Archive for the ‘psychology’ Category

Every connection we make is a bond. Every relationship we have involves an interaction between ourselves and the other which changes both parties in the process.
In Saint Exupery’s “The Little Prince” he describes two key relationships, one which the Prince has with a rose, and one with a fox. In both cases he makes the point that creating the relationship changes how they see each other. In that process they become unique to each other, they start to care about each other, and, in fact, they become responsible for each other.

Lynne McTaggart writes in her book, “The Bond

An entirely new scientific story is emerging that challenges many of our Newtonian and Darwinian assumptions, including our most basic premise: the sense of things as separate entities in competition for survival. The latest evidence from quantum physics offers the extraordinary possibility that all of life exists in a dynamic relationship of co-operation.
All matter exists in a vast quantum web of connection, and a living thing at its most elemental is an energy system involved in a constant transfer of information with its environment.
The world essentially operates, not through the activity of individual things, but in the connection between them – in a sense, in the space between things.

We often have the tendency to think of a bond as a limitation, even something which imprisons us, as if each bond is a chain. But, I prefer to think of bonds as relationships, as connections which, at their best, are “integrative” – that is – mutually beneficial bonds between well differentiated parts. That, after all, is how the body works. Every single cell, every organ, every tissue and every system within the body exists in constant interaction with all the others. It functions because the basis of all these relationships is the creation of mutually beneficial bonds. And as I often think, what happens inside the body, happens outside the body. In other words, what we come to understand about the nature of reality by coming to understand ourselves helps us to understand the entirety of reality.

Carlo Rovelli, the nuclear physicist, advocates a relational understanding of the universe. He says

The world is not a collection of things, it is a collection of events. The difference between things and events is that things persist in time, events have a limited duration. A stone is a prototypical ‘thing’: we can ask ourselves where it will be tomorrow. The world is made up of networks of kisses, not stones.

Once we shift our awareness away from parts and separate entities towards relationships, connections, experiences and events, we find a whole other set of values develop.

Try it for yourself and see how it seems to you.

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I know, I know, you’re thinking, “didn’t I see that photograph yesterday?” Well, you did. And if you didn’t you can see it now if you scroll down to yesterday’s post “The edge of the Storm”.

I don’t know how this universe works, but one thing I do know is that synchronicities occur which are both attention-grabbing, and have the potential to take our understanding to a whole other level.

Let me start further back…….back in the 1960s when I was a child. One year we took a family holiday to the Isle of Man. We took the ferry from Scotland, a thrill in its own right, and as we sailed through the Bay of Ramsay, if my memory serves me well, we passed a boat with the name “Radio Caroline” emblazoned on the side. Radio Caroline was a “pirate radio station”. Which kids don’t want to be pirates? I loved Radio Caroline. I loved the fact that it was broadcasting outwith the control of the British state. Pirate radio stations were ones which didn’t have approved licences to broadcast, and even at that age I wasn’t fond of Establishment controls which tried to tell us we could only listen to the BBC. So it was a thrill to listen to Radio Caroline. You felt as if you were part of some underground movement. But as a radio station they just played fabulous music. I discovered several artists on Caroline who I don’t think I’d ever have found on mainstream radio.

Fast forward to last year…….I got a pair of pro AirPods for my birthday, and I just loved/love the quality of sound which they deliver. I found an app, called “sTREAMs” which made it easy to find radio stations which made full use of the surround sound capabilities of the pods. Guess what I found there? Radio Caroline! Hey, it’s still there! Of course, not a pirate station any more, and now with internet radio, is there any such thing as pirate radio any more? What a joy! But, a little browsing on the app took me to another station I’d never heard of before….Radio Paradise. Well, I’ve been listening to Radio Paradise A LOT in recent weeks. There are no ads, no “stuffing”, just one good, high quality, track after another. It delivers old favourites to me, so I know “I’m on their wavelength”, but it also serves up lots of artists I know nothing about. It’s like opening a door to a new treasure room of delights! I love it!
Well, yesterday I used the photo of the storm, and I wrote the post “The Edge of the Storm”, contemplating about our reactions to looming storms, our ways of both reacting to, and responding to, threats. Then in the afternoon, I’m sitting out in the sunshine and I’m listening to Radio Paradise and on comes this song……..”Storm comin’ “ by the Wailin’ Jennys. I’d never heard this song before and I’d never heard of the band either but I was hooked! What a great song……..here’s a link to the youtube video so you can hear it.

