Celtic OrthoPraxis: Today, As You Encounter ‘Reflective Robots’…

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‘The world is a looking glass and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face.’ William Makepeace Thackeray

As a child, did you ever have toy figures or dolls that you would set out, play with, and re-enact some of the scenes from your childhood life?

I used to have lots of action figures to play with as a child, and one action figure in particular represented a rather grumpy school teacher. I’d use the action figure to re-enact various scenes, knowing always that at the end of the game that that particular action figure would go back in the box. But, ofcourse, I grew out of that kind of playing with action figures by the time I was 40yo. (Actually, I was much younger than that, but I just wanted to bring a smile to your face). 

It’s interesting the number of people, family, friends and strangers that (sometimes) seem to upset us. It has been said that upsetting scenarios will often repeat themselves until (in a positive way) we have found the message they are trying to communicate to us.

‘Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.’ Carl Jung 

Even more interesting is that Carl Jung believed that those who irritated us were, in some way, reflecting back to us something about ourselves that we may not want to encounter. He called it the ‘shadow’ or the ‘shadow self’, and (that’s something for another occasion), although the shadow is something we hide, it is a veritable power-house of energy that can be used positively and creatively.

But, the idea of reflection is the theme for today. As we go about our daily life, at home, school, college, work etc, Jung would tell us that what we ‘see’ in others, the way they interact with us, is a direct result of something of us being reflected in others. 

In others, we see a ‘mirror’ of ourselves, and usually the negative ‘bits’ that we find offensive!

So, here’s a game for us to play, a spiritual game, and it goes like this:

The Great ToyMaker has created an endless variety of robotic toys, and some of these you will encounter today, and they will look so lifelike. The Great Toymaker has programmed these toys to amuse you and comfort you, and to do so, they are attuned to your thought waves.

The ‘challenge’ is that you have so many thoughts, and conflicting ones at that, that sometimes, the other toys, these robots become confused. [Please don’t blame them for this, and please don’t blame yourself, either. It is the way it is, and they and you don’t need blame, but forgiveness, if anything.]

A conflicted mind sends out dual, confusing signals, and so those robotic toys will say and do annoying things. Forgive yourself and them, and that’s really like the Great ToyMaker’s robotic toys’ ‘reset button’ being pressed, and they’ll modify their words and behaviour, as you mind sends out one signal and not conflicting ones.

So, today the Great ToyMaker will ensure that certain robotic toys, looking extraordinarily lifelike, will cross your path and will show you something about yourself. They will outwardly reflect something of your inner you. Be prepared, as they’ll act just the way your thought waves ‘command’ them. Be forgiving.

And, with practice your aim is for a consistent signal to be sent and not conflicting thoughts. 

When you hear and see something untoward from the robotic toys you meet today, ask yourself what it is within you that is being reflected back and needs analysing and, perhaps, changing? And, don’t forget to ‘reset’ that encountered robotic toy by forgiving it! And, forgive yourself, too! Yes, think: robot, re-set, forgive!

[Based on an exercise by Hugh Prather in his book, A Book Of Games: A Course In Spiritual Play].

As a deep-thinker, creative person, Celt and/or Christian and/or Druid, who is concerned about a number of issues, I’d suggest trying this for today, at least. I’ll join you, in doing so, too! And, it may be best not to let on that you’re playing some kind of spiritual game to those encountered robotic toys, or even that you view them as robots! Let me know, please, what happens. If interested in this type of  spiritual game, there’s another article, based on another of Prather’s exercises here.

‘He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.’ Lao Tzu

World Sauntering Day

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On 19 June it’s World Sauntering Day, a day set aside each year with the express purpose to remind people to slow down, relax and enjoy life, and (mainly) walk somewhere, as opposed to rushing through life.

The idea is, at least for a short time (and it’s something you can do periodically) for you to become a saunter-er, or a flâneur as the French might say, and walk somewhere, almost aimlessly.

Here’s a brief dictionary definition of the word: It’s a verb and means ‘to walk leisurely with no apparent aim.’

The origin of the word is unknown, but one idea, and one that I like even if its not entirely reliable, is that in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when asked where they were going they would reply, “A la sainte terre,’ that is, ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so these pilgrims became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers.

‘Not to find one’s way in a city means little…but to lose oneself in a city as one loses oneself in a forest requires practice…then the street names must call out to the lost wanderer like the snapping of dry twigs, and the small streets of the city-centre must refelct the time of day as clearly as the mountain hollow.’ Walter Benjamin

Sauntering also has a spiritual dimension to it. It has a sabbath-like foundation of ‘take your time and enjoy the journey,’ as the journey is important. It is for everyone, and everyone can benefit.

