I was reading an editorial in an old Byron Child magazine (now Kindred) this morning. One of the issues discussed was that of conscious consuming in light of disillusion with the voting system. Kali put forward that the most powerful vote we have is that of the almighty dollar, and that has really got me thinking.

What am I voting for? As I make out my shopping list, where is my money actually going? I have great intentions to shop at the farmers market and the local greengrocer, but more than likely I’ll end up doing it at Coles, for convenience. A vote for the big corporations, storage of fruits and vegetables for months, and the bottom line. A vote against the local farmers, the environment and the community.

We live a ten minute walk from town, but often I drive instead of walking, again mostly due to convenience. That’s a vote for laziness, petrol companies and a vote against the environment, and my health.

It’s not just consuming that can be seen in this light though. Every action we take part in has an intention behind it, be it conscious or subconscious, and by examining that, and the consequences, we can live more consciously.

What is behind what we do? So many things are done simply by routine, or unthinkingly, which I think, may be the first stage of our minds atrophying.

As I read that editorial, I was breastfeeding my baby. A vote for the healthiest and most beneficial (and not to mention normal) way to nourish my son. Whilst I fed him I was reading the old Byron Child. A vote for educating myself, and independent media.

And now, writing this down, I am sharing my thoughts with you. A vote for speaking out, and speaking up. A vote for a more conscious society.

 

Advertisements

As a family we understand the impact and influence words and communication can have on the psychological and social development of our wonderful son, especially in the habits we create for the future.  We try to use the following principles when communicating with Bodhi. ·         Attachment Parenting- the most important task for us as parents to our baby is to create an attachment of trust, love and bonding with Bodhi. This includes practices such as lots and lots of cuddles, time in arms, eye contact and emotional and physical availability, including immediate attention if he cries. ·         There will be times when Bodhi cries due to stress.  If all of his immediate needs are met then he may need to be held in arms and talked to soothingly whilst he cries. (This is entirely different to letting him ‘cry it out’, which we never, ever do!)·         When Bodhi cries like this, we allow him to full express himself. We whisper things like “Mama/Dada is here with you, let me know what’s wrong” Well intentioned sayings such as “It’s alright” and distracting him with toys when he needs to work through stress can lead to difficulties in healthily expressing and working through emotions as he gets older.·         We avoid language that inhibits emotional expression, such as “Stop that horrible crying!” Instead, we use language that connects, such as “You look so upset, can you tell me what’s happened?”·         We do not use language that labels or limits our son. This includes calling him a ‘Little Terror’ or a ‘Naughty Boy’ (there is a world of difference between calling someone naughty, and saying his actions are naughty) as eventually he will come to see himself as these things. ·         We attempt to model good manners.·         We acknowledge that what is happening for Bodhi is incredibly important to him, no matter how insignificant it may be for our adult perspective. ·         When we say no, we mean it, and follow it through. However, at this age, we find connecting with Bodhi and redirecting his actions far more beneficial for inappropriate behaviour. We aim for more yeses than nos in our day!·         We limit the amount of television Bodhi is exposed to as a vast majority of it does not model good communication (or other) practices.·         We use language that instills self esteem in Bodhi and avoid that which will create guilt. ·         We use “I statements” that follow the When you…I feel…(proposal of new action)  For example, “When you grab Sasha’s hair like that, I feel scared she will scratch you. Let’s pat her gently, like this.” This kind of statement is assertive, but non- blaming and takes responsibility for ourselves. ·         We attempt at all times use non violent communication- that which is respectful, peaceful, non aggressive and positive. We ask ourselves “Is this the kind of value I want to help create in Bodhi?”

Three years ago, on a bit of a whim, Zai and I bought an apartment. After trying unsuccessfully to buy a tiny termite ridden, bright purple house with two toilets (one of which was not hooked up to the plumbing system, the other of which stood over a concrete slab)- it’s funny how the universe looks after you during moments of lesser judgement- we purchased our unit. It’s a nice place- right in town, overlooking the river, plenty of space. It’s grown on us, although I have to admit it never really felt like home until Bodhi arrived in our lives.

Recently though, the weight of the mortgage has just got to be too much. Realistically, the unit is not worth the repayments. We are paying far too much, and digging ourselves a great big money pit. And frankly, life is worth more than that.

