Evan Dwan News Blog

Information, tools, and resources for transforming your life

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Can’t find what your looking for… Just ask

I hope that you find in the news blog below information that will help you. If not and you’re looking for specific advice, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am always happy to share information and thoughts on a specific subject that my readers find useful. Of course I never reference any personal information within my news stories so total confidentiality is assured.

Diversity: The basis of a system’s health and resilience

If you were a farmer planting crops do you think it would make sense to plant all the same crops or to plant lots of different crops? Why? Well, let’s think about this. Before the Irish famine most of the people were heavily reliant on one crop: potatoes. So, what do...

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Bob Dylan: Beyond expectations

As a young boy, Robert Zimmerman was bored growing up in Hibbing. The place didn’t excite him very much. So, he used his imagination to escape. He would turn on the radio, listen to music and imagine he was somewhere else. Robert learned to play music all by himself....

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Albert Einstein: Passionately curious

“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile” – Albert Einstein Albert Einstein was born to think. He loved coming up with new ideas and imagining new possibilities. He once said that a new idea must seem a little crazy, otherwise it is not really new, or...

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Odysseus and the sirens

Circe had told Odysseus about the sirens. No one who heard their song had survived. Through their music the sirens lured passing sailors to their deaths as they passed by. As they sailed, an island appeared on the horizon and the sound of sweet music began to slowly...

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Place-based and community-engaged education

In the book, Place-based learning in the global age, Gregory Smith talks about a social movement called ‘The new localism’ that has emerged as a result of the disruption of traditional community life that came about as a result of economic development. This movement...

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Educating the hunter-gatherer way: Self-directed learning

In a recent article in the Economist I read that young children should be the first to return to school after the Covid-19 pandemic on the basis that they are not yet capable of self-directed learning. This is quite ironic – young infants, arguably, are the most...

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Pablo Picasso and the creative life

It is said that before he could talk, Pablo Picasso could draw. In fact, his mother claimed that the first words out of his mouth was ‘pencil’! When he was small, this young artist would draw circular shapes in the sand. Pablo lived a long and interesting life. Much...

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Odysseus enters the underworld

Circe gave Odysseus directions to the underworld. He sailed into the northerly wind, following the stream of ocean until he came to Persephone’s grove of trees. From there the gates of the underworld opened before him. In the grove Odysseus dug a trench and filled it...

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Odysseus and the magic flower: Help from Hermes

They arrived, after barely surviving a ferocious storm at sea, at a wooded island, filled with beeches and oaks. On the shore lions and tigers and wolves prowled but when approached they rolled over and purred. Odysseus sent some men to investigate. The beasts led the...

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Jane Goodall: Justice for the wild

As a child she played with a toy chimpanzee her father gave her. Little did she know that when she grew older her life’s work would be spent playing with real chimpanzees in the wilds of Africa. Jane Goodall went into a remote jungle in Africa and followed the chimps....

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What is deep ecology?

Deep ecology is a way of looking at the world, a deep ‘ecological’ view, that sees the fundamental interdependence of all life. It sees that we humans are embedded in, and part of the natural world – a world we depend on for our existence. Fritjof Capra describes the...

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Rachel Carson: A pioneering protector of the natural world

Rachel Carson grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania. She and her dog, Candy, spent a lot of time exploring the woods and land that surrounded her home. Rachel was fascinated by the life that lived here – the plants, animals and insects. Her brother and sister were much...

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Mind and culture

Culture can be understood as the social environment in which a person lives. Culture is the context in which energy and information is shared through patterns of interaction, rituals of behaviour, symbols and structures of the environment. Culture itself is a...

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The heroic myth: Death, rebirth and transformation

Karen Armstrong, in her book, A short history of myth, writes that in old times the hunter and shaman of the tribe had to turn their backs on the familiar world, enter the unknown and face fearsome trials. Their journey took them out into uncertainty where they would...

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Animal wisdom: Hunters, kinship and the sacred

In hunting societies, animals were not seen as inferior beings but as possessing superior wisdom. Anthropologists observe that modern-day indigenous groups often refer to animals or birds as ‘peoples’, the same as themselves. They tell stories about humans becoming...

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Mind, relationships and communication

According to interpersonal neurobiology, relationships can be understood as a process that involves the sharing of energy and information flow. This is the movement across time of energy that has symbolic value (a symbol is something stands for something else – like...

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Uneven development: Thoughts on neglected human capacities

The problem of the world are problems of perception. Everything proceeds from perception. Perception leads to action. Therefore, ‘changing the world’ must always begin with ‘changing the way we see the world’. As Einstein said, ‘You cannot solve problems with the same...