‘Sauntering…don’t care where you’re going, how you’re going or when you might get there. The idea [is] to smell the roses and to pay attention to the world around you.’ John Rabe.

The word blossomed in the 17th century, especially amongst the wealthy, who would stroll about town, just taking their time, and with no destination in mind. A description of a saunter-er was popularised by Charles Baudelaire in his essay entitled ‘The Painter of Modern Life’, in which he portrayed a flâneur [pronounced to rhyme with manure ] – and who was a man or woman who sauntered or strolled around town observing society.

‘I’m Burlington Bertie, I rise at ten thirty then saunter along like a toff. I walk down the Strand with my gloves on my hand,Then I walk down again with them off.’ William Hargreaves.

So, how about you sauntering?

A journey is about getting from A to Z. But, suppose there was no point Z?

If you live in a town or city, you can still saunter, be a saunter-er or a flâneur. And, here’s one exercise you can try. It may be best to take a pen and paper with you to record feelings, what you notice along the way, and any ‘odd’ events of significance that happen to you. But, don’t be so engrossed in writing so much that you miss out of the adventure. Take your time and stop periodically. It’s really about enjoying that feeling of ‘lostness’, and awaiting a surprise, of not knowing what is going to happen next, and experiencing it deeply.

Always ensure your health and safety is of paramount importance, and be repsectful of other people and their property (and so, some variation to the following may need to be made). Remember, its to walk, almost aimlessly, and to enjoy and note the experience.

So, here’s a sauntering exercise: Taking your time between each step:

1. Walk to your nearest bus stop
2. Get on the next bus that arrives (to get you started, and in slightly unfamiliar territory
3. Get off the bus after ten bus stops
4. When you pass a person who looks interesting, turn next left
5. Find the nearest shop or café
6. Stop for a while and observe
7. Head in the direction of an interesting building in the distance
8. But then, turn into the next side street and walk for a while
9. If you can see the sun, walk towards it
10. If you encounter traffic lights, turn left
11. If you see a cyclist or a dog, then turn and walk in the direction he/she/it was travelling
12. Find a place to sit. Rest. Relax. Observe. Make notes.

That’s it. Of course, you’ll need to improvise for safety-sake and to respect private property (but you can always retrace part of your journey and move in the opposite direction if the way ahead is impeded or unsafe).

No stress. Nothing dangerous. Just enjoy it. Walk leisurely, observing, and noting events and places of significance to you. Oh, and do remember to take some money for the return fare, and if you take a mobile phone do switch it to ‘silent’ so it doesn’t interrupt the fun.

Let me know what happens. Happy sauntering.

An Experiment In Time

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Tick, tock! I’m sitting here wondering whether I should treat myself and go out for lunch! Tick, tock! I think I deserve it. I’ve been busy, extra busy over the last few days. Tick, tock! We live in a society where time is of the essence. Indeed, that phrase is the legal phrase in the UK that you need to utter (or write) when issuing a contract where different processes are important to getting the work done.

Time? We have the best of it, we use it, we mark it, we even kill it, but whatever we do with it, the clock inevitably ticks away, and time marches on. Tick, tock!

Here’s a quick question for you. Imagine you’re in a small village, deep in the heart of the English countryside in the autumn of 1752. It’s a glorious day. You’re relaxing. It’s Wednesday, 2 September. And, someone asks you, ‘What is tomorrow’s date’? What would you say? Why, you would probably say something like, ‘It will be Thursday, 3 September’. And, ordinarily, you would be correct. But, ‘No’, says the questioner, ‘You’re wrong. Tomorrow will be Thursday, 14 September!’. And, that’s a fact.

The UK calendar was adjusted to change from the Julian calendar (which was ‘slow’ and inaccurate) to the Gregorian calendar (altogether much more accurate) in September 1752, and people ‘lost’ eleven days. Some people were a tad upset by this, believing they had been robbed of eleven days of their life, some petitioned parliament under the banner of ‘Give us back our eleven days’, and some were so incensed they even rioted, violently,  on the streets!

Time? It seems is something we can even lose.

Do you have the sense that you rush around too much?  Especially over the Christmas period, any feeling on being so hectic that you didn’t have…..time….for yourself?

Feel controlled by the clock?

