Recommended Reading: Virginia Woolf’s Diaries

Leeds Wellbeing Web:

An inspiring piece for writers; aspiring writers, bloggers and readers alike. Enjoy!

Originally posted on The Daily Post:

Most successful writers do one or two things really, really well. Then there’s that small group of word magicians who can keep us riveted while recounting their trip to the greengrocer. Virginia Woolf firmly belongs among the latter. If you ever need proof, check out her diaries, where you’d be hard-pressed to find a non-mesmerizing sentence:

VirginiaWoolf

The heat has come, bringing with it the inexplicably disagreeable memories of parties, and George Duckworth; a fear haunts me even now, as I drive past Park Lane on top of a bus.

Diary entry from May 25, 1926

Beyond the mere pleasure of her prose, however, Woolf’s diaries contain so much wisdom, so much focused insight on the craft, and struggle, and pleasures of writing, that reading through any random entry is worth roughly 73 “How to become a better writer” articles. Case in point:

Yesterday I finished the first part of To the Lighthouse, and…

View original 491 more words

Leeds Kirkgate Market: have your say

Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market are inviting you to have your say about it’s future. Being empowered to share your opinion is good for your health and the community. Having a say about the future of the city’s planning may have an impact on facilities, and amenities for generations to come. If like me you enjoy the market’s variety of colourful goods and foodstuffs, together with it’s bustling atmosphere, you might be keen to ensure it retains as much of it’s current character as possible. Do Leeds residents need another on trend, more pricey shopping ‘experience’? Many traders have already been priced out of renting stalls, thus depriving shoppers of the variety of goods on which Kirkgate Market built its reputation.

At present Leeds Kirkgate Market, which dates from the mid 19th century, provides an inclusive shopping facility for all Leeds residents and visitors, regardless of their income.  For thousands of years, and world wide, simple lean to trestle boards, covered by awnings, have served as shops. I find an empty market place atmospheric, either at early morning when traders are laying out their wares, or alternatively at dusk when it’s stalls appear forlorn once traders have deserted them. Sometimes I only browse when I visit the market, pausing awhile for a  snack and cuppa. The crepe suzette in the pic was delicious, as was the glass of orange, celery and carrot juice.

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Among the questions Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market would like you to have your say about are,

“Will these new plans safeguard the Council’s equality duty to the poor and vulnerable, the elderly, the disabled and ethnic minorities?

What do you think about the plans to link the Market to Victoria Gate with a grand entrance on George Street?

Will the butchers and fishmongers be able to occupy the same part of the market?

How do you feel about the 1976 hall being given over to day traders?

Will the outside market survive?”

Whereas an appropriate level of free street entertainment by some wandering minstrel, town cryers or poet,  might be in keeping with market places of old. What do you think about “the Council’s intention to run a constant rolling programme of entertainments? Can you really combine show business with shopping”?

The council will soon be finalizing decisions about what changes will be implemented, if you feel able to support the Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market campaign, you can follow their blog, where you will find the necessary details to voice your opinion.

Sue

Love Arts – The Big Conversation

Love Arts Conversation

Love Arts Conversation

The Love Arts Festival is nearly upon us again.  The festival launches on 15th October, so be prepared for exhibitions, poetry, plays and more special events, all with a mental health, creativity and arts theme.

There’s something new this year: the Love Arts Conversation is a festival-flavoured conference which will take place on 21st & 22nd October 2014 in Leeds City Centre. Continue reading

Survivor Poets on Songs of Praise

For the next three days you can see members of Leeds Survivors Poetry featuring in last Sunday’s Songs of Praise.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b04g4q44/songs-of-praise-carnival-and-culture

In its 20 year history Leeds Survivor Poets haven’t made TV very often. There was the Poetry World Cup in 1998 which merited a mention on Calendar. (We were runners up and got the Poetry Saucer, after I couldn’t find a rhyme for ‘orange’ in a poetry shoot out). But last Sunday we got a whole 3 minutes on Beeb 1 as they had a special programme from Leeds. They featured various Leeds religious folk and the things they get up, including Leeds Carnival, hip-hop, photography, and they followed the lovely Sue Matthews, one of LSP’s regular members, as she came to one of our workshops at the Civic Hall.

