sword

Ben:  “Let go of your conscious self and act on instinct.”

Luke: “How am I suppose to fight?  I can’t see!”

Ben:  “Your eyes can deceive you.  Don’t trust them.”

 

Inner space

If we spend time only working with our rational mind, then we are only ever likely to get half of the story.  If we want to truly nurture our own personal growth, then we need to connect to our inner self – our subconscious mind to get what Paul Harvey used to say, “The rest of the story.�

Connecting with our subconscious mind requires us to use our imagination – like being a kid again, when we play with our imagination, we leave behind the narrow rational, intellectual side of our mind.  And instead, we connect into an expanded state of awareness.

In this place, we can tap into the power of the universal wisdom and learn from the experiences stored in what the great Swiss psychologist Carl Jung called the collective unconscious.  This universal wisdom can help guide us along our path of personal growth and spiritual connectedness.  

One of the ways we can begin to explore our subconscious mind is through the use the mandala.

shine 

What is a mandala?

Because we do not have a direct view into the subconscious mind, we have to use a mirror to reflect the activity happening within.  The mandala is such a mirror.  Through the mandala we can see the images and symbols that are at play in our subconscious mind and that may be having a direct effect on our conscious self through our thoughts and behaviours.  

The word mandala is Sanskirt for circle.  The circle has always had a very profound effect on our psyche.  It is a power symbol and accepted across many cultures as a symbol for life.  One only has to glance up into the sky and gaze upon the nurturing light of the sun or the reflective nature of the moon to see the most direct evidence of its universality. The circle, according to Jung, is also a symbol of the Self, and represents the centre of the total personality.

Mandalas are usually created by drawing a circle to represent the self, and then populating the inside of the circle with shapes, colours and images using coloured pencils, pens, crayons, or any medium one is comfortable working in.  The object is to draw without thinking and let oneself be guided by an intuitive whim.
 
The act of drawing a mandala creates a harmonious relationship between the mind, body and spirit by incorporating the body through the mechanical act of drawing, the mind through the mental patterns that are reflected inside the circle and the spirit through the choice of colour that reflects our feelings.

shaman

my girl II

(Picture:  a sketch I did from an advertisment for cars of all things!)

My girl’s a pretty girl
She is a city girl
And I’d do most anything
To keep her in style

My girl has a long long nose
Just like a garden hose
But I’d do most anything
to keep her in style

My girl has great big eyes
Just like two custard pies
But I’d do most anything
to keep her in style

My girl has a thin thin chin
Just like a safety pin
But I’d do most anything
to keep her in style

My girl has great big hips
Just like two battleships
But I’d do most anything
to keep her in style

My girl has no tits
just two bumps that look like zits
But I’d do most anything
to keep her in style

– an old army cadence we use to sing while marching

Maybe I just don’t get out much because I had no idea these things existed.  Or maybe I’ve just been living in England too long and need to get myself back across the Big Pond and find out what’s going over there! 

I like my coffee straight up – black, no sugar – coffee flavored coffee as Denise Leary once joked.  But thanks to my friend Becky, a girl in short shorts, I might have to rethink my whole concept of coffee and how I like it served. 

This is the thing that gets me all conflicted.  As an intelligent woman I should be deeply offended, when I pull into an expresso stand and am served by a bouncy bodacious barista in pink hot pants.  And if I was a totally straight girl (or a 1993 lesbian), I probably would have. read

Coffee will never be the same!

I attended the Professional Speakers Association meeting the other night and one the keynote speakers gave a presentation on purpose.  His theme was that we should live our lives on purpose not on accident.  He said the way to find your purpose is to align your true core values with your true insecurities.  Once you truly understand what they are you can begin to live your life in accords with your purpose. 

His presentation got me to thinking about my own purpose.  Yesterday I spent the morning really questioning my core values.  By doing that I came to understand that my core values are driven from my insecurities about myself.  The traditional rationale goes something like this:  if I be more of my core values, my insecurities won’t have room to show. 

But actually it’s my insecurities that drive who I aspire to be.  And by asking myself some tough questions as to why my insecurities are what they are, I was able to discover my purpose.

Animals are fantastic.  We can learn a lot from them about life.  When it comes to living on purpose the lion and gazelle story is a perfect example.  The story goes like this:

Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up knowing that it must outrun the slowest gazelle or starve to death.  Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up knowing that it must outrun the fastest lion or be killed.  You see it doesn’t matter whether you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up, you had better be running!

 chess

“The chess-board is the world; the pieces are the phenomena of the universe; the rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature.  The player on the other side is hidden from us.  We know that his play is always fair, just, and patient.  But also we know, to our cost, that he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance.â€?  – T.H. Huxley

Life is a mind game.  How we play the game in our head, affects how we play the game in real life.  Your mind dictates whether you fulfil your potential or live your life forever hoping and wishing your dreams will come true.  How you play the game in your head is the difference that makes a difference.

Presumably the purpose of a game is to enjoy the experience or to learn from the experience in order to grow. 

