News

The following are announcements and commentary from the institute regarding issues in the news and new developments at the institute. The commentary represents the opinions of individuals in the institute and this is identified in the by line.

Look – A Mindful Story

By Simon Bell

To look is one thing but to see is another. Do we always see what we are looking for or at?

Look illustration

She closed her eyes and looked.

In all her years of seeing she had never looked quite like this. This was seeing.

The ‘accident’ was now over ten years ago, and she was resigned if not reconciled with the state of affairs. The impairment to her vision had been absolute. The ophthalmologist had been kind and empathetic but quite definite in her assessment. 100% sight loss and not a chance of recovery. The diagnosis was certain. And so, began a new life.

With any kind of set-back there are stages. The psychologist had talked her through them and emphasised her need to see them coming, know when they arrive and realise that they are not for ever. That conversation had ended badly. How dare the mind-nanny presume to place her unique circumstance into a framework! A bloody ‘model’ which fits all kinds of horror. A model where some stupid sod of an expert could say in a condescending tone: “Ah yes, you are at stage 3 of the 7-fold model of grief”. Sod off!

But there had been a process and she did see the pattern emerge. The period of denial was acute and painful. If this, if that, if only for god’s sake the other. None of it mattered and denial felt like a physical impalement, excoriating her from the inside out. In time the anger set in. Fury, rage at the injustice of an uncaring universe set out to make her less and less and less. She would not accept it. She could not. Her rage left her exhausted and a trail of broken friendships. Then she had begun to try to negotiate. She was not stupid, and she was not poor. She had a good mind, money and a determined will to put this right. Surely there were things that could be done. She would see another ophthalmologist, she would see 20 if she had to. She would find the one who could help her. There had to be a deal which could be drawn from the system to allow her to begin to regain all that she had lost. All that had been so cruelly taken from her. Months passed; the answer was always the same. The damage done had been irreparable and no reconstructive surgery had any chance of making a difference. There was nothing to reconstruct too. There was not a plan B or C or D. There was only weary and depressing plan A. Live with it. Tears, misery and then, tipping on the gradient towards the darkness, which was her daily life, depression. Deep as the ocean, remorseless as the unlit world she now lived in, unendurable nothingness. Only her most resilient friends and family now remained. The hopelessness was almost complete, and suicide was too good for her. Too much of an effort. To wish oneself dead is to make an affirmation of a willed position. She was beyond that. All she wanted was not to want anything anymore. End.

Damn that bloody model. The day came when there was a twist, no not that defintite, maybe a twistet! A slight movement from the quiescent emptiness of depression. She had the radio on and listened half-heartedly (was there still a whole heart beating in there?) to a programme about consciousness. The great mystery of it. There were three evolutions. The evolution of the physical world, the evolution of life and the evolution of consciousness. The expert being interviewed said that science had a good grip on 1, a starting position on 2 but not a clue about 3. The void consciousness emerged from and filled. This intrigued her. The unknowability of its morphology and its ubiquity to all people. The only way we know is to be conscious. To be intrigued by anything was a foreign feeling for her. She had not felt a passing interest in anything in six months. It struck her. She was conscious. She was.

She began to make the journey back to life and her means was the search for and the understanding of consciousness. She read audio books about it, listened to pod casts and engaged in chat groups (one of her few remaining friends set up a speech app on her iPad). The more she studied the more she pulled away from the bottom and began to float upwards towards what? Light? How does that work?

But it did and her work on consciousness, from the inside out, began to give her more and more pleasure.

In this working she was not. Not in the sense of being herself. A self. She was a broad plain of receptance. An ocean of acceptance. A surface on which the waves of incoming data played and danced. Sure, for most people one of those data sources was sight, the visual field. But there was so much more to it. Sound, taste and touch. Feel, heat and odour. These all came to rest in her ocean of consciousness. And then there was the numinous. The inner world of emotion, thoughts and conceptions. The eternal sea of meanings and emergences. The brightly lit uplands of received ideas. Blending all that she was conscious of; past, present and vision of future; her world was full to brimming and this told outward as she gathered to her minds of similar inclination. She, the broken self was gone. She the emergent field of conscious intention was in place.

And so, one day following many weeks and months of study, she sat in her accustomed place, closed her eyes and looked.

Let the story sink in. When you are ready, here are the questions for you to consider:

Question 1. What is the main meaning of the story?

What message or core or essential meaning does the story hold for you? There may be many meanings which occur to you but for now try to prioritise just one.

When you feel clear on this, hold it in your mind and read the next question:

Question 2. How is this meaning of relevance to you?

How does the story impact on your life and your challenges right now? Why is it important to you at this point in your life? What element emerges as being most relevant?

Again, give yourself time to think of your response and when you feel prepared try the next question:

Question 3. Think about what is the main value that you can draw from this relevance of the story. What does this value bring to the concern you identified earlier?

Don’t rush your response. Take time to think about the value. The word ‘value’ is an interesting word. What do we value and what of value is here? When you are set try this:

Question 4. What insight does the identified value provide for you?

