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Cynthia Korzekwa’s drawings
When I finally arrive on the beach of Krios and find, with luck, a bit of shade under a tamarisk, the first thing I do is lay down my towel. Beach towels are like territorial flags and say “this space is taken”. They indicate a line of demarcation, a boundary.
Today I have reached a boundary—the limit in terms of these 31 days dedicated to daily posts regarding my walks to Krios.
I began this series as a reflection on walking as a spiritual practice. But the reflection today is: just what is meant by spiritual? Spirituality has so many definitions that it has none. So I’ve given it one of my own: spirituality is the contemplation of what gives meaning to life.
While walking to Livadia today, I asked Pierluigi if, in his readings, he’d come across anything of interest regarding spirituality. So he began talking to me about anima mundi–the belief that everything that exists is connected by a world soul.
But my walks are not about the world, they’re about me. Because there’s a territorial domain inherent in my spirituality–it belongs to me and no one else. Religion is a different story. It aims to transform multiple needs in to a single creed. Maybe we can’t be sure that God exists but a need for God undoubtedly does.
Several people have contacted me expressing their interest in the idea of walking as a means of re-connecting with the self. So, if anyone reading this is would like to write a piece for my blog about walks, I would be thrilled to post it. You can contact me at korzekwa at gmail dot com.
Thanks for keeping me company!
By the way, I will be taking a short break from blogging.
My mantra for today comes from Grateful Dead’s “Truckin’”.
Keep On Trucking. OM. Trucking. Trucking. Keep On Trucking.
Several years ago, I read “Super Consciousness: The Quest for the Peak Experience” and became a Colin Wilson fan. A Peak Experience, term coined by psychologist Abraham Maslow, is an ecstatic state when one feels a sense of euphoria and interconnectedness with the world around them. Intrigued, I also read Wilson’s “Access to Inner Worlds” (1983). Wilson believed that our everyday consciousness lacks animation because we habitually use only certain parts of our brain. So, to make our life more alive and exciting, we need to expand our perception. And this means training our attention in order to create a peak experience at will.
Wilson devised this exercise that, with practice, can help achieve control over one’s attention:
Take a pencil and hold it up against the ceiling then concentrate on the pencil with all your might. Relax then concentrate again. Keep doing this on and off concentration until you’re able to focus your attention at will. This exercise is a bit boring and fatiguing. It even produces a strain behind the eyes. However, if you persist, at a certain point you will feel much discomfort followed by an immense relief. And this will create a peak experience. Like an orgasm, first it’s tension then a relief producing euphoria.
Altering our perception is an act of will.
Wilson also used Wilhelm Reich’s breathing exercises for the focusing of perception: lie down on the floor and take a deep breath. Exhale as slowly as possible going down from the lungs to the stomach to the genitals as you say “out, down, through”.
Wilson said that if first you do the breathing exercise followed by the pencil exercise, you will be rewarded with a feeling of exaltation.
Breathing is inter-relating with our environment. By breathing, we become a part of the world around us. That’s why, if I live in a smog filled city, I will absorb this smog and become toxic, too.
Research shows that living close to the sea makes one healthier because of the air that’s full of minerals and negatively charged ions. These ions help strengthen our immune system, absorb oxygen, balance serotonin levels and counter-balance the positive ions (free radicals) we get from computers, TV and electricity in general.
We take breathing for granted without realizing its true power. If done properly, breathing can revolutionize our lives. That’s why I like to sit on the beach to do some basic Pranayama yoga breathing exercises. Blood needs fresh air to flush out toxins and the sea air is perfect for this.
Life is but a series of breaths. Yogi Ramacharaka
As for the mantra today, it’s from Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away”. Ok, maybe I’m being a bit kitsch and I should have used Sting’s “Every Breath You Take” but that’s just how I woke up today…feeling kitsch.
Breath in. OM. Breath out. Breath in. OM. Breath out.
Different people approach the water in different ways. There are those who go into the sea just to rinse and cool off. Others go in with water mattresses and float around. Some people actually swim. My favorite are the groups of middle aged and beyond Greek women wearing hats who go way beyond the shore and kind of hover together and talk and talk and talk. From a distance they look like floating heads.
Recently I read reviews about a book entitled “Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do” that I’m curious to read.
There is no life without water. And maybe that’s why we are so attracted to being near the sea. The author, Wallace J. Nichols, claims that the nearness of water stimulates our brain by releasing dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. Up to 60% of the adult body is composed of water and for the brain it’s about 80%. So being near the water is like being nearer to ourselves.
The sea offers other rewards. The color blue is relaxing and the frequency caused by the waves is good for our personal vibratory level. Furthermore, water gazing permits our mind to drift so we are present but relaxed. Water, says Nichols, meditates you.
Being around water isn’t enough. You have to drink it, too. Water helps keep your flow. This means moving oxygen around and sending blood to your tissues. Water also lubricates your joints and keeps you from feeling stiff. And, of course, water helps you eliminate toxins and solid wastes. And if you suffer from fatigue, this could mean that you’re dehydrated.
Drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning has many health benefits such as balancing the lymph system purifying the colon and renewing cells.
Today’s mantra comes from Alexi Murdoch’s “Blue Mind”.
I’m drifting. I’m drifting. I’m drifting. I’m drifting.