SP_A0117

Here’s Sue at a previous workshop, and (below) at one of the group’s readings in Kirkgate Market a couple of years ago.

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LSP continues to meet every first and third Friday evening at the Civic Hall, 5.45 to 7.45, next meeting on Friday 5th September.

Our bit of the Songs of Praise programme comes after 24 mins 30 seconds.

 

The Reality of Small Differences

Hope you make time to see the Reality of Small Differences  exhibition, of which Gill Crawshaw is a champion! follow on Twitter @Championwonder. Gill comments that the

 

“exhibition is also part of the current Arts Trail in Chapel Allerton (until Sunday 31st August) and is an exhibition of textile art by disabled artists (including people with mental health problems)”,

 

it is currently on display at

Inkwell and Union 105.

Gill adds

“This exhibition came about as a response to the fact that Grayson Perry’s popular tapestry series* is being shown in Leeds in a venue that’s inaccessible to many disabled people.”

 

You can see the Reality of Small Differences exhibition between

10-4 Tuesday – Saturday until Saturday 4th Oct. at Inkwell
and at

East Streets Arts: Union 105 (105 Chapeltown Road LS7 3HY) where it is open

Tuesday 26th – Thursday 28th Aug 12-6pm,

then by appointment the following week until Weds 3rd Sept.

* the Grayson Perry exhibition is currently here in Leeds until the 7th December. Five of Grayson’s six tapestries on display are only accessible by stair or stair climber but here are Temple Newsam’s details about accessibility.

 

 

Spirituality and Nature

Clarence House

Clarence House

A few weeks ago I attended a spiritual drumming class in the glade round the back of Clarence House. The class was very enjoyable and the setting led me to think about spirituality and nature.

“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” – Buddha.

It is said the first Zen sermon was given by Buddha, silently. As he simply held a white flower in his hand, the onlooking monks bar one were confused at what Buddha was trying to communicate.  The monk who understood smiled. Zen gardens are intended to imitate the inner essence of nature, an aid to meditation on the meaning of life. Japanese researchers claim the subconscious mind is sensitive to a subtle association of between the rocks in these gardens.
Many cultures have ‘sacred groves.’  In Genesis, 21.33, it says,’Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there the name of God.’  In druidry, sacred groves are seen as places to reconnect with divine essence in nature. This is an example of animism, the belief that non-human entities like animals, plants, stones etc. contain a spiritual essence. In India, sacred groves are also used to protect biological resources, to provide sanctuaries for flora and fauna, especially medicinal herbs.  They are also used to provide oxygen and deep ground water reserves.

Clarence House

Clarence House

 

Sources and bodies of water are also considered sacred in many religions.  In the Hindu festivals Durga Puja and Ganseh Chaturthi, thousands of devotees immerse themselves in water to influence a deity.  Baptism is far from being just a Christian practice.  It is also practiced in Buddhism, Sikhism, Judaism, Islam, Baha’i, Shinto, Taoism and Rastafarianism.  Being in harmony with nature is central to Rastafarianism.  This is an African influence.  Traditionally, African religions embrace the ebb and tide, waxing and waning of the moon, rain and drought.  These phenomenas are seen as natural rhythms.  Perhaps these rhythms are expressed in African drumming, which can uplift the ‘spirit.’

Sufi poet Rumi often referred to nature – “raise your words, not voice.  It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”  Of God, Rumi wrote, “a mountain keeps an echo deep inside.  That’s how I hold your voice.”  To man, he said, “but listen to me.  For one moment quit being sad.  Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you.”

Along with its gardens, poetry in Zen also reveres nature with its haikus, very short poems that capture a moment.  Zen paintings literally makes human beings look very small compared to nature.  This is sometimes seen as ‘nature mysticism,’ when man is held in awe by the divinity he sees in nature.

One famous Zen master by the name of Dogon Zenji said, “when we pick up a lettuce leaf or a carrot, or engage in relationships, each moment and interaction is the body of the Buddha.”  Perhaps this can be compared to one of Christ’s sayings in the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, “cleave the wood, I am there; lift up the stone, and you shall find me there.”

By Daniel Tavet

Spiritual drumming

Rhythm section

Rhythm section

A nature and beer adventure led our trio on an unexpected, spiritual journey to sound health.

