Philosophy

An Otago Odyssey into 2013

This post was hopefully the first of a few chronicling my mind-set and journeys of late, but having got this far I think I’ll keep it short and just post photos for awhile. To much navel gazing otherwise!.

Anyway here goes on a sort of compressed journey touching on and reflecting perhaps a little of the whole… the longer span of my many years blest to have lived so richly here in New Zealand.

Photos of spanning from 26th Dec. last year and a couple of weeks into 2013. Places and insights, a journey I never realised would bring so much to the surface – all in locations I’ve grown up with, and now see differently, interspersed with a few paragraphs from inner parts of my mind. No, actually more from the heart, and written at great speed leaving the editor on my shoulder behind [yes, done even with a timer – a new technique I’ve learnt that helps access the hidden “knowing” of ourselves]:

40 mins drive from home roughly and I spent the night at a modest altitude in the coolness on the historic Thomsons Gorge route, a part of the Old Dunstan Road that traversed from the coast [Dunedin and Port Otago] to the hinterland of Otago in the old days because it avoided having to cross the mighty Clutha River…
Thompsons Gorge, Old Dunstan Rd. Central Otago

Naseby for coffee and as yet the Odyssey factor is not apparent, but this was about to change…
Naseby

My parents used to bring me to Naseby for holidays. He’s my dad Norrie Lousley in the camping ground sitting on the old ’39 Chev. he loved…
Dad reading naseby

Exploring the many historic gold diggings around Naseby…
sluicing gun Naseby

This amazing landscape is now sadly infested with wilding pines. You can see them just beginning in this photo I took around 1965-66. I’d do a lunch every morning and explore these areas alone all day, and used to enjoy using a map and compass to keep track of where I was…
Naseby pre trees

I never got to visit in winter and the thought excited me when I saw this postcard. So I bought a half doz. which I still have. Not many years ago I was lucky enough to traverse part of the range in the background in my camper truck, while on a fund raiser 4wd trip organised by my cousin in North Otago Search and Rescue…
Winter near naseby postcard

Life’s journey has seen me back many times in these landscapes, but the twists and turns have been many and I wonder if back then in those early days if I could have ever said “who would have guessed [or wished for more]”. The paths back then seemed concise, obvious and ordered, but it’s not so now.

On leaving the Maniototo and Naseby area I reached the east coast of Otago and headed to just north of Dunedin for some exploring of the Waitati area and Doctors Point…
Coastal Otago

Waitati

Shag

Airborne Gull

Waitati

Now days awareness seems refreshed and enhanced daily. Not long ago I’d have said it’s growth related, but now more thinking it’s like simply observing that my awareness can be observed more easily, and so all I’ve seen and remembered of my youth I now interpret differently.

The day’s drizzle did not encourage me to linger so I headed north up the coast to Karitane, a seaside township steeped in Maori history…
Karitane

Taken on a more sunny day. My objective on this trip was to explore the obvious headland, the site of a Maori Pa…
Karitane

Huriawa…
Huriawa Karitane Otago

Huriawa Karitane Otago

Huriawa Karitane Otago

I found this old picture [1925] on the web while researching, courtesy mp.natlib.govt.nz/
Historic Huriawa Karitane

Huriawa Karitane Otago

To read a comprehensive history of this coastal area this site is useful: doc.govt.nzHuriawa Karitane Otago

Many factors have changed re the new awareness as mentioned above. But which aspects in life!?

I used to do long distance bike riding a lot, ski wild places and partake of all sorts of semi adventurous pursuits, and they had one thing in common, a striving. Nothing wrong with this though – it gets results, but maybe it demands too much of a narrow focus sometimes.

Maybe we all need more of what this young fur seal was doing before I rudely interrupted, namely basking on hot rock in the sun and reflecting on life There were about a 100 of them doing this at Shag Point when I arrived at my next port of call, now in North Otago
Shag Point Fur Seal

When I was young my parents and larger family of aunts and uncles were right into fishing for trout and salmon. So it became part of my life to accompany them. They liked sitting on the bank dangling a tempting worm or two on the end of the line, but the areas we visited piqued my curiosity and I began to wander. Ultimately this led to a life long interest in tramping, mountains and wilderness.

Thats me on the left, then my dad, mum and auntie and that’s Shag Point just behind me, with the Shag River estuary on the right...
Family fishing shag river

Now days my life is filled a lot more diversity with time set aside deliberately to reflect. And the space thus created can be as profound and infinite as the universe above. There’s a lot of space between the stars, and maybe between my ears!

