Wellbeing notes: nature’s message of hope

01/01/2021 at 3:07 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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There’s something so uplifting about the first, tiny snowdrops of the year – a reminder of balmier weather to come. One summer I lost someone I was close to. Grief was ever present. There was no respite from the sadness. The following January, I saw the first snowdrops emerge from black earth. And for the first time in many months, I felt uplifted. It was as if the dots of tiny white flowers spelt out the word ‘hope’ in a dark landscape. Since that time I have especially treasured snowdrops, planting them in small drifts around my garden, bringing in a few blooms for the kitchen table. 

Hope is an excellent quality to cultivate in 2021. Hope reminds us that the potential for happiness is a core part of every human being. When we focus on our potential, when we visualise it as though it is already present, wellbeing enters. We become uplifted. And in that state of openness, we become receptive to the loving kindness that, I believe, always surrounds us. 

One simple exercise is to write the word ‘Hope’ on a square of canvas or paper. Enjoy choosing the placement of the four characters. You might write them large and plain or add illustrations that are meaningful to you. Then display your finished work in a place where you will often see it. Let its beneficial message spill into your life.

Releasing 2020 with love and thanks

01/12/2020 at 11:11 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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When my two children were growing up, we used to hold parties around 21stDecember every year, to mark the longest night and to celebrate the return of longer days in the seasonal calendar. Some years we’d just hold a small family event. Other years we would invite 40 or so people and cater with big, easy pans of cheese and onion flan, parsnip and potato mash and salad, all washed down with local wines, beers and cordials. After supper we’d step outside for a simple ritual that had evolved with the help of a stoneware bowl – we’d make a tiny fire of handwritten notes on which we’d symbolically let go of the past in order to make room for the new.

Each person would quietly write down something they were ready to let go of from the previous year. We’d write, “According to the highest good of all concerned I now let go of (fill in the blank) with love and thanks.”  Then we’d scrunch the paper up and deposit it in the bowl. When all the notes had been gathered, everyone watched the flames. It was a good way to declutter mind and heart. After all, who needs to carry old emotional baggage into Christmas and the New Year?

November’s message of self-acceptance

01/11/2020 at 9:48 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The trees around me in Wiltshire UK where I live are fast losing their colourful canopies as we approach winter. Leaf by leaf, they reveal their true shape. This is the perfect time to notice that there is no such thing as a perfect tree. They are all asymmetrical. Limbs and branches twist and extend in a mysterious pattern. We accept and delight in a tree’s unique shape. Why then should we not delight in our own unique human forms? 

Seen without judgement, human beings are gorgeous examples of creation. I’m pretty certain we are adored by the divine, creative force that lies within and beyond all living beings. And yet we can be so quick to find fault with ourselves. Even something as simple and natural as our age or weight can become something we prefer to hide. Think, for a moment, about how conscious so many of us are about our height. We feel too short or too tall. And yet we are only talking about a difference of a few inches! How can that matter compared with the vast reaches of the universe?

Each of us has the capacity to carry many psychological wounds through life. From childhood onwards we may retain messages from external figures of authority who have left us feeling ‘not good enough’. In adulthood we may become experts at criticising our appearance and our actions in countless small and punishing ways. We may even be unconscious of how wounded we are in this respect, which can lead to a tendency in us to project our unresolved issues on to others, and even to judge others harshly for their own perceived faults.

Yet the revealed shapes of trees in winter suggest to me that humans, like trees, are perfect, just as we are. Our healed wounds and scars are part of our personal story, to be honoured and even loved. Humans, like trees, are surely a beautiful and unique addition to the landscape. And, just like our cousins the trees, as we prepare for winter we carry the potential for new personal growth in the new year.

Walking mindfully through October

01/10/2020 at 10:52 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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October, with its mists and mellow fruitfulness, is a fantastic month to take a daily wellbeing walk. I could motivate myself for this challenge by imagining a healthier me by the end of 31 daily walks, but that would be ‘end-gaining’ – I would be focusing on the goal rather than the many enjoyable moments in between.

Wellbeing is not actually about hard work or duty. It’s not about struggling or depriving myself now in order to enjoy some future goal. Rather, it’s about being open to the countless small moments of happiness that add up to a happy life. 

So my wellbeing walks are not long, or arduous. But I aim to be fully present during each one. Have you ever walked or driven somewhere, only to arrive and realise you don’t remember the journey because while your body went through the motions, your mind was elsewhere? 

During a wellbeing walk, I mindfully focus on the natural world. This month, that means I witness the colours of autumn: exactly how would you describe the rich red of an acer tree’s leaves, or the polished brown of a conker lying on green grass? I pause to notice the stunning, concentric pattern of an autumn flower such as a rosy petalled dahlia. I look upwards and sideways and all around to observe changing patterns of sun and cloud. I listen to an incredible natural orchestra of bird song that radiates outwards into infinity. Such moments pause the mind’s busy thoughts, bringing a fresh sense of happiness. 

