The Bigger Picture ~ Freeze-Frame Part 2

Layered landscapes by Nobuhiro Nakanishi
Layered landscapes by Nobuhiro Nakanishi

In my post ‘Magical Freeze-Frame Moments’ I shared with you my ways of deepening my connection with Nature. Now I’d like to share with you a sort of follow-up to what I believe is really happening in those moments, and how rather than deepening the connection they are actually simply broadening my visualisation; hence my perception of reality and the bigger picture. How I deepen my connection is how I deal with my new perceptions!

Spooky?

Not really, it’s the natural evolution process that each and every one of us goes through in each and every moment of each and every day in each and every sensory experience we, well, …… experience!  So, what I’m about to say is not a ‘spiritual awakening’ but a ‘human awakening’ which in turn gives us the ability to visualise the bigger picture of the world we encounter. Of course that may or may not lead us to a ‘spiritual awakening’, but that’s a deeper connection you need to explore by yourselves! So with that said, let’s start at the beginning ….

Child's Play
curiosity and wonderment

When we are born, and assuming that we’re born healthy and free of any disabilities (or special powers!) our brains are pretty much free of any recognition of the world we come into. This is why youngsters are always exploring, filled with curiosity and wonderment. Everything is a brand new experience and their brain gradually develops it’s power of recollection and recognition. The child’s senses work overtime, always distracted by new sights, smells and sounds making them want to touch and taste everything they come into contact with. The brain meanwhile is logging all of these experiences, building layer upon layer of memories, of perception, of what is the child’s reality within that given time. This continues throughout our live’s and I guess you already get the scenario. So let’s leap forward into adulthood; where our perceptions of the reality we see are pretty much cast in stone.

But are they?

Have you ever revisited a town or city and when you look around thought to yourself, ‘Hmm, it’s not the same as the last time I was here, it’s not how I remember it!’. Of course you have, you must have; because our brain only lays down a sketched outline of a landscape when we see it for the first time. Each time we look at the same location even if it hasn’t been obviously redeveloped and changed beyond our perceived recognition, we will be seeing that scene as if it was for the first time and our brain will add another layer, another dimension of perception onto what it already has stored away in its files. It grows a bigger picture and like an artist who colours in the details into their provisional sketches to create their own personal bigger picture; it too creates a new reality of what we see before us. Another example you will have experienced is when, and although you may have lived in a certain place for a very long time, you have one of those, ‘Oh I’ve never noticed that before, I must have walked past it a million times but never seen it.’ That’s because for one reason or another you never had reason to look at whatever it was that you hadn’t noticed before so your brain has never logged it as being associated with that particular environment. But now you’ve seen it, the brain will add it as a new dimension of that locations reality ‘for you’. I also bet that after one of those moments whatever it was you hadn’t spotted before becomes more prevalent and it seems that you’re now deliberately looking for it whenever you pass by. True?

adding detail to a bigger picture
adding detail to a bigger picture

This is where my ‘magical freeze-frame moments’ come in. Every time I go into them I am sending signals to my brain (or rather Nature is), my brain immediately adds layer upon layer of new experiences on top of the layers already built up from years of living and other freeze-frame moments; so my perception of my reality grows and grows and then takes those new perceptions in my own new view of the ‘bigger picture’ with my brain colouring in more and more details each and every time. I become more aware of everything around me, my sensory perceptions become honed as they travel through dimensions not experienced before. The beauty and wonder of these moments in Nature is that they are similar to those, ‘Oh I’ve never noticed that before,’ experiences. Nature in all Her changing moods and ever morphing appearances truly are ‘things I’ve (we) have never noticed before’. They are not moments missed but brand new moments of experience. Like the toddlers we started out as, our senses and therefore our brains go into overdrive and we re-experience all of those amazing feelings of curiosity and wonderment over and over again. Perhaps that’s all that spiritual awakening is, an extension of our human awareness, or is it the other way around? But as I mentioned earlier in this post, that’s a deeper connection you need to explore by yourselves!