We have decided to go back to renting. Both of us have felt a shift from the need to own, to the need to nest, to create a home for ourselves and our child, and to live more sustainably. It is not necessary to own to fulfil these needs. We are downshifting, and hopefully, living a life more true and connected to our purpose and needs as a family, as a member of our community, and of society.

This afternoon we looked at a house. It was one with drove past last week, and initially rejected from our short list- a red brick box of a thing, on a street full of villas and what appeared to be the grey mafia.

Today, we drove past it in a more open frame of mind, with more a vision of what we wanted in a place. After being cooped up in the apartment for three years, we are really keen to be able to have a more workable area for a veggie patch, the ability for Bodhi to play in the garden, and just somewhere where we can be cosy together.

The garden is huge. Looking at it, I had the most blissful visions of Bodhi and Dan running around in it when he’s up and walking, myself lying under the tea trees writing or ensconced in a novel, maybe some chooks (if council allows it), permaculture garden, some fruit trees…

The house itself, whilst quite old, is lovely too. It has two living areas, which I liked, as the TV (we aren’t quite at the point of going TV free) could go away from the main living area. A huge kitchen for cooking lots of nourishing family meals. A deep old bath for soaking and cocooning. A northern aspect for sunny mornings and warm winter breakfasts.

Zai asked me what I was looking for in a place last night. I decided, as long as I could have my Tree of Life wall hanging (handed down to me from my mother, as a baby I used to spend hours gazing at it, and now so does Bodhi, to my delight) and my books, I would be happy. A place where we can cook and eat together, share cuddles and dreams (and tears), to play together and to snuggle together on rainy nights (and this house has a tin roof- again, bliss!). A place to be a family, which really, could be anywhere, as long as we are together.

We’re waiting to hear back about it, and I have given it over to the universe. The universe has always brought us the perfect house at the perfect time, and I don’t doubt it will do the same again, whatever the outcome.

Deep in the night last night, my partner and I found ourselves watching television. There was  a commercial from some company about their promise to donate $25 to the Salvos Winter Appeal for every heater that is bought.

Initially I smiled. It’s a real sign of the times that so many companies are more aware and proactive about social responsibility. There is a great quote by Anita Roddick, (a big role model for me, Vale Anita!) that goes something along the lines of this: in the past, the church and government have had their times of holding the power, and in that, the responsibility of caring for the social needs of our society. But now, business holds that power, and needs to reflect this in it’s treatment of social and environmental issues.

As I thought more about the ad, and the actions of the company (whilst welcomed, every little bit helps), I wondered whether the current trend for companies to cater for social needs and wants, and tackle such issues, is simply clever marketing. A close relative of ‘green wash’, is it simply a way to placate and entice customers who instinctively feel guilty about their consumerism? A way of counteracting social awareness, rather than encouraging it?

As a former employee as a corporate social responsibility officer for a large company, I know that the bottom line is still the highest priority. Is social activism and profiteering mutually exclusive?

I am finding I am digressing from the point I am trying to make, however. This is a topic I will have to revisit at another time.

The point is, the company was trying to help solve the issue of homelessness through monetary donations. The question I raise, is it possible to solve social issues through money alone? Can an injection of cash stop these problems from occurring?

I tend to not think so. Sure, money is needed in the area of homelessness (to use that as an example, but I’m thinking generally here). There is a lack of affordable and appropriate housing for a horrifying amount of people, and the ‘classes’ that this effects appears to be rising (to my mind, because of consumerism once again). A large budget from governmental and corporate finances could build more housing, subsidise this for the poor, fund refuges for those fleeing domestic violence and family breakdown, and so on.

But will money stop the problem? Will people continue to become homeless just because there are finances to deal with the problem once it arises?

What is it, about our society and culture, that creates these problems in the first place? To use the homelessness example again, why is it that families break down so increasingly, and what are our communal beliefs that cause this? Why is it that people will give a homeless man a dollar in the street, but won’t offer to listen to his life story, or take him for a meal (again, I’m generalising, I know there are people who do this). Why do we cross to the other side of the street to avoid him, rather than inviting him to live with us?

I think it is beliefs, and values, that help create these problems. And most importantly, a sense of disconnectedness and lack of responsibility for others in our culture. We are a highly individualistic culture, and sadly at times, one that does not encourage conscious living and pondering heavier topics like this.

