Open to nature, open to gratitude

File this one under B for BLISS!

Nature’s Beauty Inspires Gratitude is a must-see 20 min TEDx talk featuring the stunning filmwork of Louie Schwartzberg. It starts as simply jaw-dropping time lapse nature photography and builds into a compelling vision for why and how to be grateful when we open our eyes each morning.

On the bio page of his website — aptly named “Moving Art” — beside the picture of his peaceful smile and super-clear eyes, it reads:

As the only cinematographer in the world who has been shooting time-lapse 24/7 continuously for well over three decades, Schwartzberg is a visual artist breaking barriers, connecting with audiences, and telling stories that celebrate life and reveal the mysteries and wisdom of nature, people and places.

If you pay attention right around the 5 min 50 sec mark, you might audibly gasp, as I did. But you must watch this one all the way through. Then be grateful you did.

And for fans of non-narrative documentaries, in 1982 he provided additional cinematography for the film Koyaanisqatsi.

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Happy frolicking cows!

Yesterday I had a series of conversations with former strangers (by which I mean, once we’d chatted for a while they transformed into new friends). Inexplicably, and not brought up by me, the topic of vegetarian vs. meat eating kept surfacing. It surprised me because I had watched this video yesterday morning and couldn’t stop thinking about it all day long. It’s just delightful. A herd of cows are released into a field instead of being taken to the slaughterhouse. They jump and dance with joy. So sweet.

I’ve been vegetarian on and off in my life, always for reasons of compassion for other living beings. Quite simply, I believe it is terrible what human beings do to themselves and other animals in this world. Even still, these days I choose to eat a lazy version of ‘paleo’ because my body functions better this way. (Grains, in particular, are a terrible storm of inflammation for me.) And also, I eat meat because, when I reason it out, suffering is happening, it’s the very nature of things. Unavoidable. Samsara. That which is born, dies. I kill when I brush my teeth. I can’t drive down a summer road without killing thousands of insects, crushed against the windsheild. It breaks my heart, truly.

I bought chicken breasts again from that super-friendly guy at the market this morning. And I still can’t stop thinking about these lovely, happy frolicking cows. It makes me wonder about all the things I can and can’t control. And leads me to ask, how can I be more compassionate today, with myself and with others?

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Life is right now

This is one of my favourite short clips of Jon Kabat-Zin speaking on mindfulness.

The whole thing is worth a listen. Starting at about 3 mins, he says:

Even in very stressful situations, you can move in to the actuality of the situation and find ways to move with it, and regulate your own reactivity to it. So that in some very, very deep way, you are not running away, and you’re not pushing through anything, but allowing things to unfold as they do. That’s the heart of creativity. And that way, we get the most work done, with the least distraction and the least effort.

It’s an art form. And it takes a while to learn. It’s not something where you just hear me say this on the web, and the next thing, ‘oh, yeah, I’ll be mindful for the rest of my life.’ It’s one of the most difficult things in the world, if not the most difficult thing in the world for us human beings to do: is to be present in our own lives, and to be kind and less judgmental of ourselves.

That’s why it’s worth doing, it’s worth practising. But it’s not a ‘doing’ really, when all is said and done, it’s a way of being, and actually, a way of being awake and yourself.

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