This was the first house I lived in in Oamaru…
Aln St Oamaru

Seems I was happy there…
Donald pram aln st

My mum and I regularly visited the Oamaru Gardens and I loved playing around the Peter Pan and Wendy statue…Oamaru Gardens Peter Pan and Wendy statue

Oamaru Gardens Statue

Oamaru Gardens

Onwards on my day’s walking around Oamaru, and I pondered the childhood home of Janet Frame the world acclaimed great author, near where I lived as a toddler
Janet Frame childhood house sign and picture

Janet Frame’s dream: ‚Äòfor our sometimes narrow, insular views to be widened by all means possible ‚Äì interchange with other cultures, visits to and fro, and for us to be able to recognise our worth and shortcomings honestly as a nation, without having to constantly boast or apologise. We need, especially in New Zealand, to be able to enter imaginatively into the minds and loves of other cultures.‚Äô 1983

Janet Frame childhood house

OK, I’ve run out of puff now, and time to write it all up, so here’s quite few images on finishing the journey that took me up around Oamaru’s funky Victorian style “Steampunk” area, the Waitaki Valley to Lake Ohau, and then home to Wanaka…

Oamaru

Oamaru

Oamaru

Oamaru

Oamaru Steampunk

Oamaru Steampunk

Oamaru Steampunk

Oamaru Steampunk Chev

James Caird replica in Oamaru

Oamaru Steampunk

Oamaru Opera House

Twizel canel

Sunset Lake Ohau

Dawn near Twizel

Odyssey over I returned over the Lindis from Twizel / Lake Ohau to home with no dallying. I guess when home of the day gets closer we all are just keen to get there!

Intuition, art, search and rescue, and my 4th attempt to ski tour Mt Pisa

Last week one of my readers noted I’d not done a philosophical post for awhile.

Well… a few things happened mid week that lend themselves to this topic!

Out of the blue I’ve been voted onto the committee of the Upper Clutha Community Arts Council – an elected voluntary organisation to promote and support the arts in the Upper Clutha region, including Wanaka. I’ve attended the one meeting so far, and it’s fun – we give away money!

This seemed to come about maybe because I’ve occasionally posted 2-3 photo images in FaceBook to gauge reactions, and Susan the chairperson, an old time local and friend noticed and probably recalled I had the odd photography exhibition many years ago in town here.

I love art because it engages our hearts often to balance out our intellect [ego] – both seem best held in a sort of tension. Awareness of this has a lot to offer a very troubled world.

Also mid week I attended yet another Wanaka Search and Rescue training evening. I’m rather chuffed to be part of this wonderful group, not because it seems now locally to be regarded as elite, but for other more humanitarian reasons. Somewhere along the path of life I’ve learnt useful skills that can be used in ways never intended at the time!

In a way both disciplines give us avenues of enlightenment that can, it’s said, be gained most effectively by being in the service of others. The Dalai Lama for one preaches this consistently.

What’s interesting for discussion here is I’d not actively sought inclusion in either of these groups! So it’s struck me yet again that often the best and most interesting progress in life does not come from thinking, but more from a heartfelt awareness.

We can only ever be aware of the magic of this, because the moment we think about it we bring the formless into form. Form by it’s very nature is transitory, temporary and has a nature akin to illusion.

When we can observe the constant stream of events, situations, emotions, desires, ambitions, fears, drama, which all come pretending to be important into our brains daily, then be it even if we can notice the gaps, our lives can change to a more healthy state.

We can then be the dreamer observing the dream that contains events we look back on often asking “were they ever real?”

Mountaineer and author Aat Vervoorn sums it up in one way I can relate to:

Daoist concept of non action: Do nothing and there is nothing that is not done by Laozi. He means that if we come with fixed ideas and preconceptions, and try to impose our will on events, we are likely to fail. Action succeeds when it is, in a sense, non-action, when our acts are entirely in accord with the disposition of things, so that it’s as if our desired outcomes just happen by themselves. Successful action depends on correctly perceiving the innate tendency of situations (what does ‘the innate tendency of situations’ mean?) and understanding the importance of timing. This requires full alertness to what is going on around us and within

Mountain Solitudes by Aat Vervoorn

In the ’70′s a few of us pioneered [maybe?] a new route, the Hoophorn Ridge on Mt Sealy in the Mount Cook National Park.

When we’re sick, or getting very fatigued as in mountaineering, as we were as we probed this presumably unknown terrain, often our egos disengage. This opens up our intuition, or as I’m learning these days our hearts – the part of us it pays to listen too!

We’d been climbing on delightfully firm and warm rock [see image below] in the left background gully I’m traversing out of towards the photographer, when for no particular reason we decided it might be better to be on a more defined ridge behind him.

Upon my completion of the traverse a wet snow avalanche came down the whole gully – side to side. Such avalanches are slow on moderate snow fields, but in this environment it came [and went] like an express train. Had we not exited/crossed when we did, I’d not be writing this now!

Moral of the story: follow our hearts – listen to that awareness of awareness itself! Don’t try to understand it and give it form – just trust, follow and be grateful. God has a hand in it!

When I look back on this incident, and a few others like it, I always realise the intuition, the action or spontaneity came from a part of me, my core, that can’t be reached by my mind. It’s an uncanny realisation that leads to thinking that they come through us!

Please follow the story next by clicking on the first image…

Through nonresistance to form, that in you which is beyond form emerges as an all-encompassing Presence, a silent power far greater than your short-lived form identity, the person. It is more deeply who you are than anything in the world of form.

