Tag Archives: gratitude

Weekend Walks

Scenes from some weekends in July.

I’m thankful that I can be thankful, that I have things to be thankful for.

Today’s gratitude: Quality, restful weekends. Time to spend with myself, family and friends. Time to do what recharges me. When I look at pictures like these I’m reminded that I am fortunate enough to afford an evening to walk by the River, to be in the mood to enjoy the sunset and clouds and the cooler air, to admire the intricate patterns formed by the branches of trees.

I’m thankful that I am able to be thankful.

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Music Collage

At a session one evening, we did something called a Music Collage. The process involves participants choosing a theme, actively listening to a recorded piece of music, selecting images from a range of pictures to fit the theme, depending on how they interpret and think about it, and sharing which aspects of their collage stood out the most for them.

The theme we chose was Movement vs Stillness, and the music selected was Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, 1st movement.

“The person on the wheelchair… because it seems like he is still, but at the same time I realised the wheelchair is also about movement.. and I realise… it’s all about perspective. There is no full movement or full stillness. It is all how you look at it.”

“I feel that my collage represents my… character. Like, sometimes I can be really active and loud and outgoing, but other times I will just be quiet and still. So there is no picture that stands out for me.”

“I feel like the music was describing something bad about to happen. So I chose the picture of this crab… the music is describing the journey of the crab as it’s about to be killed and cooked and eaten… from movement to stillness..”

Through their insights and sharing, I have got to know this group of people over the past 2 months. Their personalities, sense of humour, quirks and what means the most to them. And with the time that has flown by, we are also on the brink of parting ways. It has been a blessing to be with them on this journey, one I will always be thankful for.

A Test of Gratitude

After spending 5 days in Melbourne, where it dropped to 7 degrees in the nights and mornings, I was looking forward to returning to the warmth of Sydney, where at least autumn temperatures are supposed to be warmer.

Unfortunately, nature seemed to have other plans for us, as the state of New South Wales was hit by one of the worst storm winds in decades, causing over 200 000 homes to lose power, deaths, and traffic disturbances.

Here in the valley below the Blue Mountains, the most inconvenience we have suffered is the loss of hot water and heat. That’s all. I know people could go on about how freezing cold our water is (as if the weather isn’t cold enough) and how we’re shivering under our blankets at night because our heaters aren’t working, but if we just look at the people who have had to evacuate because of the floods and storm, we are so much more fortunate. On top of that, the accommodations office actually took the trouble to assign us alternative rooms for sleeping and bathing (I took the bathing option, just not the sleeping one). I surprised myself by feeling gratitude for all that has been arranged, instead of feeling like a victim of circumstances. All that mindfulness practice must be more useful that I thought possible. More incentive to strive on.

Today the skies and winds are calmer, and we finally see the sun. But the homes without electricity are estimated to go on without for another week, until the affected infrastructures are repaired. The roads and tracks which have been damaged will take time to repair. The lives which have been lost will never be recovered. Praying and thinking deeply for all those who are going through difficult times.

Personal Spirituality

At a recent tutorial session, a classmate was presenting on the application of music therapy in palliative care. Towards the end of her presentation, she stated that one of the goals achieved was helping the client find spirituality and spiritual meaning in her life, as the therapist was able to use songwriting techniques to help the client re-accept God’s Love for her, despite her sense of low self-esteem, and discover a sense of peace within her before she passed away.

I was intrigued and inspired, especially at the use of songwriting to facilitate catharsis, self-acceptance, and yes, spiritual meaning.

However, something at the back of my mind nagged at me – I felt that the implied definition of Spirituality used was a little narrow. The presentation and wording of the case study seemed to imply that spiritual meaning can only be found in a particular religion, concept, culture, and image of God, leaving no room for other avenues or paths to spiritual meaning.

So I was really glad that A, our sensitive lecturer, picked up on that as well.

“When you said ‘spiritual meaning’ and ‘spirituality’, what did you mean by that? Is spirituality only defined by belief in God?” She asked at the end.

“Yes”, came the almost immediate reply.

Unfazed, A continued: “Well, spirituality need not mean religiosity. It is whatever gives people meaning in their lives. Some people find meaning in the bible (or other scriptures), others from being close to nature.. Some people find meaning in self-effort and discipline, others people find meaning in helping others, and the list goes on. So to live spiritually need not mean being religious. It means being able to live in accordance to what gives our lives meaning. As MTs, we need to be aware of that when we work with different clients.”

That short exchange stuck with me. I’ve always been inclined towards spirituality more than religiosity, but could never explain the difference properly when people asked me to. Now, with her words, I feel more empowered and better positioned to explain my worldview.

I find meaning in life from being able to do work that helps others, maintaining equanimity of mind so that I can have inner peace, happiness, not hurt others through any words, thoughts and actions. To have any hope of achieving that, I try to practice mindfulness in the moments, and try to dedicate my actions to something bigger than myself, because I agree that human effort is limited, and a distorted focus on self-efforts might only lead to an increase in the ego (nevertheless, a balanced amount of self-effort remains necessary). I take pictures to remind myself of the beautiful world we live in. I reflect, write, and have conversations with myself, hoping to water and nurture the positive and wholesome seeds within and around me. For now, this is the spiritual meaning in my life, the life which I try to live according to spiritual principles. It’s a work in progress, and the imperfections many, but I trust that everything will happen in its time, and I just need to live every moment of this journey as a destination.

Gratitude is one of the spiritual principles I hope to live by, and today I am thankful I had the chance to reflect and think about this.

What Do You Lack In Your Life?

This question, posed by a friend, has made me think and reflect about life in another light.

While we may each give different answers ranging from practical financial concerns to lofty existential musings.. The fact is that none in my circles of friends would give answers like: Shelter. Water. Food. Clothes.

Compared to those in the world who would answer with the basic necessities, we are infinitely more blessed and fortunate.

Thank you, 2014.

Thank you, 2014.

I had been anticipating your arrival for the longest time, especially ever since my plans for further studies were initially postponed, then gradually confirmed.

You gave me the chance to learn how to adapt in a foreign land, away from family and friends. You gave me time to know myself better, to go deeper in ways I never had the chance or time to go before. To find my inner silence and become comfortable with it. To think about things from different perspectives. To go beyond my musical comfort zones and push myself to improve in various ways. To pursue what I’ve always wanted.

Thanks to you, I feel empowered with gratitude for many more things and with the knowledge that I have a choice in my life.

I hope that I will be able to use what you have given me and give back to the world around me. You will always have a special place in my heart. Thank you and goodbye, 2014!

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