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Welcome to Musings – The Loom Room Blog

20 February, 2010

Snow – the power of transformation

Filed under: Art,Life,Psychology — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 10:20 am

I know for many of us that the winter has gone on a long time.  This year’s jet stream has brought lots of snow to places that normally have very little or none of the white stuff.  However, snow is an amazing thing.  It has the power to transform what is normal and so everyday that we don’t see it or notice it until something suddenly jumps out at us and makes us marvel.  I was walking round my usual route with Charlie this morning – the same fields that I’ve walked for nigh on 18 years, and for the first time, I saw a dip in the field that I’ve never been aware of before!  OK, so that doesn’t seem like much of a revelation, but it got me thinking about the transformation possibilities of snow and then to thinking about other things that transform us or our surroundings, or how we perceive things.  A good book can do that, a song which is linked to a certain time or event in our lives.  A certain dress which is associated to a particular memory.  A chance comment that can change the pattern of our lives for ever!

That’s got me smiling because my thoughts have veered away from my original thoughts I had whilst walking.  This morning, I couldn’t help but be immersed in the wonder of a beautiful sunny morning and a Christmas card scene.  It was magical.  It was so beautiful it almost hurt to see it.  It was so soulful. I just stood there and drank it in.  Those are magical moments, moments that stay with you for the rest of your days.  That was an internal photograph moment, captured on my retina and saved into my memory banks that I can refer to time and again when my soul or my mind needs solace.  An experience that, whilst it might be fairly common place, is also extraordinary.  A moment of meditation and reverence that pervades your whole being.  I’m smiling as I’m waxing lyrical here but I think you probably know what I mean, even if you don’t share my childish love of snow.  These moments are both exciting and deeply spiritual, childish and eternal, deep in our psyche as human beings that that we cannot help but be touched by them.  And they are important to us.  I feel so privileged to be alive this morning.  To be walking through this winter landscape with my dog and able to appreciate the beauty and eternal mystery of this wonderful white stuff, of which every flake is unique and so beautiful whilst being at the same time symmetrical and predictable whilst not being predictable at all!  I love paradox and this is one of nature’s best for me.  A blanketing effect which yet transforms.  A new way of light touching familiar contours.  Highlighting contours in a way that we don’t normally see, and even better this morning, with a beautiful clear blue sky and gilded by February sunshine.  Perfect!!!  My day has been transformed into something wonderful.  Now, isn’t there a song about Something Wonderful?….

14 February, 2010

Meditation with a focus

Filed under: Life,Philosophy — Tags: , , , — admin @ 9:18 am

Have you read that correctly?  Did I really mean that?  Isn’t that against everything that meditation stands for???? 

On the face of it, it would appear that I’ve either gone nuts, or I don’t really understand what meditation is all about.  If you’ll bear with me, I’ll explain what it’s all about.

I received a lovely chatty email this week from a student who came on her first course with me in the autumn.  She wrote to say that she was suddenly reminded of my charater by someone else that she’d met last weekend. 

As you can imagine, I just had to read on!  We all love to know what other people think about us, even if afterwards we wish we hadn’t been so curious!!  She went on to say that what she had been reminded about was my two personas – my “meeintg like-minded people”, social persona and my “solitary, meditative” private persona. 

One morning, being an early riser, she had come into the workshop whilst I was setting the fire.  Now I have a little ritual that sets me up for the day, but which is usually conducted in private.  It was during this little ritual that she had come in and, not wishing to disturb me, she had quietly gone upstairs onto the balcony to look at some of my weaving and design books.  But she had been intrigued by my actions and quietly observed.

My ritual involves doing the yoga Salutation to the Sun several times on my yoga mat before my unlit stove.  That loosens up my muscles and warms me up in order to do the bending necessary for lighting the studio fire.  I approach lighting the fire a little bit like a Japanese tea ceremony, I guess.  I love the graceful movements, the focus and the ritual involved in such a seemingly mundane process and I apply this to the processes involved in clearing out the grate, chopping the wood, setting the fire and lighting it.

She watched quietly as I went about my ritual, totally absorbed and unaware that she was upstairs.  After this, I grab my cup of tea from the kitchen, and come back in to check that the fire has taken well, and sometimes I also light a candle, put it on a small footstool, grab some cushions and sit and look at the candle flame.  Like so many people, I love looking at flames, and I try just to focus on the flame.  This is something I do if I have a particularly knotty problem to solve and it’s pouring with rain outside! 