Eckhart Tolle ~ A New Earth

Dunedin ~ Ballet and the arts, the botanic gardens, and the Otago Peninsula

I’m just back from a spontaneous trip to Dunedin. One of the reasons for another visit to this always enjoyable city was to attend the Imperial Russian Ballet Company performing Swan Lake… the most loved classical ballet of them all.

This phrase [from their website above] succinctly gets to the point: “Swan Lake crosses the world of magic and mystical creatures with that of the real world. It is a story where the virtues of love and forgiveness in the end conquer evil and betrayal.”

My “real world” first impression as the ballerina’s danced onto the stage was one of amazing lightness! They seemed to float, and the real effort was later belied by the odd thump as they connected with the stage floor on landing, [only to soar yet again].

As the story unfolded I began to see an analogy with real life and how the handicap in same can be a negativity we’re often not even aware of. It can float too just like the seemingly beautiful black swan.

Life’s currents too can seem as obvious on the surface as the pond the swans floated in, but underneath the currents flow deeper, and the ballerinas symbolised this by vibrating and shimmering their legs while on their toes. Well that’s how I saw it – it is all about interpretation I guess.

I also did a few other things on my short visit such as some exploring of the Otago Peninsula, a long time favourite haunt of mine…

Thinking verses Opening the Heart

Dear Readers

You may have noted I don’t post here as often these days. Well, it’s because I’ve stopped thinking in terms of trying to make sense of a few things – so there is less intellectualising, and framing everything in my mind.

I’ve been learning to shut the dialogue up, and yoga is one of the tools!

The entertaining of what many believe are approx. 40,00 random thoughts per day has not been standing up too well to the question: “do they serve me well?”

But nature abhors a vacuum, so enter “opening the heart”. I’ve figured the below out, and my sharing is provisional pending any information or comments [see below where you can leave yours]:

When we let our heart lead us, it grows the concept that ideas and thinking are not modes we can be in the service of

Glenorchy

Our heart knows what our minds can never grasp! It is very removed from ideas, even the best ones.

Preservation Inlet

Our heart breaches the walls of the mind attaining freedom. Love flows when the heart is sovereign

Milford Track

Love and God are really aspects of our hearts, one-in-the-same, the Universe – call him/her/it what you will. We are of the stars

Snow Farm NZ

The heart knows no fear, no history, no future, but somehow it knows intuition.

Wanaka

I urge you to follow your heart. Examine all that does not serve, and consider that pain is inevitable in life and that suffering is optional. Question every belief – when done with the heart many new questions will arise, but that’s OK.

Realise that there is comfort in the status quo, but if there is accompanying pain, realise that fear [of the unknown] comes from thinking! Construct new paradigms based on the awareness of feelings – of the present!

Next time someone takes a stance against your heartfulness, turn it around rather than gathering it in emotionally, knowing that:

Those who have grown up within a strong monetary, tribal, or religious structure, or one of countless others, then these people will struggle the most to access their heart and their truth.

It seems easier for the so called “poorer” among us, as their lives maybe less under the influencal structures inherent in affluence, to be free of the arrogance and pride that is part of the territory charted, and structured. Humility is much undervalued!

Yes, we do need structures in society, in balance and held in a tension that serves us all, but consider this theory I’ve heard about recently:

Judas it seems came from an affluent family, so why did he “sell out” Christ if he did not need the money? He’d even grown up with him, so knew some of his capabilities and obviously a lot of his intent.

It could be he simply could not accommodate or conceptualise the thought that Christ was making his heart and love sovereign. In the context of the times and the Roman Empire, this must have been perceived as incredibly radical.

Yes, it could be that Judas simply did not know how to access his own light, because of the structures he’d been raised within!

How fitting to use the word “within”.

How best do we look out when we’re within? Like a bird flying in the bush – lead with the heart!

… and these maybe the lessons deliberately glossed over by the structures of religion then and now, [and in these times they’re really corporations]. Our minds can be controlled, our hearts cannot!

There are many paths to “shining the heart”. The hard part is the knowledge of “knowing thy self”.

A start on that one is to avoid labels – especially labelling ourselves! Then learn to breath, laugh, and every time we find ourselves thinking, engage awareness of ourselves instead, of awareness itself!

“Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.”
– William Shakespeare

Garston

“All the Buddhas of all the ages have been telling you a very simple fact: Be — don’t try to become. Within these two words, be and becoming, your whole life is contained. Being is enlightenment, becoming is ignorance.”

– Osho

With profound thanks to my many teachers – I love you all. Heather, Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell inspires!

Footnote: Not every one leaves comments as such, and one verbal one of a few hours ago was along the lines that we’ve all grown up within the structure of time, and live in it! So lets keep our eyes open for an Event Horizon of the Heart 😉

All over the place: Makarora, Bendigo, Carrick Range, The Snow Farm, Wanaka, and partying

Since my last posting way back in autumn much has been happening, not to mention some sort of profound spiritual sort of growth. I’m hesitant to use this much over-used, even abused word “spiritual”, but how else to explain a letting go of things that no longer serve, a lightness of spirit and changes in perception and understanding of the world and self!?