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The sacred nature of the ancient world

Karen Armstrong, the historian of Religion, tells us that the Palaeolithic period (c. 20000 to 8000 BCE) was one of the longest and most formative in the biological evolution of humans. Ethnologists and anthropologists claim that these indigenous people were very...

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Tim Robinson: Love for learning and life

Tim Robinson was man of many ways. He was an ecologist, an environmentalist, a natural historian, a geographer, a botanist, and even a translator. He wanted to find out what it was like to live well on the earth and to discover the right way to be in the world, find a...

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What are mental activities?

What are mental activities? Mental activities are experiences that happen in the mind. When we describe what our minds are, or what happens in the mind, we are talking about mental activities. What are some of the things you are aware of in your mind? Mental...

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What is the mind?

Albert Einstein wrote ‘The fish will be the last to discover the water’. What does this mean? It means that we often don’t see what is right in front of. Or what we are in the middle of. Take the mind, for example. What is the mind? It is the sea in which we swim and...

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The practice of phenomenology: Intuition vs inference

The philosopher Edmund Husserl argued that we can ‘see’ our minds and how our experience of the world is structured. He called this ‘intuition’ – seeing the structure of consciousness. This intuitive seeing brings something into presence in our experience. Intuition,...

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Practice: Developing observational and attentional skills

Observation without evaluation “You can learn a lot just by watching” – Yogi Berra What happens when we observe something without evaluating it? The primary way we ‘know’ something is pre-conceptual – it comes before thoughts and ideas. The normal way we process...

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Goethe: Alternative ways of knowing and multiplicity

Goethe, through his naturphilosophie, strove to bring together two different ways of knowing – empirical observation and spiritual intuition. According to Goethe, the scientist could not access the deeper truths of nature through detachment, abstractions, or ‘stepping...

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The healing power of poetry

In Poetry and Story therapy, Geri Giebel Chavis, writes that poetry has always played a special role in the history of healing. Medicine men and shamans in ancient civilization chanted poems as part of their healing rituals. In ancient Greece, Apollo represents poetry...

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Hillman and the image: The dialogue of the imagination

James Hillman writes that we must return to the image. He thinks of images as being like animals, alive and vital; a phenomenon that can be engaged with. Therapy, too often, is the art of interpretation rather than the art of IMAGination. The image might refer to...

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Logos and Mythos: Alternative ways of knowing

Karen Armstrong argues that symbolism came more naturally to people in the pre-modern world that it does today. The Greeks referred to two different ways of knowing: Mythos and Logos. Both were essential and neither were superior to the other. Each had its sphere of...

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Religion and the creative imagination: The history of God

The Greeks, who gave birth to rationalism, were not interested in using rational tools in engaging with spiritual questions. Karen Armstrong suggests that the Greeks intuitively knew that rationalism was the wrong tool for approaching the world of the numinous and the...

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Transformative reading: Ulysses and us

Declan Kiberd writes that the aim of Ulysses was to create a different kind of reader, one who after reading it would experience the world in a very different way. He wanted to free people from all kinds of constriction, including passive readership. Joyce hoped that...

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The mythic motif of psychological transformation

King Midas is given a second chance and relinquishes his golden-gift; Orpheus is reunited with his beloved by the gods; Prometheus is freed from bondage and able to re-join his people. Joseph Campbell tells us that the happy ending of fairy tales and myth should be...

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The poetic: An alternative way of seeing and knowing

Poetry relates to language as music relates to noise, writes John Carey. In his, A little history of poetry, he tells us that poetry is language made special, so that it will be remembered and valued. It comes from a time before writing, where stories and history were...

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The heart of learning: Human presence in education

‘Education’ has the potential to take place in any situation where two or more people are meeting, that is, relating. Relationship lies at the heart of what it means to be human and hence what it means to educate. The root ‘educare’ refers to a ‘drawing out’ process...

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Imagination and the extensive self

In her book, The hero and the goddess, Jean Houston writes that we live in a ‘mono’ culture – it is monotheistic (one god), monophrenic (one personality), and monocular (having one way of seeing) in our epistemology. We think everything can be known in a linear...

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Orpheus and Infirmitas: the suffering of the gods

Orpheus was a beautiful musician. He played the lyre and sang wonderful songs that made wild animals tame. The trees swayed towards him, the grass stood up and the whole earth came alive and sang with him. Orpheus was deeply in love with Eurydice but one day a snake...

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The way of wisdom: The salmon of knowledge

According to Irish mythology the first thing to ever come into creation was a hazel tree, and in its branches was contained all the knowledge of the universe. This hazel tree flourished over the Well of Wisdom (Tobar Segais) within which lived a great speckled salmon....

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Thinking for a change: Mental models

Peter Senge describes ‘mental models’ as follows: “Mental models are deeply held internal images of how the world works, images that limit us to familiar ways of thinking and acting. Very often, we are not consciously aware of our mental models or the effects they...

