Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Hospital's music recitals help to heal listeners

In today's Toronto Star, Megan Olgilvie describes the program at Credit Valley Hospital, Mississauga that helps patients to heal through music. In "Music for the body and soul", Olgilvie writes,
""Music therapist Adrienne Pringle says the hospital knows relaxing music that entertains and uplifts will benefit those who are ill, particularly patients in continuing or palliative care... Pringle points out that music does have universal therapeutic qualities. Familiar tunes can transport people back to a certain time and place, stimulating comforting reminiscences.

It can also reach across cultures and break down language barriers, which is important in a community hospital setting. More than 300 different languages and dialects are spoken at the hospital, and music is accessible and adaptable to anyone, she says."Music feeds the soul," Pringle says. "It lifts the spirit and it reaches beyond medication."

During Cindy Mah's performance of light piano solos, which includes "Moon River" and the theme from the movie Forrest Gump, patients and hospital staff gather in the lobby.

Hospital president Wayne Fyffe stops for a moment to enjoy the music. Fyffe says Credit Valley took the advice of patients who said they wanted to look at things that are alive, that would give them hope for the future. The music adds to that feeling. "This does not look, feel, smell or sound like a hospital," he says, waving his arm at the lobby.""
This approach has been supported and encouraged by Thomas Moore, particularly in his recent public talks about current medical practices and contributors to health.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Public funding of Ontario's faith-based schools?

At Tomorrow"s Trust, John Borst blogs about Catholic education in Canada and he recently responded to developments in Ontario regarding public funding of faith-based schools. For background, he posted his 2002 essay that reviews John Miller's Education and the Soul. Borst asks if the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA)
"...trustees choose the “Secular” option, does it necessarily mean we have to have a public system devoid of any spirituality? John P. (Jack) Miller, in Education and the Soul: Toward a Spiritual Curriculum would say no. Thomas Moore, in his [foreword], defines "soul stuff" as "imagination, heart, [and] creativity," "spirit and vision". Miller attempts to reflect on the emptiness of an education based on materialism and sees "soulness" as a "global awakening" in which people "are awakened to the sense of the sacred and the interconnectedness of life."

Miller calls for an education of the whole person, classrooms full of vitality, a balance between the inner and outer, the rational and intuitive, the qualitative and quantitative and a need to face the "big" questions of life. Clearly, this is a long way from the pragmatic, individualistic, and competitive world of neo-liberal and neo-conservative education practiced in most of Canada today.

The book is divided into two parts: "Exploring Soul" and "Nurturing Soul." The former explores both traditional religious and philosophical conceptions of the soul and the more contemporary views of Moore, Sardello, Hillman, Borysenko, and Wolf, as well as Miller’s own view. The concluding chapter of the first part, "Love and Work," describes love as devalued to a commodified eroticism and work as only what we do rather than what we are. This ought to be profoundly disturbing to all who really care about the type of future citizen we are creating.

In Part Two, Miller provides many examples from his work with teachers in how to help explore a child’s inner life. Activities such as meditation, visualization/guided memory, dreamwork and autobiographical/journal writing are explored in some detail. He places particular emphasis on the arts (painting, music, drama, writing, dance) and what he calls "earth" education where we see and feel the earth as more than just an "environment," but as having all the "reverence and sensuality” of "home."

Miller also rejects the notion of school as factory and the teacher as automaton. No "ISO 2002 school" would ever promote "holistic learning that integrates body, mind, emotions and spirit". As such, it wouldn’t recognize the importance of the non-verbal, pay attention to the aesthetic, tell stories about itself, have celebrations and rituals, be truthful and authentic about itself, and be a place where people can speak without fear. Similarly, Miller calls for "the soulful teacher," one who is contemplative, reflective about their students, their teaching and their self, and is aware of techniques to achieve such inner space.