To me, to begin to solve any social problem, you need to start as an individual. Not by your actions, but even closer: via your beliefs. Via the way you see the world, it’s inhabitants, and yourself. To quote Gandhi, to “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

The Physicality of Me

July 7, 2008

I’ve been feeling a lot more comfortable about my body since having a baby. Even though I am considerably heavier, saggier, paler and often more unkempt, I feel a deeper satisfaction with my body than I have before. I think it comes down to it’s innate ability to do things. No matter what my mental state is, to a sometimes miraculous degree, it is able to just do it’s thing and keep things working.

Becoming a mama proved to me what a superb thing the female body is. It is (in most cases, and even in mine, if I had trusted it rather than The System, and gave it the honour it deserved) able to birth beautiful babies. It crafts these beautiful babies, cell by cell, from an egg and a sperm, gently, reverentially, gorgeously. My baby is sustained and fed by milk made from my body, is protected from disease by this milk, nourished and nurtured by my breasts.

There is, however a bit of conflict in the way I feel about my body. About what it does, I feel awe. About how it looks, I feel a lot less confident.

I think, if I could value myself enough to truly honour my body, nourish with good food, adequate rest (or as much as a new mama can!) and challenging, empowering and fun exercise, I would look better (and feel a lot better about all aspects of my self). But for some reason, which I’ve never really been able to pinpoint, I have never been able to get there. Good intentions quickly fall by the wayside or are overtaken by some other project.

It all comes down to self esteem and self worth I think. There is a part of me, not too dominating, but deep enough to cause considerable damage, that thinks I am worthless. This manifests in my looks I think, or at least, the way I feel about my looks.

There is a lot of work to be done here. A lot of questions to be answered. But for the moment, I feel good having given awareness to this issue, and in that, allowing the space to grow.

I think there are many sides to any person, and any person’s psyche. That might be a paradigm but I cannot see that it can be untrue. Furthermore, which is a little bit more debatable, but probably just as obvious with a little bit of thought, is that all these facets of ‘self’ can be, and often are, in conflict with each other.

I am wondering, where do these conflicts come from? Are they incidental? Or is there something that creates a rift in our selves, that needs to remedied? And if so, how?

Take the first viewpoint. They are meant to be there. They create in us, a sense of depth and layering, but also, they provoke us to question ourselves and look with in. This would, hopefully, bring about a more conscious and mindful journey through life. A search for meaning and full integration with every decision that we make in our lives. A growing sense of empowerment, responsibility and choice.

But what if they are an anomaly of the way we live? That our true selves, deep within in us, are made up of harmonious and interdependant facets that resonate and complement each other, perhaps so much so that it is impossible to define where one begins and the other ends. We simply are who we are.

So if this is the case, where do internal conflicts come from? This is the nurture side of the nature and nurture debate I suppose, that pressures from others, from the media, from governance and search for materialistic or less-than-meaningful goals creates in us a blindness to what it is we really want and need.

And how do we go about remedying this? Distance ourselves from the world as it is? That is nigh on impossible, given the way our society operates. It is a fundamental thing, so many values and institutions and habits would need to change to make this possible.

And so, the only way I can see right now, is to live more mindfully. Do not follow blindly the urges we have, but examine them, their roots, and what the true need behind them is. Make informed choices. Be.

Modern Zen Hunting

July 7, 2008

I’m sitting here, trying to focus, to elicit some wisdom and style and insight. In another room, the washing machine is singing it’s vibratory song. Pummels and bangs and whirrs come from the construction site across the road. A cat rubs up against my leg, half committed to convincing me she needs another breakfast. Beside me, Bodhi will be awake soon.

I am outside of myself. When I write, I like to be inside of myself. Tuned in to the inner voice. An island, and totally self sufficient, for a little while (beep of the washing machine). Like in the latter stages of labour, that etheric nowhere land where all that exists is you and the universe, as one.

(Hum of lawn mower) I reflect on monks, sitting in the garden of a monastery high up in the Himilayan foothills. The air is still, but cracks with focus. (Mother asks question about sterilising breast pump) All that can be heard  is the beating of their heart, and the raspy in and out of their breath in the chilly air.

Well, of course it’s easy to be meditative in an environment like that! Where are the distractions? I wonder what pulls a zen monk from his musings. What niggles at the edge of his conciousness as he attempts to find enlightenment (construction workers yelling at each other).