We play many games – board games, video games, physical games, corporate games, and ultimately the game of life.
I think we get ourselves so caught up in the small games that we neglect the bigger game of life.

How good a player are you in the game of life?  Some of us seem to play the game better than others.  Is that down to luck?  Or do these people have a better understanding of the rules and have learned to master the game?

savage peace 

(Picture: a digital print I made called Savage Peace, click image for larger view)

Yesterday it was reported that abortions set a new record for one month in Britain.  Marie Stopes, which performs about a third of the abortions in Britain, conducted 5,992 abortions in January.  The question is why? 

Liz Davies of Marie Stopes thinks it’s possibly due to the festive season and all the excess partying and booze consumption.  All of which “combine to increase libido and lower inhibition, with the inevitable consequences of unprotected sex resulting in unplanned pregnancies.”

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service’s chief exec, Ann Furedi, believes the high number is due to “a difficult struggle to access proper services, rather than the results of women being careless after boozy office parties.”

Side note:  I did find it odd that this report appeared alongside of giant picture of Roselane Driza, the cleaner who was jailed for blackmailing a judge with his home sex videos.

If you open your eyes in the morning and you are still breathing, then you are alive.  Every thing else is a bonus.

field

(Picture: somewhere on manuevers in Germany)

Part of my training as an Infantry Officer required me to go to Ranger School, which is suppose to primarily be a leadership school for combat soldiers who want to join the Army’s elite light infantry unit known as the Rangers.  It was an unwritten rule that every infantry officer had to earn the coveted Ranger tab or he wasn’t worth his weight in salt as a leader of combat troops. 

When I went through Ranger School, it was a 68-day course.  We were given one dehydrated meal a day and an hour or two of sleep if we were lucky.   The course was designed to test our physical and mental limits as combat leaders.  We had to learn to lead men in all environments.  There was the Benning Phase where we learned to fight as a small unit in a woodland environment. There was the Mountain Phase where we learned to survive and fight at high altitudes.  This was followed by the Desert and Jungle Phase.

I drew the unfortunate short straw of having to attend Ranger school during the winter months.  I have never been so cold in my life and have come to dislike the winter months for that reason.

One morning we were huddle together like seals trying to stay warm.  We had on our Gortex winter jackets and we were still cold.  A Ranger Instructor came strutting out of his warm command post, a big smile on his face.  “Take those Gortex jackets off men.  It ain’t cold out here.  It’s 80 degrees out!  Cold is a state of mind.�  We groaned and shuffled and did as we were told. 

The Ranger instructor stood over us as we shivered and curse and said: “Men, if you make it through Ranger School, every day will be Christmas and every meal a feast.�

I didn’t believe him at the time.  But in retrospect, I now know what he meant. 
Every day is Christmas; and indeed every meal is a feast.

fun 

Whatever happened to good old fashioned hedonism, you know, the doctrine that states that pleasure is good and that pursuing anything other than pleasure is absurd and irrational? The only thing we pursue these days, it seems, is work, work, and more work, so we can buy more things we don’t need or have the time to enjoy. 

The things we do enjoy – sex, drugs, rock and roll, fatty food, and cigarettes, are deemed to be not good for us and will shorten our lives.  The prevaling thought seems to be “if I avoid all things pleasurable, I’ll live a long happy life.”  I’ve had just about enough of that.  Bring back the old school hedonism like the kind practiced by some of the greats like, Epicurus, Cleopatra, Louis XIV, Catherine the Great, Dumas, Flaubert, Balzac, and Timothy Leary to name a few.  I want to run through the garden naked, get drunk on red wine, and chase naked girls with flowers in their hair.  Sorry.  I digress.

Here is a simple test, courtesy of Michael Flocker, to see if you’re in the machine too deep. 

(If five or more of the following statements are true for you, then you are in serious need of hedonistic intervention.)

1.  You no longer remember anyone’s phone number because they’re all programmed into your cell phone.

2.  You email people at work who are seated within twenty feet of you.

3.  You make itineraries for your vacations.

4.  The idea of a full week without internet access fills you with terror.

5.  You are bored at home if the television isn’t on.

6.  You avsolutely must watch the news every day to be sure the world isn’t ending.

7.  You regularly watch sitcom reruns that you have seen countless times before.

8.  You are unable to sit still and think in silence.

9.  Your conversation regularly revolves around the lives of others instead of your own.

10.  You buy shoes because they match your ipod.

crowd

(Picture: Birmingham, New Street)

We live in a consumer society and it runs on a simple principle – our lives will be better if we buy this car, own this home, eat this food, use that mobile phone, drink this beer, or wear this brand of clothes.  We have allowed ourselves to buy into the illusion that if we own these possessions, we will feel better about ourselves.  We buy more possessions and our possessions need possesions, so we have to man the till to feed our possessions.  “Aspiring to this world”, says Jim Baggot, “keeps us in wage slavery, functioning as perfect consumer units, to the point where it is no longer necessary to feed us the illusion:  we are the illusion.  In the 21st century, the dream has become the reality.”

Ask yourself this, what would happen if you were to wake from this dream?