pathway of surprise and play

picture source

David posted this J.P. Carse quote in the comments to the Practice of Play:
Surprise causes finite play to end;
it is the reason for infinite play to continue.

To be prepared against surprise is to be trained.
To be prepared for surprise is to be educated.

thanks a ton for those quotes, they've inspired me to alter a practice of mine. i frequently notice when i get "knocked off track"... when i'm in the flow and then all of a sudden i am not connected anymore. usually i ponder the shift, the cause for the shift, the disruption that has occured in me, the emotion that i may now be stuck on, etc.

my new practice is that i am now first noting that i am surprised... and then i reflect on how the infinite play can continue from this moment of surprise. that which follows still looks the same in my practice (same questions, similar avenues explored)... but instead of walking into the reflection with the taste of disruption on my toungue, i now walk in with the wonder of surprise in my spirit.

thank you for this gift, david.

ashley i just love this!
you can do what you do seriously, bcause you must do it, because you must survive to the end, and you are afraid of dying and other consequences. or, you can do everthing you do playfully, always knowing you have a choice, having no need to survive the way you are,allowing every element of the play to transform you, taking pleasure in every surprise you meet.


posted by ashley


Learning from others

I love it when friends direct me to articles that they know will fill my soul! Eric and Cynthia both sent me links to this article in The Guradian. The article is about Daniel Tammet who is an autistic savant. Tammet is unique because "unlike other savants, who can perform similar feats, Tammet can describe how he does it. He speaks seven languages and is even devising his own language."

Here are some sections that spoke to me:
Tammet is calculating 377 multiplied by 795. Actually, he isn't "calculating": there is nothing conscious about what he is doing. He arrives at the answer instantly. Since his epileptic fit, he has been able to see numbers as shapes, colours and textures. The number two, for instance, is a motion, and five is a clap of thunder. "When I multiply numbers together, I see two shapes. The image starts to change and evolve, and a third shape emerges. That's the answer. It's mental imagery. It's like maths without having to think."...

To him, pi isn't an abstract set of digits; it's a visual story, a film projected in front of his eyes. He learnt the number forwards and backwards and, last year, spent five hours recalling it in front of an adjudicator. He wanted to prove a point. "I memorised pi to 22,514 decimal places, and I am technically disabled. I just wanted to show people that disability needn't get in the way."...

Trips to the supermarket are always a chore. "There's too much mental stimulus. I have to look at every shape and texture. Every price, and every arrangement of fruit and vegetables. So instead of thinking,'What cheese do I want this week?', I'm just really uncomfortable."...

"I remember seeing a ladybird for the first time," he says. "I loved it so much, I went round searching every hedge and every leaf for more. I collected hundreds, and took them to show the teacher. He was amazed, and asked me to get on with some assignment. While I was busy he instructed a classmate to take the tub outside and let the ladybirds go. I was so upset that I cried when I found out. He didn't understand my world."...

I really feel that there is an emotional attachment, a caring for numbers. I think this is a human thing - in the same way that a poet humanises a river or a tree through metaphor, my world gives me a sense of numbers as personal. It sounds silly, but numbers are my friends."...

I just wanted to show people that disability needn't get in the way.
Oh, can't you relate to some of this... I know in my life, too much stimulus definitely makes me feel uncomfortable. And how refreshing that he knows this to be the case for himself. That he is aware of his limits and sets boundaries around what he is and is not capable of doing.

I can also relate to the trauma of another not understanding my world. How often have you yearned for another to just "get it"? Wanting someone to feel, understand, and respond compassionately to that which is occuring inside of you? And what does it feel like for you when this need, this desire goes unfullfilled? How do you find comfort?

And his emotional attachment and caring for numbers. What non tangible objects or concepts ignite your passion, stir your wonder and curiosity, fill you with a pouring of love and appreciation? What are you emotionally attached to?

(If you're interested in reading more, there's an article in the New York Times.)