Life can at times take us “all over the place”, so lets go to a few I’ve seen with my camera of late:

Makarora…

Makarora is a favourite old haunt and instead of devoting every spare day of winter to nordic skiing this winter I’ve been going bush up there a few times. No phones, no emails, old friends and new etc. = bliss!

Looking up the Wilken across the Makarora river bed…
Wilken Valley

Helping raise a foundered diary cow for one of my SAR friends, but Soccer never made it 🙁 despite days of love, turning, feeding, warming, and care – she was so gentle with gorgeous knowing eyes…
Makarora farming problem

The local sheep were OK though…
Maka 2

Part of that spiritual journey…
Maka 3

One of many favourite back-drops…
Makarora

My audience while I did a spot of fishing [catching nothing ‘tho!]…
Maka 8

I love Makarora… I’ve spent many days there in the distant past using it as a base to tramp and climb from – especially an 80 day total tussle over a few years with Mt Hooker deep in South Westland. Now “Maka” appeals as it’s such a contrast to Wanaka and so close, and it’s like going back delightfully in time to another age, one fast vanishing…
Maka 5


Bendigo historic gold diggings…

Only 20 mins. drive from home, down towards Tarras means it’s a favourite haunt, but this year I decided to camp up there to catch some good light. So cold night number one for the autumn!

Looking across at my favourite Pisa Range under it’s first mantle of winter snow…
Bendigo 2

Probably the most photographed miners hut in New Zealand history…
Bendigo 1


Duffers Saddle between Cromwell and the Nevis Valley…

My second night out to catch the light and to escape the reality and electronic connectedness of Wanaka, and even myself. I felt “raw” over this weekend, so the solution is simple: go live briefly in a greater rawness!

My camping spot. Where else can you just stop in the middle of the road…
Carrick Range

Dawn breaks with a light and coldness that demanded attentiveness and much running about for composition of the Garvie Range…
The Garvies

The Remarkables…
The Remarkables

Many Spaniard plants making running about a thoughtful and prickly proposition…
Spaniard plants

The view further south into the remote Nevis Valley…
Nevis Valley

The view north along the Carrick Range…
Carrick Range

Lake Dunstan under an inversion cloud…
Lake Dunstan and trig


A “4th of July” Party:

Back in spring 2011 a new friend up the road invited me to an Italian style party, and apart from 6 hours of one course after another from noon onwards with wine the event changed the direction of my life… many things came out of it! So this more recent 4th July party was one not to miss.

We had to come dressed in a theme. Fortunately an old friend hires out operatic society clothes, so I was Woody out of Toy Story. I’m not sure where the twinkle in the eye came from, as it was not from wine…
Party 5

Genuine Rockies trapper’s clothing…
Party 2

Jen is a highly skilled singer recently from the US and also since my aforementioned Italian party, my new yoga teacher and now a close friend. It’s her skills that I seemed to be ready for in terms of another transformation encompassing personal growth, and realising how to breathe to calm our central nervous system and surrendering into an acceptance not just in a pose, but in life. I have learnt you can’t strive in yoga as the tension shortens and tightens muscle groups making it impossible reach a profound peace that is home to a timeless strength and awareness…
Party 4

The party also gave me the opportunity to indulge in a growing interest in portrait and people photography…
Party 3


Escaping Wanaka’s annual winter inversion cloud by going Nordic skiing at the nearby Snow Farm:

Dawn after a cold night…
Snow farm 1

The inversion way below the car-park…
Snow farm 2

Mt Aspiring…
Snow farm 4

My good Russian mate Alexei…
Snow farm 5

Descent into the gloom of the inversion…
Snow farm 6

 

Snow farm 7

 

Snow farm 8

 

Snow farm 9

 

Snow farm 3

So skiing and touring was the thing…
Snow farm 10

The head of the Meg all locked up in ice…
Snow farm river run 1

Skiing until you drop or in this case well into the dusk…
Snow farm 11


The thrill and adventure of night skiing:

Desperate for an adventure and to escape the gloom of the inversion cloud over Wanaka a couple of weeks ago [knowing the sun is above is cruel], I consulted the weather oracles and cloud was predicted high aloft. So off I went thinking that if I could be between the two layers as the sun dipped to sleep in the west I’d be in [photographer’s] heaven. The gamble payed off and this is how it played out:

My favourite tour is out to the northern boundary of the Snow Farm’s extensive area. This involves descending to the head of the Meg River source, climbing gently past Meadow Hut and then climb up more steeply to a saddle below the exposed Bob Lee Hut.