NB: This post is not about how we are programmed and gain our perhaps misplaced prejudices, beliefs, etc.. etc.. it’s a much gentler topic based on my own thoughts of how we can expand our awareness of the reality we create by using Nature as our guide. Nothing more, nothing less.

Magical Freeze-Frame Moments – Part 1

Dew on Moss on Wall

I spend a lot of my time, as you well know, just sitting in and amid Nature’s wonderful landscapes. But what you might not know is that when I’m in those contemplative moments and ‘grounding myself’ so that I can get a better insight of whatever it is I’m contemplating; I go into what I call my magical freeze-frame moments. I could be in the most majestic and stunning arena imaginable but I concentrate all my attention on a snapshot of what’s before me. It could be a patch of moss on a tree trunk or an old wall, perhaps a nearby ancient and rotting log; anything that catches my attention and I make that my focus like framing up a camera to shoot a snapshot.

Moss Dewdrops

After a few moments of this focussed concentration I go into what I can only describe as a semi-trance, a place where I’m still conscious of everything outside of my focus, alert to any dangers, without actually being aware of it. Similar to self-hypnosis I guess. Anyway, that’s what I do and how I feel. Whilst in this semi-trance I start to notice every detail. For example let’s say it’s, the minute dew drops still clinging to the moss. Clinging there until a ray of sunlight disturbs it into a melting tear, disappearing, but leaving a darker green stain where it once existed. As the sunlight creeps nearer and bolder the tree bark takes on different shades and shapes, the shadows playing hide and seek with it’s form and my mind. There are so many things you become aware of when you concentrate on the small details; the small but important component of the ‘Bigger Landscape’ beyond your consciousness.

After I’ve been doing this for an hour or just a few minutes and come out of these freeze-frame moments I view the whole scene before me as if it’s a place I’ve never seen before. It’s as if a whole new dimension of the world unfolds. A dimension full of tiny frozen moments gradually melting like a million dew drops, as in miniature they did on the moss, all pooling and collecting together as one to make a vast and amazing vista. Then I begin to realise that we are such a tiny part of Natures whole creation. It puts so many things that occur in our daily lives into a clearer perspective. Not necessarily one of who and what we ‘are’ but one of who and what we ‘can be’! It reconnects humanness with spirit and when they are both working in conjunction with each other we become endless possibilities of possibility.

Moss on branch

This sort of freeze-frame moment is what I recommend doing in life as well as when out and about in Nature. When things get a bit confused and we just can’t seem to get a handle on what the cause of a problem we my have is; freeze it, frame it and focus on it. The answers may not come to you straight away, in fact I pretty much guarantee you that they wont, but eventually they will come into view, slowly, as you focus more and more on the finer details. Once you have a clear visualisation of the cause(s) of whatever it may be that is concerning you, you will be able to hone in it with a brand new perspective and energy and see those new dimensions emerge from the truths that lay hidden within your very being. An energy from spirit that connects with your humanness, that part of you that causes the doubts and fears that are usually at the root of all problems but also holds the cure. It’s that humanness that we live by, it’s what see’s us through those dark and confusing times. Combine your humanness with your spirituality and, well we all know what happens when spirit and humanness start to work together ~ don’t we?

Physical & Natural History Go Hand in Hand

 

medway-ooze

As a young lad I used to sit on the seawall that ran behind my home and gazed out upon the River Medway and observe (learn) about the natural history of the place whilst my my imagination would place me in times and events long past.  Watching the ebb and flow of the tides, the comings and goings of mammals, birds, seals and the occasional dolphin and seeing the weather patterns roll across the landscape all taught me to love and appreciate the ever changing seasons and understand the delicate balance and flow of the environment. My environment.