Ok, that was surprise enough, and counts as a synchronicity for me, because how likely is it that I’d write a post about a storm coming in the morning, and here this song, apparently, “just by chance”, on a radio station in the afternoon? But listen to the lyrics. This isn’t a song about the fight/flight/freeze reactions I wrote about in the morning. It’s a song which says “don’t run for cover” – “let whatever is coming rain down on you” – in other words, have courage, and don’t hide, but go with the flow, lean into it, and continue to be present. Well, that’s a whole other level of response from the ones I wrote about in the morning, so listening to this deepened and broadened my understanding of how we might respond to the challenges and stresses which come our way.

Maybe in acute situations, freeze/flee/fright might be just what we need, but I suspect in the longer term we need to face whatever comes our way, allow ourselves to be present with it, and live the experience. There’s a teaching about acceptance in here. There’s a teaching about adaptation. There’s a teaching about immersing yourself in the full flow of LIFE.

Isn’t synchronicity wonderful?

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I took this photo five years ago, but I still find it one of the most dramatic images of a storm that I’ve ever taken. You can see the leading edge of the storm system making its way from the West, heading over the vineyards to where I live.

Of course, if you weren’t actually there you might think this is the back edge of the storm system which has passed over and is now receding. You’ll have to take it from me that that’s not what was happening.

What do we do when we see a storm coming? Brace ourselves? Batten down the hatches? Run away? Or just do nothing apart from feeling afraid?

I don’t mean only literally in the face of a weather event……I mean what do we do when we think we see the signs of a big challenge or problem looming over the horizon?

Our body’s nervous system sets off three possible responsible responses to threat – you’ve probably heard of the “fight or flight” response – well, in addition, there’s a “freeze” response. I always remember watching the news footage of the bombing of the Boston marathon. After the blast the first thing you hear is silence and then quickly after that screaming and shouting as people run in all directions. That first silence really grabbed me. That’s the freeze response. Part of our defence system (the parasympathetic nervous system) kicks in at that moment and basically shuts down a lot of activity so we can really pay attention, really become aware, then after that the adrenaline/sympathetic nervous system response is activated and we are set to fight or flee.

Of course our range of reactions and behaviours is incredibly varied and individual, but we all share these basic reactions as the information and energy flows through us.

What I’ve just described there is the “acute” response. It’s short term, time limited, often very brief and kicks in when there is a clear and imminent danger. But on a day to day basis our whole system responds to our thoughts, to the words and behaviours of others, and to both memories and imaginings with aspects of these systems playing a part in creating “chronic stress”. That chronic stress is pretty damaging, impairing our immune systems, creating chronic inflammation in our bodies, and undermining our mental well-being.

What can we do about it?

I always start with awareness. When I worked as a doctor, usually my first priority was to understand – to figure out what was going on, to make a diagnosis, to assess the situation. That usually involved an element of analysis, but you can’t analyse anything until you are aware of it, so the first response is to be present. In becoming present, you become aware. In fact, being present is a powerful therapeutic behaviour. It’s good for the patient and it’s good for the doctor, too.

I think the next step involves responding with intention. It’s one thing to become aware, and even to figure out what’s happening, but it doesn’t amount to much without an intention which shapes your next thoughts, ideas and behaviours. In Medicine, that intention is to care. If you care, if you give a damn, if you activate love and kindness, then the healing responses will fall into place.

I reckon it’s the same with life. I think a good place to start is with awareness and intention. If we aren’t present, if we aren’t aware, we’re on autopilot, “zombie” mode, and we are open to the manipulation of others, and to becoming stuck in habits created by rumination and pain. But if we do wake up, we have a chance to recognise what’s happening, to stand back a little, by taking a pause, or a few deep breaths, and then make a choice…..make a choice formed by our intentions.

What if our intentions are kindness, love, and understanding? What if our intentions are to feel joy, wonder, and connection? What if our intentions are to build “mutually beneficial bonds”? What if our intentions are what the French call “bienveillance”…….well-meaning, well-wishing?

What do you think the experience of seeing a looming storm would be like then?

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The pine forest at the “Côte Sauvage” in the Charente Maritime, the “Foret des Cedres” in Provence, the deciduous forest around the Bracklinn Falls in Central Scotland, the maple forests around Kyoto……these are some of my most memorable forests. They delight me.

