I haven’t been able to go to my meditation group for a few weeks, primarily because I am back at work. And, though that fact has been a great reducer of stress in itself, I do miss my weekly appointment with absolutely nothing but me and my breathing and my body. Those saved spaces smooth out the rough edges of any given week and send a more softly surfaced, tranquil human being back out into the world.
The last time I attended (and before the session began) we had a short discussion about what makes it hard to meditate in our every day lives. A friend of mine who was present that day noted she was once told she should never worry about “Not doing it right” or often enough, or for the right length of time, or any of those other little qualms people who meditate might inflict upon themselves. This spiritual guide suggested to her that our every breath, every day, our every movement on this earth is a meditation, our every gesture and every thought a prayer, and we should not get so hung up on all the other shoulds of what we might perceive “proper” meditation is meant to look and feel like.
I am just as guilty of this as anyone. I do sometimes think “I’m not doing it right!” I get frustrated when the calm I managed to achieve the last time is not forthcoming this time. I get cross at the thoughts that bubble up in my mind and tell them …
“Shush! You are not meant to be here! You are ruining everything!”
I feel grave disappointment that I cannot sit on the floor cross legged for any length of time and hold my hands serenely like I’ve seen other people do in pictures and films. (Incidentally, I should point out, our meditation group is nothing whatsoever like this. We sit in chairs, and people do shuffle, and I tell them off in my head for doing so and distracting me. And then have to berate myself some more for my lack of compassion toward those around me).
Anyway, on this particular day, following our discussion, our group leader guided us to get into a comfortable position so we wouldn’t feel the need to fidget (Grrrrr!), to close our eyes, to start to focus on our breath, perhaps count our breaths if that was helpful … And so began our meditation …Read More »
I have spent the last few days at my best friends house. Circumstances had sadly prevented me from visiting for a while, so I am especially delighted to be here now. I’ve been having lots of fun with her two sons who are full of cuddles and “I Love You!!”s. I can soak that kind of stuff up all day long. Who wouldn’t enjoy such squishy salutation every half an hour or so?
In a quiet moment (which to be fair come few and far between in a house that contains young boisterous boys) I thought I would share a little practice I took up a few years ago, which helps me to capture such smile inducing moments as these, as well as giving me a space to consider the gifts that the harder days in life may have to offer.Read More »
It is the darndest thing. When you have a mind that, for whatever perverse reason, would rather see you suffer than be at peace. It looks for things to worry about. It looks for things that will hurt you. And, if it cannot find them readily, it will invent them. And my God is it good at that!
I have such a mind.
As I wrote in my last post, some good things have happened for me of late. They had been a long time in coming. Prior to their arrival, I was battling hard to keep on top of the anxiety monsters that were growling and growing in my stomach. Though winning most rounds in this bare-knuckle fight, some days it was a very close run thing. There were many days I had to talk myself down from a full-blown panic attack.
Then these good things came along all of a sudden. And my anxiety got really confused, and not a little angry. And ever since, it has been trying its damnedest to find new things to trouble me with. Read More »
This has been quite a week in the life of me. Things had been pretty difficult lately. Despite my best efforts I didn’t seem to be able to catch a break. That was causing some considerable stress, not only for me, but also for those closest to me. That all changed this week. And all thanks to taking one big decision. To sign up for a course I have been toying with for the longest time.
Having teetered on the brink of an anxiety cliff for too long, starting to despair at the failure of each attempt to move life forward, I finally decided enough was enough. I can either stand here waiting for panic to run at me with all its force and take us both over the edge, or I can say “Screw It!” and jump of my own accord.Read More »
Some of the best advice I was ever given was by a friend of mine who knew I was wrestling with a particular problem, and making myself sick trying to force the answer to emerge. She bought me a greeting card and gave it to me, a few days before I took myself off on my first ever silent retreat, to try and figure out what on earth I was going to do next with my life.
The card shared the following words from Rainer Maria Rilke:
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves”
These words (taken from a letter written by Rilke in 1903) continued ….Read More »
Just like integrity, self-care is that right thing that you do when nobody else is watching. It is those tiny little acts to show yourself that you are worth a little kindness, a little time, a little love. It is something that we forget to do. It is something we might consider for others, but often neglect to do for ourselves.
If we are depressed, we may actively prevent ourselves doing such things, because we do not believe we warrant the trouble, the effort, the consideration. We might savagely do the opposite, to punish ourselves or perversely confirm some perceived failing.
It doesn’t have to be Mediterranean meditation, or mountain top yoga, or that super expensive spa thing that you like (though that would be lovely of course, if it were possible, on occasion).
It is those simple, tiny, everyday things you can do for yourself to show love.Read More »
Marauding branches grab at me
“Think about this thing!”
“Focus on that!”
Determined to undermine and attack
They tangle and they trip
As I wrestle and I ache
I must resist these disturbing limbs
For my peace of mind’s sweet sake
And then ….
One simple step forward
And the ground becomes clear
Those sinister bows, no longer near
Just the grass and the sky
A fallen log draws my eye
Soak it in
This is where we begin
But I sense still some creeping
Small prickles of mischievous intent
I reach for the log, I steady myself
I will not, I cannot, I Must Not! relent
This clearing is my saviour
The dark limbs, where dread still lies
I sit and breathe, and breathe and then ….
I’m joined by butterflies
A gentle landing on my hand
Another by my side
I smile at the creature in my palm
Wings lift on my softening sigh
And the delicate beauty that sits with me
Rests briefly then flutters away
Another settles. Such vibrant hues
I admire, but it cannot stay
Gentle creatures, as you swoop and swirl
Know that I appreciate your worth
But I will not come fly with you right now
I must rest here on this earth
In this place, at this time, upon this log
Where you settle, then silently leave
Dear flutter-thoughts, I’ll join you soon
But for now I must just simply breathe.