At other times, especially when the mist rolled in with the tide, I was taken back to the times of Anglo-Saxon ships carrying materials to build Rochester Cathedral (first version), to when the Romans built nearby Watling Street and a fort to defend the bridge at Rochester, marauding Vikings, Duke William of Normandy and his troops making their way to London via Rochester (where they went on to rebuild the Cathedral and Castle), the Battle of ‘Medway’ or ‘Tocht Naar Chatham’ in Dutch. These are just a few

battleofchatham

of the times and events that my local environment had passed through and I continue to experience. My intention is to write more in depth posts on as many of them as I can, but for now those I have mentioned will I hope have given you a good understanding of what I experienced as a lad (and still do).

This is why I encourage everyone to discover ‘where they live’ to get out there, observe it, investigate it and above all else; Get your kids involved, get them to love where they live enough to preserve and protect it for the future. Even a bricks and tarmac housing estate has history, it just needs a little more digging to discover it but it’ll be worth it to sense and appreciate it that much more.

 

Hidden Pathways (Hola-Weg) ~ Part 2

Hola Weg

With his back against one wall of the Hollow-Way, the boy sat in quiet contemplation whilst his companion dashed up and down and side to side as only a dog knows how, in search of who knows what. The boys’ search was of a different kind, an inner connection with the naturalness that enclosed him and with the elders who had passed this way before. He had learned about these hidden pathways on a school outing but that knowledge was superficial filled only with cold facts and speculations of these magical landscapes which had only frustrated him. He wanted more, he wanted to feel the history, to be told the stories of the travellers who had passed along these paths centuries ago; to gain their knowledge, bring it into the present and to store it for the future. So here he sat shrouded in the shadows of time yet bathed in the filtered sunlight of the moment, held in a stillness that only the he could feel.

His senses were heightened by the silence of the land until slowly he could visualise the changes that created the present; the seabed that was now dry land, the scrapes and gouges of glacial giants that had advanced and retreated in battles with the landscape. Voices of the past floated on the cool breeze; voices of the hunter gatherers and of the hunted; early farmers, shepherds and pilgrims on their own personal journeys passed like ghosts as the boy watched and listened to their tales of survival and hopes. There were lessons in the voices, lessons not for analysis but for absorption until the the moment of need brings them to clarity, those enlightened ‘aha’ moments we all experience in wonder from time to time. Teachings that the boy could never have learned from those school outings or books. These lessons from the past form the internal wisdom we are all born with but like using the Internet we need to make a connection with our source energy to access them.

The boy and his companion continue their searches, each in their own way, each on separate journeys, yet always together within the spirit of togetherness that is only found in nature. Enjoy your own journeys, have fun connecting with the spirits of your ancestors, the living landscapes of the past and ever present moments that you share with all that is. It is here that you will find the key to wisdom; a book or teacher can truly inspire you but only a self-felt physical and spiritual experience can go beyond that and endure within you.

Hidden Pathways (Hola-Weg) ~ Part 1

Holloway-1

In life we are presented with many pathways, some are already set out before us, some we discover with guidance from others and some are presented to us, signposted along the path we are already travelling.  In the past I have had information presented to me from family and friends, books, videos and self-help seminars/courses I’ve taken an interest in and signed up for from time to time.  All of this information has been of value to me in taking my chosen path, some of greater value than others but all giving me the priceless gift of choice, choice to either follow a new pathway or remain along my existing route. Possibly like me, you too have made some good and bad choices throughout your life, I know that I’ve made some bloody awful ones so don’t feel bad about it. Those bad choices can be turned into lessons with the help of ‘Hidden Pathways’.

So what is a Hidden Pathway? ~  It’s the route to those questions that we alone can answer. Those books and videos have to be put aside, no one else’s answers will do, we need to sit this exam by our-selves. Sometimes we accidentally stumble across these pathways like an unexpected gift or we learn to read the signs, the signs that lead us to the information laying dormant deep inside of us which has been waiting quietly, patiently, to reawaken, capable once again to heal and harmonise our minds, bodies and souls. Our emotions and feelings, those tingles that run up and down our spines, the butterflies in our stomachs, those things we call gut feelings are all signs we so often ignore; until it’s too late!  Ignoring those signs can and eventually will lead to failure and heartbreak appearing time after time in our lives. Failures, broken relationships, depression, reoccurring illnesses, hatred and anger. These are all the results of not heeding the inner signposts and maintaining our struggle along an ill chosen path instead.

