Daily practices – gratitude

I have always tried to have daily practices/rituals in my life. A consistent daily ritual has been my morning coffee. Daily yoga, tarot, magick meditation/journey work, morning pages (inspired by the book, The Artists Way), watering my garden, all tools to connect me to myself, to the world around me, tools to ground me into all that exists.

For a while now I have been engaging in a daily practice of gratitude. Listing 5+ things I am grateful for every morning. If I read back over my lists; coffee, yoga, podcasts, my fam and my lover all feature very strongly.

I am *heart beating out of my chest* grateful for the amazing human adrienne maree brown, whose podcast How to Survive the End of the World, and book Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds has my brain exploding with excitement for life and engaging in the world in really wonderful ways.

I was recently 11 pages into Emergent Strategy and had this lightbulb moment. A daily practice of gratitude is great for me as an individual. It gives me a moment to reflect on all that I have in my life and gives me reasons to hang onto hope and excitement for my day to day, my existence. It grounds me in a moment. It centers me. I feel better. I smile more. I complain less. Though I find it really insular. It is about me. And while I find that helpful… I also want to feel more connected externally. I want that appreciation to be actively engaged. I want to share back. I want to love.

So I have started a daily love practice. Replaced the word gratitude for the word love.

I am grateful for the amazing podcasts I listen to, they make me feel connected to a larger world of movement. I love the amazing podcasts I listen to, they inspire me to engage in the world in new and exciting ways and I want them to continue, so when I have a stable income I will become a sustaining member and donate.

Maybe I could still actively engage in loving ways using the word gratitude, but I want to practice love more openly and be responsive to those beings/things/moments I love.

A little empathetic reflection #1

I’ve done a lot of reflecting on what has supported the growth of my empathy, the tools I’ve used over the years to support a greater cultivation of empathetic engagement. I could write a thesis on my own reflections alone. One of the things that stand out strongly for me – in this moment at least – is a comfort in stillness and observation. Just watching and taking in the people and interactions that surround me. Just watching, letting my eyes rest on moments. Not holding the moments for deliberation, just letting my eyes softly stop and rest on the sight. – Jessie Giles

2 weeks without Facebook

I have had my heart filled with beautiful feedback from people who have read my “Why I left Facebook” post. It is inspiring, to see how the use of words can fill me up so adequately with connection. One of the many reasons Facebook has been useful for me in the past.

I have also received feedback from people, about why they feel Facebook is beneficial to them, which I understand and concur. Those reasons of staying in contact, being connected across oceans, maintaining a social life when the bombardment of work, children, societies busyness allow no time to get out there in person.

I understand all these reasons… and have used Facebook for the past 5 or 6 years for these reasons.

I suppose I am writing this now to clarify that the reasons I choose to share my thoughts around Facebook and my association with it, have not been to discourage others, or bag it out. But to share, for me, why I am no longer using it.

Today marks 2 weeks with a deactivated account. And it has been a beautiful experience. I felt a weight lift from my shoulders the morning I awoke and remembered that I didn’t need to check and see how many notifications I had, I didn’t need to stalk my current crush. I had a moment of “oh, but what happens when I feel lonely?”, and reminded myself that loneliness is ok. That it would be temporary and that I could, rather than reach out for a ‘like’ on Facebook, I could walk down to the corner store and buy myself some chocolate and have a conversation with the old man behind the counter, or countless other interactions where I could look into some ones eyes and see them.

Facebook serves so many purposes, for so many people. Its a great tool. But I, personally became so caught up in it’s psychological web, that I forgot my psyche. I became lost in it’s ability to allow my desire for ‘likes’ to overcome my desire for self-acceptance and self-love.

Rather than read a book, or have a conversation, or write my uni assignment, I would automatically open Facebook, and find myself yearning engagement.

A friend, mentioned that the Machine Stops could really make us reflect upon all social media and electronic forms of communication. And I agree. And it has. I have thought about how maybe I am being a little hypocritical, I am still sending SMS, I use email frequently, I share photos on Instagram, have a twitter account, and share my thoughts on WordPress… but for me personally it has been Facebook that has sucked me into it’s vortex that goes beyond communication and connection and into a world of needing to be ‘liked’, the desire of acceptance from all 900+ ‘friends’, a constant stream of people engaging with ME. Me, me, me.

Have I had more face to face moments of human connectedness since leaving Facebook? Maybe no more than before my account was deactivated, but I have appreciated those moments more. I have allowed my senses to soak up all the stimuli. I have looked into eyes, caressed hair, listened to words lull me, hypnotic. And I have come back to me. Come back to understanding the importance of me, in my physical form, and how I respond and watch others respond to our human connection.

And that is a beautiful thing.