My favourite way of solving problems is to take Charlie the dog for a walk and just get involved with the beauty of the countryside through which I’m walking.  I think this is known as ‘walking meditation’.  Gratitude for where you are and what you are able to do goes a long way towards reducing problems to their proper proportions and re-establishing perspective, I’ve found, and I feel this most when I’m out with Charlie, observing nature at work and play. 

Do you have a particular way of meditating?  Do you call it meditating, or does that feel too pretentious to you?  Do you have little rituals that make you feel more centred?  More connected?  I’m sure most of us do have this dual aspect to our daily lives, but we may not separate the two aspects, or label them, or even be aware of them.  I feel that being aware of the amazing abilities of my mind to ease my fears and solve my problems helps me to access a state of inner calm – that even in the storm of things that affect us, I can feel secure knowing that I will come through and will have learnt from the experience. 

It’s an amazing feeling to carry with you each day.  It gives you an inner confidence that underpins whatever else you do.  It helps you to appreciate the wonderful little things that happen each day.  Which is a good way to finish.  I’m off to appreciate the wonderful, sunny albeit very cold, day today along with my great companion, Charlie! 

Enjoy your day!

7 February, 2010

Know Yourself

Filed under: Life,Philosophy,Psychology,Weaving — Tags: , , , , , , , — admin @ 5:36 pm

I originally wrote this entry a year ago, and was thinking about this very subject this week when my son and I were having a philosophical discussion on “how do you know when you know yourself?”  In trying to put down in words what we were discussing, I got myself into knots, and deleted the whole thing, when I suddenly had the impulse to look at articles I’ve written but not yet published.  And there, right at the top, was this!  Serendipity at work!  Enjoy….

“Know Yourself”

This is a local secondary school’s motto near where I live, and it always gets me shaking my head.

I can’t say too much about this other than to say that the children really don’t get time to know themselves!  But what I wanted to think about today is how this short phrase applies to each of us individually.  Do we really know ourselves?

There are certain things I know about myself because of how I feel in certain situations.  For instance, I have an intense dislike of confrontation and will sometimes not stand up for myself or seek to turn a conversation to avoid confrontation although these days I would not go so far as to compromise myself or my principles.  But the flip side to this is that I have a very active (or overactive) sense of fair play.  If someone else is suffering an injustice, I leap in to defend them even at the risk of personal injury!  Now how does that equate??  In Homer SImpson’s immortal words – Doh!!

Why do I do that?  Is it a sensible thing to do?  No – usually not!  But somehow I can’t seem to help myself!  Choices.  No-one can say whether any choice is right or wrong.  We have laws and social codes but they are only guides, and they can change over a period of time as society itself changes.  We each live by our own personal codes, so we can only judge each other seen from our own standpoint.  Also our own perspective changes as we mature (age!) and we can choose (if we wish) how to react to any situation. When we are born we seem to be hard-wired with one disposition or another but as we get older we can sometimes develop into the opposite of that. 

So I’m back to where I started.  And how do we get to know ourselves? 

For me, it’s spending time on my own.  Lots of time.  Thinking.  Reading.  Weaving.  Thinking some more. 

Also it’s spending time with other people.  Lots of different people in different situations.  Watching. Listening.  Talking.  Listening some more. 

I’m not a social animal by nature.  However, give me a group of people with the same interests – weaving, philosophy, travel, readers, writers, music, theatre – and I’m as gregarious as anyone else.  It’s like heads and tails, chalk and cheese.  And I don’t think I’m alone in this.  I cultivate what I’d like to become – so I don’t watch violent movies.  I read to expand my mind and my soul.  I travel to learn more and experience more about the world.  I walk with my dog and examine closely the nature I see around me.  I weave because I love art, and weaving and experimenting fulfils my soul. 

I don’t know if what I do really helps me to know myself.  All I do know is that I like doing these things and I feel that I’m getting to know myself.  And perhaps that’s all any of us can aspire to. 

The words and music from The King & I, “Getting to Know You”, are running through my head now.  Perhaps it is more about getting to know others and finding through that that we get to know ourselves.  Hmmm.  I’d be interested in your thoughts……