Approaching the saddle – often, so often I’ve turned back from here and occasionally been humbled by the power of the mountains and that although the trails engender the use of lightweight cross country ski gear and speed, it ‘aint always Disney Land…
Bob lee trip 1

From the saddle it’s always tempting to go to the hut which is rarely occupied, but like any mountain summit it’s not over ’till you’re back down! But on this amazing evening I was blest with a lightness of spirit that urged me to go on. I trust my mountain intuition born of many years of adventure, especially in winter, so I dialed up “go” and went for it [the hut being on the left skyline in this older photo]…
Bob lee last year

The hut…
Bob lee trip 6

As planned the sun and clouds obliged, and I stood there freezing but entranced as the sunset and the remoteness took me near to tears…
Bob lee trip 2

 

Bob lee trip 3

 

Bob lee trip 4

I guess if we’re destined at any given point in time to live in a temporal “present” that all spiritual experiences have to end if we’re to get home to the warmth of loved ones, and so as if to remind me, the last of the sun signalled an easterly wind to enter my soul. It was time to go down into the dark…
Bob lee trip 5

Alone with thoughts, ice under a thin layer of snow demanding care and balance, such a descent can be and was another flavour of a spiritual experience.

You know if you “stuff up” going solo you’re going to pay dearly, maybe even with one’s life. But a “being in the present moment” can become all encompassing. Time ceases to exist. We are quietly taken not only into a friendly darkness, but also into a profound and beautiful aloneness!

And somewhere in “the zone” I find I can still reflect and observe same!

…I was taken back to a similar, but not so light a trip last winter, when through caution I turned back from the saddle below harbouring thoughts of mystery as to why a relationship had simply ended just as that winter started.

But this winter it was still “ended”, and the mountains were still the same, yet we both knew a difference: that somehow in the intervening year for the first time in my life my heart has opened to love – it now seems to know that which can’t easily be articulated.

And does it even matter that being of the heart, that it stays there content to just shine out!?


Misc. events mostly Wanaka based:

Dougal was with me recently for a few days on holiday from Uni. in Dunedin. Here he is returning, getting on the bus in Wanaka…
Dougal

I’m still chasing light around Wanaka…
Wanaka sunset

We had an Aurora Australis mid week. I missed being in the best places but…
Aurora

My old truck Terrence Toyota goes off for a refurbish and a future new owner – Jen’s husband. It’s now back on the road and lots of people wave locally thinking it’s me…
Terrence

Last weekend I went up to West Wanaka breifly, to see the Matukituki River in flood…
West Wanaka 2

West Wanaka

And this weekend, well I’m just back from the peace and quiet of Makarora again, and I picked up half a ton of hot burning driftwood at Boundary Creek on the return…
Boundary Creek, Makarora

Nameste

A journey from the body and mind, to the heart and soul

Almost a decade ago I found myself embroiled in a marriage breakup, and because there was a child involved the situation rolled into the realm of the New Zealand Family Court system. For me the events that led to this engendered much confusion in my mind, but not long afterwards I realised my transformation was just beginning.

The first meeting with the Court was what’s known as a Mediation Conference. There I was sitting in a court room setting in Alexandra. Lawyers were there, but not allowed to speak. It’s all about a Judge and the parents and any children.

The setting was mightily formal, but yet in these initial stages nothing is binding. It’s a great concept as the atmosphere encourages the idea that it might be a good idea to start thinking about why you’re there, and that if agreement is not reached on effective parenting, that parenting “control” may be lost!

When the elderly Judge walked in complete in his garb of a Court, a little voice in my brain said “Donald, this guy in grey has the look of a very wise and advanced human being – sit up and you may learn much of great value”. In response I uncrossed my legs, one calf having been resting on a shin, and I took my hands clasped resting on my lap, to my sides. The idea was to be “open”.

He immediately looked at my soon-to-be-ex, and said, “K…. I can see you’re very distraught”. His gaze then settled on myself and he said: “Donald I can’t read your demeanour at all”.

I was dumbstruck, and if my brain had been faster I might have replied: “your Honour it maybe because I just became a sponge when you walked in”.

However he quickly returned to K…. and ignored me for ages. I was fine with this as I was witnessing the unfolding of my first real lesson in life about compassion.

And yes I did learn something that changed my life. Being “open” in the mind had a lot to do with it. Interestingly too in this shady room with so many energies you’d not want to dwell on, that the only autumn light coming through a small skylight, beamed on me!

So now lets jump ahead a few years…

Something led me to trying yoga – on reflection I think it was my soul seeking it and what the work could potentially bring…

Yoga pose - a side plank

I justified the choice simply by saying I’m trying this for my body. And on that account I was to experience very early on a tightness in my throat and neck, and realising that this might have something to do, as to why I’d been challenged to speak my truth for lots of my life.

Yoga turned out to be very good for my body and was mostly fun, so I continued, but only to find almost to my consternation that it was a “mind” thing as well – I’d not wanted the incense and eastern music accompaniment, not that I got much of this. It’s just that I’d wanted “mainstream” exercise. Instead in practising it I took the first of many steps in learning to observe myself.

