Learning from History…or not

Do we learn from those who preceded us?  Or does each new generation go into a coma of forgetfulness?  Are the hard lessons that our ancestors learned forever lost on us and the generations to come?  Though we study history, we don’t seem to get the magnitude of what history tries to teach.  Inherent in the study of history is the key message, “Don’t make the same mistakes that I did,”  or “Learn from my mistakes.”

We don’t seem to be able to do this–learn from the mistakes of others.  There are definitely some things that we need to find out for ourselves.  However, in the social context of things, the bigger picture, why do we stubbornly refuse to learn from history?  How can society move forward if we don’t extract the lessons learned from previous generations and the history of other cultures?  Why does real growth and spiritual evolution appear to be stunted?

Reading the book, The Underside of History:  A View of Women Through Time, by Elise Boulding, I am naively stunned to see how little we’ve progressed.  Is it because our amygdala (the part of the brain that responds to fight or flight) is constantly triggered (and exhausted) by too much negative media input?  When are we not sitting on the edge of our seats, waiting for the next shoe to fall?  When do we get to rest deeply in our own selves?  It seems that continuous over-stimulation doesn’t allow for the quiet times necessary to go deep and extract wise inner guidance.

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Contemplation:
Do you allow enough quiet time in your daily life?  Do you take time to quiet your system and contemplate?

 

Meeting the INNER CRITIC!

The Inner Critic is one of those shadow selves.  The voice(s) that show up to sabotage us in some way.  We want to get focused on a project or try a new creative venture.  That voice might say something like:

  • You don’t know enough
  • You don’t have higher education
  • Who do you think you are
  • You’re going to look foolish

The writer known as SARK, suggests sending the inner critic on an extended vacation (somewhere exotic perhaps?) or assigning it an obscure (yet busy-making) task.  Author, Byron Katie addresses this aspect of self through inquiry “Is that true?”

Recently, I took a long hike on Mt. Shasta contemplating the question of how to address the inner critic. Walking down the road, returning to Bunny Flat, I considered the premise that everything has an opposite.  Why not create a collage of oppositions around what the inner critic has to say.  And, what the inner advocate has to say.  Get out your colored pencils, paint, markers, whatever you have.  Scribble, doodle, use symbols, cut and paste pictures from magazines, etc. onto a piece of cardboard or heavy paper.  Don’t be too neat.  That addresses one of those critical voices right from the start.  Have at it and play.

Everything in you wants to be seen by you.  Giving the inner critic an opportunity to be seen and heard opens a doorway to bring in the balance with the inner advocate.  For you do have within you a fighter for yourself.

Writing Prompt:
Do you buckle under when those snarky voices chime in?  How do you respond to your own inner critic?  If you have an effective response, please do share it under comments.

 

Grounding

From the waist down, imagine your body like a tree trunk.  Grow your roots downward, down, down.  Let these roots sink into the very core of the earth.  Through this grounding cord, release what doesn’t serve you.  Bring up the healing energy of the earth through the soles of your feet, up through your legs and thighs to your tailbone.  Then, loop it down again through the grounding cord.  You are connected.  Overhead, stream down the light of the heavens through your crown chakra and downward through your central channel, downward once again through your grounding cord into the earth.  Align yourself and be in your own center.

Visualizations such as this one taught by Wendy De Rosa, author and teacher, are so helpful in claiming and reclaiming one’s inner balance in chaotic times.

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Writing poetry is another way to get grounded.  Poetry taps into the present.  What are you feeling?  What do you need?  Where are you NOW?  What are you doing NOW?  Poetry lends presence to something that needs your attention in the moment.

To be effective as a grounding tool for your thoughts and feelings,  you have to spend time with poetry.
I’ve noted this before–that haiku is a poetic form that invokes presence.  Each haiku stands alone–a complete expression.  Yesterday morning, I wrote these:

I wake to sunrise
Quail Ridge defined by treetops
Can I trust this day?

To be present now
To cut loose from old trauma
To see this sunrise.

Yesterday’s smoke gone
The body a lightning rod
Remember to ground

Treetops etch the sky
Grateful to see a far ridge
Breath is a wonder

Newly awake, I
feel the bittersweet uprise
of wordless feelings.

Bitter with the sweet
a favorite chocolate treat
I savor it now

There is no one way
To be a human being
There is you…and me

Accepting what is
I turn from yesterday–past.
Have I learned from it?