This is what life after brain surgery is like

27/08/2020 at 12:03 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Nine months after surgery, this is what I’ve learned about brain injury caused by an acoustic neuroma…

Being alive is wonderful and to be appreciated for the miracle it is. Being alive is also often overwhelming. When I get tired, there’s no choice – I have to rest. Overall, I do less, but focus well while I’m doing it. The small daily achievements lead to progress, they really do. Being mindful has become a powerful necessity – it’s essential to stay focused to keep my balance, and also to hear better.

Simple pleasures, like cooking veggie casseroles, or cultivating lush jungle indoor plants, bring sheer enjoyment at my new, slower pace. Patience is a daily lesson, as I understand it takes many months – years – for nerves to mend and new neural pathways to form. Life is sweet and never to be taken for granted.

Rose petals – a (free) audio meditation

09/06/2020 at 2:29 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Recently a small group of us met up in my garden – the first get-together since lockdown began. From our conversation – and it was so nice to see each other, albeit at a social distance – we developed this meditation, which I’m pleased to share with you today. It’s based on the idea that what the world needs now are love and blessings, and that sometimes the heaviest of problems can be helped in the lightest of ways. So without further ado, here you are; Rose Petal Meditation.

 

Rose Petal Meditation

Mappa mundi – a (free) audio meditation

05/05/2020 at 4:52 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Mappa mundi

 

This week I’m sharing with you a (free) audio meditation called Mappa Mundi. This was a lovely and insightful project created by a group of fellow meditators in my Studio some six years ago, and published later in Kindred Spirit Magazine. Mappa Mundi refers to the old illuminated  maps of medieval times. In those days, landmarks on a map might be actual, or mythical. The size of the landmarks on each map depended on how important they were in the map maker’s eyes.

In the Studio we used these principles to create our own life maps – a way of painting or drawing whatever places, work and interests we felt to be significant in our lives. You can see a detail from my own personal map in the picture above. I found some of the results surprising, and it helped me to  understand what projects were likely to be important in the future.

The truth is, we all hold unconscious knowledge about our future path. Letting the mind relax through meditation is a fantastic way of bringing this to the surface. So listen to this meditation now. Let my words guide you to create your own mappa mundi in your imagination. Afterwards, if you choose, you might like to draw or paint your own map, just as we did in my Studio six years ago. The resulting wisdom of your map will be completely unique to you, and may even be a useful guide to your future path.

Mappa Mundi meditation

 

The Healing Power of Calm – a (free) audio meditation

28/04/2020 at 6:09 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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This week’s (free) audio meditation offers an imaginative journey to visit a healer in a temple. Your healer has the magical ability to ease away stress and encourage your body’s own innate self-healing mechanisms. Especially in times of worry it’s good to remind ourselves that the energy of calm is only a breath away.

This nine-minute guided meditation was originally shared with meditators in my studio six years ago. The incredibly relaxing atmosphere may have resulted in the odd sleepy snore – it’s definitely not a party tape, but I can say it’s a tried and tested relaxant, and it works quickly too. So without further ado, here it is: ‘The Healing Power of Calm’. Enjoy.

Image by Okan Caliskan from Pixabay.

 

Spiral – a (free) audio meditation

21/04/2020 at 5:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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This week’s meditation, from a session seven years ago in my Studio, is an invitation to travel through a stone circle portal in your imagination, and into the spiralled beauty of the universe. Deeply relaxing, our meditation pays homage to the importance of spiral patterns in the natural world, from the humblest of snail shells, to cosmic formations that shape and reflect patterns of movement, learning and expansion in all our lives. I hope you enjoy Spiral Meditation!

As always, please do join me in listening to the meditation at 1 pm Thursday, or any time that suits you. Have a lovely week.

Image by beate bachmann from Pixabay.

Spiral meditation

Haiku – a (free) audio meditation

14/04/2020 at 5:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Here is your meditation for this week. I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in this one (although listening to my own voice is always going to be a little odd!)

This one is called ‘Haiku Meditation’. It’s from the Studio seven years back. It was inspired by possibly the world’s most famous haiku, a three-line poem written by the 17th Century Japanese poet Basho. Like all the best haiku, it references nature, and the messages that nature may bring us. The pond succinctly described in the first line can be viewed as the ‘old order’, stagnant and in need of the oxygen of change, which is brought about by frogs jumping in, creating sound and movement. The frogs produce a splash, leading to the widening ripples of change. Here is Basho’s haiku:

Old pond

Frogs jumped in

Sound of water

And here is the meditation. I hope it brings you peace and relaxation,  and perhaps even a serene acceptance of the sudden nature of change. As always, I will join you in listening to this meditation at 1 pm on Thursday, or any time to suit you.

 

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