And it did effect changes in my mind! I even had to quit for awhile as somehow I knew I was going to be challenged emotionally, and I was not ready. I was to learn too that from an early age we store emotions we can’t process in our bodies. But yoga “opens” us, and one way or another they release – it makes us let them go. And “letting go” in this sense means letting go of control!

However topics such as control can be a subject of another post another time. I’m writing here about “being open”.

Up until about a year ago I mindlessly increased my going to yoga classes, and I was doing yoga “mindfully”, mostly disciplined 3 classes a week; pushing, pushing, with the mind!

This did get results: I eventually had an emotional release. Fortunately I knew these could happen, but was bereft of knowledge and mentors of how to handle same. Still I muddled through the equivalent of an earthquake that demolished my defences accompanied by many tears, and then aftershocks with amazing memory recall of childhood traumas. All-in-all a gift that took some unwrapping!

Some months afterwards I had the insight that if yoga makes me more open, that there maybe times of high risk of being open to more than may be healthy! For example it can pay to be around people emanating egoless love rather than negativity.

The Triangle pose opens us in many areas. I was taught to imagine I was between two sheets of glass, but although it looks simple there is more to it than that…
Yoga triangle pose reaching skyward 2

When things settled in a “no yoga for Donald” period of time, it seemed my soul went searching again. Nothing mindful for sure and I eventually gravitated to a new teacher Jen, and I did so with an unhurried mind. She knows all about emotional releases and meltdowns, and a lot more besides about how to open up the joints in other ways that take us further, and faster at that. I encountered how to make our hearts open and shine!

Breathing techniques have a lot to do with it [I posted an article here about how it relates to asthma], and I discovered how to open up my heart/chest area by the likes of raising the shoulder blades and dropping them back down my back, and puffing out my kidneys to engage my core in poses. And I touch on just a few of the necessaries here!

Recently in my yoga it all went “clunk” and I discovered a place of peace in poses – the most difficult became effortless, as strength and endurance took on new profound meanings. And what a beautiful feeling it is to let our hearts shine outwards, which it seems they have no trouble doing once they open! Being “open” took on a whole new meaning.

My first real feeling of my heart “shining came in this side plank pose – a quietness came over my mind a bit like the constant flow of thoughts that come unbidden stopped, and to my joy and amazement I realised that in this state I could hold this position for 5 mins. or more, and even totally enjoy it, and it seemed even that indefinitely would be possible…
Yoga Side Plank pose

Back tracking: post separation [a profound word this which I’ll come back to below] and then divorce I found myself interested in how others handled it all. It became clear that many turn to religion for the “fix”. This really fascinated me, as my path took me inwards, where the challenge was to not only face the tigers, but to see them in the dark! It seemed a faster road.

The Family Court experience gifted me new friends one being my lovely lawyer, and I asked her one day if looking outwards to God in a wobbly marriage or divorce was as prevalent as I thought, and if so, did her office note at all if it worked. The answers were Yes to the prevalence, and No to it working.

Hmm… I thought: If God is everywhere and omnipresent, why do so many go outwards in their dialogue and vision, when it maybe better to go inwards where the dialogue can be more like “pillow talk” with one’s love?

This maybe one answer:

Much has been written on egos by the likes of Eckhart Tolle, and in his excellent and inspirational writings I’ve noticed he talks of a separateness that comes about from having a dominant ego, and in such cases how the real person is not only hidden from us, but from the host of the ego, which can even take on a karma he calls a pain body.

What spelt the lingering end of religions has been Darwin’s theory of evolution, but inversely it seems to be increasingly opening up the possibilities for redefining God and more embracing of that hard to define state called spirituality [a throughly abused word]. Trouble is, it seems to me, that we now have islands of religious beliefs. OK some are quite large, but as the numbers of believers dwindle it leaves a hard core who try to increasingly cling to beliefs that have become outdated [we are it’s thought increasingly evolving faster than ever before], more extreme and less tolerant. In other words living in such insular ways provides fertile ground for more separateness from all of us flowers in the same garden [of humanity].

I think then that looking outwards to God seems to engender that separateness which becomes increasingly ingrained! It wrecks relationships, marriages, families and leads to abuses and wars. But, ahh.. go inwards to the soul and let it shine and it all comes out as compassion and love!

Yoga is after all an ancient system known to work [the word in sanskrit means yoke], of breathing practices, physical exercises and poses that encourage integration of the body, mind, and spirit. But there must be faster ways to get there?

It’s maybe a question of balance and how quickly we can not only realise this, but act it: if we have, as I’ve experienced, stored emotional hurt in our bodies, and then a minority of us learn of this and empty our buckets daily, then maybe in time we’ll have mostly empty buckets, but it’s more likely that some events some days will fill it up again. Actually right now a reason I’m writing this is to counteract my own one filling too much due to recent events unfolding the history of which I tend to dwell on too much!

