Writings

Being one with all

Being one with all

July 16, 2018
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July 7 to 14, 2018, I was at No Mind, a festival at Ängsbacka. Upon leaving, I had no intention of coming back. However, the most amazing sensation is with me, making me wonder if maybe I will. Sometime.

Arriving home after a ten hour journey, I was, understandably, quite exhausted while at the same time, brimming with energy. So much so, that I unpacked in a jiffy and immediately donned my running clothes and shoes. Went out for a slow run, before taking a shower and hitting the sack.No MindThat’s when it started.
A sensation of being part of a thousand-headed entity, of being one with everyone who attended No Mind, experiencing everything each and every one of these thousand souls experienced in the moment. Being asleep – yet wide awake. Tired – yet filled with energy. Floating on the sensation of being one with a thousand people, the most exquisite experience – wondrous!

Throughout the night, while sleeping, this is what inhabited my dream state.
Waking up, this is what inhabited my waking state.

Getting up, the day after coming back, I carried it with me – being a part of it, there was simply no other option available. Going through the day, it was there, in the background, only to blossom into full aliveness once more as I went to bed yet again in my own bed, twenty four hours after coming home. And immediately, the sensation doubleness in intensity, ten-fold, a hundred-fold, a thousand times more intense – once again, my entire being filled with the sensation of being one with all, no division, no separateness. Unity. Blissful.

Rocked by a thousand hearts, a thousand embraces, a thousand slow breaths – in and out – I gently drifted away into my dream state; Held. Caressed. Cared for. Loved. Part of a beloved community.

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Siddharta (book 14 of 26)

July 15, 2018
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“When someone is searching, said Siddhartha, then it might easily happen that the only thing his eyes still see is that what he searches for, that he is unable to find anything, to let anything enter his mind, because he always things of nothing byt the object of his search, because he has a goal, because he is obsessed by the goal. Searching means: having a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal. You, O venerable one, are perhaps indeed a searcher, because, striving for your goal, there are many things you don’t see, which are directly in front of your eyes.”

Have spent the past week at Ängsbacka outside Molkom in Värmland, Sweden, at the No Mind-festival. Knowing I would not have a lot of time or the wherewithal to read something heavy, I brought Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse with me, which in and of itself seems a bit comical, now that I’ve finished it. I mean, the No Mind festival is filled with “teachers teaching”, which is one thing Siddhartha is continuously critical about in the book. Up until the end, when he realizes the value he actually has received from quite a few different teachers through out his life.

Knowledge-can-be-conveyed-but-not-wisdom“Look, my dear Govind, this is one of my thoughts, which I have found: wisdom cannot be passed on. Wisdom which a wise man tries to pass on to someone always sounds like foolishness. […] Knowledge can be conveyed, but not wisdom. It can be found, it can be lived, it is possible to be carried by it, miracles can be performed with it, but it cannot be expressed in words and taught.”

This difference between knowledge and wisdom makes sense to me, as wisdom, for me, has to be embodied. It is knowledge internalized, and transformed on it’s way through and out of me, into the world. If I am simply repeating words, without having put my own twist to them – making them mine, rebirthing them, enriching them with my onlyness -, is it not simply knowledge then? Regurgitated by me, rather than applied upon life, my way?

“[…] I prefer the thing over the words, place more importance on his acts and life than on his speeches, more on the gestures of his hand than his opinions. Not in his speech, not in his thoughts, I see his greatness, only in his actions, in his life.”

That last bit about greatness seen through his actions, seen in his life, is yet another way to describe wisdom, is it not?


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

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13 read – 13 to go!

July 4, 2018
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Have reached the halfway mark of one of my two reading challenges of the year, to read 26 English books (as well as 26 Swedish books) during this year, books I already had in my home at the beginning of the year, books I’ve had the intention to read, but never got around to. Until now, that is! I’ve read 13 of the English books and am currently on my 14th Swedish book, so I am on track on both languages, with 13 English books to go. (My second reading challenge is to read 100 books in total in 2018, and I am fairly aligned with that goal as well, with 48 books read so far.)
English books - 13 downEvery Sunday (or, well, rather every other Sunday, as I blog about my Swedish books every second week) I write a book reflection on the book of the week, which in and of itself is a treat for me. I discovered how much joy it gives me to reflect on books as I did the 2017 #blogg100-challenge when I wrote a book reflection every day for one hundred days in a row. There are so many fantastic books, and also so much thought provoking, beautiful, outrageous, troublesome, chocking, fascinating and marvelous to read in books!