It’s many years since I learned about the Japanese practice of “forest bathing” – which simply means spending some time in a forest – well, actually, not so much just passing some time there, but immersing yourself in it, really engaging with it, listening to the sounds of birds calling, of the branches swaying in the wind, breathing deep the scents of pine, cedar, and other trees, watching the play of sunlight through the leaves as together they create whole performances of light and shade, of shape and shadow – you get the idea.

We have learned a lot about forest bathing in recent years. We’ve learned of the benefits it brings to everything from a sense of well-being to a boost in some of the chemicals and cells involved in our immune system, to a calming of the harmful chronic inflammatory activities inside our bodies which occur as a result of stress. It’s just GOOD for you! And that’s a sweet spot for me – finding what is BOTH good for me and just utterly enjoyable – health boosting and happiness boosting – result!

We’ve also learned a lot about the lives of trees and forests in recent years. We’ve learned that trees don’t live in isolation, that they are in constant communication with each other, sending out warnings when they are attacked or vulnerable, sharing nutrients, and supporting each other. They do this both by sending out chemicals through the air, and by an astonishingly complex network of root systems intertwined with microfibres of fungi creating what has been termed “the wood wide web”.

Here are some of the main books I’ve read which have taught me what I know about how trees and forest demonstrate inter-dependency, how they communicate with each other, and how they behave as one complex adaptive organism. “The Hidden Life of Trees“, by Peter Wohlleben, subtitled, “What they feel, how they communicate: discoveries from a secret world”; “Gossip from the Forest” by Sara Maitland, subtitled, “The tangled roots of our forests and fairytales”; “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer, which blends “indigenous wisdom” with “science and teachings of plants”; and, the novel, “Overstory“, by Richard Powers. You can probably add your own favourites to that list, but if this is something you want to explore, you could do worse than start with any of those books.

This fairly new knowledge of forests is part of a much wider trend in science – the attempt to understand connections. I think this is a radical, and much needed, shift. The reductionist science of understanding parts has led to an explosion of knowledge, but too often, we fail to really understand the real world because we fail to see that every single part only exists as an embedded, inextricable element of the whole. The fabulous improvement in that approach mirrors a shift in the use of the left hemisphere of the brain which engages with the world by separating it into parts to analyse and categorise, towards the use of the right hemisphere with engages with the world as a whole, and focuses our attention on connections and relationships.

We are now looking much more at whole environments, whole webs of inter-relationships. We see such networks everywhere, from the activity of micro-organisms in our guts (the “microbiome”), to the “neural networks” within the brain, the inter-relationships of species within ecological “niches”, or “biomes”, and in world wide cycles of movement of water, gases, and other molecules.

One concept which is useful in all these areas is the one of the “connectome” – this is the activity of mapping out the interactions and relationships within whatever we are studying. In terms of the brain it can be helpful to imagine that every single thought has the “neural correlate” of a “connectome” of nerve cells. Apparently we have so many neurones in our brain, and each of them is so massively interconnected, that if you were to consider all the potential permutations of activity of little networks within the greater network, then that number would be greater than the number of atoms in the universe! Well, I don’t know how anyone works out something like that, but suffice it to say, the potential for our imagination, for our cognition, for our memory, for our ability to visualise, conceptualise, analyse, synthesise and create, is pretty damn close to infinite!

There’s something else interesting about all these “connectomes” – they are related to each other. Each one is nested into several others, and each one of them sets up resonances and harmonies with other ones. Perhaps that partly explains how we feel what other people feel, how we come to think what other people think, and, maybe even how our inner environments are affected by our external ones.

Amazing what a walk a forest can do for us, huh?

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This isn’t the only plant I’ve seen which twists and turns a lot, but perhaps this is one of the most striking. I always find myself wondering two things when I look at an image like this one.

The first thing is just how amazingly complex the structure is. When this plant started as a single seed, nobody could have predicted the shape it would achieve today. Even more, at no point in this plant’s life could anyone predict with accuracy the detail of the directions it would take, the exact places where it would turn to the left, the right, head up, or head down. Its shape size and uniqueness at every point are unpredictable in the details. And that’s the same for us in our own lives.

Every individual patient who ever consulted with me had a unique, personal story to tell. Nobody could have predicted the detail of their story from the day of their birth. That truth remains the case day after day after day. What I mean is that whatever treatment I gave someone, the only way I could know whether or not it would help them, and, in particular, just how it would help them, was to have another consultation with them, days, weeks, or months further on and listen to them tell me their unique experience. Only the patient could tell me how helpful the treatment was. I think that, sadly, that’s a bit forgotten in a lot of modern medicine. We can’t know for certain what the outcomes are going to be for an individual patient, no matter what “evidence base” we are aware of.