Krios beach, Paros
At the end of the beach on Krios is a small cement pier used for the boat that brings people from Parikia. Not everyone prefers to arrive on foot like I do. These people disembark in groups carrying bags, chairs, umbrellas and other beach paraphernalia. They look like refugees so I call them the Boat People. But I chide myself for this because these tourists have nothing at all in common with real refugees.
boat to Krios
Before there were cars, there were boats. Maritime history goes back thousands of years. The oldest recovered boat is a dugout canoe dating c. 8,000 BC. But there are rock carvings in Azerbaijan dating 10,000 BC showing reed boats. Who knows when the first boat was made.
boat at Krios
Boats have had a tremendous impact on the evolution of civilization. They permitted people to migrate and settle other lands. And this migration made inter-relating so much more complex.
From the land, I look towards the sea and see only a subtle line that divides the water from the sky. The horizon is seemingly so poetic. From afar. However, the idea of getting in a boat and sailing towards that line swallowed by blue makes me feel queasy.
Blue Star ferry towards Paros
At one point or another, we learn to navigate. Often we need help. Sailors had the stars and then the compass. And, eventually, experience.
Daily life is a kind of sea. And navigating it isn’t always easy. That’s why I count on my ideals to give me a direction.
Today’s mantra comes from Cristopher Cross. Cross, from San Antonio like me, released his debut album at the time when I left Texas for Europe. The song is “Sailing” and the reappropriation comes from the phrase “Fantasy, it gets the best of me”.
Fantasy keeps me free. OM. Fantasy keeps me free.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHIARA!
Krios beach, Paros
The beach means different things to different people. For me, it’s the sand beneath my feet, the sound of the waves and the smell of sea air. However, for others it means dedicating one’s time to ephemeral activities such as sunbathing and building sandcastles.
Camping at Krios beach
I consider sunbathing an ephemeral activity in that, despite all the time and effort you dedicate towards getting a tan and all of the hours spent imitating souvlaki on a grill, it rapidly fades away.
Dad helping his little girl build sandcastle
little boy building alone
There’s a tenderness in seeing young children building sandcastles. They are so focused on making something that will be washed away by the waves. Like sand mandalas that are painstakingly made and then destroyed, sandcastle construction is an example of BE HERE NOW and that it is the process and not the product that gives satisfaction.
I’ve noticed that fathers more so than mothers enjoy participating in the making of sandcastles.
two friends building together
the beginning or the end of a castle?
from Miltos Pantelias’ palimpsest series
Yesterday Pierluigi and I had the great pleasure of meeting with the artists Irini Gonou and Miltos Pantelias at their incredible summer home on Naxos. I have already written about Irini HERE but will do so again this winter as there are some aspects of her work too enchanting to resist. But today I want to mention Miltos’ work.
We get the word “ephemeral” from the Greek “εφήμερος” (ephemeros) which means “lasting only one day”. Miltos’ work hints at fragility yet it transforms the ephemeral into something eternal. His palimpsest series is mesmerizing. A palimpsest is a manuscript page that’s been scraped or washed with milk so it can be used again for something else (ancient recycling). But sometimes, after years of hiding, like a ghost the original writing (scriptio inferior) resurfaces. Miltos’ palimpsests magically seduce the Only One Day and he resuscitates the past to create a new life. Πολύ όμορφη!
Today’s mantra comes from “To Tango tis Nefelis” by Haris Alexiou & Loreena McKennett. It’s the story of Nefeli and two little angels who tried to feed her pomegranates so she’d forget what she wanted. But Zeus intervened by turning Nefeli into a cloud making it impossible for the angels to find her.
Eating pomegranates caused Persephone a lot of problems. Hades kidnapped her and took her to his underground home. Persephone knew that if she ate or drank anything in the underground world, she would be forced to stay there forever. But after a week of not eating, she lost her willpower and ate a pomegranate.
Desires are ephemeral. And so is life.
Like a cloud. OM. Like a cloud.
Ειρήνη και Μίλτος, σας ευχαριστώ πάρα πολύ για μια υπέροχη μέρα!
When I arrive on the beach at Krios, the first thing I do is take off my shoes. Since I have to take my shoes on & off a couple of times during the walk, a big thanks to the inventor of Velcro strap sandals that make this process much easier.
Velcro is a great example of bio-mimicry. It’s man imitating nature and, in this case, imitating burrs. If you’re from Texas and walked around barefooted as a child, you know exactly what burrs are!
In 1941, Swiss engineer George de Mestral was taking burrs out of his dog’s hair. The burrs and the hair were attached so well that Mestral was inspired to use the same technique for something pragmatic and thus invented Velcro.
Anyway, back to the beach. Walking barefoot outdoors, known as “grounding”, apparently is very good for us. Via the soles of our feet, we absorb the earth’s free electrons which are beneficial to our health. Grounding relieves chronic pain, improves sleep, reduces inflammation, thins the blood and much more. In other words, the body needs to be connected to the earth.
A big problem today is that we are constantly subjected to radiation via our cell phones, computers and Wi-Fi. Grounding can help counter-attack this electromagnetic field bombardment.
Walking on the beach is especially beneficial. Because the sand provides resistance, you work your foot and leg muscles more. And because the sand is an uneven surface, your body must react to the constantly changing surface which is good for balance and agility.
Walking on the sand also massages the soles of your feet which activates blood and lymphatic circulation. Furthermore, walking barefoot on the beach is like taking sandpaper to your feet because the friction of the sand acts as a exfoliate. Results: soft and smooth feet!
I like walking near the water’s edge and am fascinated by the way the sun reflects on the sea. David Hockney has done many wonderful interpretations the sun reflecting on the water.
Picture of a Hollywood Swimming Pool, 1964
California, 1965 via
Vintage: A 1980s lithograph by David Hockney in his California years via
Today’s mantra is “the tide is high but I’m moving on” taken from Blondie’s “The Tide Is High”.
Related links: David Hockney: Early Reflections at the Walker