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Monthly Archives: May 2020

A Walk to Contemplate

I wonder what strategies our community and the broader global community are embracing, to assist in managing their well-being these days.

We all know that the time we are living in is temporary, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. However, we are not accustomed to Government Restrictions in Australia, even though we know they are the best strategy for us.

Much of the reading and information flowing my way is that people seem to have settled into a rhythm; after a period of shock, anger, rebellion, confusion and acceptance.

For me, I am certainly aware that today is my two month celebration of going into isolation on 22nd March. I have traveled through a range of emotions, including a fear of going out that brought back strong memories of when I had agoraphobia.

Fortunately, I have had great support from family and friends, through social media, Zoom get-togethers and Facetime calls. Loving technology today.

With restrictions lifting and being able to have some short periods of time with family we can see the glimmer of light shining through darkness.

I am contemplating on how this has been for our mental health. With external activities such as reading, watching plenty of YouTube, SBS on Demand and the fabulous programs from arts companies I have managed the surface layers of my need to interact.

I am half-way through an online study course that has encouraged learning self-awareness, as a base to Leadership Development. Within this I started revisiting past writing and study that has assisted me with reflection, introspection and contemplation.

The quiet thinking of contemplation can be stimulated by meditative, repetitive actions.

Walking a Labyrinth assists to relieve stress, helps calm the mind and settle anxiety.

The practice of slowing walking a Labyrinth into the center, then returning to the outside, concentrating on each step and following the guided pathway; allows the mind to slow down, to slowly contemplate each movement of both physical and mental activity.

A labyrinth walk is a journey in a secure, guided environment; it is a personal journey with individual experiences.

Labyrinths are one of the ancient symbols of humankind, found on rock carvings, petroglyphs and ancient inscriptions. Still relevant today, take some time to walk a Labyrinth, the slow journey of the unicursal single pathway continues to function for the act of contemplation.

The attached are images of the construction and central painting of the Labyrinth at the Warrandyte Uniting Church.

The Labyrinth was Blessed and opened to the Community to use at their pleasure in April 2015.

The Labyrinth is continually accessible, and waiting for all to take a walk

Thank you Ken Keam for photography of Denise in action.

Other Photos by Denise

An Introduction to the Warrandyte Uniting Church Labyrinth.

Labyrinths are pathways to walk. Labyrinths are not like mazes or puzzles in that they have a clear path with movement inwards and outwards from the centre. To walk the labyrinth is to engage in a meditative, healthy practice that can link you to what is valuable and sacred in community with others. For, even if you walk the labyrinth alone, you are engaging with others who have walked it before and engaged in a communal practice.

This labyrinth built by local volunteers is set in a community interactive space. The centre of the labyrinth is painted and designed by artist Denise Keele-Bedford to portray an image of peace; re-imagining the central image from the nearby mosaic peace wall and using indigenous colours.

There are many ways to walk a labyrinth. Some choose to take their concerns with them while they walk, whilst others choose to leave them behind. Some wear shoes, some walk barefoot. A suggestion as you walk this Peace labyrinth is to pause as you begin, and choose an option which could be:

  • a question on your mind and heart
  • a hope for your community, the world
  • contemplate the beauty of this place
  • a desire for peace and wellbeing

Then, slow down enter, and walk into the centre of the labyrinth and out again, open to what might come, as you perhaps find some meaning and peace.

Walk in the Park

As I enter the eighth week of required isolation and have again taken a glorious walk in my Warrandyte Bush, I am reminded of a Walking Challenge that I undertook last December when life was hectic and squeezing in even ten minutes of walking time was a challenge.

Last December I decided to commit to a Five day Walking Challenge under the following criteria:

For five days, we challenge you to walk for at least ten minutes a day and to document the process of walking aimlessly – with no purpose in mind – for five days in total. This ‘walking’ challenge is not about exercising, or losing weight, but is about walking for the sake of walking – for thinking things through, for boosting creativity, for fresh air, and to observe the world around you. Walking has been a popular pastime for philosophers, writers, painters, and poets for centuries – and has been used for idea generation and stress relief.

In this challenge we ask you to keep a diary of your ‘walking’ habit for five days, including such aspects as the difficulty of finding time in a short day, the different paths you take, and how walking alters your week.

Below is the Diary that I kept at the time and so interesting to read it now that I have mentally many more hours in my day. A quick walk during isolation is a twenty minute loop, basically around the block, a standard walk is thirty-five to forty minutes and a Saturday or Sunday walk up to one and a half hours. The attached images are a mixture taken from various walks during the past seven weeks.

Wednesday 11th December 2019 18:12 – 18:27

A well- worn pathway for the first time.

In the early evening light of this early Summer season I walked the pathway carved through the bush land more than 40 years ago, when my husband built our house. I have followed the meandering pathway multiple times; however, this is the first day participating in the ‘Walking’ Challenge which offers an opportunity to consider my process of activity.

The breeze is gentle, and the sun is warm, I hear the songbirds then find a Yellow crested cockatoo feather; the ear-piercing screech of this bird call long dispersed since early morning.

My thoughts turn to the history of this area when in the mid 1800’s ordinary men came to search the hills and creeks for gold. My pathway wanders past the undulating man made hollows and mounds where once the sound of digging, scrapping, grunting and occasional cheering echoed along the Yarra River.

I walk the rise and fall of the landscape to catch a glimpse of my studio in the distance. This is my sacred place, where I go for solace, for inspiration, for creativity, for me.