There are also hidden pathways in the physical world, most notably in Nature, which in themselves are signposts guiding us to that all important connection with our own inner-pathways. Here in Dorset where I am fortunate to live, the land itself is a Gateway into a world of hidden paths, with its foundations laid down in the early Jurassic period and moulded over the millennia by both man and nature. Here you will discover the Hollow Ways, sunken roads and lanes derived from the old English word ‘hola weg’, a series of paths created from ancient tracks spreading across the evolving landscape. Developed as the traffic of time increased from hunter gatherers seeking an existence to perhaps a single lonely pilgrim making his way from an ancient sacred site to another. Herdsmen leading their stock to and from seasonal pastures. These routes continued to grow, bringing goods and people together for all manner of reasons and whilst transport advanced they became highways for wagons, carriages and coaches whilst with the help of natures natural erosional forces they wore lower and lower into the landscape. Eventually the vegetation on either side of these trenches took over to create an ethereal canopy by day and a sinister pit of darkness by night.

Some holloways are overgrown by the trees that border them

Unfortunately in these modern times more and more soul- less major highways, motorways and railways have taken their place, their purpose remains the same of course and they provide us with the benefits we all demand today. But the heart and soul has been ripped out of them, leaving the traveller so disconnected from the environment as they move far too quickly from place to place they are no longer able to read the signs of their ancestors creation. Those signs that lead to the hidden pathways of your soul. However all is not lost my friends, get out of the car and walk, walk away from modernity for a time and enter the Gateway. Soak up the landscape, look beyond the surface image in front of you and the signs will emerge, the ‘hola weg’ will take you within your-self, to a land where questions are asked of you and answered by unworldly sights, sounds and emotions. 

Making History Come to Life

chatham-dockyard-napoleonic
Chatham Dockyard around the time of the Napoleonic Wars

One of the early memories of my schooldays is of the history lessons I had, although the subject was my favourite I was always being told off for not paying attention and being a bit of a smart-ass by answering any question with a lengthy monologue way beyond what the question needed. Not surprising really when you consider that outside of school I made history come to life, experiencing it to the full. That musky smell that you can almost taste and sends a shiver running through your whole body when visiting a historical building. The visions your imagination produces when standing in the footsteps of all the famous and infamous people who had walked the creaking floorboards centuries before; all that and much, much more excited me in a way that those text books I had to endure and all those lists of Kings and Queens I had to learn off by heart could ever do.

History was all around me, the Medway Towns was and is full of it; the River Medway itself along with its Sea Forts, Chatham Royal Dockyard, Fort Amherst, Upnor Castle, Rochester Castle & Cathedral were all virtually on my doorstep. Then there were the family days out to places like Dover, Reculver, Hever, Leeds and Walmer castles; Chartwell, Knole and Penshurst Place to mention just a few. All had intriguing stories to tell and to a young boy they told them load and clear. No wonder the schoolroom couldn’t hold my attention for more than a few moments at a time.

Of course I haven’t yet mentioned the landscapes of our countryside available for free to each and everyone of us. They hold a wealth of hidden history just below the surface. Those man-made hills we take for granted when out for a walk deserve more than a cursory glance, the earthworks of hillforts and sacred burial mounds are there holding secrets to be discovered right beneath our feet.

Oldbury Hillfort
Oldbury Hillfort Rampart

Wow, what history classroom our wonderful island is. I suspect things have changed  a great deal since I was a lad in school and I appreciate that there are so many wonderful history documentary series and dramas on television these days but just as when connection with Nature there nothing like getting physical with History and filling your senses, mind and imagination with the real thing.

So click away from this blog right now and get on with planning your next trip into the living past. Go on …. just do it!

