Archive for the ‘video’ Category


The other day I was sitting outside enjoying some Spring sunshine when I noticed the strong shadows of the mulberry tree.

It struck me that the pattern of the branches was probably very similar to that of the root system under the soil. “As above, so below”, as the old saying goes….

I also enjoyed just looking at the patterns. There is something very beautiful about this branching pattern we see everywhere in Nature, isn’t there?

Then I realised I’d focused on the shadows rather than on the branches of the tree itself, and that brought back to mind Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Do you know it? Here’s a link for you to explore it further. Or watch this video from the fabulous “School of Life” –


The prisoner who is dragged out into the light comes to know the shadows are re-presentations of reality, but I’ve often thought it’s a shame that when he returned to the cave, he couldn’t see the shadows any more. Shadows, after all, can be both beautiful and quite enlightening!


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moon sky

The Guardian has published 15 quotes from Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince (one of those books which has so many quotable sentences in it) and it seemed appropriate to me to post this in this week when the world’s thoughts are turned to Paris.

One of my own personal favourites is this –

It is only with the heart that one can see clearly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.

We can all quite easily take a moment to reflect on something – anything – it can be a choice which has presented itself to us, a decision to be made, a person, a relationship or an event. The way I like to do this is to sit somewhere quietly, take three slow, deep and even breaths, call whatever it is I want to reflect on to my mind, place my hand over the area of my heart, and ask myself the question “What does my heart say about this?”

Give it a few moments and see what, if anything, emerges. It won’t always, but sometimes, suddenly, something seems crystal clear.

I like the second sentence in that quote too – “what is essential is invisible to the eye”. I’m a big fan of that one.

As I looked down through the list of quotes I was remembered this one –

Grown-ups love figures… When you tell them you’ve made a new friend they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies? “ Instead they demand ‘How old is he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?’ Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.

….which is some ways is a continuation of the “what is essential is invisible to the eye”.

Why do we put such emphasis on numbers, when what is most important to each of us is the personal, the subjective, the invisible?

This little scene from “Gregory’s Girl” (from a LONG time ago!) popped into my head –

In particular the line which Claire Grogan says about a minute into the scene.


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Good old “Cles” magazine! This magazine probably opens up more avenues for me to explore than any single other publication. There is currently a fifth anniversary special out with “5 reasons to be hopeful” forming a major section of the issue. The fourth reason is ecology taking root, and it’s here that I read about “biomimicry”.

It’s one of those concepts that when you read about it you think, why didn’t I know about this already?

From the home page at biomimicry.org here’s a short definition

Humans are clever, but without intending to, we have created massive sustainability problems for future generations. Fortunately, solutions to these global challenges are all around us.

Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies. The goal is to create products, processes, and policies—new ways of living—that are well-adapted to life on earth over the long haul.

The core idea is that nature has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with. Animals, plants, and microbes are the consummate engineers. After billions of years of research and development, failures are fossils, and what surrounds us is the secret to survival.

Here’s the founder, Janine Benyus, explaining it all eloquently and with fabulous imagery in a short (20 min) film.


I find this totally inspiring. What a fabulous way to look at life! To think that the solutions to all of our problems might just be there in the Natural world, just waiting for us to learn! What a different approach to technology – to develop technological solutions based on natural methods instead of much poorer, less efficient artificial ones. What a different approach to science – to apprentice ourselves to Nature in order to learn what has already been learned through adaptive processes over millions of years, instead of trying to find ways to control and battle against Nature.

And, potentially, what a fabulous research agenda, to learn how living organisms grow, defend and repair themselves – all without the use of any artificial or toxic “aids”. Now there’s the foundation of a new approach to health care.

Go on, take 20 minutes out of your busy day and watch that video. I hope you’ll be as inspired as I am!



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I love the autumn. Not least because, like the Spring, it’s a season when change is most evident. Every morning when I open the shutters and step out into the garden the world around me is markedly different.