Once I’ve finished the Swedish book of this week, I think I will start on Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, but then again, you never know. Sometimes I change my mind at the critical time of actually flipping open to the first page of the book…

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Meditations (book 13 of 26)

July 1, 2018
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MeditationsMeditations. Written by Marcus Aurelius. Not intended to be published as a book (containing a total of 12 books or sections, presumably written at different times in his latter life.), at all. Rather this is something he wrote to himself, of for himself, seemingly daily musings.

Treat with respect the power you have to form an opinion. By it alone can the helmsman within you avoid forming opinions that are at variance with nature and with the constitution of a reasonable being. From it you may look to attain circumspection, good relations with your fellow-men, and conformity with the will of heaven. Book 3, #9

Put from you the belief that “I have been wronged”, and with it will go the feeling. Reject your sense of injury, and the injury itself disappears. Book 4, #7

Once dismiss the view you take, and you are out of danger. Who, then, is hindering such dismissal? Book 12, #25

Several things strike me as I read it, the first is how non-foreign it seems. I mean, this is a book of daily musings written about two thousand years ago, and yet, it doesn’t feel that foreign to me, even though on the surface me and Marcus certainly doesn’t have a lot in common. And yet, many of these musings are ones I’ve entertained myself.

Think it no shame to be helped. Your business is to do your appointed duty, like a soldier in the breach. How, then, if you are lame, and unable to scale the battlements yourself, but could do it if you had the aid of a comrade? Book 7, #7

The second thing is the emphasis on self – not in a self-centered and egotistical manner, but rather: don’t point a finger at anyone else, whatever they might have done or not done, is really not for you to judge. At least, that’s how I interpret it.

When men are inhuman, take care not to feel towards them as they do towards other humans. Book 7, #65

Thirdly, the focus on love and unity, how we are all one, part of a greater whole (even though, looking at when he wrote this, and what he was doing at the time, being emperor of the Roman Empire, this certainly must have been fairly “filtered” in his understanding, to those of similar standing and heritage/nationality).

Would you wish for the praise of one who thrice and hour calls down curses on his own head? Would you please one who cannot even please himself? And how can a man be pleased with himself, when he repents of well-nigh everything he does? Book 8, #54

I like it though, this book. And in my view, it proved one of the most interesting GIFTED book club conversations we’ve had, at that. The book was my choice, and I wisely chose it for this specific week, knowing I could blog about it with the book fresh in my mind.

Today I have gotten myself out of all my perplexities; or rather, I have got the perplexities out of myself – for they were not without, but within; they lay in my own outlook. Book 9, #13

The quotes I’ve chosen here ring true for me. There are a lot of them that I have a hard time understanding though, or downright disagree with. I might blog about them as well, but for now, you’ve have to suffice with these few that I found great pleasure in.

Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one. Book 10, #16


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

 

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Daring Greatly (book 12 of 26)

June 17, 2018
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“When we stop caring about what other people think, we lose our capacity for connection. When we become defined by what people think, we lose our willingness to be vulnerable. If we dismiss all the criticism, we lose out on important feedback, but if we subject ourselves to the hatefulness, our spirits get crushed. It’s a tightrope, shame resilience is the balance bar, and the safety new below is the one or two people in our lives who can help us reality-check the criticism and cynicism.”

Daring Greatly, subtitled How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead, is a book by Brené Brown, shame- and vulnerability-researcher, made famous by her TEDxHouston Talk, which is well worth a look if you’ve yet to see it.

The-gap-starts-here-We-can-t-give-people-what-we“Here’s the question: We don’t intentionally create cultures in our families, schools, communities, and organizations that fuel disengagement and disconnection, so how does it happen? Where’s the gap?

The gap starts here: We can’t give people what we don’t have. Who we are matters immeasurably more than what we know or who we want to be.