I loved theses quotes from the NYTimes article where Daniel speaks of his connection to numbers.
The number 1 he's drawn to for its brightness. "Two is kind of like a movement, right to left, kind of like a drifting," he says. Five is a clap of thunder or the sound of a wave hitting a rock. Six "is actually the number I find hardest to experience," he says. "It's like a hole, or a chasm. Number 9 is the biggest number. It's very tall." He seems frightened for an instant. "It can be intimidating."


posted by ashley


"happy mornings"

its presidents day and i am off on a trail ride with my husband. as i awake my first job was to get the children to school. i was very excited as the weather was wonderful. i got the children up and dressed and made them breakfast. jared was sitting quiet and calm and i said to him "jared, you are very relaxed this morning" and his reply was " well mom, you are letting me have a happy morning" my heart SANK, as i realised that because i was happy and relaxed,jared was able to be the same, other mornings when im flying around the house stressed to the max, projects onto him and shapes the way he feels. i said to him that from now on i was going to make a conscious effort to stay relaxed and happy so that he and zoe can start their day relaxed and happy too. i was sooo glad he told me this as so far i have kept my word and to my surprise i have a much better day. my concerns that i had on being able to communicate to my children and them to me are fading each time incidents like this happen and jared was also self aware of what was causing his change in his mornings (COOL!) thank you sweet jared for another wonderful lesson learnt!.


Welcome to the time honoured art of holding space.

Gravatarthanks chris, i'm floating right now!!!

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posted by maria


Practice of Play

at integral naked there's a discussion on Play as Practice. below are some of my thoughts on the subject... of course, i'd love to hear yours!

let's play! let's get down in the mud, roll around, get ourselves dirty, and pee in our pants just the tiniest bit from laughing so hard!

let us celebrate this opportunity to share our ideas and stories and opinions and beliefs. let us laugh outloud as we read and write, a smile curling about our lips, the face of confusion or contemplation taking our features for hostages... transforming our bodies into clear expressions of that which is moving through. fully engaged, let us be seduced by the flavors and sounds and textures and magic catching our attention. let us follow our sensations sharing the ground of discovery with our open eyes and curious minds, diving into the deliciousness of Being. oh, yes, let us play.

play is vital. rather than it being something partitioned off as separate from "normal" life, let's imagine it as a basis of one's mode of operation. DavidD quotes J.P. Carse:
When we are playful with each other we relate as free persons.
relating in the world as a free person touches a fundamental core of our essence. once tickled at the core, this quality of relating has potential to permeate our thoughts, emotions and actions.

for me, play is the heart of doing. for example, moving through the motions of making cereal for breakfast can be a task to be completed or one can play while making the cereal, engaging in the delight of the present moment -- hearing the Fruity Pebbles fall into the bowl, watching the milk pour, feeling that suction as the refrigerator pulls the door close upon being shut, noticing the cereal swishing around as it's carried to the table. on the surface it all looks the same, and yet the flow of the experience is free and playful, a simple act has become fun. play is the heart that brings action to Life.
It is, in fact, seriousness that closes itself to consequence, for seriousness is a dread of the unpredictable outcome of open possibility. To be serious is to press for a specified conclusion. To be playful is to allow for possibility whatever the cost to oneself. ~J.P. Carse
i really appreciate this line. i wonder, how do you define seriousness? to embrace the Practice of Play, it seems important to recognize when we are not at play, to recognize when seriousness is stealing the show and collapsing possibilities.

as always, it's a treat to play with you in this world of words and thoughts!


Oh wonderful play! whom better to re-educate ourselves is from our own children. just the yesterday ashley, myslef,jared and zoe did just what you said and laughed soooo hard that our tummy's hurt. the situation arose when i was sitting on floor with zoe coloring,and she accidently marked my arm with the marker. she apologized and on impulse i put a dot on her nose and she giggled. the incident caught jared's attention, he sat by us and drew on his nose. oh my! then the fun began we all started to color our faces with all different colors,red,green,black, brown and yellow, looking at each other just sent us roaring with laugthter. my husband turned to see what all the laughter was about and just shook his head and told us that we were silly, but i just didnt care as that feeling of laughing sooo much was sooo worth it. i had not laughed like that in a while! then we all got up and looked in the mirror and just fell about the place in fits of laughter. let our kids take us on these wonderful experiences. let them take you by the hand and allow them to show you the countless possibilties of play!
thank you zoe and jared for reminding me how to play! love mom!

Gravatar(big smile)

when do we get to see the picture?


Gravatarin my excitmnet of the moment i forgot! (bummer) but i will remember next time. oh and i forgot to add that they were washable markers (ha)

GravatarMmm, I'm so glad I stopped by at this happy place for a few minutes this weekend! Here's some more from the playful genius who is J. P. Carse (I know you like these Ashley):

Surprise causes finite play to end;
it is the reason for infinite play to continue.

