I Will Keep Broken Things by Alice Walker

I will keep
Broken
Things:
The big clay
Pot
With raised
Iguanas
Chasing
Their
Tails;
Two
Of their
Wise
Heads
Sheared
Off;

I will keep
Broken
things:
The old
Slave
Market
Basket
Brought
To my
Door
By Mississippi
A jagged
Hole
Gouged
In its sturdy
Dark
Oak
Side.

I will keep
Broken
things:
The memory
Of
Those
Long
Delicious
Night
Swims
With
You;

I will keep
Broken
things:
In my house
There
Remains
An
Honored
Shelf
On which
I will
Keep
Broken
Things.

Their beauty
Is
They
Need
Not
Ever
Be
‘fixed.’

I will keep
Your
Wild
Free
Laughter
Though
It is now
Missing
Its
Reassuring
And
Graceful
Hinge.

I will keep
Broken
Things:

Thank you
So much!

I will keep
Broken
Things.

I will keep
You:

Pilgrim
Of
Sorrow.

I will keep
Myself.

A Reflection on Michael Pollan's New Book: How to Change Your Mind- What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence.

A Reflection on Michael Pollan's New Book: How to Change Your Mind- What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence.

Last month, I talked about New Year’s Resolutions and Our Immunity to Change so I was very intrigued when I read the title of Michael Pollan’s new book: How to Change Your Mind- What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence. Michael Pollan has written 5 New York Times best sellers including Food Rules; In Defense of Food; and The Omnivore’s Dilemma. He teaches at Harvard and at U.C. Berkeley; he presented his book last May at Talks at Google and he has been selected to speak at the 2019 edition of Wisdom 2.0 conference which I will be attending next March. So despite my initial reluctance to engage with the topic, I not only read the book but I am now writing about it here.

New Year's Resolutions or How to Make Changes Stick?

New Year's Resolutions or How to Make Changes Stick?

As we approach the end of a year and the beginning of a new one, it’s typical and traditional to reflect on the year past (see this blog post) and to set goals and resolutions for the new one. 

On The Wisdom of Walking in the Woods

When the eyes and the ears are open, even the leaves on the trees teach like pages from the scriptures
— Kabir

If you have visited my website, you may have been intrigued by my Medicine Walk offering called (Inner Compass) Wisdom Walk. Or, if you are a client, I may have suggested that you take on a walk as a new practice for your coaching program: labyrinth, hike or meditation walks are some of the practices I recommend often. But why? I strongly believe in the benefits of walking in nature to reconnect with oneself and the world. In this newsletter, I want to share some texts that point to the same conclusion.

Much has been written over the years about the physical, emotional and spiritual benefits of walking in nature (Thoreau: “An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.”, Muir: "In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.", Rousseau: “I can only meditate when I am walking. When I stop, I cease to think, my mind only works with my legs.”), but in recent times, nobody has written more beautifully and more completely on the subject than Rebecca Solnit in her 2000 masterpiece Wanderlust: A History of Walking.

She writes: “Walking, ideally, is a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord. Walking allows us to be in our bodies and in the world without being made busy by them. It leaves us free to think without being wholly lost in our thoughts.[…]

Walking itself is the intentional act closest to the unwilled rhythms of the body, to breathing and the beating of the heart. It strikes a delicate balance between working and idling, being and doing. It is a bodily labor that produces nothing but thoughts, experiences, arrivals.[…]

The rhythm of walking generates a kind of rhythm of thinking, and the passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the passage through a series of thoughts. This creates an odd consonance between internal and external passage, one that suggests that the mind is also a landscape of sorts and that walking is one way to traverse it. A new thought often seems like a feature of the landscape that was there all along ..“

When you go on a Medicine walk, this is exactly what happens. Your mind, heart and body are in a conversation with the world. Your body relaxes, your mind slows down, your heart opens. You suddenly hear a message that you had missed before. Your attention is drawn by a natural element and you inquire: “what is this?”, “why am I receiving this now?”. As Kabir, a 15th-century Indian mystic poet and saint, says: When the eyes and the ears are open, even the leaves on the trees teach like pages from the scriptures.

Further proof of the benefits of being in nature with or without walking, can be found in the book The Nature Fix by Florence Williams. The Nature Fix demonstrates that our connection to nature is much more important to our cognition than we think and that even small amounts of exposure (just 5 hours per month according to the author) to the living world can improve our creativity and enhance our mood. Earlier in the year I wrote about Shinrin-Yoku or Forest Bathing and I was excited to read about it again in this book The Nature Fix- Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier and more Creative by Florence Williams. Written in a journalistic style with tons of supporting evidence, scientific data, anecdotes and well told stories, Williams explores different beneficial aspects of Nature and takes us on world tour starting with Japan, then Korea, Finland and Scotland. She also takes us on a tour of our senses: starting with our sense of smell (aromatherapy in Japanese cypress forests), our sense of hearing (bird songs in Korea) and our sense of sight (fractals in Finland). Her book brings a global perspective on the status of the latest studies of nature practices and their alleged benefits. She affirms that 5 hours a month immersed in nature is enough to make a difference to our well-being. The best summary of the book is given in this YouTube video created by the author.

So remember: “Go outside. Go often. Bring friends. Breathe”.

An Apple Tree Was Concerned- A Poem by Hafez

An apple tree was concerned 

about a late frost and losing its gifts 

that would help feed a poor family close by. 

Can't the clouds be generous with what falls from them? 

Can't the sun ration itself with precision? 


They can speak, trees, 

they can say the sweetest things

but it takes special ears to hear them,

ears that have listened to people

with great care. 

The Power of Reframing

The Power of Reframing

In film, reframing is a change in camera angle without a cut and often changes a scene’s focus. Bill Burnett and Dave Evans from the d.school at Stanford University mention reframing as one of the five principles of Design Thinking that is useful when applied not just to product design but also to the process of designing one’s life. In their best-selling book, Designing Your Life, How to Build a Well-lived, Joyful Life, they define reframing as follows: “Reframing is how designers get unstuck. Reframing also makes sure that we are working on the right problem. Life design involves key reframes that allow you to step back, examine your biases, and open up new solution spaces”.

Beannacht by John O'Donohue

 

On the day when

The weight deadens

On your shoulders

And you stumble,

May the clay dance

To balance you.

 

And when your eyes

Freeze behind

The grey window

And the ghost of loss

Gets into you,

May a flock of colours,

Indigo, red, green

And azure blue,

Come to awaken in you

A meadow of delight.

 

When the canvas frays

In the currach of thought

And a stain of ocean

Blackens beneath you,

May there come across the waters

A path of yellow moonlight

To bring you safely home.

 

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,

May the clarity of light be yours,

May the fluency of the ocean be yours,

May the protection of the ancestors be yours.

 

And so may a slow

Wind work these words

Of love around you,

An invisible cloak

To mind your life.