I had a dream about you. We were racing to be the slowest person on earth. You were winning which meant you were losing. You were gloating because you were a winner and I was taunting because you were a loser. Jarod Kintz

If, like most people, and if you’re anything like me, then you do rush around far too much. It’s easy to slip into that fast-paced action, unaware. We can almost be frantic in our adherence to time. Maybe we’re like the author Umberto Eco. He does everything at double speed in the hope that he can cram twice as much into his lifespan as other people.  Twice as much, twice as fast! The problem is, that in doing so, I think, he has become a human ‘doing’, rather than a human ‘being’, and is missing out.

The trouble started when, as a society, when we moved away from marking time in hours to minutes. Medieval clocks marked time in hours only. However, by the year 1700 most clocks had minute hands, and the marking of time began to move towards ‘the frantic’, and ever more precise, and some would saying annoying, marking of time. Can you feel the pressure building? But, it didn’t stop there. About a century later the second hand was introduced, and a century after that wristwatches were invented. Much more pressure now!

Bit by bit we have became ‘handcuffed’ to observing time in ‘extreme’ ways. And so, today, we can ‘live by the clock’, too, if we’re not careful, if we’re not aware! But it need not be this way. We don’t always need to rush around, bound by the time on the clock. Maybe, sometimes we do, but not always.

The remedy is to ‘slow’. Learning the art of ‘slowness’ or slowing is difficult but it can be done, and there are benefits, and that is the challenge proposed.

Everything we do is infused with the energy in which we do it. If we’re frantic, life will be frantic. If we are peaceful, life will be peaceful.
Marianne Williamson

I’m not suggesting that you adopt a ‘timeless’ lifestyle completely, but in part, sometimes, occasionally, to do so. Why, you still need to observe the clock when going to work, meeting a loved one or friend, or cooking the meal for the family etc. It isn’t an all or nothing ‘challenge’, but a ‘bear it in mind and act on it occasionally’ challenge.

So, more about the challenge. Here it is. Your challenge is: Maybe once a month or two, spend a whole day, from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed, without observing the clock, wristwatch etc. Infact, leave your wristwatch off, cover over the clocks, and estimate time, and when you should do something by how you feel and by observing the sun. If you watch tv or listen to the radio, you might inadvertently come across the time, but that’s okay. Just ignore it. It’s nothing to be afraid of!

I do believe you will benefit, but you may find it strange, even disconcerting at first. Eat when you want. Rest if you need. Meditate or pray when you feel like it, and for as long as you require it. Pick up a good book and/or go for a walk and appreciate nature, really appreciate nature  (even if you’re in the city), but do it because you want to. You can still do mundane things like cleaning or going shopping etc, but don’t be too upset if the shop is closed. Sadly, they, not you, may be observing time. Infact, it’s a forgone conclusion that they will be living by the clock.

You may feel ‘out of the loop’, but rest assured, you have entered the ‘loop of the natural’, and strange though it may feel, it is benefiting you. Why, you might even want to write about some of the benefits and your feelings in a journal at the end of the day – whenever you deem the end of that day to be! Even, as an exercise, of not living by the clock, it will be beneficial. It’s an exercise in, with, time. Nowness.

Nowness is the sense that we are attuned to what is happening. The past is fiction and the future is a dream, and we are just living on the edge…. Chögyam Trungpa

So, do try it. Choose a day, and go for it. Record the outcome, and let me know. Tick, tock! Right, that’s it. It’s time for lunch!

Be An Undercover Agent For The Day

pixabay wall-e-933315_640 copyHave you ever had one of those days when nothing seemed to turn out right?

One of those days when people annoy you – could the bus driver care any less as I got on the bus, or did that car driver really have to cut in like that and at great speed? Blame!

Or what about when  events conspire against you – did those birds really have to ‘bless’ my car with the contents of what they ate? I blame the birds or the council department that planted so many trees in an urban environment. Blame!

Or, what about when you turn on the tv news program – was that right, that someone, a sportsperson and so much fitter than me, and two-thirds my age had just passed on? I blame competitive sports councils or God? Blame!

The problem with blaming others is that it is a very real, and very potent form of attack, and it doesn’t solve anything. Infact, it probably makes matters worse.

And, on top of that, at the end of the day, you relax and reflect, and then you have a sneaking suspicion that it just seemed a bad day because of your perception. There’s a nagging feeling of…something amiss!.

Somewhere, deep inside you, there’s a voice that so wants to recite all the good things that happened – you can just feel it – but you oppose it. And, why not, you say to yourself, after all, you’ve invested so much time and effort  in one point of view, the negative, that you’re just not going to change your mind.  It was an awful day, you say to yourself.