Finally:

Question 5. What action might you engage with as a consequence?

Don’t expect instant results from considering a mindful story. The whole point is that the story can act as a gateway to another level. Give yourself time to let the ideas which come from the story settle down. Each time you reconsider you may get to a deeper level of meaning and this could result in new ideas.

Artwork © Rachel Furze

The Mindful Stories Cycle: methods and mindsets – 2. The Quartet

By Simon Bell

2. The Quartet

In my previous blog I described the primary cycle for your reading of the Mindful Stories – Meaning, Relevance, Value, Insight and Action or MRVIA. In this blog I want to talk about the wider cycle which this cycle of thinking occurs within.

MRVIA is intended to be a relevant approach for considering any Mindful Stories but the stories themselves are specifically intended to attend to the subliminal issues contained in four realities, The Quartet, which we all find ourselves in. The Quartet refers to:

Me and Myself

Me and My World

My Group and My World

My Group and Me

I have written stories which attend to issues in for each of the domains of The Quartet.

The stories are stories and can be used for any purpose which a story is appropriate for but, the specific intention behind them is to resonate with one of the four realities set out in The Quartet.

Here is a sense of the intended dynamic.

We are all multifaceted creatures with multiple roles. We are ourselves in and for ourselves. To deny this is to deny our being. We can nurture this being or we can deny and/ or abuse it but my preference is for nurture. Stories for Me and Myself are to do with this sense of nurture, of peace with ourselves.

In our individuality we experience our world, both the natural and the artificial. This world is our palette of colour and our canvas for expression. We work in this context but also this context works on us. The stories in the second part of The Quartet are intended to convey areas for pondering in our expression and engaging.

Out in the world of our experience we meet others who are similarly engaged. Who are contextualising their meanings in the world and doing the things that they have to do. We meet them in this context and we share as we contextualise our collective experiences together.

But the group is where we manage our expectations of others, where we ponder our true role to the collective and realise our value to the collective.

The intention of the wider cycle, The Quartet, is to provide fictions for the assessment and consideration of Meaning, Relevance, Value, Insight and Action. As we use the stories as safe spaces and mirrors for conjecture there is an opportunity to move from being relatively unaware of self, world and group to a deeper and more sustained sense of being truly self and GroupAware.

Over the next four weeks I will post four blogs: Look, Point, Seek and New Normal. They represent the four elements of The Quartet and can be seen as opening up multiple areas of mindful consideration of your being, engaging, contextualising and managing. Each can be considered in MRVIA terms and also as position fictions for each of the elements of The Quartet.

I welcome your comments on the reading and the thinking that may emerge.

The Mindful Stories Cycle: methods and mindsets – 1. MRVIA

By Simon Bell

1. MRVIA

If you have been reading the Mindful Stories on the Bayswater Institute web page you will already have a good idea about the primary process involved. The stories are presented, with a picture from the Artist Rachel Furze, and then you are encouraged to consider the story from five points of view, each one working on the previous and taking you into depth and then to action. The process is:

  • To consider the main meaning the story has for you. I assume that as you read or listen to a story you will detect many levels and forms of meaning but I ask you to consider just one as being primary or main. Seeking meaning you draw the contents of the fiction into your consciousness and in that process find some kind of a fit or resonance.
  • Following this you review the relevance of this core meaning seeking deeper connection
  • This leads to you assessing the personal value which this meaning conveys to you
  • And in turn, this may reveal personal insights from the review of the value.
  • Finally, you can think about what actions you might take as a consequence.
  • Meaning, Relevance, Value, Insight and Action or MRVIA.

This is a learning cycle of sorts with action feeding back into the review of meaning. MRVIA can be layered onto many of the main learning cycle processes available to you in the literature. The idea is that the five stages provide a journey into depth and out again:

Beginning with a sense of a personal connect to the story. This is the meaning behind the words. This will be highly subjective to each reader. Following this, and accompanying it in many cases is a willingness to go deeper, seeing how the story connects to your existing worldview. This is the inner relevance of this meaning to you. Again, sequentially or in some cases consecutively, you will get a sense of going deeper still, thinking about how this relevance resonates to your existing value system and how this system relates back to the relevance identified. The connection between Meaning, Relevance and Value is subtle and often braided but tends to a deeper and deeper connect to the main item in the story.

Following on, the intention is to arrive at some form of insight. How does the fiction idea you are pondering relate to your life, your reality and your needs? Does there emerge a sense of a key to action? Does a tumbler fall into place in your consciousness?

Finally, for the first cycle, what does this mean in terms of future actions? What is the necessary response which may take you to a new place and a new you? Any action should lead spontaneously for a search for the inner meaning of the action. This stimulates a further turning of the cycle.

The Meaning, Relevance, Value, Insight, Action cycle is the primary cycle in the Mindful Stories. But, this five-fold approach is set within a wider system of consciousness and I will talk more about that in a later blog.

In the meantime, take a look at the stories in the collection on the BI site and try the MRVIA cycle for yourself.

I would be interested to have your reflections on the outcome.