This balance pose becomes much easier when we quieten the mind, and stability increases if we reach higher [to God or the heaven the sky symbolises?] from the hip bone to the arm pit. Also bringing the raised knee back opens the pelvis nicely, and raises awareness away from the groin area and upwards towards the heart…
Yoga asana - the tree pose

Hence life is perceived as being incredibly dynamic, in contrast to those whose buckets overflow eventually leading to disease, depression and negativity. Eventually even to the point where they turn off to God never realising that he/she [being both inwards and outwards] has the answers, but we simply don’t know how to be “open” to them because we’ve been conditioned to look for the body with the mind, rather than opening our hearts to the possibilities of peace, strength and endurance, and/or to the universe that is God, [you may not want to use that word, but that’s OK – it’s all about gentleness and non violence to self and others].

There is in my mind an infinity that we cannot grasp that has an intent of consciousness.

We often do yoga [or it does us!] with eyes closed or open depending on a number of factors. In this pose near the end of a session, I’m about to open them [until I go to sleep], I’ve found it very insightful to bring what I see inwards, whereas my old tendency was to let them go outwards to gather information. It’s not lost on me that this sort of relates to going outwards to look for the God within…
Yoga Lotus Pose with eyes closed

On closing I have noticed that if we go into yoga poses from a basis of ego and separateness we will not only fail, but we’ll be damaged, literally. Whenever we try with our minds to go beyond “the edge” felt in yoga poses we risk self damage.

Yes, yoga has an ethos of non violence to self, but there is more to it than pulling a muscle, it’s more about “self talk” reinforcing low self esteem. The emotional damage we can do to ourselves can be a habit we don’t even know we have!

With the heart, which does not chatter about the talk of the mind, we can go much deeper to safe empowering places we cannot imagine!

Opening comes from surrender and it does not come from the mind…
Yoga child pose lengthens and realxes the spine, while opening the shoulders

We protect our hearts with rounded shoulders and pot tummies, and our throats, our most vulnerable areas, by jutting our heads forwards to the future [thus not being present].

In this pose which opens the pelvis I’ve forgotten to adjust my shoulders…
Yoga Pelvis Opener when the right side is dropped

We become more open when we know death is near, but never forget that satanic forces look for this opportunity, but can gain no traction when “shining” prevails coupled with transparency, or do we call it light [of the soul]!

A great word we don’t hear often is “selflessness”.

My point being if you’re not getting replies form “upstairs” then change the channel! I’ve talked of my way, my journey – there are others.

On ending a yoga session we say Namaste. This is more than thank you – more like my soul honours yours and that they’re one and the same, or acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another.

Namaste

Wanaka's Mt Gold

Motion, and impulse

Much has been written about the fact that photography is a two dimensional representation of three dimensional scene, or at least if we walk among our “landscape” it’s not flat!

But everything in my perceived world is dynamic [and becoming more so], so I’ve been playing about with ways to capture how I see landscapes, objects, animals and people that are far from the usual common static representation in most photos. It’s all too easy to point and click and freeze the moment! I want us all to feel an emotion, or at least wonder “just what is this image about?”

Working with low light and a slow shutter speed…
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Working with wind, low light and a slow shutter speed…
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And to take the impulse of motion, the emotion of the dynamic to another level, I quite like this quote I found recently:

Redefining God

Using the word God is always tricky as it’s a very charged term that means different things to different people. I like to use that word to represent the idea of an absolute principle.

In an evolutionary context, we could choose to describe that absolute principle as “the energy and intelligence that initially created and is continuing to create the universe.” In the way that I understand it, that driving force is more an impulse than it is a divine being. In that impulse, there is no predetermined plan at work. It is a directionality, a momentum, a reaching towards. This definition of God does not depend on any kind of metaphysical belief or faith.

All we need to do is look into the truth of our own experience and what science has revealed to us. 13.7 billion years of cosmic evolution has given rise to 3.8 billion years of biological evolution, which has given rise to tens of thousands of years of cultural evolution. We’re on a moving train.

We’re all part of a process that’s going somewhere. We don’t have to believe in a metaphysical deity to feel the drive of an evolutionary impulse as a tangible energetic presence in our own experience at different levels.

At the lowest level, the sexual drive can be recognized as an evolutionary impulse. At a much higher level, the uniquely human compulsion towards innovation can be recognized as an evolutionary impulse. And finally, at the highest level, the spiritual impulse, which is a compulsion towards higher consciousness, can be recognized as an evolutionary impulse.

Something miraculous is going on here and it’s trying to happen in and through all of us in every moment.

—Andrew Cohen

Working with a waterfall inclined grassy bluff, low light, deliberately induced camera movement, and a slow shutter speed…
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Working with a slow shutter speed only. Trying hard to judge it so the water does not appear to be like chewing gum [which seems fashionable of late]..
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Working with a slow shutter speed, sharpness [or not] and water…#alttext#

To me I find horses to be very spiritual beings, and indeed we’ve used them as symbols of power in countless cultures, so here I’ve introduced some deliberate blurring by using a slow shutter speed in low light…
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Our lonely symbols of mortality – a reflective trip into the Nevis Valley, Central Otago

A bunch of crosses in a populated cemetery can numb my mind if I consider the whole experience of being human, and the collective experiences of all who’ve gone before us to once again return to the dust of the universe.