Our jaunt’s initial goal, on this hot summer morning, appeared straightforward enough…. to re-discover Houghley Gyll, LS13. A few false starts later, from our point of departure on Bramley’s main drag, we stumbled across the green snicket that is the Gyll. We sat there a while allowing the stillness and cool of its shady trees to replenish us. Feeling refreshed we mosied down via Amen Corner to Kirkstall. It is said that Amen Corner got it’s name from medieval times, it being the last point across the half-mile distance from Kirkstall Abbey, when the communal affirmations of the monks was still audible. Nowadays you’d do well to utter a silent prayer as you walk over it since there is only one very narrow footpath on the cramped u bend road bridge, the canal is a sheer drop from the bridge’s low rise stone wall.

We took heed of a Whyther Lane billboard’s admonition to ‘go fun yourself’, and went to a nearby riverside inn. On inquiring what snacks were available, we were informed there had been a rush on the smoked duck, and fancy cheeses. Plain sort of folk by nature we  content ourselves with much simpler fayre as accomapaniment to our pints, a bag of roast peanuts. We had the pub garden completely to ourselves, the river’s slow hypnotic eddy lulled us.

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An occasional train scuttled passed but did not drown out our discussions, which included whether or not psychiatric diagnosis was useful in the overall wellbeing of those so labelled.

Hollybush farm’s gable end was just visible above the shrubs. It triggered the story of it’s heyday as a rhubarb farm, when at early dawn it’s produce was bundled aboard a cargo train, which stopped nearby at the former station. The rhubarb, a highly valued  ‘fruit’, was destined for the Ritz Hotel, in London. Toffs seemingly liked their crumble, possibly after pheasant or smoked duck!

About to depart our separate ways, one among us, bound for a spirituality group drumming circle, invited we two ‘lost souls’ of LS13 to join them. People with mental and emotional sensitivities often find making spontaneous decisions hard, and also doing several activities in one day, taxing. This was true for all present, but on this occasion, bonhomie, the sun’s warmth, and possibly the effect of the beer led to the invite being enthusiastically pounced upon.

Arriving at the venue, Leeds MIND’s, Clarence House, we were ushered into it’s temple like glade or copse.

Since the centre’s inception many wishes for peace of mind have been uttered here, and these seem to linger, permeating it’s atmosphere of contemplation.

We joined a friendly group of around half a dozen other people. The facilitator, Marion, told us how she had came to drumming as a hobby more by coincidence than design. Marion also explained the origins and materials of the impressively tall ‘ethnic’ drums. In addition other percussion instruments were available for us to choose. To heighten the already existing spiritual intent and atmosphere, candles were lit, and incense passed so that we could smell which blend might best suit our mood. We chose Nag Champya, this was also lit. One regular member of the group explained Nag in India means snake. It’s easy to see why it has this name, because as the stick smoulders, its thin shaft of smoke slithers, then hangs heavily, motionless before ascending slowly toward the leaf dappled sky above in moksha. Nag Champya is a mix of sandalwood and frangipani, and has a chypre/sweet perfume which emits an overwhelmingly heady scent. It is often used in ashrams.to promote an out of body experience which enables those present to  be transported away from their material concerns.

Among the rhythms we played were Sufi and Ghanaian, we weren’t sure if the Sufi rhythms were what accompany the whirling dervish dances, but they were infectious. Since the rhythms were complex Marion broke the patterns into smaller  sections, as we mastered one we gradually progressed enough to also improvise, playing by ear and feeling. We were also encouraged to “give it some welly”,…. very therapeutic for pent up emotions. On this occasion the drumming rhythms helped to breakdown inhibitions. Drumming to invoke spiritual states of mind has a long history.

Despite  the enjoyment of the whole day, poignancy mingled with the spiritual awareness of some present, who found themselves remembering  former MIND members who had previously shared this space, even helping to plan the garden and pond, and who have since prematurely left ‘this mortal coil’. Thoughts especially of the Michael, the drummer of the former music group Sound Health.

The Leeds Mind, Sprituality group is part of the Wellbeing Service at Clarence House and is open to members of MIND. The group is held every Monday between 2-3.p.m. If you are interested, contact details can be found here

Daniel Tavet, and Sue Margaret