Why I left Facebook…

So I have decided to deactivate my Facebook account. It is slightly depressing, because I have a huge Facebook addiction, one of the reasons I must expel it from my life, and I will miss it deeply, but alas, the time has come.

There are a number of reasons I want to do this and I think my exploration into empathetic narratives has fuelled my aspiration to be Facebook free.

Recently a friend of mine (check out his blog on dumpster diving here) suggested I read a short story called The Machine Stops (it is online in full) by E.M. Forster (1909), and I did, and it moved me beyond words, both in the way it was written and in it’s subject matter.

The Machine Stops explores a world where humans no longer live on the surface of the earth, they have gone underground, isolated in individual ‘rooms’, serviced by the ‘Machine’. Every thing is artificial, every thing is detached from humanity and human connection. Interactions are fast flowing through the ‘Machine’, individuals communicate with 1000’s of ‘friends’ through technology, but “the Machine did not transmit nuances of expression… the imponderable bloom, declared by a discredited philosophy to be the actual essence of intercourse was ignored by the Machine, just as the imponderable bloom of the grape was ignored by the manufacturers of the artificial fruit… something “good enough” had long since been accepted by our race” (Forster, 1909).

This is what triggered my initial pulse of “I don’t want to lose connection with humanity”, that blood pumping connection with what I love, what holds me to people, that “imponderable bloom”, that rosy flare of heart strings pulled by mechanisms all things unexplainably beautiful and human! I don’t want to be accepting superficial “good enough” connectivity.

E.M Forster shares the story of an interaction between a mother, Vashti, and her son, Kuno. They are in their separate ‘bubbles’, one in the Northern Hemisphere and the other in the Southern Hemisphere. The story begins with Kuno wanting his mother to visit him. But Vashti feels no need to leave her ‘bubble’, she feels it is a waste of time and that they can connect “good enough” through the ‘Machine”. Eventually she does visit him, and finds he has visited the surface of the world… I don’t want to say too much more, because I feel you should all read it. An hour is all you need, for it is only 25 pages. 25 pages of words woven beautifully.

An internal discourse has lead me to feel I am frustrated by the lack of meaningful ‘feeling’ connections. I long for dialogue that excites my neuronal firing, that triggers memories, interaction that is evocative and emotive. Maybe I feel a disconnection from a love life, maybe I have been too caught up in study and poetry and performance, but I feel it is that I am too caught up in a world where external stimulation guides us too quickly through life’s course. I feel I am being sucked into the void of Facebook and while I used it to try to connect and reach out, share my passions and yearned for a ‘like’, that connection and ‘like’ buttons clicked, hasn’t been enough. I shared on Facebook things that excite me, things I am passionate about, things that trigger in me human responses and I wanted to trigger those things in other people. And maybe I did. But what was lacking was the mutual dialogue, debate, discussion. The face to face, watching some one blush with excitement, or frown with discontent, or nostril flare with anger. I want to see the tears that swell in peoples eyes, I want to hear peoples joy in the heightened pitch of their utterance. I want to touch, enjoy the warmth of flesh and that delight in the tactility of my finger tips.

This is why I have left Facebook. This is why I want to return to my humanity.

I want to leave you, with some of the quotes from The Machine Stops that truly moved me.

“Man is the measure. That was my first lesson. Man’s feet are the measure for distance, his hands are the measure for ownership, his body is the measure for all that is loveable and desirable and strong.”

“But I had got back the sense of space and a man cannot rest then.”

“I felt, for the first time, that a protest had been lodged against corruption, and that even as the dead were comforting me, so I was comforting the unborn. I felt that humanity existed, and that it existed without clothes. How can I possibly explain this? It was naked, humanity seemed naked, and all these tubes and buttons and machineries neither came into the world with us, nor will they follow us out, nor do they matter supremely while we are here.”

“Cannot you see, cannot all you lecturers see, that it is we that are dying, and that down here the only thing that really lives is the Machine? We created the Machine, to do our will, but we cannot make it do our will now. It has robbed us of the sense of space and of the sense of touch, it has blurred every human relation and narrowed down love to a carnal act, it has paralysed our bodies and our wills, and now it compels us to worship it. The Machine develops – but not on our lines. The machine proceeds – but not to our goal. We only exist as the blood corpuscles that course through its arteries, and if it could work without us, it would let us die.”

Much love humanity, I will see you in person.

Jessie Giles

echotango lead me to capturing gratitude

You know those moments when you connect with some one who is travelling along a parallel path, going a similar direction, but just a bit further along, and
you go “ahhh yeah!! every thing is going the way it should be”. Moments when you realise the intersection of all your varied skills can work together and
you can look at all the possibilities of applying them in your life. These moments seem to be flying at me recently. Some times a little too quickly, where
I am needing to drop other things to grab them, or chase after some that are hurtling along too fast for me to seize.

