from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Friday, 18 May 2018

some things you might do to live more lightly (in various senses) & be happier

Should you be interested, I've been thinking about how we can ease our passage here, on the earth – for ourselves, each other, and the other-than-human, and be happier, too.

It has to be said that the below is a list of quick thoughts while outdoors listening to a cuckoo this morning (avoiding my 'real work'). I don't pretend it's comprehensive or even perfectly articulated. But I'm keen to resume the blogger habit, and encouraged by those of you who responded to my previous post.

So, in no particular order, here are some thoughts. I'd positively welcome your additions in comments below! (And NB I've tried to stay away from too much proselytising, but there is still some eco-worthiness, of course.) At the risk of being a Pollyanna:

1 Remember that our peace and security lie in accepting that everything's uncertain and transient – that's just how it is on this plane of being

2 At the end of the day, take a few minutes to revisit your day in your memory, and the gifts in everything that arose for you today, even the hard bits

3 Take time out every day to feast your eyes on green, to listen to birdsong, wind in trees, a river – even five minutes, even in a city

4 This one comes from Michael Ventura (who co-authored, with Jungian James Hillman, We’ve Had One Hundred Years of Psychotherapy and the World’s Getting Worse, Harper San Francisco, 1992 – but this doesn't come from that but from an endpage article in Resurgence decades ago): No matter how busy your schedule, take a few minutes in the morning with your beloved to be quiet ('beloved' might mean partner, of course; but it might also mean family, dog, garden)

5 Practise listening, really listening, to others. Harder than we all think

6 Practise generosity. When a criticism of someone springs to your lips, see if you can find, instead, something positive to say (or just think) about someone. How much nicer to hear 'So glad you did the dishes while I was drinking tea in bed' than 'Why do you always leave the pots and pans?' or 'I really enjoyed your last poem' rather than 'That reading went on too long'

7 Stop criticising yourself

8 Go barefoot sometimes, even if only for a minute or two. Walking in dew is exquisite!

9 Tell those whom you love that you love them. Often

10 It's not what you accumulate or achieve that counts, it's the people you love, your attitude to them and all living beings, and the depth and richness of your experiences – and what you make of them – that make an authentic life

11 Live lightly on the earth. Be mindful of the effects of your choices and actions on others, no matter how trivial the actions or invisible the other

12 This follows on: change your consumption and shopping habits. Bin the supermarkets (yes I know they're cheap, but not so much once you've succumbed to the promos and offers – and if I ever enter one I know I buy more than I need, my eyes being bigger than my belly). They benefit no one except the multinationals. Take your own bags and go to a farm shop, market, small local store – and buy less if you have to and use it mindfully. Refuse plastic. Don't buy Wetwipes or bottled water etc etc. Try cutting back on animals and animal products in your diet if you haven't already*; incorporate more organic; think foodmiles and seasonality; shop locally as much as you can. You'll feel better for it (and in markets, small shops etc there's actual person-to-person interaction); you'll reduce the world's suffering; you'll help the planet and you'll benefit local small businesses. Learn to forage!

(*some nutritional advice is offered on my site; and the best vegan recipes in the world are here

13 Remember that other beings, human or not, and the planet herself have not been put here for our use and benefit. One of the worst words applied to the rest of the natural world is 'resource'. As George Monbiot has said many times including in his latest post, we tend to muddle monetary value with intrinsic value. How can we view the world as 'capital', morally speaking? Similarly, we so often seem to think, albeit unconsciously, that other humans too are here to help or serve us, to fulfill our needs and desires, one way or another. Of course, that's also the general attitude to animals

14 You are responsible for your actions and words. Assuming you've acted in good heart, you are not responsible for others' reactions to them. Watch out for the guilt trips – your own or others'

15 Do you really need to switch on that phone/computer/TV? (OK, sometimes you do. But does the phone need to accompany every conversation, gleaming away on the table at your side?)

16 Regain the slow lane. Take refuge in the slow lane. Slooooow. There. Doesn't that feel good?

17 Consider learning a meditation practice. Just 10 minutes a day can open up space in your life

18 Next thing you do, do it with your whole attention, as if nothing else matters. Indeed, for that moment, nothing else does

19 The biggest mistake we tend to make in the West is to identify our 'self' with our emotions (of which the baseline one is fear). Step outside them – they're generally reactions to insecurity –and see the bigger picture

20 The happiest people tend to be those who dedicate themselves to something bigger than simply their own ego, whether that is a metaphysical belief system, work that benefits the greater good, or a community or environmental project, for instance. It doesn't have to be big or worldshaking; merely something that, hopefully regularly, takes you beyond 'I, me, mine'

21 Give back. I love the old principle of titheing – passing on a tenth of one's gains. I try and practise it, though a tenth is tricky on my income unless I think in non-monetary terms, so I try to think beyond money. There are many ways of titheing after all. (We certainly do it with the wild predators in our vegetable plot, albeit rather involuntarily and grumpily)

22 See number 1.

 © Roselle Angwin, May 2018

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