Secondly, I look at this plant and I wonder about the events in its life. What happened, and when, to produce those particular dramatic significant turns of direction. When I consulted with patients I liked to ask “When were you last completely well?” Then we would explore the emergence of their illness and the contexts of their personal life in which the symptoms appeared. Asking that didn’t just help me make a diagnosis, it helped me and the patient to make sense of their illness and their life. The events of our life play a significant role in the emergence of the illnesses we suffer. But they play a significant role in our growth, our development of character and personality, and in our experiences of joy, love and satisfaction too.

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There’s a bird reserve near Nimes, in the South of France, where you can see flamingos. I’ve visited it several times, and each time I take a host of photos. They are SUCH beautiful creatures!

I’m reading Gary Lachman’s “Lost Knowledge of the Imagination” just now, and this morning read these lines about beauty –

We perceive beauty, the Neo-Platonic philosopher Plotinus said, when we perceive something that is in accord with our soul.

Knowledge of beauty is knowledge of soul. It is self-knowledge, and when we discover beauty we are discovering part of ourselves.

The knowledge we receive in this way is not of fact but of quality, of value and meaning.

We perceive beauty, are open to its presence, through a change in the quality of our consciousness. Only like can know like. We must have beauty within ourselves to see it in the world.

I hadn’t thought of beauty this way before. When I read it I thought about the old adage of “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” which always seemed to me to be a statement that beauty was in fact a matter of taste. But this perspective from Gary Lachman describes that sort of third way interpretation which I like so much. It’s not that beauty is “outside” us, as some kind of measurable object. I think we all know that. Beauty can’t be reduced to data, can’t be captured by mere facts. But neither is it just a matter of taste, as if it is entirely an experience of the individual rendering the rest of the real world unimportant.

The third way is that beauty is a resonance. It’s a harmony. And therefore it emerges in the lived quality of an experience, of an engagement, of a relationship. We need both parts of the relationship to be present…..something “within” us, let’s call that “the soul”, and something “outwith” us, let’s call that “the other”.

We know instantly when we find something, or someone beautiful. We don’t need to way it up, analyse the inputs, stimuli and signals. We just know. We know because our inner being resonates with whatever it is we are looking at….or it doesn’t. When it does, we have the sensation of joy, delight, and gratitude which accompanies all engagements with beauty.

Beauty, I reckon, is good for us. It’s good for our souls. It’s good for our consciousness. It’s good for our health.

So, here you are, a few photos in this post, all taken during one visit to the flamingos. I find them beautiful. I hope you do too. And I hope that appreciation of their beauty nourishes your soul, warms your heart, adds some positive quality to this present moment.

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Once upon a time I was walking in a London park. I was attending a weekend workshop and we finished up late one afternoon. As I walked past the gates of the park I was drawn in by the colours of the autumn leaves and I spent a while strolling around, just noticing, pausing, photographing.

I didn’t set out with any intention to take photos. I wasn’t even looking for a park. I didn’t think I should get some fresh air or exercise. I was just walking back to the hotel and the park called me in.

We are a pretty driven, goal-focused, outcome-focused, busy society, so unexpectedly finding “free time” was a real bonus. Many thinkers have written about the value of being a “flaneur” (someone who strolls around without any explicit intent), of passing some time just being present, not working towards some, as yet, imaginary future point.

This was one of those times. I took a lot of photos. I sat on a park bench, listened to birds singing, watching families and individuals enjoying the park. I noticed that at the end of one path there was a fountain, and I’m pretty keen on fountains. They draw me to them, too. As I approached the fountain I noticed the water was catching the light of the low sun. It utterly illuminated the fountain so that it shone as if it was radiating energy all around it. I stopped to take a photo.

As I framed a shot I noticed there was someone standing under a tree, gazing towards the exact same fountain, that fountain of light and water. I took my photo, and then took some more. Then I lowered my camera and just stood taking in the scene. The person under the tree stood completely still, solely focused on the fountain and the play of light and water. Was she lost in her thoughts? I’ve no idea. Was she utterly absorbed in the moment, completely present in the experience of these magical moments? I don’t know. But my instinct says it was the latter.

Did I catch the sunlight? Or did the sunlight catch me? Did the water catch the sunlight? Or did the sunlight catch the water? This was one of those moments where the connection, the interaction, the relationship came to the fore. It wasn’t important to know the direction, it was more than enough to enjoy the flow.

