Archive for April, 2014

Do you ever wonder why we are here? Or are you someone who thinks there is no answer to that question because the Universe is totally random and meaningless?

When the Universe created human beings, it created consciousness, and with consciousness came some new abilities – a combination of the ability to wonder (to be amazed by, to be in awe of, to have that émerveillement du quotidien), the ability to enjoy (to experience a wide range of sensations and subjective experiences), and the ability to care for (to look after, and to nurture).

Walking in the garden at the hospital where I work today brought all of that home to me….



Tulip and rain

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Here’s an interesting article which makes 20 points suggesting that we have a serious problem with drug based Medicine.

Just to keep this nice and simple and direct, let me just pick ONE –

The CDC says that spending on prescription drugs more than doubled between 1999 and 2008

Just take a moment to ponder that one….in NINE years, yes, just less than a single decade, the amount the US spent on prescription drugs more that DOUBLED! What on earth does that mean? Have twice as many problems been cured? Are twice as many people healthier? Has this spending peaked? Is it on the way down now?

What kind of way is this to practice Medicine?



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In the A to Z of Becoming, Q is for Question.

Human beings have an unstoppable curiosity and it appears very, very early. If you have children who are old enough to talk, you’ll probably have encountered the “why?” question. Repeatedly. “Why?” “Because X”. “Why?” Because Y”. “Why?” In fact “Why?” might be THE most common question children ask (just above “Are we there yet?” when they are in a car!)

We never really give up on the why question, do we? We consider our lives and wonder how to live and what purpose there might be to life, and the question why is an important part of that.

But “Why?” isn’t the only question you could be asking. “Who am I?”  is another good one, and Marc Halévy stresses “What for?” which is also great for breaking through the walls of unthinkingness. (Is there such a word? There is now!)

Gary Lachman, in “Caretakers of the Cosmos” says

As far as we know, no animal wonders why it exists. Or, to out it another way, we are the only animals that do, and that wonder is precisely the threshold between our being only animals and being fully human. Whoever asked the first question about his existence was, by this reckoning, the first human.

That makes asking questions pretty essential doesn’t it? To be “fully human” we should think about why we exist.

I also like Montaigne’s repeatedly asked question which he puts in his essays – “Que sais-je?” (What do I know?) – that’s a great question to keep you in touch with humility!

I’ve just completed Robert McKee’s four day “Story” seminar today and we did a scene by scene analysis of “Casablanca”. Here’s one of the passages which leapt out at me today.

Rick: Who are you really? What were you before? What did you do? What did you think?

Ilsa: We said “No questions”

Rick: Here’s looking at you, kid.

Well, here’s looking at YOU, kid, but I say keep asking questions!

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I woke up up the morning with this phrase in my head “witnessing not measuring”, which was quickly followed by “witnessing not controlling”.

I’ve been wondering about that since.

That’s the essence of my work. I sit with people, engage with them, enable them to tell their stories and be heard without judgement which leads to understanding and recognition. Everything I do therapeutically is intended to support and stimulate the individual’s self-healing. I think this is something we often forget in health care – there really is only one way to heal, and that’s by the person’s own ability to self heal. Stop and think for a moment. If you have a cut, how does it heal up? If you break a bone how does it knit back together? If you have a viral infection how does your throat return to normal? Ultimately it’s done to your amazing capacity to self heal and self repair. Any therapy should assist that process if it is to be effective. It’s not ME who produces healing. It’s not my therapies which produce healing. It’s the patient’s own healing system which does the work.

And I can’t control that. Nobody can accurately predict the outcome of any particular treatment given to any particular individual on any particular day.

We like to pretend that by making measurements we can predict and so control. It’s an illusion.

I amazed every single working day by human beings and their amazing healing powers. Witnessing this is powerful. Understanding and caring come with the witnessing, and therapies are then tried within that context. It’s humbling.

Today I read in Gary Lachman’s excellent “Caretakers of the Cosmos”

Love, for Scheler, was the sine qua non of phenomenology, which in its essential form, is a way of allowing the world to be what it is, without interference by human concepts or aims. It is, in a sense, a way of listening to what the world has to say to us, from which follows the recognition that it has something to communicate, and is not simply a vast inanimate machine.

I think, by the way, there is a lot to be gained from witnessing yourself……whether through mindful meditation, reflective writing, or however you might do that for yourself.

Maybe that’s the third variation of the phrase I woke with – witnessing not judging.

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Emerging branch

Take a look at this photo. It shows the growing new(ish) branch emerging from the trunk of a birch tree.
What stuns me is the beauty and the complexity. We don’t just see the new branch emerge like a stick or a stem, but we see all those ripples of activity on the main part of the tree.

I find all new life amazing but this is the first time I have noticed such elaborate and beautiful effects on a tree. It’s clear that how this birch tree grows is surprising and, I suspect, neither completely explained by science, nor in any way predictable in detail.

Could anyone predict exactly where a particular tree will produce new branches, and can anyone explain how the cells organise themselves to differentiate and multiply in this specific pattern?

I find it engaging and wonderful.

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Irises on the forest floor

On the forest floor in the Spring it’s amazing to see whole carpets of new life suddenly bursting through.

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower 


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Light catches my eye, especially when whatever is lit seems to glow as if the light emerges from within….



Sunlit birch bark

The light in the plant

and sometimes, the light seems to lead you somewhere

The Stairway to...

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