Creative aliveness

In poetry many things are going on at the same time and these layers of time and density of language make the poem uniquely poetic

Donald Hall

Unique – singular and personal. Poetic – to create, to make.

We’re all engaged in the business of creation, awake or asleep. Dr Lara Boyd assured her Ted X audience that the human brain never ceases to be creative. The brain learns something, and in simultaneous response is excited to learn more.

Layer builds upon layer. Many things are going on. Rich and fertile wonder lies in every living brain. It doesn’t need turning on, though it helps sometimes to turn external electronic voices off.

Time to meditate – but I procrastinate and it may be hours before the eventual sitting. Then, ‘small stones’ touched, I want to linger, and resist rising again. Why then do I hesitate so often? Why so much external noise? My most creative, loving aliveness is ever best renewed in contemplative, poetic, silence.

In silence each may discern the poetry of unique existence. Neck muscles click, click, click their way towards quiet observation and relaxation. Souls reach to mixed metaphor, listening for the touch of many-layered regeneration, up down, ground up. Herein lies the poetic. Here contemplative calm. In our world of joys and insoluble vicissitudes, the unique and the poetic offer necessary balm. Roots have their needed share of rain.

…. soon so many small stones, buried for a thousand years,
will feel themselves being touched.

Mary Oliver
from Lingering in Happiness in the volume Why I Wake Early
and in New and Selected Poems, Vol 2, page 95

It’s the silence


It’s the silence that’s the really important
thing – three or four times a day if that’s
remotely possible

It’s the silence that’s the really important
thing because the cave-like walls around the
edges of the no-noise afford resounding
echoes of the silent music you really need to
remember, the in-breath, the out-breath, the
heartbeat, the murmur

Not so much THE, actually, but rather hers, or
his, your own dear co-creators who gaze out
lovingly, with attentive eye and ear and scent
and taste and touch, from the very heart and
source of an infinite waterfall that heals and
raises dead things buried deep in damp earth
and irrigates the depths of the soul

It’s the silence that’s the really important
thing – three or four times a day if that’s
remotely possible

because that’s where the deepest encounters
take place, that’s where you meet vivacity
that’s where you know that because She’s still
breathing, singing, laughing, being, weeping,
growing, making – so, too, in all eternity

you are, in I AM


Velcro or Teflon?

I’m a long-term devotee of Franciscan friar Richard Rohr’s many books and (enthusiastically recommended) daily meditations. He’s currently writing a series under the banner Alternative Orthodoxy and today’s piece hits a large nail squarely on the head. I hope that this “taster” will encourage readers (of all faith traditions or none) to follow the link to the full piece, and maybe go on to subscribe to the daily emailed Meditations.

Dan O’Grady, a psychologist and Living School student,
told me recently that our negative and critical thoughts
are like Velcro, they stick and hold; whereas our positive
and joyful thoughts are like Teflon, they slide away. We
have to deliberately choose to hold onto positive thoughts
before they “imprint” …

Neuroscience can now demonstrate the brain indeed
has a negative bias; the brain prefers to constellate
around fearful, negative, or problematic situations. In
fact, when a loving, positive, or unproblematic thing
comes your way, you have to savor it consciously for at
least fifteen seconds before it can harbor and store
itself in your “implicit memory”; otherwise it doesn’t
stick. We must indeed savor the good in order to
significantly change our regular attitudes and moods.
And we need to strictly monitor all the “Velcro”
negative thoughts.

Excerpt from Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation
Alternative Orthodoxy: Week 2 – Turning toward the Good
Thursday, February 18, 2016

This is game-changing stuff, I think, if we reflect a bit on the fact that the world’s contemplative and / or praying traditions have long intuited instinctively what sticks – and what doesn’t, what makes human persons feel positive, happy and fully awake – and what doesn’t.

Whilst some undoubtedly continue to think of prayer as ceremonial, or as a shopping list, or “Life” insurance policy, many, many others around the world have recognised, and are recognising the literally immeasurable benefits of savouring something ‘consciously for at least fifteen seconds’ so that ‘it can harbor and store itself in your “implicit memory”; otherwise it doesn’t stick.’

What a difference 15 seconds, or 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes-worth of conscious savouring could make to everyone’s daily life. How did humankind manage to get something so fundamental to personal and corporate peace and concord holed up in exclusive religious institutions and complex commandments for so long? Consciousness-capability is an already-present charism or gift, in and for everyone. Let’s teach our children that, early.

It’s truly no wonder that the great teachers – the Prophets, the Buddha, the Eastern mystics and Jesus of Nazareth, together with the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis in our own time, and all the other great bodhisattvas, gurus, natives and sages through the ages – have been a bit suspicious of religiosity. Each, in their own way, has pointed humankind to the obvious fact of our evolving and growing.

Loving “success” in the growing process will involve appreciating (giving worth to or worshipping), considering, contemplating, feeling, hearing, knowing, meditating, praying, remembering, seeing, sensing, smelling, tasting, touching, uniting and velcro-ing-in goodness!

From above

I’ve just seen a fabulous time-lapse video, in The Telegraph, of night-illuminated UK from above, made by Major Tim Peake up there in the International Space Station. And Ian Sample of The Guardian writes today:

Traces of DNA found in remains of
Neanderthal woman show date of first
human-Neanderthal couplings is tens of
millennia earlier than previously thought

Further to yesterday’s post I muse that we’re capable of looking backwards (in this case tens of millennia after events took place) and forwards, sideways, up and down, from above and from below – consciousness capable of “infinite extension” on the road to integration. There is plenty of cause for hope – and daily evidence of growth.

Infinite extension

The human person is a centre of consciousness
which is capable of infinite extension and as it
grows it becomes more and more integrated with
the whole complex of persons who make up

Bede Griffiths
A New Vision of Reality

Is this what mellowing’s about? – quieting the ego, the Me, Me, Me-ness of existence here in this world. The late and great Fr Bede spent a lot of his time on earth contemplatively growing and becoming “more and more integrated”; there are one or two inspiring YouTube videos of interviews with him in old age that give hope on the days when human behaviour around the world looks bleak. I guess we don’t do anyone any favours by trying to rush things. Growing’s not like that at all. But after just a cursory glance at today’s world news coverage I find I’m yearning with every fibre of my being for the “infinite extension” of an integrated humanity.