June - dharma arts round-up


...yes, you! Here’s a few Dharma/Art things that I’ve been enjoying this month

Do leave a comment and let me know what gems you’ve found recently. Or join the red ladder studio facebook community and share them there.

Ted talks

Why didn’t someone tell me about Emily Levine before? Funny and smart. Here she is reflecting on life and preparing for death, by attempting to ‘make friends with reality’, it had me laughing and crying –
The only advice I can give you is to do what I did: make friends with reality. You couldn't have a worse relationship with reality than I did. From the get-go, I wasn't even attracted to reality. If they'd had Tinder when I met reality, I would have swiped left and the whole thing would have been over.
And reality and I….we don't share the same values, the same goals. 
To be honest, I don't have goals; I have fantasies. They're exactly like goals but without the hard work.


Every Instagram photo from my friend Ian Tromp (aka Manjusura) is a treat. Usually he's somewhere in the British landscape but recently been finding extraordinary amounts of beauty in the Portuguese sea and sky. 


I asked him if his photography felt like a Dharma practice: 

I am interested in the momentary – the very small slices of time in which the world appears one way, just before it changes form once again. This is touched by the poignancy of all things forever passing before our eyes, irretrievable. Each of my photographs here catches a particular instant, and each changed again and became something different the moment after I took the picture. And so I believe any image, any moment, can be an entryway to reflection on life and meaning.
It's possible to buy his prints for a very reasonable price OR to have them on your Instagram feed, most days, for nothing at all! Follow him on Instagram
I've been inspired watching him become better and better at capturing these moments (no he didn’t wake up one day as a brilliant photographer!) if you want some tricks and tips there’s a great article How to take honest, high quality photos with your iPhone.

Overall it encourages you to think of your phone more as a camera, and to take time with each picture. 


I couldn’t resist this book for its title The Neurotics Guide to Avoiding Enlightenment - How the Left Brain Plays Unending Games of Self-improvement. You can guess that the author, Chris Niebauer, is a playful guy, he’s also a specialist in cognitive neuropsychology. 
The basic premise of the book is that not only does effort into self-improvement not work, worse, it usually backfires. 
I’m only a few chapters into the book, so can only recommend those chapters, and say that they’ve really got me thinking. What if this whole culture of self-help that we live in is actually creating the problems we seek to cure? Problems that didn’t seem to exist before the era of self-help.
He also has a theory that he calls the law of invincible opposition, he sees the universe as being relentless in its opposing nature and the mind as the best example of this. 
He says, for example: Anxiety is the thought of not wanting to be anxious without the recognition it also is simply a thought. Not wanting to be anxious is what fuels the anxiety and this reveals one of the most interesting paradoxes of the thought process. 

Next time you are angry try not to be angry and see how that turns out! 
As well as drawing on a study of neuropsychology, he also says he learns a lot from his kids. His daughter tells him that, ‘’All scary things are pretend.’ She seems to be onto something, nothing is really scary or a problem if you are in the now, rather than the fictions of the past and the future. 


There are some hidden gems on Netflix. We came across this one, My Happy Family, about a fiftysomething Georgian teacher who suddenly decides to leave her family filled apartment for a life of solitude (the only trailer I could find has French subtitles, but you’ll get the idea) Click the pic. 

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Wishing you all a beautiful midsummer, 
and all good things, Rachel aka Vajradarshini