RW: Can we call that seeing?

JR: Yes. That’s another form of seeing. But when I talked about the conference, it’s that more than one part of you needs to see. You can’t see with your head alone. You can’t see with your heart alone, because it’s very partial. You can’t see with your body alone because basically, I don’t want to put down the cigarette or the cake.

The day I met that raven you were asking about, this is what happened. I heard the dogs barking in the living room. Not a bark like “someone is here,” which is an announcement. Not a bark like “get away from my stuff.” That’s a territorial thing. Not a bark of fear like, “Oh, my God there’s a bobcat on the deck!” It was a bark I wasn’t used to, a kind of “What are you doing?”

I walked into the living room and there was the raven underneath the chair at the dining room table. I looked at this big raven with huge claws and this huge Roman beak. The raven somehow had walked into the house before we had become friends and had gotten stuck underneath the chair. I believe it was a mom and she was coming in looking for food.

I looked at the raven and the raven looked at me. She had these beautiful eyes and she blinked at me. It was clear she said to me, “I’m stuck. I don’t know how I got under this chair. I can’t get out and you’ve got two pretty big dogs. I’m in a situation here.”

So I looked at the raven and said, “Okay. Here’s the deal. You’re big. You have sharp claws and this beak. You could hurt me. I’m going to pet your back and if you don’t try to peck me or claw me, I will get you out from under the chair. If you try to peck me or claw me, you’re on your own.”

She looked at me, cocking her head like she was thinking about it. It wasn’t like she understood my words or I understood hers. There was something in my tone that was explaining to her, in the same way there was something in your inner tone explaining to the dog that you were about to make a move. He was watching in an instinctive way what you were conjuring. And was just waiting for your signal. He had it worked out long before you did.

So I pet the back of the raven and not only does she not claw me, she pulls her claws into her belly and tucks her beak into her chest. I pick her up and I hold her like this [cradled in her arms] and she is perfectly still. I put her out on the picnic table figuring she would make a beeline out of there. She turned around, she looked at me and she nodded.

Friday, 7 October 2011

The only way to do great work is to love what you do.

If you haven't found it yet, keep looking.

Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart,

you'll know when you find it.

--Steve Jobs

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Here is an inspiring true story I came across and couldn't resist sharing.

If you read the front page story of the San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday, Dec 15, 2005, you would have read about a female humpback whale who had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines.

The fifty-foot whale was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her her tail, her torso and a line tugging in her mouth.

A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farallone Islands (outside the Golden Gate) and radioed an environmental group for help. Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so bad off, the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her - a very dangerous proposition. One slap of the tail could kill a rescuer.

They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her. When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, and nudged them, pushed them gently around - she thanked them. Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives.

The guy who cut the rope out of her mouth says her eye was following him the whole time, and he will never be the same.

May you, and all those you love, be so blessed and fortunate to be surrounded by people who will help you get untangled from the things that are binding you. And, may you always know the joy of giving and receiving gratitude.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

If you have just begun tai chi welcome. Open to an amazing journey inward to discover yourself.

A journey that can awaken both your body and mind.

In your daily practice your body will begin to reveal itself to you in a whole new way, as you give it soft warm attention it will begin to soften and open itself to you.

You will have the opportunity to discover what an wonderful companion and teacher your own body can be.

Our bodies don't lie to us they are not as programmed or conditioned as our minds.

So when you listens to your body softly and are gentle with it, it comes to trust you and reveals itself.

It will teach you patience, awareness, and greatest of all it will teach you love.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Here again are the first two lessons of the introductory form for beginners, I'm delighted to be sharing tai chi with you.

Introductory Lessons 1 & 2 from Heartworker on Vimeo.

Letting go can feel counterinuitive. the mind tells us that we need to hold on, and brace ourselves in order to be 'ready' for the world.

We tend to spend most of our time in alert mode, until we teach ourselves to relax and let go.

If you are anything like me you too need to practice letting go regularly (all the time !), need to remind yourself to soften your face and jaw, to take big deep slow breaths . . . and let them out even slower.

Notice the internal change as you relax, notice that actually you are more aware and alert having relaxed than in 'alert mode'. It is very good to notice this consciously and confirm for yourself how true it is. This conscious noticing helps teach your subconscious mind that it really is safe to stay relaxed.

Deep down we all have a three year old inside who needs to be reassured. Who needs
a cuddle and lots of love . Spend some time with your three year old. Teach the three year old that it is safe to relax. You will be amazed by the change this can make in your life.

Have a wonderful relaxing day.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Letting go!

As you read this, take a deep breath and, as you exhale,

allow all the tension to leave your body.

Let your scalp and your forehead and your face relax.

Allow your tongue and your throat and your shoulders relax.

Let go in your fingers and hands and allow them to relax.

Now allow your back and your abdomen and your pelvis relax.

Let your breathing be peaceful as you allow your legs and feet to relax.

Can you feel a change in your body?

Notice how much you hold on.

If you are doing it with your body you are doing it with your mind.

In this relaxed position, say to yourself, " I am willing to let go.

I release. I let go. I release all tension. I release all fear.

I release all anger. I release all guilt. I release all sadness.

I let go and am at peace. I'm at peace with myself.

I am at peace with the process of life. I am safe."

Repeat this exercise a few times and feel the ease of letting go.

I notice how much smoother my day goes when I'm feeling

released and relaxed.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

I can't seem to get away from studies about how our minds work, most of them just seem to confirm (in a reassuring way ) what my gut reactions or instincts tell me.

This latest study I read about involved testing a person's galvanic skin response and brain function before and after reading three types of documents. The first paper was written by a person who was mentally ill.The second was an uplifting paper by a psychologist. The third combined the teachings of three different saints : Paramahansa Yogananda, Rumi, and St. Therese of Liseaux.

The results were intriguing. When the study group read the writing from the person who was mentally ill, the physiologic response was agitation. The readers felt unsettled and out of balance. When they read the story from the psychologist, their response showed an increased level of calmness. However, when the group read the passages written by the saints they went into a deep state of relaxation and reported subjectively, a sense of enhanced inner weIl-being. The results suggests that people attune themselves (or bring about a resonance) with the consciousness of the writer.

With the Beloved's water of life, no illness remains
In the Beloved's rose garden of union, no thorn remains.
They say there is a window from one heart to another
How can there be a window where no wall remains?