I was looking at the variety of shades and colours in the mulberry tree and the vine and I realised I quickly ran out of words. I don’t know if it is true that in some languages there are many different words for snow, but the range and number of colours and shades in one garden! Whew!

It’s astonishing.

I took a bunch of photos and turned them into a little slideshow. I hope you enjoy it. A couple of minutes of delight and “émerveillement du quotidien”.

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Marcel Conche says this about thoughts –
To meditate is to be waiting, like lying in wait, for thoughts that are going to surprise us, bringing sudden clarity.
and he quotes Heidegger –
“We will never succeed in having thoughts, they come to us,” said Heidegger
This reminded me of what Liz Gilbert describes in her “Big Magic” about how ideas come to us. She suggests we think of ideas as living their own lives, wandering around the world looking for a partner to work them in order to bring them to fruition. I liked that concept. It’s maybe a stretch of the imagination to think of ideas as entities living their own lives, but then, maybe thoughts are a bit like that too?
Here’s Conche again –
We anticipate, with variable probability, the result of an action, and it is for this reason that we act. Yet we don’t anticipate thoughts. The philosopher is, in this regard, similar to the artist. Thought is “work of a poet,” said Heidegger.
Again and again he suggests the approach of the artist – not least because he sees Nature as a continuous creative process.
Liz Gilbert says we need to turn up every day prepared to do the work. She describes what others have called the “discipline” of the writer, but that’s not a word that’s ever had much appeal to me! Maybe we could call it a habit? (or what I’d tell patients about making better dents!)
Conche says that what we need to encourage thoughts to come to us is a kind of ease (an absence of anxiety), and setting aside any preoccupations with our selves.
What is required so that thoughts come to us? First, the soul must reach “freedom from anxiety” (ataraxia), serenity, a sort of negative happiness that we can call “wisdom”—a wisdom that is not the aim of philosophy, but its condition. Then and correspondingly, preoccupation with oneself must be absent.
Ha! Did you ever watch the movie “What about me?” by 1 Giant Leap?

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I came across a very short video the other day which both delighted and moved me. It is truly magical. There are no words in it but a little story is told. I think it’s the gestures of the station mistress which make this so incredibly powerful. We have no idea what she is saying to the train driver but her hands and movements are so expressive you can’t help but be entranced by her. Then when the train pulls away, what she does is just…..well, look for yourself……

It was posted onto Facebook by Kyoto Journal (which I like a lot!) Here’s what the film-maker, Erez Sitzer, says about it –

i was searching for a train station. the kind you rarely see. small. countryside. we found it. and by happenchance, found something else. someone else. miyako. the station master. i watched her smile at each exiting passenger. then, noticed her wave at the departing one-car train. then, surprisingly, she continued waving. she waved until there was no trace left of the distant train. no one witnessed her, except, well, me. in that short span, my love and wonder of life was renewed. when i spoke to her later, she said at first she felt so shy. and hardly waved at all. slowly, over time, she began doing something she neither needed to do, nor imagined she ever would. so, this is miyako, master of a tiny station in the middle of nowhere japan who attends to every train and passenger that passes by



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That’s one of my favourite Kevin Spacey movie lines.

It’s a phrase which often comes to my mind in relation to health care. We’ve developed a very bureaucratic way of providing health care in Europe and North America. It seems to me that the system comes first now instead of the patients and the doctors.

Health care is a supremely human activity. It involves one human being trying to help another. Both of those human beings are unique and when we reduce the patient to a case of a disease and a doctor to a person who implements a protocol then we de-humanise Medicine.

I think it is important to prioritise uniqueness. We should always be on the lookout for what is new and what is different in every situation. Instead the bureaucratic approach demands we look for what is the same and fit everyone into pre-set categories and treatment paths.

Does anyone know you better than you do? Does anyone really know better what choices you should be making instead of the ones that you are making? Who should finally decide what to do about your life? (How you should eat, how you should spend your time, what “treatments” you should subject yourself to?)