It was an awful day, or was it? Someone else should be blamed, or not? Was it just that we were looking for the negative things, and didn’t even notice the good. And, if we’re honest, it’s more than likely that lots of good things did happen, but we were just suffering from the twenty-first psychological ‘ailment’ that we’re all subjected to, of ‘mean world syndrome’.

Could it be that what we saw, all those negative things, was a reflection of how we felt deep  down inside, or maybe it’s an unwelcome habit or tendency we’re prone to? Why, then might start to blame ourselves? Blame!

The problem with self-blame is that it is self-attack, it enhances that negative cycle as we misperceive the world around us, and it doesn’t solve anything. Once in the cycle of negativity and blame, it’s difficult to break out of it – but not impossible.

What if there was another way to react?

Here’s one spiritual exercise you can try – and that I sometimes use in group workshops, usually at the end of the session, so it’s like homework, but good homework. It’s about stopping the blame game, forgiving and blessing because we ‘see’ the bigger picture (but sometimes forget).

I think you’ll enjoy the exercise – it’s a bit of fun, too.  And hopefully you’ll benefit from it, so I do heartily recommend that you try it.

So, sit back, relax, enjoy, read and imagine…

— o0o —

Here’s one exercise, from many. This one is about you forgiving other people and forgiving yourself in the process, and blessing others. You can it try right now. Imagine:

You come from a far off country, and the Ruler of that country is called The Celestial Toymaker. And he or she has sent you on a mission, here. Yes, you’re an undercover agent. A good one.

Everyone here, everyone you will meet today is a toy robot, made by the Celestial Toymaker, and that includes you. And, all those robot toys you meet today will provide you with endless hours of amusement – that’s what toys do – unless they’ve forgotten that they are toys in which case their programming may go awry. Then, you may find they don’t provide you with any entertainment at all, and some of them, on occasions, may irritate you.

You might find it easy to react badly back to them, but you know two things. Firstly, they’re only acting that way because they’ve forgotten they are toy robots and so misbehave. And secondly, you know that you’re a toy robot and so know that you don’t have to ‘misbehave’ back to them because you know you’re a toy robot – though you also know you sometimes forget (and that affects fellow toy robots that you then come into contact with).

The Celestial Toymaker has asked you to contact him (or her) with a progress report as you encounter all those toy robots, today.

There is only one thing to do, well two things really, and these form your mission, today. Here is your mission, should you choose to accept it.

  • Firstly, if you come across a misbehaving toy robot, one that annoys or upsets you – remembering that this behaviour is only because they’ve forgotten who they really are, and have forgotten the Celestial Toymaker – you are to report to the Celestial Toymaker using certain code words. And these are, ‘I forgive you’. This can be done as a thought-communication, rather than out loud, so no one (apart from the Celestial Toymaker) will know. He (or she) will then know you are forgiving a wayward toy robot, and will work on that misbehaving toy robot in the most gracious of ways.
  • Secondly, if you come across a toy robot that pleases you in any way, then the coded report to the Celestial Toymaker that will alert him (or her) to the fact that you’ve encountered a well-behaved toy robot is, ‘Bless you’. The Celestial Toymaker will know that you have found a well-behaved toy robot, and will bless them, too.

Ofcourse, once you’ve sent that coded message you can interact with those toy robots in any appropriate way – working well with the behaved ones, and extending forgiveness and understanding to the wayward ones. After all, the Celestial Toymaker is ultimately in control.

And, you’ll also notice that the Celestial Toymaker will bless you, because of your faithfulness, and because he (or she) loves all his toy robots. Every single one of them. Even the ones that go wrong. Bless them!

So, fellow agent, fellow toy robot, do you accept your mission? I hope so. Try it for twenty-four hours. Imagine, a whole day of ‘forgiving’ and/or ‘blessing’ fellow toy robots.

 

Abducted By Aliens: An Exercise

pixabay 111 ufo-782655_1920 copyLiminality is about the ‘gap’ or threshold between Here and the Other, and much of the work Tadhg undertakes encompasses this. Using guided, imaginal sessions and events, he encourages clients to step into that ‘gap’, and benefit from that liminal power and potential. You can benefit, too.