As I look at this photo again, now, I am, once more, caught by the light. It draws me to it, pulls me towards it, and I slip into a few moments of quiet, of peace and calm. I bathe in the feelings of contentment and delight. It nourishes me.

Maybe it will nourish you, too.

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You know that thing that happens when a noise stops, and it’s only at that point that you become aware of it? Or where you catch sight of something out of the corner of your eye…..a sudden movement, perhaps of a bird, or an animal, or a person? We humans have a fabulous ability to become aware of change. In fact, in many circumstances it’s how we pick to what’s important or interesting to us…..we see or hear or otherwise become aware of something changing, or something which has just changed.

Many years ago I rented an apartment in Carcassonne. I remember waking up one morning to the sound of the church bells striking the hour. I counted “seven, eight, nine” and then they stopped. I looked at my clock and it was nine o’clock. But I had now awareness whatsoever of counting from one to six. I seem to have started at seven! Of course, that’s not possible, but what it meant was that whilst still in the zone between sleep and wakefulness my brain had registered the sounds of the bells, and had kept track of them. I just picked up the process once I was awake enough.

Much of what we experience, and what we know, happens at levels below full consciousness. That’s not a bad thing. It’s how we function. I mean, imagine if you were aware of the activity of your digestive system moment by moment, or of the speed and rhythm of your heart or your lungs? You just couldn’t keep track of it all. Luckily, you don’t have to. However, it’s also important to become aware when we need to…..or when we want to. And to do that, one of the triggers is noticing change.

This photo is of a plane trail in the sky. This particular one has already been caught by the high winds and is turning from a line, or path, into a feather, or breaking wave on the beach. It’s beautiful. For me, it captures the reality of change. This trail, like all plane trails, is changing right before my eyes. I gazed at it for a few moments, watching this beautiful shapeshifting, following the changes. You can see from the left hand side of the image, how the wisps of white cloud are already disappearing “into thin air”. In fact if you look from right to left, you see three separate stages of the change process….from the fairly condensed rope or string looking part on the right, through the wispy, feathery waves in the middle, to the almost not there any more area on the left.

I like this image because it makes me think of change, and I change is such a great way of making us become more aware.

I used to look up from this garden and see many, many such streams in the blue sky. I don’t any more. I haven’t done for a year now. Why not? The pandemic. I’m sure I couldn’t tell you how many planes past over this part of the country every day over a year ago, but I can tell you that when I see a single one now, I notice it. There are hardly any. What an incredible change!

Hasn’t this pandemic, with its limitations and lockdowns, with its profound and widespread changes which it has brought in its wake made us more aware? I think it has. It’s become clearer than ever before how fragile and unprepared our health services are. It’s become clearer than ever how dependent our societies have become on the vastly interconnected global just-in-time supply chains. It’s become ever more clear exactly how important millions of citizens are…..whether we call them “front line workers” or “essential workers” (must be pretty horrid to be called “non-essential” don’t you think?) It’s become clear how broken our systems of social care are. It’s become obvious how much poverty there is, how much chronic ill health there is, how fragile so many jobs are. It’s become clear that this economic and political system we live under is failing….failing to be resilient, failing to protect, failing to thrive.

Yep, there’s no doubt that change is a great eye-opener. Maybe now that our eyes are wide open, it’s no surprise that many of us are re-thinking our values and priorities. It’s no surprise that all those things which we at some level already knew, are now crystal clear, and demanding that we pay attention to them.

Shall we make a new beginning? Based on kindness, care, compassion, justice and fairness? Based more on co-operation than competition? Wouldn’t that be a good idea?

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I know a dandelion seed head is almost a cliche in photography. I mean who hasn’t seen an image exactly like this one? But the truth is I have several photos of the seed heads of plants, whether they are dandelions, or some other flowers. I find them beautiful. In fact, I find them irresistibly beautiful. I am almost compelled to stop, to look more closely, perhaps to take a photo, perhaps to blow gently on the seeds and send them off into the wide blue yonder. Maybe that’s partly a harking back to childhood. Who hasn’t counted how many breaths it takes to blow all the seeds off a dandelion? As kids, we even called them dandelion clocks and the number of breaths it took to blow all the seeds away was supposed to be the number of hours we were into a day. I’m not sure why that practice persisted because I don’t ever remember that being a remotely reliable way to tell the time!

But what I want to focus on today when I look at this particular image is the fact of abundance.

