Archive for August, 2011

Be The Flow

I woke up in the middle of the night (was it the night? It was dark at least) in a plane somewhere between Paris and Tokyo. I didn’t feel too good. To deal with that, I began to do a little TM (Transcendental Meditation), and quickly, the discomfort melted away. I then slipped into something of a dream, or a meditation state, or I don’t know what, and had what I can only call an instruction. I didn’t hear any voices and I had no visual content to the dream but I had clear “instructions”. I can’t say I’ve ever had an experience like this before, or since.

The instructions were “you must write about the three rivers of Life”.

What’s that? I asked

The three rivers of Life are energy, time and consciousness.

Energy, time, consciousness. Energy, time, consciousness. Energy, time, consciousness, I kept repeating to myself, determined not to forget them and feeling that the moment I “woke up”, like with many dreams, what was clear now would disappear in an instant.

The three rivers of Life are the three flows which create Life. Everything emerges from these three rivers, and everything returns to them.

What have I to write?

Write about the three rivers. Write about flow. Write about this meditation you are going to do now.

I then practised the Three Rivers Meditation.

Why not try it for yourself?

Be the flow.

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summer clouds

Can you remember a time when you looked up at the sky, a blue sky with distinct white clouds in it, and as you looked at one particular cloud you could watch its shape constantly changing? You probably noticed how the cloud would thin out at the edges and, in many cases, especially with the smaller clouds, you could watch as it gradually disappeared.
If you can’t remember ever doing that, then do it as soon as the weather allows. Pick out a fairly small cloud and watch it constantly change shape, constantly thin out at its edges and gradually disappear.
Where does the cloud go?

The cloud doesn’t disappear. It becomes the sky as the sky flows through it.

Come and check out my new project – http://www.betheflow.net

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I think some of the best shots you’ll get come when you change your position, and, thereby, your perspective. Photos taken at eye level, looking straight ahead, standing upright are amongst the most boring one in my opinion.
Look at this flower taken by sitting on the ground and holding the camera right down on the ground in front of me….

backlit raindropped

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august travel

In my twelve monthly themes, August is the month of travel.
I thought of this theme because in France, this month is known for “le grand depart” – it’s the month everyone gets away. They leave home and go and spend some time somewhere else.
I think that’s a good activity for this month because if you go somewhere else, somewhere different from where you pass your everyday life, you’ll see new places, maybe eat different food, participate in different activities, meet new people.
This change gives you a natural and an easy opportunity to get a different perspective.
For many people, a week or two away “on holiday”, gives the opportunity to step aside from responsibilities, routines and burdens and to take a fresh view of things. Holidays are often the times to reflect on how life is going, and maybe even to decide to do some things differently.
Not everyone can manage to take a week or two away somewhere in August, but even if you can’t do that, why not take the opportunity this month to do a little traveling and change your perspectives?
You could take a day trip or two to somewhere you’ve never been before, or to somewhere you haven’t visited for many years. Maybe you could pass a weekend or two somewhere within traveling distance of home, stay over in a B&B, or take a tent!
Whatever works for you this month, try to travel a little distance (or a big one!), and do two things…..
Experience something new.
Reflect on your daily life, from this different perspective.

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This week’s BMJ carries an editorial and a paper about the definition of health. The current  most widely known definition is that of WHO – a state of “complete physical, mental and social wellbeing”.
The claim is that this sets the bar too high and excludes most people from health most of the time – it’s both the word “complete” and the range across physical mental and social that seems to be problematic.
I find myself agreeing with the discomfort about the WHO definition and long ago explored an alternative – you can read how I got to my working definition here.
My working definition was that health involved three capacities – adaptability, creativity and engagement. I still find that definition useful, but in recent months I’ve been using perhaps a somewhat simpler one – Vitality and Resilience.
I do think a healthy person has good vitality. Everyone seems to grasp that straight away. It hardly needs definition. However, you can consider good vitality as containing the concepts and/or experiences of, good energy, wellbeing, or having a strong “vital force”.
Without good vitality it’s hard to be resilient.
Resilience contains both the idea of coping and that of the linked phenomena of self-defence, self-repair and self-regulation.
The paper in the BMJ proposes “adaptability and self-management” as the criteria for health. I can see where they are going with this, and don’t disagree with the adaptability part, but I find “self-management” to be pretty weak. I very much prefer creativity and engagement! I think a healthy person grows and develops. A heathy person is well connected to their environment and to others. It’s a lot more than “homeostasis”.
Frankly, I’m still pretty amazed you can’t find an entry for “health” in standard textbooks of clinical medicine and that medical education doesn’t seem to teach future or current doctors how to define health, how to assess it, or how to enable patients to increase it. Medicine in the 21st century  seems stuck on the old 16th century concept of the “lesion” and has it’s eye firmly on disease, not health.
Why is this important?
Well, lots of reasons really, but not least because we are pursuing the “management” of more and more chronic diseases. We don’t have a good understanding of why people get ill, we don’t have a good understanding of how people get better, and we’re only in the foothills of knowledge about health.
Until we start to train our focus and resources on health we’ll chase disease after disease, and continue to have greater and greater proportions of our populations consuming more and more drugs. That’s a path which is not affordable, and isn’t producing healthier people.


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