One of these moment brought me in contact with Alex Kelly, an artist, producer, film maker, activist, and general all round awesome person, with a passion
that is contagious. Kelly has this great blog echotango, which explores social change, arts, impact producing, activism,
social change film, social justice, story based strategies, and much much much more really exciting and informative musings…

Alex is the National Producer of Big hART.

Any way, she introduced me (through her awesome blog) to Lauren Tober, a clinical psychologist (yay!), mindfulness yoga teacher and photographer. Lauren has this project called capturing gratitude, a global happiness project, exploring gratitude through photography. During the month of February people will be posting daily photos of gratitude, encouraging and facilitating their own gratitude practice. Get involved via her website!

There is some thing so beautiful about how an image and the stories that hold it, envelop it and are activated through its consideration. How an image can hold you captivated and allow gentle (or confronting) questioning. The internal and external narration that travels with an image.

 

Yes, stories, I love you.

Museum of the Long Weekend

As you already know, if you read my first blog post about Big hART, I am a big fan of this arts and social change organisation. Last night, during my midnight cognitive dialogue, I read some really beautiful blog posts from the Museum of the Long Weekend (MOTLW).

MOTLW is a Big hART project, as part of the Centenary of Canberra’s celebratory weekend SPIN, looking at the psychology of leisure, Australia’s recreational history, through an ephemeral museum on wheels. 40+ Vintage Caravans will be converging on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra, next weekend the 18th-20th October.

It’s exciting, I get to go up as part of my internship. And I have been following the vans (travelling along three convoy routes) as they journey across the continent, with much yearning and desire to buy myself a beautiful vintage caravan, or a bus, or just a general car, and pack up all my belongs, hit the road and share stories and narratives with people in caravan parks, road stops and beautiful sandy white beaches (preferably north of the cold Australian weather).

These blog updates, especially the ones shared by Elspeth, are beautifully crafted short stories of time on the road, those moments we go through, of introspection, outrospection, processing, connecting, building, gaining, losing, learning.

Last night as I read these, I thought of how beautiful it is to see people share so openly and vulnerably (courageously) and how much taking in these stories stirs so many feelings and emotions, so many sensations.

Thats what I am passionate about.

Check out the blog here. And please share with me what you think. Lets engage in a mutual narrative of sharing.

ACT

I am suppose to be studying for my exams in a couple of weeks, or getting to bed early so I am fresh to brave the RMIT Uni striking staff picket lines tomorrow morning, to get my final, last, psychology lab report into the submission box on time… but instead I am thinking of all the things in my life that are causing my internal dialogue to fire and chatter away quickly.

So rather than try to push it all away and ‘get on with what needs doing’, I thought I would just share it all with you.

ACT!

I am reading an article at the moment on ‘Acceptance and Commitment Therapy‘ (ACT), which is a ‘third wave’ behavioural therapy that, unlike any other psychotherapy, does not have the goal of getting rid of ‘symptoms’, but to “create a rich and meaningful life, while accepting the pain that inevitably goes with it” (Harris, 2006). This may confuse people a little, in that ‘why would I want to accept pain and discomfort?’ sort of way. But it makes so much sense to me, and the theory/therapy fits in nicely with my ’empathy cultivating, creative narrative, uncomfortable dialogues’ theme… The article talks about the root of psychological suffering stemming from human language its self. It looks at the idea of a public and private language. How our private language (the language that we use to talk to ourselves, plan, visualise, analyse, etc) is our cognition and that this internal dialogue or narrative (see!!) is a double edged sword. On the nice side of the sword, it provides us with all this really awesome stuff, like learning, and creating, and planning, and making models of the world. While on the dark and dangerous side, it has us lie, manipulate, be ignorant, we use it to scare ourselves… and even worse… we use it to destroy ourselves.

So sure, its all pretty heavy duty, but not really. Basically what ACT does is look at how we can develop skills to either problem solve our ‘issues’ or the dark side of the sword, or develop acceptance that this shit happens and that some times it is out of our control. And then it helps us to commit and ACT toward living a valued life…

Maybe I have lost you… and maybe I am too tired and should just get my beauty sleep… BUT I want to say this… maybe if we can begin to feel safely uncomfortable of our own ‘symptoms’, then we will be more readily able to feel safely uncomfortable by other peoples ‘symptoms’ and gain strength and resilience and understanding and empathetically grow!!

Just a thought, at 12:44AM.

(There are more things chiming in my brain that I wish to share… but maybe I will post it all separately, so if you have become bored of this post, you won’t miss out on the other exciting stuff – trust me, it is exciting!!)