Writing Prompt:
How do you get grounded when there is chaos?
Is it working for you?
Have you tried the grounding technique above?
Have you tried poetry?
Share what you have learned about grounding.

Call Back the Bees

His feet are shod with gauze,
His helmet is of gold;
His breast, a single onyx
With chrysoprase, inlaid.

verse from Emily Dickinson’s poem, The Bee

It’s been in the news for several years now…that we are losing our honey bee colonies.  In some parts of the world, humans hand-pollinate the fruit-bearing trees due to the loss of bee populations.  One big reason for this loss is the use of pesticides.  The resultant disease is called Colony Collapse Disorder.Sunflowerwithbee..jpg

In late spring, I revel when I see bees pollinating my 100 year old cherry tree.  When I stand close, I hear the hum of bees doing their work.  I love the sound of this “machinery.”  I also love to see bees dallying in the bed of sunflowers or anywhere in my garden.  Everything feels right with the world on these special days.

Even if you think you are honey bee savvy, take two-and-a-half minutes to watch this short youtube about this amazing and necessary insect.  I learned something new.

Writing Prompt:
What can you do to “call back the honey bees?”  Write a poem perhaps?  Then share it.

 

The Versatility of Poetry

This is one reason I love poetry.  It can hold any subject.  Poetry is both amorphous and  it can claim a form.  It’s a perfect container for a variety of human expression.

the fog weaves through city streets
in and out of the avenues
twining round golden gate bridge towers
dampening moods and refreshing spirits
what season is it, I ask
summer you say, summer in San Francisco
coaxing one to build a fire on the hearth and cuddle
fog deceiving one into false seasons
Is it love I feel for you or
simply lust
long shrouded desire
and you the sun that penetrated my dark nights
stripping me of my clothes, my inhibitions,
tricking my hormones into believing I was unseasonal
everlasting
and so sexy

© by Christine O’Brien

In this short verse excerpted from a poem I wrote entitled Weather Report, notice how a story is told using place and mood.

Were you drawn into the story via the setting?

Each and every poem has a point of entry.  As does any story.  The writer and/or poet gets to decide what that entry point is.

Writer’s Prompt:
Experiment with using a place as the point of entry to your own poem as you write about an emotion you are feeling.

Follow the flow of your writing.

 

Living with Uncertainty

Uncertainty (Senryu) 

A poem by Mihaela Pirjol

Life Promises Change
Morphing humans’ destinies:–
Make no promises!

A few nights ago, there was a community meeting conducted by the local law enforcement and fire protection agencies.  The hall at the city park was full to capacity.  Living in smoky northern California for the past two months, gives us a sense of urgency.  And uncertainty.  And stress.

There is a fire southwest of us, gratefully not too close.  However, we were urged to be ready to evacuate in a moment if we get a Code Red Alert.  Today I’m planning on getting the necessary supplies together–three gallons of water, three-days supply of non-perishable food, clothing, valuables, a security box with important papers, first aid kit, flashlight, batteries, radio run on batteries, etc.

My stomach gets nervous thinking about the possibility.  Yet, isn’t life always unpredictable?  Obviously, there are times when the routine is disrupted.  However, emergencies or preparation for an emergency situation really throws this in one’s face.  The old boy scout motto “be prepared” comes to mind.

We live our daily lives with the unspoken trust and hope that there is a tomorrow.
While we also live it as if tomorrow might not come.  That, my friend, takes great faith.

Writing Prompt:
Senryu is a type of haiku. Like haiku, it is  a 3-line unrhymed Japanese poem with 5-7-5 syllables per line.  The difference is that it treats human nature in an ironic vein.
Try writing a few senryu on uncertainty.  Share them under comments if you like.

Mystery

Life is mystery, even with all of the belief systems we apply to explain it.  Life remains a mystery.  We learn to live with the unknown.  Though we might be seekers, with all of the seeking, the mystery remains, winking at us from the sidelines.  The unknowable.

Like, how did this plant end up in my garden?  Then, what prompted it to take over one third of the garden with it’s shoots and tendrils that wrap around anything along the way?  I posted a photo of it on Facebook to see if someone could identify it.  I got these responses:  some sort of vegetable, citron watermelon, crossbred squash, disguised watermelon, some sort of melon, Cinnamon Girl pie pumpkin, courgette (zucchini), Cucurbita pepo (round zucchini squash).

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I like the surprise within the mystery.  At times, the clouds part and I get a bit of clarity.  But then, the veil drops, the sight is limited, the mists conceal truth.

Writing Prompt:
How do you live with mystery?