I suspect Miller’s vision of education would be as controversial for many public school trustees as the outright teaching of religion in public schools. In fact, Miller admits that his ideas have found more receptivity in the Catholic schools of Ontario than they have in their public school counterparts.
In the 18 November 2006 edition of the Toronto Star, columnist Ian Urquhart wrote about the set of principles adopted by the Canadian Jewish Congress (Ontario region) for governing provincial funding of religious schools.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Sympathetic book reviews at spirituality site

Frederic & Mary Ann Brussat, media editors for Spirituality and Health magazine since 1996, host the site Spiritualty & Practice: Resources for Spiritual Journeys. It launched in March, 2006 and offers the Brussats' reviews of Thomas Moore's books with links to individual excerpts.

From The Soul of Sex:
"When we actually meet someone who seems to be a potential lover or mate, we may see them surrounded by fantasy. They glow for us, though they do not for their friends. The lover becomes a double star — one radiant branches out from their real presence, while another shines from an unknown source, intensifying the total effect.

"The soul's loves seem to carry on with a different tempo, with different dynamics, and with different results when compared to the ego or to the lived relationship."

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Making life beautiful amidst today's challenges

In a blog post for Nov.19, "Luther" writes about Thomas Moore's Dark Nights of the Soul. According to Luther, "As I continue to make my way through Dark Nights, it amazes me in its uncanny ability to provide common sense insight to issues that all humans face without actually claiming to solve a problem or provide an answer. What Dark Nights does is help one with a little introspection. It helps provide a person with a perspective they may never have considered regarding their own lives, and thus in turn, a new perspective from which to view the world." Luther weaves insights from Sister Catherine Michaud's 1996 paper, "The Art of Making Life Beautiful" (that mentions Moore's earlier book, Care of the Soul), with his reactions to Dark Nights.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Artists call together those with a shared vision

Bluelab describes itself as "a new organization for activist artists and visionaries of all kinds who want to develop and build works of art toward the arousal of our shared will — the will to survive, to grow, to flourish, and to love." The site says it is "not affiliated with any other organization and is not limited to any religious or philosophical persuasion." Posts reference Suzie Gablik’s The Re-enchantment of Art and include quotes from Thomas Moore’s books. A recent entry includes a passage from Moore's Meditations:
"Spirit is the most creative, inspiring, and meaning-giving element in all of life, and yet it is also the most dangerous. When spirit visits us, it moves us toward action, commitment, ambition, goals, ideals, vision, and altruism. All of these feed the soul, but they also wound it. To the soul their opposites are equally important—waiting, doubting, retreating, and not going anywhere, not knowing, not seeing, and being absorbed in oneself.

When spirit is not grounded and checked by soul, it quickly moves into literal forms — converting others and becomes blindly and callously ambitious. Its powerful force may turn without conscience into violence, its altruism blackened as intrusion into the freedoms of others. Its creativity becomes unbounded productivity, and its quest for ultimacy transforms into jealous possession of truth."

Monday, November 06, 2006

Poem inspired by Moore's public presentation

The Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, acting as an online clearinghouse for writings touching on humanities in medicine, offers Jeffrey McCallum's poem "For Thomas Moore," inspired by Moore's public appearance in Minneapolis last month. According to notes with McCallum's recently published book of poetry, Somebody's Bright Balloon, the poet was born in the Yukon Territories and moved to Minneapolis, where he still resides. McCallum is a commercial building contractor and father of four sons. "His cancer experience in July of 2003 focused his writing on cancer, patients, caregivers and the everyday miracles these relationships create."

Friday, November 03, 2006

Beliefnet and Yahoo Personals are joining hands

Beliefnet and Yahoo Personals are forming a relationship with Yahoo Personals hosting Beliefnet's Soulmatch online dating service. This allows Beliefnet to offer ten times as many dating profiles of people who identify themselves as being spiritual. Yahoo Personals will create an online spirituality centre that features Beliefnet content including Thomas Moore's advice columns on relationships and spirituality. Current Soulmatch members will be redirected to the new area, where they have an option to search profiles sorted by spirituality or religious preference, or accessing the complete Yahoo Personals database. Soulmatch subscribers will receive three free months of service before being invited to sign up at the same rate as Yahoo Personals members, $24.95 U.S. monthly. Yahoo Personals draws about five million visitors a month with 65 percent of Yahoo Personals members describing themselves as being religious or spiritual. It is reported that Beliefnet's community has more than nine million members.