Archive for the 'learning' Category

Learning to Trust Divine Guidance

Anyone who has asked for divine guidance knows that it can be challenging to trust it when it comes. This is because divine guidance comes in many forms and it is sometimes hard to locate it. We aren’t sure if we are meant to trust our thoughts, our feelings, our dreams, or our intuitions to be the carriers of divine wisdom. We are not sure if advice from a friend is the form in which the guidance has come into the world, or if our own opinion is the source of wisdom we need to take seriously. The ability to sort all this out comes with trial and error, and the best way to learn to recognize divine guidance is to engage in the process of asking and receiving.

Sometimes when we ask for guidance, we already have a sense of what we want to hear. At such times, receiving guidance can be difficult, because we don’t want to hear anything that appears to be in opposition to our desire. Therefore, one of the most important qualities we need to cultivate if we are to receive guidance is an open mind. It helps to acknowledge what we want, and then to symbolically set it aside, making room for whatever wisdom comes through to us.

Cultivating an active relationship with the divine is the essential ingredient to being able to receive and trust guidance when it comes our way. We can make a daily practice of this by using a set of runes, a deck of cards, or a pendulum. We can also use our journals, developing a relationship with the divine through the written word. As we request and receive guidance, we might take notes on our experiences. Over time we will begin to recognize when we were able to hear correctly and when we were not. In this way, we will gradually attune ourselves to our particular relationship with the divine. Begin to trust the guidance you are receiving and soon you will find it flowing with ease.

DailyOM

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Think Globally, Eat Locally

We all know that our planet needs our help right now, but we often feel unsure about what to do, where to make an effort, and what will really help. The good news is that we can heal the planet on a daily basis simply by buying and eating food that is grown locally. Food that has been transported long distances doesn’t contain much life force by the time it gets to your kitchen. Making a commitment to shop, buy, and eat locally is not only a very important part of creating positive change, it can also be delicious fun.

One of the best places to begin the adventure of eating locally is a farmer’s market. Stalls brim with fresh fruits and vegetables grown on nearby farms. Not only is this good for the environment, it’s good for the farmers since they benefit from selling directly to the consumer. The consumer benefits, too, from the intimate experience of buying food from the hand of the person who grew it. In addition, the food is fresher and more diverse. In supermarkets, particular varieties of fruits and vegetables are favored due to their ability to survive transport to a far destination. Alternately, at a farmer’s market, you will find versions of the fruits and vegetables you know that will surprise and delight your senses—green striped heirloom tomatoes, purple cauliflower, white carrots, and edible flowers, just to name a few.

Make an effort to buy as much of your food as possible directly from local farmers. You will become one of a growing number of people eating delicious food to save the planet and having fun doing it.

DailyOM

Putting Our Tools to Use

Every craftsperson has a toolbox full of tools and a number of techniques to help them bring inspiration into form. In the same way, throughout our lives, we have discovered our own life tools and techniques—the ways and means that have helped us create our lives up to this point. Sometimes we forget about the tools and skills we’ve acquired, and we wonder why we aren’t moving forward. At times like these, it might just be a matter of remembering what we already know, and rediscovering the tools we already have at our disposal.

In the process of becoming who we are and creating our lives, we have all gone through the experience of being inspired to do something and then finding the tools we needed to do it. If we look back, we may be able to remember that we used, for example, the tool of writing every day in order to clarify our intentions. We may also have used the tools of ritual, meditation, or visualization to make something happen. In addition, we may have been fueled by a new idea about how the universe works, which is what gave us the inspiration to use these tools.

In order for ideas to be powerful, they must be imbued with the energy of our engagement with them, and in order for tools to be effective they must be put to use. This sounds obvious, but often we fall into the habit of thinking we are engaging with ideas and using tools by virtue of the fact that we are reading about them, or listening to other people talk about them. In truth, using our tools is a very personal action, one we must take on behalf of ourselves. Like artists, we are each unique and no two of us will receive the same inspiration, nor will we bring it into form in the same two ways. To discover the truth of our own vision, we must take action by remembering our tools and putting them to use.

DailyOM

Living for Ourselves

Most of us come to a point in our lives when we question why we are doing what we are doing, and many of us come to realize that we may be living our lives in an effort to make our parents happy. This realization can dawn when we are in our 20s, our 40s, or even later, depending upon how tight a hold our family of origin has on our psyche. We may feel shocked or depressed by this information, but we can trust that it is coming to us at this time because we are ready to find out what it would mean to live our lives for ourselves, following the call of our own soul, and refusing any longer to be beholden to someone else’s expectations.