I remind myself to take care of me in a current environment that is focused predominately on a husband recovery from surgery, unable to drive to the many appointments required for his well-being. I remind myself to indulge in the walk, to take note of small findings along the way; an old wombat burrow, cobwebs softly glided across the pathway, the little enclosed area for native orchids, the sound of trickling water as it drops down through the rocky raceway created in past days of gold.

As I end the walk, exit bushy scrub onto my roadway my neighbour, talking with her visitor, nods my way and I am again back in a world of people and expectations.

Thursday 12th December 20:47 – 21:06

A Common Road Journey

It is almost dark as I hurry to don my sneakers and a jacket to get out of the door for this walk. I struggle with the guilt thinking that I should stay and listen to my husband’s stories.

However, I explain that I want to take a walk and he wishes me a good time. There can be a dilemma at times as I do not know if I am required to listen, for these days there is an urgency with most of what he wants to tell me. I am accused of not listening and perhaps at times I do not for often I am told that this very message is very important. It is, in his mind but in reality, it is a simple resolvable issue.

So, I go out the door along the driveway onto the common unmade road, the Kookaburras laugh in the late evening light and I relax. I think about misinterpretations; messages passed between myself and others where I am sure I misinterpret some messages and yet another will misinterpret mine. Text messages, for instance, are so often thought to mean one thing for the message sender and the receiver reads it in a different way.

My dear friend who uses English as a second language explains to me that perhaps her words are not always the best. We forgive and correct each other and continue the friendship knowing that often the written word has a range of interpretations.

I am pleased that I can walk the slope of my common road on this walk, no need to stop and take my breath. As I reach the summit, I decide to extend the walk down the other side to then walk up the slope again. This is good for the heart rate.

Friday 13th December 09:35 – 10:30

Scheduled Weekly Walk

Each week a group of women take the bridge to bridge walk along the winding pathway beside the Yarra River in Warrandyte, on the South side.

I have been walking with this group for many years and look forward to our weekly gathering to take the return loop from main road bridge to Anderson Creek bridge to the reserve and do not forget to circle one of the large rocks placed to prevent cars driving into the reserve.

As we walk, we talk; sometimes it may be two of us or, like today, eight of us. The number vary depending on who is out of town, who is unwell or who has another commitment.

Over the years new women have joined us and some have left us, perhaps moved to another town or sadly passed away.

We are a vibrant group and walk in all seasons, some pace it out, some meander, some rest along the way and wait for the group to walk the return.

The talk is varied on a wide range of subjects, after health and family inquiries, we can branch into travel, books, films, politics, religion, all things local and all things international.

When the walk is completed, Food for all Seasons cafe is our watering hole for good coffee, the occasional edible treat and more chatter with the non-walkers who have arrived.

Next Friday is the last walk for the year, we will not join for coffee at the cafe but meet at the house of one of the group members.  We take a plate of food to share, invite our male companions and celebrate two birthdays that fall on Christmas Day.

Saturday 14th December 16:47 – 17:15

Along the clifftop to the CFA

The table is set, the drinks are cold, vegetables in the oven and guests will arrive at 18:30.

The Festive Season is one of Joy, friends, family, baking, preparing gifts and so on. However, pressure also exists to fit in all of the activities I feel obliged to attend, to entertain family who will leave for Christmas Interstate and to continue the household as is normally undertaken. While I have some spare time to uphold my commitment to the ‘walking’ Challenge I go. Out the back door and up the ascent behind the houses walking the pathway that is crown land high above the river. The surface grass is drying and on hot days the snakes come out to bake in the warmth of the sun, the kangaroos laze in the cool shade of the eucalyptus trees, at this time in the early evening the heat has gone from the day and a subtle breeze drifts up from below. I think of the gifts that will be exchanged this evening and to be grateful for what will be received. The grandchildren will be given small tokens from our recent international journey and vouchers to assist those in need in 3rd world environments. I am not concerned if they are pleased or disappointed for, they are well in abundance of ‘things’ and their birthday is two days after Christmas so they will receive more. I hope that they learn that giving has much more to offer than receiving.

I pass our local Country Fire Authority (CFA) station and think of those who have lost all in the current fires, those who are currently homeless and those who have lost friends and loved ones in the devastation.  I think of the firefighters, their dedication and commitment to the service and how much they give of themselves to serve others.

Sunday 15th December 17:20 – 17:40

A loop in the bush

I realize that my walks for this challenge have occurred in the evening except for the regular walk with my group. Is it the time of year I ask myself, as I generally prefer to walk in the morning?

I am assuming that it is the time of year, this time of Festive Season, that doubles as the ‘silly’ season. We celebrate throughout December and sometimes late November depending on the many interests that one has. Taking care of my husband, recently out of hospital, keeping up with regular demands in life and endeavouring to keep a ‘normal’ flow I notice that it is not. What is normal? It has different meanings for different folk. To enjoy this meander in the bush, crossing the creek, walking a path that I have not walked for a long time I thank the challenge for re introducing what I have achieved this evening. I watch the wild ducks on the river, I listen to the gentle sounds of water falling over and among the exposed rocks, I hear the birds and see more of my local surrounds. It might be that I need to take out the rubbish bin, cover the car that was driven today, fold the washing and return missed telephone calls; yet here I did it. Some walks were short and the writing thoughtful, however, I took up the challenge and completed the course.