137: RADICAL RESOLUTIONS
FRI 6 JAN 23:07 - Moon Howl 137 resolving to do less not more....
Congratulations folks, we've made it into 2023! Sincere, best wishes coming atcha for a memorably good year wherever you find yourselves. We've got something special for you this weekend as a home lovin' Cancer Full Moon shines its illuminating influence across our domestic worlds and emotional sensibilities. This first full moon of 2023 is all about finding positive resolutions to address issues in our inner and outer worlds in ways that spread good vibes beyond our home environment to the wider world we inhabit and share. Cancer can be a creative but complex astrological sign. Under a Cancer moon thoughts and actions primarily gravitate towards family and the home environment. Parenting in particular, falls under the spotlight even for those of us without kids. A Cancer moon is well suited for assessing the relationships with our own parents, whether alive, distanced or no longer with us. Time spent dedicated to those relationships, in person or in contemplation, will be time well spent over the next fortnight. Whilst not being able to promise immediate reconciliation to every familial dispute, there is nonetheless plenty of lunar healing energy on offer for our complicated parental relationships, so let's utilise it. The festive season often brings simmering family tensions to the boil so if there are wounds to tend let's make sure we do so with genuine love and compassion. Parents are the product of their parents, themselves the product of parents ad infinitum. Most likely our own adult reactions mirror those developed in childhood to parental demands and expectations. They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do. They fill you with the faults they had And add some extra, just for you. But they were fucked up in their turn By fools in old-style hats and coats, Who half the time were soppy-stern And half at one another’s throats. Philip Larkin - from 'This Be The Verse' And what of the parents amongst us? How much responsibility have we taken for fucking up the lives of our children - the next generation? How has the need to have our own righteous decision making and behaviour reflected by our offspring, played out in their lives? How are our own sons and daughters still paying for the sins of their needy parents? The current plethora of world crises seem to suggest we’ve left them a hefty bill to pay. “The sins of the father are to be laid upon the children.” William Shakespeare - The Merchant of Venice And what of our inner parent/child relationship? How badly have the trials and torments of life stained the pure, childlike joy of living? How many of us make time to play: to sing, dance or create without concern for an outcome - or fear of being judged? How unconditional is the love we have for ourselves or are we already enslaved to our own dictatorial ‘parental’ ego ideal of the perfect person we ought to be? This Cancer influenced, first new moon of 2023 offers an opportunity to look more kindly and creatively upon the judgements we make of ourselves and others. This moonlit fortnight provides a short breathing space in which to set the tone for the entire year. Seeking remedies for the ailments in our relationships: with self, others and planet, we traditionally set intentions in the form of new year resolutions hoping for positive change and healing. But how radical are we prepared to be with our intent? How imaginative can we be in our thinking? How conscious can we be with the language we use? Ultimately, how committed can we be to realising our aspirations through our actions? We live in a dominant global culture driven by the desire for MORE. Images surround us of the bounty we could attain if only we were rich or handsome enough to deserve it. The commonly held attitude that there must be somewhere better to be, something better to do, someone more interesting with whom to engage, distances us from the enjoyment we might derive from experiencing the present moment, whatever the circumstances. Economically, we are in thrall to the idea of growth fuelled by solicited demand for an excess of stuff that doesn't necessarily make for a happy, fulfilled life. The ecologist Daniel Macmillen Voskoboynik writes, “Profit, size and growth are very limited filters for viewing prosperity. We need to reassemble our compass and apply more ecological thinking to the economy. Our task is to replace the love of size with a love of sufficiency; the love of more with the love of better. To value qualities over quantities. To improve instead of maximising.” Our destructive cultural norms essentially remain ideas that are only as pervasive as a lack of applied alternative thinking allows them to be. Consumerism and material wealth have attained almost mythical importance but those roles must be challenged to avoid human and planetary catastrophe. As psychologist Tim Kasser contends, we should replace the ‘goods life’ with the ‘good life’. So how revolutionary can we be? How can we subvert the pervading cultural norm whilst developing a more carefully considered sense of prosperity? The radical suggestion here is to challenge our culturally conditioned desire to own and produce MORE by quite simply wanting and doing LESS. For many of us, the Covid Lockdown shifted the existing paradigm in a surprisingly positive direction. In the midst of the pandemic mayhem and misery came a new dawn of quiet, empty roads; unrivalled bird song; daily walks in cleaner air and an increase in quality time spent with immediate family. Working from home became acceptable with employers who saw no loss of productivity even if workplace sociability took a hit. The daily commute was legitimately questioned; the value of time outdoors rendered indisputable. As