This is the first of her books that I’m reading in English, which I strongly recommend, compared to the lousy translation to Swedish of one of her earlier works that I suffered through a while back. Daring Greatly is an easy read, and there’s loads of stuff within it to think about, to try out, to discuss with family, friends and colleagues, for sure. All the while, having listened to her in numerous pod’s, it’s as if I already know most of this.

“Minding the gap is a daring strategy. We have to pay attention to the space between where we’re actually standing and where we want to be. More importantly, we have to practice the values that we’re holding out as important in our culture.”

There were a few tender moments while reading though, centering on recent events, making me cringe a bit…. knowing I’ve n o t been vulnerable enough, knowing full well that I am trying to skirt the issues at hand. Grateful for the reminder, most definitely, and getting ready to shed my armor.

“Giving and soliciting feedback is about learning and growth, and understanding who we are and how we respond to the people around us is the foundation in this process.”

Voicing my discomfort, to someone in a position to help me reality-check the feedback, as well as help me through it (not around, not away from: through!), certainly is one of the best ways for me to keep me on a road of expansion, or growth, of a deepening understanding and knowing of who I am, and how I am. Voicing my discomfort, the shame and fear and disgust and confusion, makes it all real, bringing it outside of the dark recesses of my brain, where it would otherwise – perhaps – be lurking around for ages, doing no one any good. Better to bring it out into the light to see what it’s actually about. Starting to dance with it, sooner or later I know I will have learned new dance moves, that will help me as I dance along in life.


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

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One Square Inch of Silence (book 11 of 26)

June 3, 2018
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One Square InchWhat a profound read! I am oh-so-affected by what I’ve just read.
Deeply impacted.

Am in a state of high-alert with regards to auditory observation ever since picking up One Square Inch of Silence: One Man’s Quest to Preserve Quiet by Gordon Hempton and John Grossmann.

“We’ve reached a time in human history when our global environmental crisis requires that we make permanent life-style changes. More than ever before, we need to fall back in love with the land. Silence is our meeting place.”

Last night I made a bed for myself out in the garden, and slept there, with my never-sleeping ears (there are no ear lids. Ever considered that before? Vision is something we can turn off, hearing is not.) curiously on the prowl for traffic noise, insects buzzing, birds chirping, leaves rustling, my own breath from my steadfast inhalations and exhalations.

“If asked to choose my favorite sound in the world, I doubt that I could do that easily. If forced, I might say it’s the dawn chorus of songbirds, the sound of the rising sun as it circles the globe. But that would disregard the murmur of winged insects as heard over many square miles in the Kalahari Desert, and if that were my favorite sound, that would ignore the hoot of an owl and the way it bounces off the cypress trees in Louisiana, and also ignore the clang of a church bell after it has echoed down the narrow stone streets of an Austrian village. If I had to supply a single answer to that question, my favorite sound in the world would be the sound of anticipation: the silence of a sound about to be heard, the space between the notes.”

I even downloaded a sound meter (actually – two, giving completely different results!) on my IPhone, having finally started to understand decibels and auditory measurements. Thanks to this book, I’ve got something to calibrate sound levels against as Gordon in a pedagogical manner jots in current decibel measurements for whatever it is he’s experiencing, giving me something of a map to help me navigate. Also I’ve gotten an understanding of the profound difference in restricting noise versus preserving quiet. Two completely different perspectives, that I’ve never given any thought to before. But now I do.

“Silence is not the absence of something but the presence of everything.”

And as I read, I remembered my recent weekend visit at Mundekulla. Walking down the narrow graveled road from the building where we had the course I was taking, to the dining hall where my room was also situated, I noticed the silence. Profound. Peaceful. Powerful!

“Silence seems to make music from everything, simply by isolating individual sounds, allowing the sounds time to form temporal relationships. Music is made out of rests and notes. Quiet times and exciting times, silence and sound. We need them both. More than any other sense, hearing unites everything.”

Now, after completing my read of One Square Inch of Silence, I more fully understand why the experience of quiet (which, in Gordon’s definition, means the absence of man-made noise, rather than no sound at all, an important distinction) holds such power over me (us!).