Looking Beyond the Landscapes of Nature & into our Inner/Outer-Being

Human landscape

Looking beyond the landscape that in truth is a momentary image of whatever vista we perceive in that single moment can reveal a thousand stories hidden (or partially hidden) from view. It becomes the silence of a broken or unspoken word which can answer many a unasked question.  As you connect deeper with Nature you absorb the energies that She sends out, much of them generated from a time long before mankind ever came into being. These ancient vibrations come to us as does a gentle breeze, unseen but felt. A caress that often sends a shiver of awareness like a sonorous voice reaching out and calling to us through our hearts and souls. Connecting us to the core of our spirituality, the foundation of what makes us who we truly are.

The scars of Nature past, as in those left by the forming of fjords, mountains and valleys, weathered and gouged by the seemingly timeless power of natural forces. Those geological wonders which are the remnants of cataclysmic evolutions and finally the scars left by ourselves in more recent times. They lay there before us, all telling their stories to those who are prepared to see and take the time to learn how to read and comprehend them. As humans we are no different from the landscapes of the world, we carry the marks of the past in our DNA, bygone beliefs, hopes and fears all play a part in creating the landscapes of our present and future selves . If we don’t take the time to get to know our own scars we can be in danger of succumbing to them; allowing them to control our everyday physical, cerebral and emotional energy and preventing our ability to live, grow and expand into our true and authentic selves.

Fjord glacial landscape      Ancient landscape

These signs can, as in the natural landscapes we live in, be read not just by ourselves (if we allow ourselves to do so) but by others too. Those silences, misdirected thoughts, ill-considered words, acts and deeds that we send out as vibrational energy which does not match up to the image we believe we are portraying; they are the signs that give us away and reveal the truths that lay hidden under the surface of our personal landscapes. They can be seen too in our physicality, our posture, that smile that hides some pain and in the eyes that reflect our inner wellbeing. Perhaps it’s because I’ve wandered far and wide through the landscape of my own past that I have recently begun to recognise these signs more and more in others, not just amongst those I come into personal contact with on a daily basis (it’s amazing the hidden stories being revealed during this period of political chaos!)  but on social media too. They can be seen in “quotes” which hide an authentic voice crying to be released, inside of casual comments (not usually in the main post, but in the comment threads where people often post in a less considered manner than usual). There seems to me to be a greater need than ever before for all of us to engage in some continuous inner-research, to reconnect and return to the authentic reality and connection between our past and present human-landscapes before we can even glimpse let alone hope to arrive in the future that lays beyond our self-limiting horizons.

 volcanic landscape    Man made landscapes

There’s a lot of things that need healing in this wonderful world that we live in, but first and foremost we must learn to heal ourselves. I’m not here to tell you how to do that, I’m no expert on the healing processes. it’s not about me or my own personal journey, I’ve made more mistakes along the way than most others have, as those of you who know me will be aware of and my posts here reveal for all to see. It’s not about anyone in particular, it’s about a society and a spiritual community (which we’re all a part of) needing to recognise the lessons from the past and carrying the wisdom from them into the present to build a better landscape for the future. But as I’ve just mentioned, I’ve been working hard to understand, come to terms with and release my own scarred landscapes, it’s not easy, not always pleasant but the reward of seeing and feeling a new healthier and happier landscape unfold makes it more than just worthwhile. There has been no one single ‘cure’ ‘treatment’, I’ve tried a combination of many and when one hasn’t worked I’ve looked for and discovered an alternative way. Hand in hand with my own connectedness with Nature I’ve crawled through an undergrowth of brambles and nettles and have been scratched and stung on more occasions than I care to dwell on. Until finally I’ve arrived at a place of conscious awareness, of understanding and appreciation, free of all those brambles and nettles. Of course, as in Nature the undergrowth expands into unexpected places so it is always wise to keep a wary eye out for it creeping back up on you and to keep it under control.

So, If I’m not here to tell you how to recognise, accept, release and heal your own scars, what am I here for?  I’m here only as a messenger and you’ve just read the message I carried. How and if you accept it is up to you. Personally I hope that just a few of you take a little time to explore and discover the past landscapes of Nature and your own Inner-being and …… well, as I’ve already said; what you do next, is up to you!