the deadly virus struck across social class and income brackets alike, equitable access to medical support had never been so highly prized. Through imposed restrictions, communities blossomed as support networks for young, old and the vulnerable. Despite having so much less freedom, in my neighbourhood there was regular evidence of people clearly caring more. And under this Cancer Full Moon how can we practically embrace this progressive idea of wanting/needing/consuming/wasting/doing less? I believe the answer lies in gratitude. In fully appreciating the good stuff we already have in life we direct our thoughts back into the present moment away from the seductive distraction of future desires. By gratefully accounting for the good in our lives on a daily basis we gradually get used to the idea that we often need very little to feel happy and fulfilled. For those that gratefully come to the privileged understanding that they want for nothing, the way lies open to recognise when others are genuinely in need and to be able to offer help, with, for example, the time or money freed up by a dwindling pursuit of MORE. Here’s a revolutionary resolution for 2023 that can change our world and cost us nothing: As you wake each morning, before you get out of bed, take a pen and notepad and list three things already in your life for which you are grateful. These might be objects, people, events, physical experiences or feelings - whatever intuitively comes to mind. Before sleep at night, as the last thing you do before you turn out the lights, pick up the notebook and pen and note three things that happened during the day for which you are grateful. Let the list grow until the next full moon. It doesn’t matter if it occasionally repeats itself. As the month passes you will find it increasingly easier to recall those things that deserve gratitude as your life resonates more naturally with the good stuff. You may even find that you are showered with unexpected abundance as your capacity to gratefully receive whatever comes along: good, bad or indifferent, becomes the foundation of your daily experience. If it feels appropriate, why not keep the daily gratitude list going for the year and note the difference it makes? In the widest sense, under this Cancer New Moon, by wanting or expecting less we may in fact open ourselves to receiving and appreciating more. If I had my child to raise all over again, I’d build self esteem first, and the house later. I’d fingerpaint more, and point the finger less. I would do less correcting and more connecting. I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes. I would care to know less and know to care more. I’d take more hikes and fly more kites. I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play. I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars. I’d do more hugging and less tugging. I would be firm less often, and affirm much more. I’d model less about the love of power, And more about the power of love. Diane Loomans - from "If I had my child to raise over again"
watercolour 20 X 16cm 2022
A few people have asked me to include a practical, step by step guide to mindfulness/meditation. I maintain that the process is very simple. The stumbling block for most folks is not how to do it but how to maintain the discipline to really attain full benefit. Regular practice, even for 5 minutes morning and evening will bring almost instant results. Further progress naturally comes with further discipline - a few extra minutes each day as feels comfortable.
Recommended as you first rise in the morning or just before you retire to bed in the evening...or both.
Switch off the devices - no distractions.
If necessary, let others in your household know that you do not wish to be disturbed for a short while.
Create a quiet, relaxed space with a chair in which you can sit comfortably with a straight back (option to light a candle/incense should you wish. Wrap yourself in a blanket if it feels right).
Sit with a straight back and concentrate solely on your breathing until your thoughts start to slow down.
Don't beat yourself up if your uncontrolled thoughts keep distracting you - just acknowledge those thoughts, observe their origins and swiftly return your concentration to the breath....quite literally the physical sensations of breathing in and out and only this.
When the mind finally calms (5 -10 mins), i.e. when the gaps between thoughts get noticeably longer, a spaciousness may be experienced.
Where are you in relation to that space?
Listen carefully for any words, messages or feelings that may (or may not) arise in the space.
Relax and dwell in the spaciousness as long as feels comfortable, returning concentration to the breath when thought intermittently arises.
To finish, gratefully acknowledge that spaciousness as your own: a safe, happy, healthy and, above all, peaceful space to which you can return at any time simply by focusing on your breath.
Return to the awareness of your body, surroundings and your day to day activities, hopefully imbued with peace.
You have begun to enjoy and picture "a love of already satisfied desire." (Albert Einstein)
It's better than telly.
DO give this practice a regular spot in your daily digital diary.
DO make a quick note of anything unusual you experienced during the meditation (always have a notebook nearby).
DON'T fret if you miss a few days. Just return to the practice as soon as possible and reaffirm your commitment to the positive change it brings.
JUST SO YOU KNOW....
Versions of these writings are sometimes available on the website www.markweighton.com. Your comments and kind support are always welcome. Don't hesitate to get in touch should you feel the urge. Collaborations and commissions always considered...apart from portraits of pets and children.