“Our public gathering places, for sports, literature, learning, and music, are intentional spaces, highly structured, and thus result in somewhat contrived experiences. Whenever I visit them I’m reminded of the vital importance of preserving places outside of human intention, unspoiled wilderness areas, places where we might regain sensory balance and learn from the unscripted, unedited, unenhanced, raw opportunity of nature.”

This concludes my third encounter with Gordon. You see, I first stumbled upon him while listening to On Being some years ago, an episode I highly recommend. My second run in with him was when we took a family vacation to Seattle and Vancouver in 2016 – with me being adamant to cross the sound to visit The Olympic Peninsula, which I would not have necessarily insisted upon, had I not listened to that podcast. While we were there, we took a day-trip to the western shores. En-route back, we stopped at Fairholme General Store along Lake Crescent, where they had a few copies of One Square Inch of Silence at the counter. So besides buying ice cream and two T-shirts, we also left the store with this book, a spur-of-the-moment piece of shopping of which I am truly grateful.


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

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Educated. A must-read.

May 25, 2018
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A few months ago, my brother sent me a podcast tip, of Tara Westover in conversation on Talking politics. I listened, intrigued and curious after reading this blurb:
David talks to Tara Westover about her incredible new book Educated, which tells the story of how a girl brought up by survivalists in Idaho and who never went to school ended up with a PhD from Cambridge.  Along the way we discuss what education means and what Tara’s journey has taught her about politics and about life.  Really, this is a conversation about the important stuff.

I searched for the book in my local library database, didn’t find it, and sent in a purchase request. As often happens, the library got the book, and sent me an email saying I could come pick it up. I did. And didn’t start to read, busy busy, with all the other books I’ve been reading (this being the 38th book I’ve read so far this year). Got another email from the library, saying I had to return it – managed to extend my loan, and still didn’t start to read, busy busy… Third email dropped into my inbox, saying the book was due back again. Tried to repeat my action to extend my loan, but alas, someone else has requested the book, due back this past Monday.

EducatedSo… I immediately returned it? No. Despicable me did not return it, but rather, finally got around to reading it! I just finished it, and I promise I will return it to the library come Monday, cross my heart and hope to die. And boy. What a book. What a story. I am very glad I took the time to read it.

Educated is…
impressive.
haunting.
hard to wrap my head around.
and a definite must-read!

During a visit to Cambridge in the UK; Tara get’s to walk atop the chapel of King’s College (it’s beautiful!), and walks up there, amazed at the sights. Her fellow students and the professor accompanying them, stays close to the walls, walking slowly and crab-like, afraid to fall to the ground. Tara doesn’t, and the professor points it out to her, asking how come she’s comfortable way up high on this roof.

“I can stand in this wind, because I’m not trying to stand in it,” I said. “The wind is just wind. You could withstand these gusts on the ground, so you can withstand them in the air. There is no difference. Except the difference you make in your head.”
He stared at me blankly. He hadn’t understood.
“I’m just standing,” I said. “You are all trying to compensate, to get your bodies lower because the height scares you. But the crouching and the sidestepping is not natural. You’ve made yourselves vulnerable. If you could just control your panic, this wind would be nothing.”
“The way it is nothing to you,” he said.

I’ve never actually thought about it, but she’s right. Why would it be harder to walk atop that roof, than down on the street below? Why is it harder to walk along a plank laid across a creek, that it is to walk across the kitchen floor? There is really not much of a difference, except the difference you make in your head. And once again, I am pointed back to the truth of how our thinking creates our experience of the world, in each and every moment.


Inspired to continue blogging on the theme from the #blogg100-challenge in 2017 I give you:
The book ”Educated” by Tara Westover

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Embodied.

May 23, 2018
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GroundedThe vibrations from the drums keep on reverberating within me, even though the last beat faded away an hour and a half ago.
Am still riding the wave of the energy from the vibrations; what a wonderful feeling.

Vibrations.
It’s as if all of a sudden, I’ve discovered a new world, a new dimension, the world of vibrations.

Setting an intention.
Heard. Voiced. Welcomed.

Receiving a clear message that this is to be embodied.
I need/crave/desire more body in my life.
It is where the direction I am pointed in.

The vibrations do just that, wake me up, body and soul, having me ride the waves of the drumbeats.
It’s all about energy.

