Thursday, 26 February 2009

the art of allowing

I’m starting to really understand the fruitlessness of opposing things we don’t like, since giving attention and energy to such things just feeds them more. You can observe that in most politics, which is so ineffective since it’s vested in opposition and criticism. Compare that to the fruitfulness of creating better scenarios, especially at a grassroots level, and the choice seems obvious. This has been the energy of my choice in the last decade, and by allowing this creative partnership with Source, let’s call it, I helped bring into being Lewes New School and Transition Town Lewes. Yet underneath there has always been the shadow of what I thought I was working against. The state educational system at first, and later the destruction of creation. Despair was never far from delight.

But now that I’m recovering from cancer and alcohol, I’m getting to see just how pernicious and indulgent such thoughts can be, and how they can create and perpetuate such diseases. I’m learning to give a nod in their direction and then move swiftly on to imagining a better situation. I’m getting a load of help from several powerful teachers – some of them local – and at the moment I’m particularly attracted to the Abraham-Hicks work, or The Law of Attraction.

There’s an extraordinary passage, which Dirk likes, in the Gospel of Mark quoting Jesus as saying, ‘All things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.’ And it’s like that. This work is also called the Art of Allowing, because it’s about making instinctive choices, or receiving guidance about how to be more in alignment with one’s true self. When I align myself with what makes me happy my vibrational level increases and allows me to attract healing and good fortune. Sounds new age? It is, and it’s also quite scientific in that it works (for me). It’s simply a matter of wholeheartedly focusing on what we do want rather than what we don’t want, or as Rumi puts it, ‘Let what you love be what you do’. And here’s a nifty YouTube video to illustrate that.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

carry water, chop wood

It feels like a clich̩ to talk of illness as being a powerful healing force these days. Yet some people are outraged by such an idea Рhow can one welcome, to teach us, suffering and even perhaps terminal debilitation? Yet, it strikes me as odd that when illness appears, we do our utmost to relieve or avoid the symptoms while not addressing the cause. Surely the swelling and discomfort of a twisted ankle should tell us: rest up, and above all, DO NOT go back on the football pitch! Annual bouts of bronchitis or shortness of breath as we struggle up School Hill cajoles us to give up smoking.

We ignore such signs at our peril – as we age, one thing leads to another and the illnesses become chronic or develop in to That Which will Kill Us. We create stories, particularly victim stories, around 'our' particular illnesses that we unconsciously choose as our life companions. Yet, everything, especially illness, is a communication, and it's possible to turn back the clocks and unravel illness, just by listening to it. More than that, it can point us in the direction to a healing and wholeness that goes way beyond the body, even, according to som, to our ancestors.

When I discovered I had cancer I was particularly dismayed that I was once again launching on a heroic journey. I'd been struggling with the tyranny of this particular self-chosen role and balked at the label of 'brave'. I'd recovered from two dramatic illnesses in the past – a disastrous sterilisation that I finally got reversed two years later, and thereby recovered from, and rheumatoid arthritis that I self-healed naturally, against medical advice. I decided that cancer was not going to be a heroic fight over who gets the upper hand – rather, this time, I'd take a sabbatical year from my self-chosen front line and take more of a line of gentle and deepening enquiry, and being more receptive to guidance. And it is, dare I say, working, Inshallah.

The challenge now is to choose different beliefs. As I let go of responsibility I'm becoming more playful. As I release resentment I'm having moments of great happiness. Is it possible to truly change? Could life really be as simple as carry water, chop wood?

Thursday, 12 February 2009

imaginary chips with everything

I'm becoming aware of the connection between a healthy appetite and the will to live. My dad stopped eating a few weeks ago when he was at death's door. This is one of the 'old ways' of dying: refusing to eat, not from conscious choice in most cases but from a more instinctive, animal, sense that life, the life force, is coming to an end. Hospitals increasingly acknowledge the need for a dignified death and don't feed patients intravenously at this point. My dad's recovering now, partly through the attentive care of my mother, who has been spoonfeeding him all his meals, adding in fresh vegetables and his favourite ice cream brought in a thermos from home.

Something I've noticed while undergoing chemotherapy is that the chemicals have induced a strange loss of appetite, causing me to go off the fresh, organic, raw foods I had been treating myself with so joyfully for a few months. More problematic: even thinking about certain foods has me feeling queasy. I'm the main cook of our large family's (and droppers-by) main meal. The way I cook, I now realize, is to imagine the meal as though we're eating it and work backwards - so I'm handicapped before I even start. Walking to town to buy provisions for our meal yesterday all I could usefully conjure up in my mind was pizzas, cheese on toast, chocolate mousse - hardly recipes for people with cancer, let alone a healthy life.