One of the most common reasons we are so tied into making our parents, or others, happy, is that we were not properly mirrored when we were children. We were not honored as individuals in our own right, with a will and purpose of our own, to be determined by our own unfolding. As a result, we learned to look outside of ourselves for approval, support, and direction rather than look within. The good news is that the part of us that was not adequately nurtured is still there, inside us, like a seed that has not yet received the sunlight and moisture it needs to open and to allow its inner contents to unfurl. It is never too late to provide ourselves with what we need to awaken this inner being.

There are many ways to create a safe container for ourselves so that we can turn within and shine the light of awareness there. We may join a support group, go to therapy, or start a practice of journaling every day for half an hour. This experience of becoming is well worth the difficult work that may be required of us to get there. In whatever process we choose, we may feel worse before we feel better, but we will ultimately find out how to live our lives for ourselves and how to make ourselves happy.

DailyOM

The Great Spanish Tradition (2/2)

The magnetism of Spanish music
Spain was burdened with monolithic political and religious structures; its rulers delighted in pageant and military might; when they sent their ships to invade England they placed such unwieldy cannon on their decks they couldn’t be armed and fired in time to ward off the English defenders. No surprise then that a country revelling in spectacle should develop a taste for great battle symphonies for organ or instrumental combinations. This even entered mass settings. Joan Cererols (1618-80) suffered, like all Spanish composers in the seventeenth century, from the absence of music printing in the Iberian peninsula, and his surviving scores are characteristically thin on musical specifics. However, they do include an accompaniment line, indicating the use of instruments. His Missa de Batalla (Battle Mass) is splendidly arranged for three choirs and may be (we will never know how authentically) accompanied to splendid effect by strings, wind and percussion.

No discussion of Spanish music would be complete without mention of the numerous foreign composers attracted to its native idioms. In his numerous keyboard sonatas Domenico Scarlatti was inspired by the strumming of the guitar, which by then dominated the plucked-string repertoire, and many years later nineteenth and early twentieth-century composers vied with each other in their works in the Spanish style. Some of the greatest music in this vast category was by Debussy and Ravel, whose achievements in their turn had a profound effect on Spanish composers.

Vernacular opera in Spain was, as in most countries, constantly threatened by Italian opera. However, the zarzuela proved resilient. It was Spanish opera with spoken dialogue, much like German Singspiel, but older (the earliest known specimens are by Juan Hidalgo and date from the end of the seventeenth century). In spite of various challenges mounted to it, native Spanish opera revived greatly in the nineteenth century and has been prospering ever since.

Nationalism was the key to Spain’s resurgence as a musical force to be reckoned with. While Lalo, Chabrier and numerous others were churning out superficially Spanish music, Felipe Pedrell was drawing some illustrious native pupils into his midst as he promoted his country’s rich literary and musical heritage; among them were the second great triumvirate of Spanish music – Albéniz, Granados and Falla.

The twentieth-century resurgence
Spanish regional idioms and dances, such as jota, habanera, fandango and seguidillas, again came into their own. All the warmth, the dazzling colour, the racy modal harmonies, the tempestuous vocal idioms were rekindled in the music of these composers. Alongside it one hears music of the greatest delicacy fully worthy of the Golden Age. Albéniz and Granados were truly sons of French impressionism; but their sensitivity to colour and effect in Iberia and Goyescas is quintessentially Spanish.

Falla went further in his often astringent harmonies and gaudy orchestration. He knew Stravinsky’s music intimately: one can hear Petrushka clearly in The Three-Cornered Hat. But unlike some of the others, Falla was not content with touristic Spanish effects: he wanted to distill the Spanish soul. As he grew older he abandoned the folk influence in pursuit of communion with the great masters of the Spanish Renaissance; his unfinished oratorio Atlántida was to have been the definitive expression of this.

In more recent years Spanish composers such as Roberto Gerhard finally recognised the New Viennese School, especially Schoenberg. Spain was and in some ways still is a conservative environment for its musicians. Its vitality owes everything to tradition: more than in almost any other European culture, the close union between popular and art music has nurtured and enriched the work of Spain’s many fine composers. That many of the names cited above are little known to music lovers suggests that we are only slowly unravelling one of music’s best kept secrets.

Classic CD magazine, 1996


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