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Archive for March, 2014

I recently, in a moment of faux-spiritual overload at the Bali Spirit Festival wrote: ‘Enlightenment?? How about let’s just start with not having reactive tantrums day after day – or enjoying 24 hours of the luxurious abundance we’ve been born into without ruining it with endless worrying and complaining? Could you?

Let’s try a week of never once painting our predicament as some victim scenario or focusing on the ‘version’ of the events where we frame life as unfair or unjust to us?

Could we maintain a perspective of gratitude and optimism for 7 full days?

Enlightenment?? Give me a break

Yes, I was feeling a bit self-righteous. But I also mean it.

Someone wrote underneath:

‘Nice idea. Abundance? How can a dying,starving child in Africa consider his abundance?????’

Well…I wouldn’t challenge such a child to be grateful for their abundance, only us pampered Westerners on facebook…but…

…one possible answer is that the experience of being a human is two-fold – we might be both a ‘soul’ and a ‘human ego’ which is having a finite life at the same time. Both could be happening at once. From this perspective, when a human suffers, from the earthy ego place it is pain but from the simultaneous soul place it is learning, even grace. There seem to be (at least) 2 planes of reality running alongside each other. Duality, upstairs and downstairs. This doesn’t mean that in the face of terrible suffering you only run upstairs and say ‘that’s perfect!’ – that would be escaping and denying the simultaneous suffering which is going on for the human but neither do we stay only downstairs and say “no no no this is totally wrong!” – although faced with much of the World’s suffering it’s an understandable response – the skilful and brave human life is lived with the intention of existing in both planes simultaneously, where we can feel our heart break for the child, feel compassion and a call to action, and even help and give and try and ease suffering down below while at the same time acknowledging that from the soul’s perspective this suffering might be grace, it might be learning, it might be processing karma (not punishment) it might be part of a bigger pattern that we can’t always tune into from our incredibly limited human letterbox view of existence. The above ‘Nice idea. Abundance? How can a dying,starving child in Africa consider his abundance?????’ comment is written from a perspective that can only perceive reality from the lower, letterbox perspective – and yes, when reality is only viewed from that one place, and when the human has never been educated or lucky enough to have a glimpse of another possible plane or frame of existence, it’s the only comment you can make, and what I’ve written here will seem like an obscenity.

Ram Dass inspired me when he said (paraphrasing) ‘Right now in this moment there’s a starving child taking it’s last breath, so do I feel sad? Yes. Also in this moment there is a baby being born into a joyful family. Do I feel happy? Yes. Can I hold the fact that both these realities exist in the same moment?’

Could there be more going on that just the human experience of suffering?

www.jamiecatto.com

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I was reading a post about women not wanting to be objectified sexually today and I’ve always wondered about this. Clearly, reducing women to the only sexually visual, tarted-up, arousing male sexual impulses role is way out of balance in our culture. The percentage of women on TV, on billboards and in print media which are photoshopped to conform to a thin, homogenised, sexually-appealing, over-groomed value system is very high and this can subliminally brainwash us over time and consistency of impact to expect that all women should look like this. This clearly goes nowhere good either for the men or the women.

But also, the visually astounding qualities of Woman, her beauty, deep power, grace, and yes, even sexiness are among the most wonderful ingredients of planet Earth available. They’ve triggered most music, poetry, art, and the devotional aspirations of men and the masculine principle since the beginning of time. You could even argue that the whole of the abundance and continuation of nature itself depends upon this principle from women to men and from flowers to bees….

To me, women can be any combination of deep souls, great minds, sex bombs, fragile flowers, wise hags, destructive typhoons, confusing conundrums, ecstatic volcanos of bliss – there’s not room on this page to complete the ever evolving list of my experience…. and yet I don’t believe women don’t want to be seen as sex objects. The beauty/sex industry thrives and always has, and did so long before darkly manipulative advertising and marketing evils of today. Many, not all, women (and maybe most men too) want to be found attractive, desired, even lusted after and that includes their visual, physical sexiness, no? I think the problem we have in our culture is how imbalanced the weight of that focus is. Women certainly don’t want to be ONLY a sex object. They rightly want to be enjoyed and valued for being many things, and not all of it feminine. But to remove the sexy appreciation is also a mistake. This issue, for me, is about balance of appreciation not stopping lusting after sexy buns.

Please let’s not place an ignorant cultural taboo on celebrating sexiness in all it’s forms and please let’s broaden our appreciation for all that we men and women are. Let’s become fascinated with each other, immersing ourselves deeply in all our qualities, mutual and diverse. When we do this, we WE OURSELVES open up our excitements and fascinations, the covers of all the magazines will change and the occasional wolf-whistle in the street might even be welcomed.

www.jamiecatto.com

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Being A Guru

Inevitably, when I devise workshops about creativity, about getting people’s projects together, and bringing their generosity into the world, the first and most important thing to focus on is where am I creating ‘from’? How am I feeling? What is my true rooted excitement? Because this is the deciding factor on whether anything brilliant or touching is going to get made, whether it be a piece of art, a new company or just who I am in the world.