So, sit back, relax, enjoy, read and imagine…

— o0o —

Here’s one exercise, from many, that Tadhg uses with clients. This one is about you blessing other people and being blessed in the process. You can it try right now. Imagine:

Last night as you drove home, on one of those lonely roads where the bright lights of alien spacecraft often shine down – well, they do in the good movies – a bright light shone down from just such an alien craft.

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Friendly aliens…

Fortunately, they were friendly and had your best interest at heart, and so beamed you aboard their craft. Yes, you could say you were ‘abducted’ by aliens. Once in their spacecraft, they explained what they would like to do, and as you agreed, they invited you to lie down on a bed. They then performed a painless and beneficial surgical procedure on the crown of your head.

Some minutes later, as you sat up at the end of the bed, and looked in the mirror that one aliens was holding in front of you, you noticed on the top of your head a ball of spinning white light.

They said that only you (and they) could see this. But, it was so bright, and spinning for fast, and was the size of a golf ball levitating about an inch above your head, you wondered how on earth (pun intended) anyone could miss it.
They explained that where they came from there is an unlimited power to do good, and some of that power was being ‘siphoned’ off and would appear as a ball of white light above your head. They called it a ‘power-blessing’, and said this was quite a natural occurrence on their planet.

They gave you instructions about what is was, how to use it, and how it renews itself after use.

They continued: When you want to bless someone, near or far, for a specific reason eg healing, guidance etc or for no reason at all, all you had to do was to appear to ‘scratch’ your head to release one golfball-sized power-blessing. These power-blessings are a bit ‘sticky’, they explained, and so as you bring your hand down you would have to ‘flick’ it in the general direction of the person you wanted to receive that power.

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A power-blessing…

They could see the look of concern on your face, and went on to explain: In public, they mentioned, try to do this without being noticed, for obvious reasons.

You could for instance, pretend to scratch your head, bring your hand down to the table, and nonchalantly flick that power-blessing like a foosball in the direction you wanted to bless.

Or, instead of a ‘flick’, you could do a pretend cough in the direction of the person you wanted to bless (with you hand or fist to your mouth) – always supposing that they weren’t just inches away from you – and propel the power-blessing as if by air.

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…is instantaneous

Ofcourse, if you’re alone, you could be more ‘melodramatic’. After releasing a power-blessing, you could then allow it to drop to the floor and kick it, like a professional footballer, in the direction of the person you wanted to bless.

Or you could let it fall to chest-height, and with both hands – palms facing outward and thumbs overlapped– push it ‘zen-like’ to the person you wanted to bless.

It’s a well-known fact that power-blessings can travel anything from four feet to four thousand miles instantaneously, so don’t hold back. And, you can bless people, building, events, even pets. Anything!

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..is powerful

And what happens after you use one? They explained that you immediately get another, and another, and another. Infact, you get an inexhaustible supply. And, there’s more. Whenever you use one to bless someone, immediately a ‘copy’ comes back to you from that direction, and you get a blessing, too. Everyone ‘wins’ the aliens explained.

And with that, you found yourself back in your car. Moments later, the radio came back on, and off you drove.

The remaining thought in your mind as you drove home, obviously, a telepathic ‘implanted’ thought was this: ‘Don’t hold back. Bless those you think deserve a blessing, and bless those you think don’t deserve one. Because, you get blessed, too!’

— o0o —

For many people, a blessing might happen only after someone sneezes. Or if we do it for another reason, it is a one-second word spoken, maybe uttered in a somewhat embarrassed manner, and then often forgotten, or part of a long prayer list that can be a bit tedious. And, then we might fall out of the habit of blessing others.

Ofcourse, blessings – a ‘sending’ of power and potential to another, and invoking the power of That Which Is Bigger Than Ourselves – shouldn’t be so complicated that it is a chore, or so staid that we’re embarrassed to do it, or exhausted by it.

This exercise seeks to find a balance, and to introduce some physicality and intentionality into the workout blessing. It’s like an enacted parable found in some ancient sacred texts. So, in using it we can bless others, and do so in a methodical, thoughtful, ‘directive’ and innovative way.

You may think this is not a useful exercise, but if you do like, or want, to bless people and don’t want to just sit, close your eyes and mentally or verbalise from a list of a lot of names, parrot-fashion, I think this is a good way to liven things up, start a good habit, bless others and get blessed at the same time.

This is just one exercise among many that Tadgh uses. Do contact Tadhg for more information.

Some like to use Tadhg’s imaginal, guided sessions to encounter angels, others use it for archetypal mapping, and still others use other forms of liminal exercises to grow and mature, seek answers, seek healing or transformation etc. There is something for everyone.