And losing appetite has caused this zest for life to wax and wane lately with the three-weekly cycle of chemical treatment. I'm watching it curiously, kindly, learning to nurture myself through the troughs. I'm lucky to have plenty of love and other resources to help me through – I wonder how others, less fortunate, cope with this double-edged treatment, the cure that could as easily kill.

There's some upsides though. I've discovered that my imagination still has a lusty appetite, even if it isn't for things green. Last week while waiting for a friend at the local (chamomile tea the order of the day) I managed to munch my way through the entire menu – in my mind. Roast beef with all the trimmings – aaah. Pizza with chips - mmm. Sandwiches filled with all manner of cheeses, meats and pickles. Washed down with a couple of pints of Harveys. I could get used to this!

Thursday, 5 February 2009

father time

My dad is an amazing man – the epitomy of a self-made, post-war American citizen: bright, capable, confident and adventurous. He grew up in Queens, New York, when his apartment building backed on to fields; he won scholarships to the best universities and later sold weapons systems overseas as a businessman and travelled the world regularly while revelling in its rich pickings. And this very appetite without boundary or reference to the whole – he is an aetheist - is also his great flaw. Like so many of his generation, he was bigoted and could be mentally overbearing towards people who did not agree with him. He sometimes reduced me, even as an adult, to tears. Which later turned to anger; you could never win an argument with Dad, and my friend Cat used to refer to him as God.

My dad’s 83 now. He’s got Alzheimers and doesn’t recognize me any more, even though he hugs me and is unusually tender. He nearly died last week; he fell over, breaking his hip and ending up in hospital with double pneumonia. During this time, I had the uncomfortable realisation that my feelings of ambivalence towards him were actually deep-seated resentment: powerless anger left unexpressed. I was resentful that he didn’t acknowledge me for who I am, and for not having ideals. I realised that this resentment is a mirror of the resentment I feel towards mankind as a whole, particularly our leaders. They - I believe - through overbearing greed, are plundering the bounty of creation, our Eden, taking life to the brink, including the least powerful human beings who are already suffering and dying as a result.

And when I say mankind, of course I mean me, my thoughts projected out. Cancer, according to Louise Hay, springs from deep resentment. According to her and many other contemporary healers, illness is caused by our own beliefs, which are simply a thought repeated over and over. That’s not to say I blame myself or even my father; rather, identifying and taking responsibility for the cause empowers me to seek the route towards healing.

And so the real work begins – at home. As I sat next to my father in hospital on Saturday, holding his hand, I asked, from the depths of my heart, to be relieved of this deep, destructive resentment towards humanity and my father, to see him as the completely innocent man he really is.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

breaching the peace

I arrived home on Monday to find Dirk literally dancing a jig of unholy glee in the kitchen. He’d received a letter from Kent Police withdrawing the charges made against him at his arrest at the Climate Camp last August. He’d been arrested (see Meridian news video here) for obstruction because he refused to be stopped and searched, along with every other camper, on his way in and out of the camp, his point being that the police couldn’t possibly suspect him of being a terrorist, which was the law that police invoked to justify the searches. He was then arrested, held for eight hours on his own and then turfed out in a midnight thunderstorm to make his way home to Lewes, since he’d been banned from returning to the camp near the Kingsnorth power station.

Dirk had decided to represent himself at the court hearing in a fortnight since we couldn’t afford a solicitor yet felt it was important to hold out for justice. Our neighbour and friend Jonathon, who is a High Court barrister, helped Dirk prepare a case. Jonathon pointed out that not only had Dirk not breached the peace but that the police had breached his peace in going about his business, and had no right to search him, let alone arrest him.

As part of the preparation for the court case, Dirk had obtained several witness statements and character references, and had written to the police asking them to provide eight police officers as witnesses, along with their notebooks. Several other people arrested for contesting the stop and searches have been let off, we now hear.

Because it was a fiasco. Norman Baker, our MP, visited the Climate Camp and narrowly missed being pepper-sprayed by a very aggressive police presence. He wrote to the head of Kent Police complaining about their intimidation tactics and also researched a claim that 80 injuries had been sustained by the police during the week of the climate camp. What were the injuries, asked Norman? Bee stings and headaches.

Dave Morris (of McLibel fame) who, with Dirk, contested the police’s right to stop and search, has since called for a Judicial Review into the police presence at the peaceful Climate Camp. One of the things I love about the attitude of climate activists is that they use ingenuity and intelligence in creating magnificent, self-managed and playful events such as the Climate Camp, but that there is also a high level of knowledge of legal rights and support. I have been brought up to believe that one of the mainstays of a democracy is the right to question authorities peacefully, and not be harassed by a police force in doing so. That belief was vindicated this week.