So on these weekends, before we get into the masculine practicalities of A’s and B’s and C’s of actually doing a project, I’m first most interested in us all coming back to our inspiration, coming back to our unedited, unapologetic versions of ourselves; less addicted to approval, less addicted to appropriateness. Those addictions are massively in the way of any Masterpiece, whether it be a Masterpiece of art, a Masterpiece of parenting, or a Masterpiece of making love.

A lot of the processes and games we get into in the workshops are about coming back to ourselves and inevitably, we begin to touch on issues of intimacy, issues of personal freedom, issues of who I am, even issues of looking at the wounds that have shaped me into the strange, unique creature that I am with my unique needs and edges. Am I listening to myself enough to hear those needs? All that stuff becomes fascinating and fundamental to the whole journey of ‘doing a project’ and ‘being an artist’ and vulnerably releasing your gifts into the world.

Everybody has their own, uniquely, personal ideas of what the facilitator should be like in a group so it’s very important for me to start the process by saying, “Please take a moment to dissolve any ideas you have about what a workshop facilitator should be like because I am here as an artist to explore the routes to making Masterpieces with you and although I know a lot about the practicalities and the A’s and B’s and C’s of creating a project, beyond that, the territory that we are going to get into can sometimes get vulnerable. You will choose what is exactly the right level for you to meet this work and I will totally honour whether you want to do it undramatically, meet it more on the surface, more intellectually, without it becoming a big deal in any way or if you want to go all the way into melting who you thought you were and coming out of the ashes as the Phoenix. I have no preference or opinion on which level is better for you than the other. Both are on offer and will be held and supported.“

Above all, I am not a believer that anyone should ever challenge themselves in life unless that challenge feels exciting to them. If there is a challenge which feels exciting, of course, go for it, but I am not a believer that anyone should ever feel the need to push themselves or evolve one inch beyond where they are now. In fact one of the things I always say on the workshops is, “If God came into this room and said to you, “You are not going to evolve one more millimetre in this whole lifetime. You are not going to get one millimetre freer, one millimetre wiser or one millimetre further along”, could you still love yourself fully?” For me, that is the most important question anyone can ever ask themselves and if the answer is “no”, you need to really look at your path, at you ideas about what you are doing here on earth. I believe that ‘enlightenment’ (if it exists) is loving yourself exactly as the wounded, freaky creature you are today. The highest spiritual path that I can attain is to love myself exactly as I am, with no finish lines. I have no ambition, no ambition at all any more and it feels incredibly freeing. Life is going to sculpt me plenty, often in uncomfortable ways. Life is going to already deliver me these challenges and I am going to be evolved by them, but to push myself through any challenges that don’t feel exciting, ones that feel like ‘shoulds’, I think that is violent.

So when people come on my workshops, I’m not a seducer, or an asker or a pusher. I don’t need people to go deep or go shallow. I feel people are going to be grown-ups and choose their own way in. I’m really excited in the beginning to say, “This is me. Sometimes I swear. Sometimes I’m impatient. Sometimes I am hurt and vulnerable and finding it hard to even get through this day of working with you, and I want to be okay bringing all of that into the room – and I want you to be ok bringing all of how you are today too. I want myself and anyone who comes through my workshops to become a walking permission slip, for everyone to be exactly as they are, to not have to fit into anyone’s preconceived mould of the role that they are playing.”

My responsibility in this is to express that I am trusting you to totally parent yourselves as adults – that you are going to look after your needs – that when you are feeling shaky or need space, that you are going to ask for it and you are going to be the one who reaches out for the support that you need. You are the parent of you and I feel that all of us need to stop looking at our lovers, our husbands, our wives, even our kids to be the person that notices our needs and takes care of them. It’s no-one else’s job but mine to parent myself and it’s no-one else’s job but yours, to parent yourself. So while it is wonderful to have close people in our lives that love us and care for us sometimes, it’s no-one else’s job or responsibility to do that.

To ask for what we want and is a great vulnerability, but the great thing about it is that it creates a visceral intimacy. In my workshops this attitude of self-responsibility is paramount.

So I wanted to express all that about what is like to be a workshop facilitator and sometimes having expectations from people about being a guru or being a self-awareness teacher or parent figure. Yes, all that stuff can come into the groups, but my greatest excitement is, whether we meet the weekend intellectually or we meet it as a great life-change, I want everybody to come through it, both being their own parent, taking full responsibility for their experience and expecting me to be an artist who is going to show up fully in who I am in every way too. Within these practices people find their creativity so deeply and by being themselves this fully, everybody finds the highest gift that is available to them when we work together.

All workshops at www.jamiecatto.com

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