Just look how many seeds there are in this one single plant! I suppose you could count them if you had a lot of patience, but do you think anyone has ever managed to count the number of seeds in a whole field of dandelions? (Ok, why would you??) But even if we just look at this one plant we see what an abundance of seeds it has produced. This is what plants do. They produce an abundance of seeds. Way, way more than is “needed” just to create just another plant.

Here’s what else plants do – they capture an abundance of energy directly from the Sun. Through photosynthesis they capture the Sun’s energy, suck carbon dioxide and water out of the air, and create sugars to store the energy they need to grow more stalks, more trunks, more flowers, more blossom, more fruits, more seeds. They get what they need to survive and to thrive directly from the air and the Sun (and, yes, their root systems gather and store other nutrients which they need – also in abundance). Many trees live way, way longer than a human being can live…..hundreds of years in fact. They have, and they experience, an abundance of life.

The universe delivers what all Life needs. The universe delivers what all Life needs in abundance.

But do we live that way? Do we live as if the universe supports us abundantly?

Ah, you’ll say, but millions of people in the world live in poverty. Their daily lives are of scarcity, not of abundance. And that’s true. But that’s a political choice. We could feed the world. We could shelter the world. We could create sustainable, thriving societies across the entire planet if we chose to, if we chose to work together, if we chose to care about each other, treat each other with compassion and kindness, if we demanded justice, fairness and equality for everyone……whatever “identity” we apply to them, wherever they live.

Utopia, you think? Wishful thinking?

I guess so. I guess such a vision is utopian. I guess I’d agree it’s what I would wish for, but I feel unable to deliver.

However, I do think we humans have created a dystopian reality with the current economic and political models that we constrain ourselves to live within. Don’t forget money is a human invention. It doesn’t exist in Nature. States are a human invention, and their borders are a human invention. We share one planet, one water system, one atmosphere, one soil, one vast, interconnected, inter-dependent web of Life.

So, yes, I agree, this is utopian, but, also, I’d argue, it’s MORE realistic than the present invented delusion which traps us in its system. Maybe this pandemic has made all of that more clear. Maybe this pandemic is a time for we humans to wake up, see the world for what it really is – a planet, in a universe, which provides for Life abundantly.

How might we choose to live if we choose to make that the foundation of our thoughts, our beliefs, our values, and our actions?

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Vineyards consist of several parallel rows of vines, each plant pruned and tied onto wires which run from stake to stake. The cognac makers call each row a “wire” and a contract between a grower and a distiller will detail how many “wires” are being sold each year. As best I understand it, this is the unit of agreement – a number of wires, not a number of grapes. Interesting, huh?

This photo is one of many like this which I’ve taken over the years. I love how the Sun catches the wires at certain times of day. It makes them vibrant. It makes them sing.

You can tell this is a Spring photo from the fact that there are no leaves on the vines yet, and that beyond the vineyard the trees are full of blossom. Everything has its season.

This image of wires sets off my train of thought along two different paths.

Firstly, it reinforces my understanding of the world as multiply and massively connected. The wires are a symbol of connection for me. They connect the plants together, they connect the growers to the distillers, and they create the basic structure of each and every vineyard. They are an underlying, foundational, creative structuring force which makes the vineyard look and live as it does. There are many such patterns, forces and structures running through and below our lives. There are many, in fact, which give us the forms of physical reality in which we live. I love it when we glimpse these patterns and become aware of the flows of energy and change which shape our lives.

Secondly, the phrase from neuroscience “what fires together wires together” comes to my mind. Although I think the metaphor of wiring for the elaborate, complex set of relationships between neurones in our brain is somewhat overdone, the truth is that it seems that our habits of thought, feeling and action, do actually change the physical structure of the brain. When we think, feel or do something repeatedly we lay down strong, fast pathways of neurones which not only make it easier to do or think those things….they make it harder to not do them! They become the underlying structures which determine some of our unconsciousness activity. To develop new, different, thoughts, feelings and actions, we need to consciously choose to initiate them and repeat them. That’s great news actually, because as well as “what fires together wires together”, we have discovered the brain is “plastic” – not made of the material we call plastic, but has the characteristic of “plasticity” – it can constantly be remoulded. We are not stuck with a set of thoughts, feelings and behaviours. We can change them. We just need to consciously choose to do so, and to repeat what we have chosen. That’s at the basis of the teaching about creating new habits by doing them each day for 30 days. It seems that by that time we’ve created new pathways, or new wiring!

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