To be prepared against surprise is to be trained.
To be prepared for surprise is to be educated.


Gravatari'm so glad you stopped by also, david.

thanks a ton for those quotes, they've inspired me to alter a practice of mine. i frequently notice when i get "knocked off track"... when i'm in the flow and then all of a sudden i am not connected anymore. usually i ponder the shift, the cause for the shift, the disruption that has occured in me, the emotion that i may now be stuck on, etc.

my new practice is that i am now first noting that i am surprised... and then i reflect on
how the infinite play can continue from this moment of surprise. that which follows still looks the same in my practice (same questions,
same avenues explored)... but instead of walking into the reflection with the taste of disruption on my toungue, i now walk in with the wonder of surprise in my spirit.
thank you for this gift, david....

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posted by ashley



i collect prayers.

it first came as quite a surprise to me to feel a rising attraction to prayers and blessings again. i liked prayers in my childhood but lost contact when i became cool. even until several moons ago the thought of prayers had an embarrassing quality to it - or lets say, it made me feel immature.

the arrival and birth of my son brought many changes, inner and outer. and many questions rose to the surface. one of those questions was how to experience god, the one, the source, together with my son. and that gently set my inner prayer wheel in motion again.

then i saw rabbi zalman schachter-shalomi in a short clip say a little prayer, and this changed my perception of praying once more. it was a short petitionary prayer for malka, a young, sick girl, simply spoken with an open heart. the power of this simple prayer eased the way through my barriers and touched my heart. it made me feel quite sad, really, to realize that i neglected something as accessible and beautiful as the power of praying for so long. but this small, simple prayer also let me experience god in the most immediate of ways and sparked a new interest and longing in the art of praying. genuine prayer always involves a personal dimension, along with the intention to go beyond one's separate self and towards the divine. prayers are thresholds to the ever-present source.

as you know by now i collect prayers and blessings. so, if you have a favorite prayer, one which is close to your heart, one which gives you comfort and lets you connect to the ever-present, please feel free to share!

here is one of my favorites, conceived by an australian cartoonist, poet and writer called michael leunig.

We give thanks for our friends.
We anger each other.
We fail each other.
We share this sad earth, this tender life, this precious time.
Such richness. Such wildness.
Together we are blown about.
Together we are dragged along.
All this delight.
All this suffering.
All this forgiving life.
We hold it together.

WELCOME kojan... what a treat to have you posting here. it is truely a dream come true to have you and maria and patti sharing your hearts and souls here at easily amazed. THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

This line touched me beautifully:
"how to experience god, the one, the source, together with my son."

it is in the word together that i melt every time i read that line. how to experience god together with another... and how to tailor that experience to who the other is... recognizing the differences and the similarities in experiencing with a small child and a grown adult. i'd love to hear more of what you've discovered in this quest and adventure with your son.

and then the image of your inner prayer wheel being gently set in motion... my grinning is as far as i can go in commenting my feeling!

i too was profoundly effected by the prayer for malka clip. for me, however, it was when the rabbi asked to speak to the god in ken... explaining that sometimes it's easier to connect to the god inside of another, that really struck me. he looked into ken's eyes and then spoke the simple prayer. it was such a reminder and invitation for me to speak to the god inside of others.

as for favorite prayers. one i say every night (except for the nights i forget) that i particularly enjoy is:

thank you for the gift of breath,
for another day of loving.

my heart lies open
in your divine embrace.


i too would love to hear some other favorite prayers... from any and every or no tradition.

Gravatarthank you, ashley,
for your light and for your open heart. and thanks for sharing your night prayer, it's lovely (and finn will like it...)

Gravatarwhat a lovely thing to collect!

one of my favorite prayers lately is the traditional Jewish morning prayer, but i am finding that it is just right for any time i remember to pray, plus the melodies that go along with it are all beautiful:

Modah (women say "modah" men say "modeh") ani l'fanechah,
melech chai v'kayam
shehechezarta bi nishmati b'chemlah,
raba emunatechah
(loose translation:
I am so thankful to be in Your Presence
Source of life and eternity
You mercifully restored my soul to me
great is Your faith (in me)

Gravatarthanks a lot, christy, another beautiful gem to keep the prayer wheel turning!

