Monday, April 20, 2009

Science panelist Sykes names favourite books

Kathy Sykes, who sits on a U.K. judging panel for a competition to find new faces of science, shares her favourite books, films, music, magazines, etc. in "My media" for the Guardian. In her section about favourite books, Sykes includes, "I have read and re-read Thomas Moore's Care of the Soul, and more recently, The Soul's Religion. Their insight and wisdom have helped me to live better, I think."

Her favourite films? Sykes responds, "I spent three years teaching in rural Zimbabwe, with little access to any screens; there were no televisions in the bush, and on forays to town, I rarely got to see films. This made me lousy at handling violence in film. It still shocks me, and I even avoid great films if necessary. I've loved everything I've seen by Stephen Poliakoff: his pace, and astute observations of the world and human beings."

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Discussion of water therapy includes Moore

Sara Firman is involved in a spa-retreat consultancy, focusing on water therapies. On her Aquapoetics blog, today’s post, "Diving deeper: shamanic, yogic, scientific and poetic paths", is one in a series about aquatic bodywork that refers to Thomas Moore’s book, Care of the Soul, p. 175:
"We may understand the body as a collection of facts, but if we also grant it its soul, it is an inexhaustible source of 'signs'. Tending the body in all its physicality, but also with imagination, is a important part of care of the soul. But such a project calls for an approach that is difficult to conjure up in an age of facts - medical poetics."
Firman quotes Carl Jung, describes the image of kundalini, and mentions dreaming in this watery post. She provides links to her earlier posts in this series and indicates topics for future entries.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Soul infuses workplace with sense of belonging

Today, Monte E. Wilson writes about soul missing in our lives: "As a coach, one of the more common problems my clients wrestle with is the issue of what author Thomas Moore refers to as loss of soul: the loss of a sense of wholeness, feeling disconnected from life."

Wilson incudes passages of Fernando Pessoa’s poem "There is a sickness worse than sickness" before quoting Moore’s A Life at Work:
"Feelings of belonging, connection, history, and involvement may seem secondary to the person designing and managing the job, but these soul qualities have everything to do with good and fulfilling work. They may appear to be second in importance to productivity and efficiency, and yet they have an impact on the success of the work being done. Tardiness, absenteeism, and sloppy work are often due to the absence of soul in the workplace."
Wilson includes suggestions for readers experiencing the missing soul, while recommending Thomas Moore's Care of the Soul and Dark Nights of the Soul.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Aboriginal healing restores natural balance

In Melbourne’s The Age, Andrew Stephens writes about a group of dancers and musicians, from Arnhem Land, visiting Victoria’s sites of the devastating bushfires in "Spirit songs of healing".
"Healing can seem largely mysterious. In a world where so much is deeply traumatic ― where wealth and poverty are in extreme, where fragile ecologies, economies and weather systems are collapsing, where faiths bicker, where our psyches and spirits are besieged ― the energy, respect and care required for healing and renewal might seem all too scarce and difficult.
Contemporary philosopher Thomas Moore writes in Care of the Soul(1992) that caring for ourselves ― not just for our physical bodies ― does not mean curing, fixing, changing, adjusting or making healthy. Instead, he writes, we need to attend to soul with "an application of poetics to everyday life". That sounds abstract, but perhaps it is about sitting with the emotions and evolving in some enigmatic way ― something the arts, beauty and sharing with other people might help us to do in addition to professional help.
Those who lived through the bushfires might naturally have incredible rage towards the brutal Australian landscape ― towards trees and fire and smoke and wind, towards the terrible confluence of circumstances that burnt so much life away. The indigenous approach to healing, in which everything is seen in relationship, perhaps has much to offer in its generous way. Land, people, spirituality: for our indigenous peoples, these cannot be treated in isolation.

It is a holism expressed beautifully by Gregory Phillips, a Waanyi and Jaru man from north-west Queensland who works in Melbourne as a medical anthropologist and who has long been involved with healing in Aboriginal education, land councils, youth and health sectors by developing community recovery programs. Healing of an individual, a family, community; or healing at a political level, or healing of country: they are all connected, he says. People, land, waterways, animals: they are in relationship together.

"Mainstream Western healing is concerned with the physical and the mental," says Phillips. "It doesn't understand or deal very well with the spiritual or emotional part of health. Aboriginal healing is essentially about restoring balance. It's all about relationships - about healing the individual, but also their relationships in the world. The thing is, in the Aboriginal world we are all connected, everything is connected.

"For us to survive, we have to look after our country. The land needs its people. For us, it's all about looking after those dreaming places we come from."

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Monday, April 06, 2009

Visual arts play a central role in medical arts

Sara Baker guest blogs about "Returning to the Roots of Western Medicine" on the site Creativity in Healthcare. Baker is a a novelist, short story writer, dramatist, and creator of the writing Woven Dialog Workshops, that help healing at Loran Smith Center for Cancer Support in Athens, Georgia.

Baker writes,
"In ancient Greece, the ill would go to healing temples, or temenos, which means a piece of land cut off or set apart and dedicated for sacred purposes. The temples dedicated to healing were call asclepieia, after the god of healing, Asclepius. The sick would come and bathe in healing waters and prepare themselves for a sacred dream, which they would then report to a priest, who would prescribe a cure. The earliest of these temples date from 420 BC, and both Hippocrates and Galen trained in asclepieia, and Hippocrates traced his ancestry to Asclepius."
* * * * * * *
"By providing arts experiences in hospital settings, however, we are providing our own temenos. Here, in the safe space set apart from other concerns, patients are invited to have a healing, although waking, dream. They are able to find the symbolic language to express the crisis they are experiencing, and also, through the process of art, to seek new, imaginative ways to go forward. Thomas Moore, author of Dark Nights of the Soul, talks about the "unfolding self," the part of us that is always evolving and going through deep transformations. "The unfolding self hungers for symbols and language to understand and mark the transitions it is going through." (pg. 35) Through the process of creating art, the patient-artist both creates the distance necessary to reflect on his/her experience and honors the transformative process that is always part of the experience of illness."
She concludes,
"Medicine has always been a blending of art ― intuition, perception, creativity ― and science ― knowledge, skill, experience. While the current structure of our medical system so often mitigates against providing healing environments that address the whole person, my experience has been that all those involved in healthcare want such environments. By incorporating the arts as healing modalities, hospitals are returning to the roots of Western medicine."

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Barque member blogs about Moore's influence

Blogger Mme. Bookling (Barque member Candace Morris) writes about attending one of Thomas Moore's book readings last year, and recently listening to Soul Mates on tape.

Bookling blogs, "He never fails to offend and challenge my "churched" sensibilities and instead ushers me into the truly sacred."

Read Morris's contributions to Barque: Thomas Moore Forum on her member's page.