A lonely grave seems to bite deeper – the space creates context that can be reflected on…
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The symbol of the cross as being part of death, is I find an interesting concept, e.g. while doing the yoga mountain pose [standing tall and straight – not as easy as it may seem], then raise our hands to the sky [and follow with our eyes], then slowly bring them down, palms out, in an arc to our sides, accompanied with an exhalation we create space – both outwardly and physical in the heart/ribs/shoulders, and so on the descent of our hands we become a cross.

Up until making these images last weekend, on yet another trip to Central Otago’s Nevis Valley I’d sort of reckoned that it was Christ’s death that consolidated the symbolism of the cross, but now I’m not so sure. Could be he picked it to make a point.

Amid all that suffering he opened his heart to all. Created space in yoga terms if you like. And like all crosses if viewed from below the sky [universe] takes on the role we can’t comprehend, that of the infinite…
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Some of our pioneers obviously had this in mind when they placed a bird next the lonely cross in the Nevis Valley cemetery. Note the bird faces north and slightly upwards…
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We entered the Nevis this year from the Bannockburn end [as opposed to Garston in Southland], and on topping Duffers Saddle were quite taken aback as photographers, by the light on the back of the The Remarkables…
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This well designed verandah on an historic cottage will have seen many happy relaxing lazes in the sun, and shade…
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In this dry continental climate rust does almost sleep…
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Modern day [night!] travellers…
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Modern day symbols, if you like of not such a distant past…#alttext#

Yet another cross…
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The ponds in the background were created by gold dredges – with limited water they’d daily shift their own hole that they occupied…
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Eroded not by nature, but by miners washing down the cliff with large water blasting nozzles, known as sluicing guns…
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An ode to spring

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I had to write so I could recite, or sing
God forbid
It went on into the darkest of a rugby night
What is an ode, but a short code

Thinking of what and not
Right enough to describe the dew of spring
Between my toes, but believe me it and love are of the nose
Could love though but pounce?
Like a speedy mouse

Now spring is here with fragrance and delight
Raise a glass to fresh mown grass
Alluring in the breeze
Many fantails salsa dancing I see
Should we be bowed of head in respect?

Spring I say complete
Don’t leave us to soon, let us swoon
Feel with our hearts summer in the wings…
Will soon see us sneezing on our knees
Hankies out, the tears all for nought
Rugby’s outcome maybe happy maybe sad

But pollen doing the rounds
The surge of biological urge
Would we be best a bee?
They may not us, hold the key

Spring on the wing cupid
I do love thee

Donald Lousley Oct. 2011

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Chasing the Light, doing the mileage

The spring weather of late here in Wanaka has been very beautiful. Yes, unsettled but interesting and thankfully not the gales too often that underscore spring at 45 degrees south.

It’s been very conducive for walking, and so too has my mindset: every evening I’ve been fortunate of late to wander many miles along Lake Wanaka’s lakeshore looking and seeing, even doing time exposure photos in the dark. Such is the life of a hobbyist landscape photographer, and sometimes philosopher looking for innocence lost…
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When I got my first camera as a child, for whatever reason since I’ll typically be walking along and suddenly “see” a potential photo. One started recently with this shot. All I knew prior was the lighting was typical “magic hour” and soft just after sunset. I always try to identify the factor early on that will make the technical side a challenge. By having it in mind it can let us work faster to capture the moment…
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We don’t really photograph objects [or people], but instead the light reflected from same. Different times of day produce different tones and warmth – these become factors in triggering an emotional response in myself. Here the shot develops – I like the way the texture of the trees frame the triangle formed by the rocks, themselves bordering on triangular…
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The moment of truth – the moment I want to share not only what I’ve seen, but what I feel. But it’s not for me to take it further into words. That could be your job if you wish, or simply sit with any feelings the image engenders, or just walk by…
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And I’m not the only one out walking. In this instance I’m the opportunist. Anticipation is the name of this game – what was the limiting factor? For me, timing…
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I’m finding walking very social too. Here my friend Brent tests his jet boat, which he’s just had stretched. I really respect what he does on a typical tourist journey up and down the nearby Matukituki River in Mt Aspiring National Park, as using his Maori culture and local knowledge of wildlife, history and geology he takes his clients into a story…
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“Mo te Tangata mo te Whenua” It’s about the people, about the place.

True not only as Brent and Sue’s ethic, but typical of my own feelings, photography and otherwise.

Kia kaha

But I’m on my own journey too – into my imagination, holding a tension in there like in yoga, between light and shadow, warmth and cold, what I see verses what I feel…
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And like us all I continue to walk, hopefully “seeing” a little more light each time, and in it’s reflection ultimately finding my truth – renewed on each journey…
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Link to: Wanaka River Journeys