Spirit Rock Insight Meditation Center

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I’ve been interested in meditation for a long time. Way back in the 60s I got a mantra and practiced, albeit sporadically, a Hindu form of meditation called transcendental. Back in those days such a practice would brand you as counter-culture and weird. Since I was holding down a leadership role in public service I made very sure nobody knew of my practice.

Times have certainly changed since then and last weekend I had the great good fortune of attending a silent retreat at the Insight Meditation Center in Woodacre, California. For 3 intense days we were taught another form of meditation called “Insight”. A practical, powerful and potentially very useful way of making peace with the human condition. 

Here is a link to some of the photographs I took while I was there. 

http://johnames.smugmug.com/California/Spirit-Rock

I wholeheartedly recommend the experience.

Color Gives Us Positive Emotional Context

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We usually take the color of our physical surroundings pretty much for granted and don’t often think about how powerful an influence their color alone can be on our emotions.

We live in Maine and currently have fled to California for a while to escape the worst winter New England  has experienced in years. Just before we left, I took the above photograph of cars parked in our back driveway. The picture is in color but there isn’t enough of it to make any kind of positive emotional impact. In fact, it is the almost total lack of color that tells the gloomy story.

Now compare that photo with this one.

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Strip away the subjects from each image and just compare how you feel about greyish white versus hot pink.

See what I mean. 

PS Spring really is coming.

I promise.

 

 

Do you see snow, moss or loneliness?

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When you look at this black and white photograph do you really care that what looks to be snow is actually an infrared rendering of a woods scene redolent with brown leaves and brown grass as well as some very green moss on the trees. I would hazard a guess that what first struck you was the small figure in the background that looks meditative and somewhat lost. The photograph serves to a degree as a kind of visual reinforcement of your own emotional interpretation of the scene.

That’s like the old story of the farmer who went into his tool shed at dusk looking for a shovel and came screaming out a second later convinced that there was a large snake just inside the door waiting to attack him. In actual fact what he saw was his curled up garden hose.

The point of all this is to emphasise how much of what we think of as reality is only our singular interpretation of it, shared by nobody else.  

It keeps one humble remembering this.

Communication Addiction

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These things look so old-fashioned now don’t they? Imagine making a call on one. How do you do it? You need a pocket full of change to pay for getting connected don’t you? Is there an operator available? 

Hard to imagine now, especially for the kids, but these devices used to be all we had to talk to each other and if we were not near one we had to keep ourselves company.

I say all of this because in a few days I will be going on an Insight Meditation silent retreat. It’s only 3 days long but for that time the participants will not be allowed to talk, read, take photographs or do anything but be quiet, sit still and go inward.

I know this will be a powerful experience for me because like so many today I have become almost addicted to communication as a recreational activity and I know that isn’t healthy.

Wish me luck.

I Admit It, I’m A Rain Fan

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It’s hard around here not to cheer for rain.  Today we have had a series of short showers, some soft, some pelting. But each time it happens one can’t help but feel happy for the parched soil that is in such desperate need of moisture. So today it’s putting on a jacket that I may or may not need and being grateful for whatever rain we get.

Two Feet, Two Wheel, Four Legs and then…..?

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We regularly hike the hills above Petaluma in Helen Putnam Park. There we see all kinds of people and forms of transportation along the trails. One’s own legs are the most common of course, followed by trail bicycles and finally horses. Today a new mode of transport hove into view. This happy dude was riding his unicycle! all over the park’s steep hills. 

Up and down he went with amazing ease. When we first met him he was going along the ridge trail at the top of the park. Next time he was heading up AGAIN along the paved road from the parking lot at the very bottom of the trails.  

Who is this cheerful guy with the balance of a tightrope walker and legs of steel?

SuperCycle Man!

Of Course

Front Yard Extravaganza!

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Sometimes in our travels we run across some pretty amazing things that are worthy of comment and contemplation

And then again…..

Sometimes not.

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