The following article was recently published in Psychologica Magazine’s special edition on Trauma. I’ve included a link to the full magazine, lots of great articles on trauma treatments, both from a clinical perspective as well as personal. Hope you might find something that resonates.
Tag Archives: mindfulness
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There is something I don’t know
That I am supposed to know.
I don’t know what it is I don’t know,
And yet am supposed to know,
And I feel I look stupid
If I seem both not to know
And not to know what it is I don’t know.
Therefore, I pretend I know it.
This is nerve-wracking
Since I don’t know what I must pretend
Therefore, I pretend to know everything.
I feel you know what I am supposed to know
But you can’t tell me what it is
Because you don’t know what I don’t know
What it is.
You may know what I don’t know, but not
That I don’t know it.
And I can’t tell you. So you will have
To tell me everything.
– R. D. Lang in Knots
Diamond sun rising
small black pyramids.
4 birds or 5?
And on this first day of a New Year, wishing all of you a year fulfilled
with hopes, dreams, curiosity and questions…
and leaving you with a few more….
What is this mind?
Who is hearing these sounds?
Do not mistake any state for
Self-realization, but continue
To ask yourself even more intensely,
What is it that hears?
Either you will
go through this door
or you will not go through.
If you go through
there is always the risk
of remembering your name.
Things look at you doubly
and you must look back
and let them happen.
If you do not go through
it is possible
to live worthily
to maintain your attitudes
to hold your position
to die bravely
but much will blind you,
much will evade you,
at what cost who knows?
The door itself makes no promises.
by Adrienne Rich, from
“Prospective Immigrants, Please Note”
“August: You know, somethings don’t matter that much…like the color of a house…But lifting a person’s heart–now that matters. The whole problem with people–“
Lily: They don’t know what matters and what doesn’t…
August:…They know what matters, but they don’t choose it…The hardest thing on earth is to choose what matters.”
Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees
Its all that matters, whats the matter, does it even matter? According to Clinical Psychologist and Professor Jordan Peterson, perhaps everything we do matters. Which is actually harder to come to grips with, because that means taking responsibility and making difficult choices. He states
Here’s a way of thinking about error. You don’t exactly know what you’re doing, so how do you get to the point where you know what you’re doing? I think follow your internal intuitions and be honest about it. What’ll happen is a star will appear and guide you. And the star is whatever makes your life meaningful. And maybe you’ll take some tentative steps in that direction and you’ll get a little ways and you’ll think ‘No, that’s wrong.’ And then the thing that makes your life meaningful will appear over there. And then you take a few tentative steps in that direction. But as you step and walk towards these things you change and as you change you get wiser. And what happens is, you keep following these things that make your life meaningful, then you correct yourself across time.
You see the thing there and that’s wrong and you see it there and that’s wrong and you see it there and that’s wrong but you keep chasing it and as you chase it you move forward. And as you move forward and as you do things you learn from your mistakes because you’re honest and you’re watching. You get wiser and wiser and the consequence of all those mistakes is you’ll self-correct the mistakes and twenty years down the road maybe you won’t be making so many mistakes.
They say it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert at something. So you would need 10,000 hours of practice following what it is you need to follow (Jordan Peterson, On The Necessity of Virtue)
In every heart there is a coward and a procrastinator.
In every heart there is a god of flowers, just waiting
to stride out of a cloud and lift its wings.
The kookaburras, pressed against the edge of their cage,
asked me to open the door.
Years later I remember how I didn’t do it,
how instead I walked away.
They had the brown eyes of soft-hearted dogs.
They didn’t want to do anything so extraordinary, only to fly
home to their river.
By now I suppose the great darkness has covered them.
As for myself, I am not yet a god of even the palest flowers.
Nothing else has changed either.
Someone tosses their white bones to the dung-heap.
The sun shines on the latch of their cage.
I lie in the dark, my heart pounding.
a poem by Mary Oliver
Sound has a profound effect on the senses. It can be both heard and felt. It can even be seen with the mind’s eye. It can almost be tasted and smelled. Sound can evoke responses of the five senses. Sound can paint a picture, produce a mood, trigger the senses to remember another time and place. From infancy we hear sound with our entire bodies. When I hear my own name, I have as much a sense of it entering my body through my back or my hand or my chest as through my ears. Sound speaks to the sensorium; the entire system of nerves that stimulates sensual response
(Louis Colaianni, The Joy of Phonetics and Accents)
So how did “C” get its sounds? How was “C” able to find a voice? Poet and philosopher Dejan Stojanovic wrote that “sound unbound by nature becomes bounded by art.” Bounding or framing is a way of creatively shaping experience, allowing something new to emerge. “C” was able to engage in creative process, while shaping and transforming unbound sound. This artistic exploration allowed a surprising and fresh sound to emerge. And that is how “C” was able to find a voice.
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
“Leisure” by Welsh poet W. H. Davies, from Songs Of Joy and Others
published in 1911 by A. C. Fifield
Stay, stay at home, my heart, and rest;
Home-keeping hearts are happiest,
For those that wander they know not where
Are full of trouble and full of care;
To stay at home is best.
Weary and homesick and distressed,
They wander east, they wander west,
And are baffled and beaten and blown about
By the winds of the wilderness of doubt;
To stay at home is best.
Then stay at home, my heart, and rest;
The bird is safest in its nest;
O’er all that flutter their wings and fly
A hawk is hovering in the sky;
To stay at home is best.
“Song” by H.W. Longfellow: Keramos and Other Poems 1878
As Longfellow says “to stay at home is best”. But is it? It feels great to be in a place that feels safe, protected and predictable. This is the land of known and previously explored territory. Home is being on familiar ground. You know exactly where you are.
The challenge in keeping creative process fresh and alive, is to balance the need to keep things safe, predictable and orderly, with the need to explore unknown, unpredictable and potentially dangerous new territory.
It is relatively easy to imagine yourself standing with one foot in order and one foot in chaos. But maybe this balanced stance is more a place of action or experience that is way more complex than imagined. That place where there is just enough safety and just enough danger, is a space of surprises. Strangely, this place needs to be repeatedly found and/or rediscovered anew. There is no guidebook that consistently works. The entrance way (at least in my own personal creative process) seems to be through tolerating frustration, giving up control and welcoming resistance to new, accidental or unplanned experience. That dark and uncomfortable stuff has to be encountered each time. Maybe as Longfellow says, we need to be
“baffled and beaten and blown about
By the winds of the wilderness of doubt.”
Each voluntary encounter with the unknown builds resilience for the next journey along the creative path. Maybe that is what is meant by practice.