I.
Am all energy.

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Freakonomics (book 10 of 26)

May 20, 2018
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FreakonomicsFreakonomics – A rogue economist explains the hidden side of everything, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. I like this book. It’s fun, provocative, asks some super-odd questions that I’d never have come up with myself, and generally makes my mind bend in new and intriguing ways. Levitt (the economist in the pair, Dubner is the writer) certainly has made some significant inroads to what he himself sees as a shortage in the field of economics: As Levitt sees it, economics is a science with excellent tools for gaining answers but a serious shortage of interesting questions. 

While crunching data to get at the answer to the query of what schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common, data from Chicago was used, resulting in this mind boggling statement: An analysis of the entire Chicago data reveals evidence of teacher cheating in more than two hundred classrooms per year, roughly 5 percent of the total. This is followed up with an in-depth account of ways teachers cheat (in standardized testing), and how the data set available can show this. Quite amazing, I must say. Fortunately, the algorithms used to crunch the data also revealed the best teachers in Chicago. The analysis was used, the worst of the cheating teachers were sacked, and the best teachers were rewarded.

Another thing Steven and Stephen make very clear, is the difference between correlation and causality, the former being a statistical term that indicate whether two variables move together or not, whereas causality proves cause (x can cause y; y can cause x; or some other factor is causing both x and y). The chapter on What makes a perfect parent give ample evidence to how conventional wisdom is not necessarily true. For instance, everyone knows that parents should read to their kids, right? The more, the better. Well. No. It actually doesn’t matter that much, as there is no direct causality between reading to one’s kid every day and his/her school grades and success further on in adulthood.

Huh! Who would have known? Not me, that’s fore sure. I have most definitely bought into the conventional wisdom (is the modern name for it alternative fact?!) that parents must read aloud to kids, and since I’ve always been really bad at that, there’s been this little nagging thought, that I should have read more, I must be such a bad mother, have I condemned my kids to eternal failure…

An enjoyable read, humorous, odd-ball, giving me insights into things I’ve simply never ever considered before, I mean, these are the questions (and hence, chapters) of the book:
What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?
How is the Ku Klux Klan like a group of real-estate agents?
Why do drug dealers still live with their moms?
Where have all the criminals gone?
What makes a perfect parent?
Perfect parenting, part II; or:Would a Roshanda by any other name smell as sweet?

So yes, quite possibly the result of me reading this book will be just what Steven and Stephen hope for: The most likely result of having read this book is a simple one: you may find yourself asking a lot of questions. Many of them will lead to nothing. But some will produce answers that are interesting, even surprising. 


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

 

 

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Sources of joy

May 16, 2018
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Sources of joyThe GIFTED book club.
Choir practice.
An evening of playing cards with my eldest.
Deeply immersed in a book that is riveting in one way or another.
Knitting!
Recording my upcoming podcast.
Receiving feedback from a participant in the pre-school-staff programme me and Pernilla have been running for a year, bringing tears to my eyes as I read about life-changing experiences.
Laughing with a friend.
Feeling the strength of my body as it takes me back and forth across town on my bike.
Slowly tilting my face up towards the sun, feeling the warmth of it, after months of cold weather.
The butterfly flitting around in my flowering garden.

You know what?
I could write and write and write here, boring you all to bits, because there’s so much joy to be found. Everywhere! I mean – truly!

God.
I’ve gone all Pollyanna here, haven’t I?

I mean… who would have thought I’d ever be able to state, emphatically, that I find sources of joy in things such as folding dry laundry, boiling some water and pouring it in a cup with a few leaves from the garden (walnut, back currant, raspberry and a moroccan mint-leaf), pouring a large glass of green smoothie and plonking myself down with it on the stairs to the garden to drink it while reading the morning paper, receiving a surprise postcard from a friend and colleague from a spur-of-the-moment visit to New York and any number of small and seemingly insignificant events, activities and interactions.

Well. This is the way it is. Most of the time. Not always, of course not always, but surprisingly often, I don’t see ”drab everyday life”. I see sparkles and magic, experience gratefulness and joy; so if you want to, feel free to call me Pollyanna.

Do you have any sources of joy that are a surprise to you, as you start to reflect upon the concept?

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