Day 937

essentials-f731032e-5ccb-4ae7-a755-923166cc967e

Just a rant

Another Thursday. Another musician. Another suicide.

This Facebook post brought up the same old questions. I am not the only one asking them. They are a big problem for many families, individuals and communities. But sadly, the easiest thing to do for a medic at a consultation is to write a prescription rather than invest time and resources in the individual.

“Just reading about Chris Cornell and how according to his wife he took too much of his prescribed medication, out of it, because he was on his medication. Whether it was a suicide or “accidental death” I am outraged at the system. I didn’t really know Chris Cornell’s music until recently, but I lost my dear friend, another talented musician, to a similar situation recently. And before that I lost my mom, who became psychotic when given anti-depressants and took the whole bottle a few days after she had started taking them. I am so frustrated by a medical establishment that refuses to treat the whole disease and the whole person, and so tired of people I love dying from the very medication that is supposed to prevent it. If you work in (mental) health, please consider the risk when prescribing medications. Years ago, I myself was prescribed ativan and other medications and became addicted and had to take myself off everything completely without the support of a doctor because they thought I needed medication, while in reality the medication was making me suicidal.

Medication without therapy from my perspective is no different than drinking or smoking or taking drugs. I see the system changing as the trauma-informed approach enters the mainstream but in Nova Scotia, so many mental health problems that need deep spiritual healing are treated with drugs. Drugs that sometimes exacerbate the problem, or create a whole new problem, without leaving the person spiritually and emotionally sober enough to make sound decisions that could save lives.

I look forward to the day when the mental hospitals and outpatient aftercare support radical healing on a whole-person level-the kind of work that the International Association for Human Values and Body Talkers are doing-treating the whole person and providing them with actual physical stress and trauma relief tools.

Just a rant. I’m done. Love to all. Please no more state/big pharma-sponsored suicides…”

Eleven years ago, purely by chance, I learnt a breathing-based meditation technique called ‘Sudarshan Kriya’. It has kept me strong through deeply traumatic life-events. Our breath is a subtle but powerful bridge to knowing the ‘self’. It has precious secrets hidden in it. It energises and detoxifies. It keeps us alive. If we are willing to learn, it teaches us the art of living.

 

Day 934

IMG_0701

Rikka

The custom of placing flowers on an alter is an ancient one. In the sixth century, Ikebana was founded in Kyoto as an offering to the Goddess of Mercy. Flower arranging contests were held at the imperial court where aristocrats and monks competed with each other at festivals.

In the early 16th century people tried to give a deeper meaning to the thoughts accompanying flower arranging. They wished to arrange rather than casually placing them in a vase. An earlier attitude of passive appreciation developed into a more deeply considered approach.

Rikka is the oldest style of Ikebana. Trees symbolise mountains while grasses and flowers suggest water. A natural landscape is expressed in a single vase. Indeed, all things in nature are reflected. In Rikka it is important to know the laws of nature through harmony of trees and plants.

It is my good fortune that I have the opportunity to be very intimate with Mother Nature in this concrete jungle of London. I have a teacher who is dedicated to passing this ancient tradition on to future generations. Her school has generated a number of teachers who inspire many people like me. Arranging flowers is like meditation in motion. The right brain can express itself to the fullest. The intuitive decision making, the textures, smells and colours of materials, the elegant shapes, the spatial organisation and the movement within bring peace and satisfaction. It is creative within a set of rules. It is aesthetically appealing to the subtle sensibilities. It is a gentle experience of being one with nature.

Maybe one day beauty will save the world.

 

Day 904

Depression2_Ashely

“Ut amem et foveam” (To love and cherish) reads one of the tattoos on David Beckham. “Quod me nutris, me destruit” (What nourishes me destroys me) reads one of Angelina Jolie’s. Dragons, spiderwebs, birds, butterflies and many other forms and words cover many a body, silently relaying many stories. Mine simply reads ‘Saagar’ – an uncompromising statement, ink sealed beneath the skin as a permanent marker of what matters most. I got it in this very town on the 3rd of October 2016 (Day 718). Yes. It was painful but well worth it.

Tattoos once signified tribal affiliations and hard line expressions of devotion to a particular gang or cult. They serve as potent conversation starters and quiet sources of strength and hope. Some people with depression pick themes such as ‘Amour’, ‘Stay strong’, the picture of an anchor, “Grace’, a butterfly signifying if I could get through this I could become something beautiful on the other side, a dream catcher and ‘Sometimes you’ve got to fall before you fly’ and many such quotes and song lyrics.

They are a form of self-expression but when all over, I wonder if they are also a form of self-harm as they do hurt, especially when combined with multiple piercings. They certainly are an effective way of covering up scars from self-harm and may inspire people to invest in treatment and recovery.

A 2015 survey of tattoo owners in Britain showed that 40% of them regretted at least one of their’s. It is no surprise that tattoo removal parlours are the largest growth sector in the cosmetic industry.

I suppose it means different things to different people. Some say you can never stop at one but I am happy with one and I know that I will never regret it.