I think it is you!

So when I hear a manager or a “skeptic” tell a patient that they can’t have the treatment which they say is the one which made the most difference for them (relieved their pain, settled their panic attacks, made their breathing easier….whatever) because the “evidence” says that treatment “doesn’t work”, it amazes me.

There not a treatment on the planet which does the same thing for every person who receives it, so there is no such thing as only two categories of treatment – those which work and those which don’t – as some would claim. We need a wide diversity of treatments to be available because human beings are so, well, different….

But I think about this not only in relation to rationing health care, protocol based medicine and so on. I think it’s something to consider in every therapeutic relationship. Here’s the question I’m exploring –

Is it an expert’s job to tell people what to do, or to help them to see how to change, then to support that change?

I’m pretty sure I don’t want anyone telling me what to do!




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We have a huge vine which covers the wall of a building at the edge of our garden.

The other day I was sitting under the mulberry tree and I heard a strange noise – like water droplets falling on the vine (but it wasn’t raining, and the vine wasn’t being watered!)

I took this little video – turn up the volume and listen very carefully

The noise is the vine, popping those little shells off it’s flowers – see –


Have you ever heard anything like that?

It’s been happening every day since – just after the sun moves west over the wall so that after being in warm sunlight all day, the vine is now in the shade.

Oh, and at the same time, dozens of bees make their way to vine to find the nectar which has just been made available.

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To the sea again

I’ve reached “Y” again in my “A to Z of Becoming”, and the first “becoming” verb I thought of for the letter “y”, was “yearn”.

This is a tricky one, because yearning has a bit of a bad press. It’s often associated with wanting what you don’t have, or, in other words, with dissatisfaction. But I think it emerges from something very positive and creative.

When we yearn for something there is the possibility that we are getting in touch with our heart’s desire. The French philosopher, Deleuze, whose writings were the original spark for this blog, talked of “lines of flight” – and interesting metaphor to change the way we think about things. When we look up at the sky and see a plane flying past the moon
Flying past the moon

, we can see a bit of a trail. We can see something of where it’s come from and what direction it’s heading in. It’s an image like that which came to my mind when I read about the “lines of flight” and for me it’s an encouragement to see something in its context – the context of where it’s come from and where it’s going.

When I think of yearning from this perspective, it seems to me that yearning arises from our heart felt desires, from our deepest longings. So, one of the benefits of yearning is to become aware of what our heart’s true desires are.

As K D Lang sang in “Constant Craving”

Maybe a great magnet pulls
All souls to what’s true

Do these heart desires push us forward from within, or are they magnets pulling us towards something, somebody, some place?

When you stop and reflect and wonder about what stirs your longings, your yearnings, you have at the chance to get in touch with some of your most heart felt desires.

There’s something else about yearning – it pulls us out of balance.

I know people talk a lot about balance as a good thing, but it isn’t everything. All living creatures are “complex adaptive systems” and one of the main ways that such systems grow and develop is by tending towards the “far from equilibrium” points. At those places the system can fall to pieces, tipping into chaos, or it can transform to a whole new level, as we see in “dissipative systems“. The “far from equilibrium” points are where our yearnings take us.

So, there’s something potentially enormously creative about yearning. It can pull us towards the new and the heart-felt.

Remember John Masefield’s poem?

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
                                                          And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

zen seascape

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If you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll know that the “émerveillment du quotidien” is a key life principle for me.

That French phrase captures the sense of continuous open-ness to wonder. (It means the amazing everyday – more or less!)

But look what I managed to film today!

I’ve seen and heard this little creature buzzing around my garden recently and he never, ever stays still. Not for a second! I think it’s called a “hummingbird moth”.

His wings make a deep buzzing sound so its always obvious when he is around.

Look at the speed of his wings! Look at that long proboscis and how it can curl right up into a spiral! It’s astonishing!

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