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Contemplative reading and creative response

Try reading the following passages slowly and deeply, paying attention to your inner experience as you do. “All things are changing; nothing dies. The spirit wanders, comes now here, now there, and occupies whatever frame it pleases…For that which once existed is no...

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The healing arts: Poetry as therapy

Humans have a long history of using the arts for self-expression, self-regulation and healing. These forms of communication – image-making, ritual, movement, dramatic enactment, imaginative play, music and storytelling – have, according to Cathy Machioldi, been ways...

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Mobilising your resources in the face of challenges

A resource can be defined as: A source of wealth or support, an available means A feature that enhances the quality of human life A source of information or expertise Something one resorts to in times of difficulty A possibility of relief or recovery An ability or...

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Embodied reading and the heart of the imagination

Monastic readers would huddle over their parchment texts, reading aloud, immersing their whole being in the words and the text. Reading used to be understood as a remedy. According to Ivan Illich, reading brings light back into the world, by kindling the eye, and...

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Odysseus, chaos and crisis: the man of multiple resources

Luc Ferry writes that the Odyssey is the first representative of an attempt at creating a cosmic wisdom, a ‘secular spirituality’ and a compelling definition of the good life. He is referred to as the ‘divine Odysseus’, the wisest of men. His quest is to attempt to...

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The tree of life: Who am I?

The ‘Tree of life’ is an exercise from David Denborough, which aims to create an empowered narrative of your life. It involves drawing/ painting a tree and reflecting on different aspects of yourself. Instructions First draw a tree. It can be any kind of tree but best...

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Becoming Promethean: Creativity, courage and compassion

The great god Zeus tasked Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus, who were both skilled craftsmen, with populating the earth. Epimetheus made animals and birds, insects and fish. When he was finished Prometheus stepped forward and made the last creature. He took some...

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Wired for love: Our greatest resource

One day a man said to God, “God, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.” God showed the man two doors. Inside the first one, in the middle of the room, was a large round table with a large pot of stew. It smelled delicious and made the man’s mouth water,...

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The archetypes: Meeting the gods within

“Each of us contains within us the whole Olympian pantheon” Edward Edinger The Greek pantheon, writes Edinger, the immortal ones, are fundamental presences that inhabit the collective unconscious of humankind. These are the archetypes. An archetype is a typical...

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Love and care: The core of human well-being

An old myth tells the story of a time when ‘care’ was crossing a river and she saw some clay. She picked it up, and slowly began to shape it. While contemplating the beauty of what she had made, Jupiter came by and ‘care’ asked him to give it spirit, which he gladly...

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The anger/ RAGE system

At the end of the Trojan war, the victorious Greek soldiers sacked the city of Troy. They had spent the last ten years at war and unleashed all their rage and frustration upon what remained of Troy. Dispensing with moderation, they acted deplorably. This enraged the...

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Jason and the golden fleece: answering the call of crisis

Jason’s father was the King of Thebes, but one day, his own brother, Pelias, took the throne from him and threw him in prison. Pelias challenged Jason to find the famous Golden Fleece and bring it back to him. If he succeeded the King would return the crown to the...

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The story of the self: Creating coherence out of chaos

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light...

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An emotional education: Needs, feelings and behaviour

The other evening, I was walking in the mountains. It was late in the day and the sun was shining in a slanted way, making the whole world look lovely. Great greens and browns filled the hills and valleys. The air was still, the land quiet. No wind stirred, the only...

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Shifting into the ‘right mode’

“The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself” ― Henry Miller In the brain, it is the right hemisphere that is involved in the perception of anything new or...

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Wisdom: knowledge for living

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” - Confucius Two women come to King Solomon both claiming to be the mother of the same child....

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Seeking wisdom: The great traditions

Where is the wisdom we have Lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? T.S. Eliot A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor's...

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Activating the SEEKING system: The basis of well-being

“We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time. Through the unknown, remembered gate When the last of earth left to discover Is that which was the beginning; At the source...

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Wisdom and folly: The myth of Daedalus and Icarus

Many years ago, the island of Crete was ruled by the cruel King Minos. One day he summoned to the island a famous inventor called Daedalus, who brought with him his son, Icarus, to do a job for the King. Minos had the inventor build a great palace for him, within...

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Seeing the whole: Thinking in systems

“In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and...

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The challenge of crises: What to change

Crises confront us at every level in life – as individuals, groups, teams, organisations, nations, even the earth itself. In his book, upheaval, Jared Diamond notes that crisis, whether for individuals or collectives, arise either out of internal or external...