 

Day 884

“Hi. My name is Joe
And I work in a button factory
I’ve got a wife
3 kids
And one day my boss said to me
He said, “Joe?
…Got a minute?”
I said,”Yes.”
He said “Push the button
With your left hand

Repeat….right hand
….left foot
….right foot
….head
….tongue

It was like being a kid again. The Theatre workshop at the Dragon Café let loose my imagination and opened up a whole new world of possibilities. I was part of a community full of great ideas, all of which were real in that room. Colourful currents of creative juices were flowing, intersecting and mingling within that sacred space. Every suggestion was validated, every feeling acknowledged. I felt safe and uplifted. For that one hour I could be anyone, anywhere with any story.

If I was an object, I would be one of a pair of 5 and a half inch long ear-rings with turquoise beads and feathers.

If I could change the world, I would say to you, please listen.

The interaction induced empathy. For a few minutes, each of our characters felt what it must be like to be in the other one’s shoes. We formed strong connections and had great fun.

I can see why Drama therapy works in schools, prisons, mental health centres, businesses and hospitals. It is an instrument for change, individual and social. It can help us work our way through a problem, discover some truths about ourselves, understand the meaning of images that resonate with us and explore and transcend unhealthy personal patterns of behaviour.

Saagar was a natural mimic and actor. Every time he auditioned, he bagged a good role. Predictably, he played one of the 3 wise men in his primary school nativity play. Then, he was Badger in Wind in the Willows. His last school play was Of Men and Mice in which he played the character of The Boss. He loved the team aspect of putting a production together. The last play he watched was ‘Book of Mormons’.

He was a star and still is.

IMG_0650

Ref:

http://playingon.org.uk/playing-on-at-the-dragon-cafe/

Day 874

IMG_0437

(A door in Zanzibar)

The blue door from ‘Notting Hill’ stuck
on the wall paper of my memory
eons ago.
The glue must be super-strong.

A rectangular passage into a special space.
Simple and warm, fun and messy,
Open and cozy with many possible cups of tea.
A refuge for troubled souls, a place for stories to unfold.

A semicircle of glass perched perfectly on top.
Long panes elegantly framing from top to toe.
The door sat in the centre like a king.
The slit of a smile in the middle welcomed guests
Like messages, notes, post and parcels in.

They said it was draught-proof.
Not too heavy, not too light.
Just right.
The coir mat outside often had a black cat sprawled on it, claiming ownness.
A few yards away a waist high metal gate
sang a little note every time it opened
and another, every time it closed.

A flower basket dancing on one side
with pink and white petunias, ivy and pine,
grabbed a chunk of the sunshine.

Whatever the world threw at us,
The blue door made okay.
It took us in its fold of laughter, healing and trust.

One day one of us left and never came back.
The blue door waits and waits. So does the cat.

Day 870

For all of us who aren’t sure, it is possible to be Christian/Hindu/etc and gay.
It’s also possible to believe in God and science.
It is possible to be pro-choice and anti-abortion.
It is equally possible to be a feminist and love and respect men.

It’s possible to have privilege and be discriminated against,
to be poor and have a rich life,
to not have a job and still have some money.
It is possible to be anti guns and still believe in one’s right to defend one’s self, family, and property,
it’s possible to be anti-war and pro-military.
It is possible to love thy neighbor and despise his actions.

It is possible to advocate Black Lives Matter and still be pro police.
It is possible to not have an education and be brilliant.
It is possible to be a devout follower of Islam and also suffer at the hands of terrorists.
It is possible to be a patient and a healer at the same time,
To be sane and insane, all at once.
It is possible to be different and the same.
We are all walking contradictions of what “normal” looks like.
Let humanity and love win.

(Inspired by Cynthia Stamm Clark)

Butterflies are Us

Art, healing and unifying us.

IMG_0577

IMG_0578

IMG_0579IMG_0580

IMG_0582IMG_0583

IMG_0584IMG_0585

IMG_0586

 

Day 867

Kooning
(The Attic, by William de Kooning)

In the 1920s, a Russian film director, Lev Kuleshov filmed a male matinee idol staring in turn at a bowl of soup, a young girl in a coffin and an elegant lady reclining on a couch. The actor got rave reviews from the audiences on his ability to effortlessly evoke hunger, grief and desire in the film. What they did not know was the fact that the director had used the same shot of the actor each time, just cut to each different object.

Humans have an innate need to impose order on the world. If we are presented with disparate images, we will try to assemble them into a meaningful order. It we are given a bunch of jumbled unrelated words, we will try to arrange them into a sentence that might mean something.

In the mid-twentieth century, Wiiliam de Kooning emerged as one of the pioneers of Abstract Expressionism. His art is known to put brains in a tizzy, desperately trying to order and make sense of the shapes within. Faces? Animals? Semi-clad human forms? Women? Doors?

ExcavationdeK
(The Excavation, by William de Kooning)

Maybe life is the same – unrelated images randomly juxtaposed, the human mind desperately struggling to make sense of them.

Ref:

William de Kooning: http://www.theartstory.org/artist-de-kooning-willem.htm
Kuleshov effect: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gGl3LJ7vHc