Monday, February 9, 2009

Words that Describe…

22 words for snow

It is another Beautiful sunny winter day where I live, in the country just north of Toronto. Here at Mysthaven the snow stays clean and white all winter long. Every day at some point I go for a ski or I snow shoe, and each day, I think to myself, “I wish I had 22 words for snow!” Why? Because the slightest change in temperature and humidity levels produces such a change in conditions. From one day to the next the experience is so different, and even from one moment to the next the consistency of the snow can change a lot. I’ll be gliding merrily along, when all of a sudden I hit a slushy area, and my skis start to pick up heavy clumps of sticky snow and there’s no slip-sliding away happening!

Self Knowledge and awareness
Why do I find this worth noting? Because I think that as you gain more experience with anything, you develop the ability to make better distinctions. But the converse is also true: if I knew more words that described specific conditions, I could better learn to differentiate one from another. So not only does more precise language become more needful as you gain more experience and knowledge of something. But also having more words gives you the ability to think better, to learn faster from your experiences. With a greater repertoire of words, we can describe more clearly to others our experience. More importantly, we can better describe our experience to our Self, and thus gain greater self-knowledge and awareness.

Making better distinctions with more experience
The Inuit people have more words for snow because they have more experience with it and can make better distinctions. The past few winters we have been blessed with large volumes of snow, which last for months. This means I go outside every day to do a vigorous activity in snow, so my own desire for a greater repertoire of words to describe the experience has grown.

Self Awareness: your emotions and underlying beliefs which create them

Another arena where I am developing greater awareness and experience is the area of my emotions. Working as a therapist for 29 years, and studying several modalities of body-mind psychotherapy, I have always been fascinated with how our beliefs create our reality. How does our physical affect our emotional; how does addressing personal development in any arena – body, emotions, mental or spiritual – impact all the others?

From power struggle to spiritual growth
In relationships with other people one has the greatest opportunity to learn about oneself. I think marriage, for me, is by far the most challenging and rewarding “personal growth workshop” I have ever participated in! Once you get past the excitement of the infatuation ‘high’ at the beginning, marriage enters the ‘power struggle’ phase. The vast majority of marriages stay in that phase till the end, according to Dr. Harville Hendrix. But the opportunity exists, if you are willing to face your childhood wounds, to have your power struggles with your partner be the mirror that helps you to grow past your issues. We have recently renewed our commitment to spending time, money and effort in this personal growth process, by doing relationship coaching and taking intensive personal growth workshops together. We are learning new words… words to describe our internal experience, words that help us See each other more deeply than ever before. We are being more authentic with our selves and each other. It is so exciting!

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