Gravatarkojan, one of my favorite prayers is:
I will arise
and lift my eyes
to see your holyness,
my hope is in your name Lord
my trust is in your name Lord
you are faithfull.
i too thank you for your wonderful post, im with ashley when you speak of including your son in your relationship with God! what a blessing you are!
thank you again,Maria

GravatarMaria, your so kind, thank you!

May God grant you always...

A sunbeam to warm you,

A moonbeam to charm you,

A sheltering angel, so nothing can harm you.

GravatarOh Kojan, how sweet of you!
you lifted up my day!
God bless you,maria

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posted by kojan


Patterns Shaping Time

Everybody has a passion. For each individual there is at least some activity that once involved in it, time seems to stop. You enter into the flow and an unspeakable sense of order fills your being -- as Thomas Arthur says about juggling, "It feels like coming home." This past month I shape shifted into a roadie, creative consultant, videographer, and spokeswoman for the child's perspective, touring through British Columbia with Thomas as he performed for elementary and high school students across the province. Encouragement to listen to and follow your patterns, discovering your passions, was among the many treasures glowing in his performance, Patterns Shaping Time: Poetry in Motion.

Thomas entertains and interacts with his audience as a juggler, storyteller, dancer, comedian, science teacher, math teacher, music teacher, illusion aficionado that generously reveals his secrets, and an inspirational role model. One principal noted, "Of all the talented performers that we've had come through this school, I've never seen anyone touch every single student as you just did." As an observer amongst the audience, I can attest to the truth in this statement. At the height of the tour, Thomas was reaching out to 1000 children a day for 5 days straight and on some level, each child was affected by his presence. Whether it was through his captivating and awe inspiring juggling and movement, the mystique of the illusions he shared, the opportunity to be on stage and experience rhythm, balance, and juggling, the chance to ask questions and express curiosity, or both the silent and expressed invitations to physically and vocally participate in the show, it appeared that every child was in some moment personally invested and involved in the show. Watching the performance becomes a visceral experience of feeling the sounds, rhythms, and patterns move through space and through one's own body. Excitement and desire to join and participate (both in one's seat and on stage) uncontrollably bubbles up in moments of awe, amazement, and inspiration.

Most impressive to me was the various modes of expression that Thomas uses to communicate. The instrument of his human body is optimized to the fullest capacity, illustrating the fluidity of motion and the order of rhythm through his movements, accentuating emotional charges with brightly animated facial expressions, and giving voice and shape to motion and movement through lyrical sounds. On many occasions, Thomas was accompanied by a sign language interpreter. It was fascinating to watch as they seemed to sign not only his words, but his motions and the emotional connotations embedded in his actions. Throughout the performance, Thomas is accompanied with objects such as wooden spiral roots and a metal garden spiral that come to life when spun by his presence. During these parts of the show, the interpreters would sign the motions and movements of the objects. In the habit of expressing that which is being communicated, it appeared that the signers felt compelled to translate a means of expression that was quite perceivable to a hearing impaired child. This was a beautiful example of the prominence of nonverbal forms of communication in Thomas’ show. By communicating in so many different ways, Thomas symbolically spoke many different languages, following threads that touch the audience's mind, body, heart, and soul.

It was an honor to be a part of and witness to this beautiful show, watching as it rippled through the audience seeping out into the world!


ahhhh, thank you for those lovely words, ashley. what a delight to be seen so fully. your insights and ideas about the show and how to connect with my young audience made the performance so much better. your deep empathy for children and your understanding of what will keep them fully engaged and open to learning is inspiring. i honor the gifts you freely give. thank you, thank you.

chk, chk,
all my love,

Oh ashley, how i envy the opportunity you have had, to be able to sit and watch thomas perform for all those precious children. i felt the exictment and amazement of the show through your wonderful words! like i was actually sitting next to you feeling the electricity in the atomsphere. how i marvel at what thomas does for kids and adults too, how fulfilling his life must be!
thank you!
with love,maria


posted by ashley
May the blessing of light be upon you
Light on the outside and light on the inside.

With God's sunlight shining on you, may
your heart glow with warmth like a turf fire
that welcomes friends and strangers alike.

~Jan Koch
posted by ashley

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