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Learning from literature: Ulysses, wisdom and virtue

“You were not born to be a teacher, I think. Perhaps I am wrong” “A learner rather”, Stephen said. “And here what will you learn more?” Mr Deasy shook his head. “Who knows?” he said. “To learn one must be humble. But life is the great teacher.” - James Joyce, Ulysses...

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The beginnings of wisdom

“Applicants for wisdom do what I have done: inquire within” ― Heraclitus, Fragments A jailor brought Socrates the cocktail of Hemlock. He calmly drank his poison. Surrounded by his disciples, the philosopher posed his final questions. “Will a true lover of wisdom, who...

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Odysseus: The man of many ways

Many years ago, there was a siege of a city called Troy. Odysseus was a Greek prince and the king of an island on the west coast of Greece, called Ithaca. Upon hearing news of the war, the wise Odysseus realised that the war would be long and destructive and was...

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Understanding anxiety in the context of the Covid-crisis

These are strange and difficult times we are living through. With the spread of the ‘Covid-crisis’, our lives have been turned upside-down and a lot of our supports have been taken away. We humans like routines because what we know feels safe because it is familiar....

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What is the meaning of myth?

“The latest incarnation of Oedipus, the continued romance of Beauty and the Beast, stand this afternoon on the corner of 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, waiting for the traffic light to change.” ― Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces The world is made of...

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The princess and the golden ball: The coming crisis

One day a princess is playing with her beloved golden ball in the palace gardens, throwing the ball high in the air, watching it sparkle in the sun, until it become a second sun itself. She gazes upon the movements of her prized possession, until out of the sky the...

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Learning from literature: Poetry for perspective

Perspective refers to the ability to take stock of life and see the big picture, in order to make sense of oneself and others. Throughout history literature has traditionally been a vehicle that has been used to develop multiple, broader and wider perspectives on...

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Lives that teach: Biography as pedagogy

All stories have the potential to hold wisdom that can offer us instruction on how to live. This holds true not just for the myths and the great works of literature, but also for the stories of great lives. The following is the story of the life of a great poet, who...

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Stories that teach: cautionary tales

Myths and folk tales can be understood as the repositories of the wisdom of the people. Folktales often grew out of times of crisis and upheaval, a therapeutic endeavour to help people make sense of and integrate extreme experiences. A function of story is the it...

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Bildungsroman: Stories of transformation

"One of the best ways to start answering questions such as “who am I?” and “what can I do in the world?” is to read books." - Meg Rosoff A bildungsroman is a genre of story-telling that is educative in nature. Popularised as a ‘coming of age’ story such stories the...

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Poem: Body unborn

Body unborn Pulled, like the seas, wandering like the wind. the mind moves in many different directions. I search for my voice; Buried - In breast, bone, blood. The body holds words that long to be born.

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The pursuit and practice of wisdom

“Happy are those who find wisdom… She is more precious that jewels, and nothing you desire can compare With her… Get wisdom, get insight: do not forget”. - Book of proverbs "After a long, hard climb up a mountain a group of seekers found themselves in front of a great...

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Servant-leadership: Bringing out the best in others

In Journey to the East Herman Hesse tells the mythical story of a group of men who travel to the east in search of spiritual renewal. Leo is the servant of the group who does the chores for the other travellers but also, through his positive spirit and singing, lifts...

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The art of attention and the transformation of the trivial

“it’s not the large things that send a man to the madhouse…it’s the continuing series of small tragedies…a shoelace that snaps with no time left … The dread of life is that swarm of trivialities that can kill quicker than cancer and which are always there” Charles...

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On the nature of good work

What is good work? It is in our nature as human beings that we are both active and social. We are active in so far as we are designed to perform certain functions. We can move, manipulate, make things, communicate. We have agency, the ability to effect and change the...

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Practice: Following the out-breath into awareness

Follow each out-breath and connect with a sense of letting go. Notice where the out-breath is moving to. Then pause, for a moment, in the silence between the out-breath and the next in breath. You can try this for 2-3 breaths, or longer if you like. What do you notice?

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Presence practice: Inhabiting the hands

In this practice we will shift the centre of experience from the head to the hands which will help facilitate a greater sense of calm and equanimity. Begin by holding your hands out in front of you and practice seeing your hands. Notice all the detail – colour, shape,...

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Practising presence: Where am I?

When we get lost in the midst of daily activity, we can come back to ourselves, to the soothing space of our own presence, at any time. A useful entry point is simply asking: ‘Where am I right now?’ This question serves a double purpose. We begin to notice our...

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To do what needs doing…to do the right thing

“Just that you do the right thing. The rest doesn't matter. Cold or warm. Tired or well-rested. Despised or honoured. Dying...or busy with other assignments. Because dying, too, is one of our assignments in life. There as well: "To do what needs doing." Look inward.”...

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