Maybe I should strip down my life. Throw out all my possessions and move to a shack in the mountains (in fact, that idea sounds quite blissful, except I’m sure it would be different in practice, and I’m not sure how the husband would feel about it (sound of husband bursting in the door, late for work).

That’s the challenge of modern life though, isn’t it (sound of husband waking Bodhi)(husband kissing me goodbye)? Finding the deeper moments in the hustle and bustle. Extracting the important from the mundane.

Must go. Baby awake.

Nourishing the Self

July 7, 2008

Up until just a while ago food was just a physical thing for me, a source of nutrition, or more often than not, a way to satiate hunger and satisfy cravings for various kinds of junk food.

As the rest of my life opens up to a more conscious, deep understanding and beautiful symbiosis (or maybe the lack of sleep is just creating a drug-like daze Shocked ) of physical, mental and spiritual, so does my way of looking at food.

I now see that it is a way of nurturing my self. I am realising I don’t have to neglect or punish the self, to live a more peaceful and spiritual life (and by spiritual I don’t mean religious, just closer to the universal energies or Mother Earth or however you want to describe the bigger picture we are all part of). The physical and spiritual are linked, so by creating reverence through food, and eating, I’m helping create reverence in all parts of my life.

I’ve recently started on a ‘diet’ per se. It’s not a deprive yourself diet. In fact, I’m reluctant to call it a diet at all, because I think that word has a lot of baggage and misuse in our society. It’s a meal plan that helps you identify which foods work best to boost your vitality and health, and which make you feel less than optimum. It’s really convenient too, to have a guide of what to eat, when everything else is currently so demanding of my attention.

It’s come at a great time. Usually, in this kind of situation, my eating would be erratic, unhealthy and rushed. But I am finding the time to slow down, enjoy my cooking, and my preparation of my meals, and have made this a priority. And by this I’m prioritising myself, and my wellbeing, which is helping me keep all my balls in the air, metaphorically speaking.

At the baby group we talked about the energy and intention that goes into food. This really resonated with me. I feel a meal prepared with love, however simple, will be more nourishing and enjoyable than something made in a rush, or with resentment. Also, food can be such a wonderful thing to share! A time to nuture each other, or be nurtured.

Some of Dan’s family are Hare Krishna, and they have really beautiful traditions concerning food. They make everything with so much love and intention, and all meals are an offering to God. Plus, their food is absolutely delicious!

Generation Gap?

July 7, 2008

Something I read the other day really resonated with me. It was about the “generation gap” and the lack of respect and understanding that plays about between the generations.

I despise the labels ‘baby boomer’, ‘generation x’ and ‘generation y’. I find them really stifling, stereotyped labels that do more to push people apart rather than together. They are, to me, most predominatedly written about in negative terms, and competitively, between the generations, as a kind of written slanging match to prove just which cohort group is superior.

This kind of thinking is lazy at best, and incredibly divisive and damaging at worst. It belies the natural ability we have to share our wisdom, whether young or old, to learn from experience and strengthen communities. People are not labels, they are people. To think otherwise is semantical nonsense. Just because someone may decide to label me an elephant, or a guitar, does not make me so.

I have to admit however, I readily do fall into this lazy thinking at times. I am guilty of resenting people simply because of their age, and the stereotype that they drag around their neck. But I acknowledge that this is lazy thinking, test the truth of it, and challenge it when it comes up in others.

Gifts

July 7, 2008

Life is so busy right now. My beautiful baby boy and family time, my website and own healing journey, study, work placement, reseach for my business and running a household. I don’t get alot of time for writing at the moment, just my blog really. Which is a little sad in one way, but in another it’s really special, because it means I have a number of other, fufilling things happening in my life.

I will need to reconnect with my writing soon though. It’s a primitive complusion for me, a business of true self. I have some ideas for some magazine articles, as well as a novel that I’ve been plodding through for the last eighteen months or so.

I think though, that I will write when I need to write. When that creative urge takes me, very little will stand in my way. Or it will find a way to manifest at a time that is conducive to it’s full potential.

I have a lot more trust in the universe and divinity than I ever have before, more than when I was a devotee of verious religions. My feelings about religions are a whole post in themselves! But writing is a sacred activity for me, and I need to make time to celebrate those gifts I’ve been given.