Words & Photography: Domonique Wiseman
I’ve always been curious about the deeper mysteries of life. I was fortunate to be born into a family that encouraged this quality and brought new ideas and differing perspectives into the home through travel, music, conversation and literature. Growing up, my parents had a bookshelf that spanned the back wall of our lounge room. My child memory of the bookshelf renders it huge, a towering configuration packed with books on all manner of subjects. I have vivid recollections of one in particular that explored all the last mysteries of the world. Filled with images of ancient cities, stone structures, planetary grid maps and tribal masks, it rested on the bottom shelf. Sitting on the floor with the book in my lap, I was unable to make sense of the words yet, but those images captivated me for hours nonetheless. What I came to know as the familiar profiles of Easter Island bewildered me and the pyramids of Egypt were enthralling. One of the first books I asked my parents to teach me to read was this one and it now sits on my own bookshelf some 38 years on.
In my late teens this lean towards the mysterious themes incorporated an all pervading curiosity about the mystery of my inner life and that of others. What sparked this I honestly can’t recall. Perhaps it was simply a young girl keen to make sense of her place in the world, possibly there was a desire to foster deeper connection and meaning in my young adult relationships and worldly experiences, or maybe it was a response to an innate knowing of something else going on here. Whatever the impetus, I became acutely aware of the complexity of the human condition and my own inner life. The drive to understand this prompted me to graduate university with a degree in psychology and to find my own spiritual path early in life. Much of my adult life continues to be peppered with periods of informal study in philosophy, religion, neuroscience, energy healing and personal inquiry.
I believe that each of us is imbued with something so profoundly mysterious and yet paradoxically, simple and familiar. I also believe that the exploration of this great Mystery of self is one of the most selfless things we can do.
To look inside with gentle curiosity is by no means an “easy” path however what I have come to know is that by courageously going inside to compassionately meet our deepest desires, our greatest fears and our most ancient calcified conditioned parts, we are in a prime position to take responsibility for our own peace. By knowing ourselves ever more intimately in every moment we become poised to be in authentic service to the world and others and enables us to gift our communities with inspired forms and ideas.
The avenues that can lead us inside to ourselves are as numerous as the nuanced individuality of each of us. There really is no formulaic approach to life. Dance, prayer, conscious relationship, meditation, fasting, mantra, qigong, artistic endeavors, natural immersion, inner child dialoguing, CBT, gestalt work, play, travel, grief, journaling, inquiry, extreme sports, but a few examples of the myriad of ways and means people have used to go inside to acquaint themselves with the Mystery.
A combination of some of the above, simplistic daily rituals, profound life long practices and yearly experiences that I continue to carry out and expand have supported me in deepening my understanding and appreciation of my inner scape. In recent years I have adopted the practice of literally “going inside” when I feel the familiar call. I go to a wooden clad cottage in the hinterland behind where I live in Australia. Mostly in winter, when the essence of the season encourages hibernation, contemplation and rest. When the light casts familiar shadows in the corners of the rooms and the silence can at times be a little unnerving. Here in the confines of the quaint a-frame daily distractions are few and as the white noise falls away I can hear the rumblings of what needs my attention. I met my greatest teacher here in this cabin, my dearest friend and my fiercest critic.
To know yourself intellectually is one thing, to know yourself experientially is another. There comes a time when we must take our newfound awareness into the world and try it out in real time relational experience. It takes practice, patience and compassion to try out new ways in the world, to inevitability mess it all up, slip back into forgetting then try again.
I believe the Mystery of self is by its very design ever evolving, a dynamic Mystery never to be “solved”, not on this plane anyway. But I am yet to find a more powerful, meaningful and generous purpose in life than the ongoing exploration of who we are.
© all pictures Domonique Wiseman
Excerpt of our Volume 1 Print edition soon available here.