A haiku travel journal

27/06/2014 at 5:41 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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On the plane between London and Hong Kong, I thought I’d write a travel journal with a difference. Each day, I would write a haiku poem. My understanding of haiku is that it distils nature and our own true nature in a few short lines. In the English version, that most often means 5 syllables, then 7, then another 5. I wanted to do this for fun, and also to see if it brought me new insights.

The writing began as soon as we reached the refuge of our comfortable hotel.

Lily

Guan yin tea and bath

Fragrant lilies scent the dark

Harbour lights beyond.

Haiku traditionally loves contrast. Intuitively, I love the space between contrasts. During our days in Hong Kong, I was beginning to notice a very human trait: in the act of concealing, we end up revealing.

Leaves

Incense and Man Mo

Tiny shrines by shops of jade

Bird song on the Peak.

We were travelling as a family, which included my 18-year-old son Tim, who has learning difficulties and uses a wheelchair. Quickly we discovered that the streets were empty of others like Tim. It dawned on us that were connecting with a culture which believed that young people with special needs should stay at home.

An owl stares at us

in the Museum of Art

Kowloon’s rich treasure.

Most people simply, politely, ignored Tim, as they might ignore anything embarrassing, though we noticed plenty of covert glances. However, one day a taxi driver became visibly upset when he spotted Tim, and hissed at us while he drove erratically to our destination. We brushed off his crazy behaviour. But we wondered about it. We were beginning to feel that Tim – and we – were intrepid simply by being there. Mad taxi rides aside, we felt rather pleased with ourselves.

Orchid

Wow! Dim sum Tim Tim

at the old Luk Yu Tea House

Fountains and Flowers.

Someone told us one evening that the Buddhist belief in reincarnation was often interpreted to mean that handicapped children and young people must have done something wrong in a previous lifetime. Therefore, their presence brought shame to their families.  They were hidden away. Sometimes neglected, sometimes worse. Unwittingly, we were challenging that tradition.

After the sampans

barefoot in a sandy bay

Gods gaze at the sea.

Maybe all that scrutiny had something to do with it, but Tim’s wheel chair slipped on the sandy steps by the watchful concrete sculpted gods on the sea shore and he bruised his foot. Moments before the accident, I had been searching for Guan Yin, the Chinese goddess of mercy, among the seaside statues, but only found a rather overblown version of her, stripped of any spiritual truths.

However, I did experience peace each morning as I meditated in our high-up hotel room. I witnessed night turn to day.  And in that quietness the insights emerged.

Harbour

Morning mist makes clear:

we came to see, and be seen.

Each of us is loved.

That then was the truth we were exemplifying as a family. Sometimes it seems to me that the four of us (including Tim’s able younger sister) are four corners of a square. Each corner is equally important to create the whole. Each of us is equally valued within the family. This is normal for us, and perhaps also for our culture.

And then I wondered if perhaps families like us might tacitly encourage other families to take their disabled members out and about a bit more.

I noticed that I had begun my haiku travel journal with reference to Guan Yin – or, at any rate, the green tea named in her honour. And now I was ending my journal with the same sacred name.

Love and compassion

are divine gifts from Guan Yin

May all feel both here.

Lily

When nature’s remedy came to stay

03/03/2014 at 3:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Betony light leaves

One of the best teachers I ever had was a medical herbalist called Nina Nissen. She taught me the herbalists’ belief that the plants you need tend to grow near you. For example, nettles and cleavers appear in the spring, just in time to help our bodies to flush out winter congestions and give us a multi-vitamin and mineral boost.
I don’t know about you, but I can learn something in my head… and somehow forget to apply it in real life. A mysterious wild flower started growing near my kitchen door. It had serrated leaves like ancient arrow heads. In the summer, pinkish purple flowers grew on long stalks. I kept forgetting to look it up. One day, I ordered some new medicinal plants. When they arrived, I suddenly discovered the identity of the mystery wild flower…

Among my bought herbs was a nervine: a relaxing herb that is particularly helpful for highly sensitive people who may become fearful or worried easily, and who, on balance, find it easier to stay at home. I could relate to these qualities. Although I love being with people, I find I also need long, quiet periods on my own. And I know that sometimes this stops me from doing things that would be helpful in my work. Steven, my partner, says that I am a hermit, and there is some truth in his comment. 

The plant for hermits goes by the name of Wood Betony,  or Stachys officinalis.

As I unpacked the Wood Betony plant I had ordered, I was amazed to see that it was identical to the mystery plant that grew near my kitchen door. Betony had come to me when I needed it, and had waited, patiently, for me to notice it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So finally, today, I do something that my herbal medicine teacher, Nina Nissen, taught me a dozen years ago. I do an intuitive tea tasting.

First, I study the plant, to notice what I notice. I can see the leaves, shaped like arrowheads or even elongated hearts. I gather a few and bring them indoors. Close up, I can see tiny curved hairs all over the plant. The tiny hairs seem to collect particles from the environment. And yet a rinse under the kitchen tap is enough to clean the leaves completely.

Betony texture

I think, not for the first time, how important it is for any sensitive soul to let go of all that they pick up from their environment. Busy places in particular can make me feel exhausted far quicker than Steven, who thrives on stimulation. If I have lots of old energetic debris still clinging to me, I have to do something about it: a rest, a cleansing bath or shower, a dip in my local pool, a session of gardening. Like Betony, I need to let it go.

I continue to follow the advice of Nina Nissen, who has written about intuitive tea tasting in her classic book, Teach Yourself Herbal Medicine. I sniff the leaves, and  breathe in an earthy, almost musky scent, with fresh green undertones.

The chopped leaves go into freshly boiled water for three to five minutes. Many herbalists suggest ten minutes or so brewing time. If you are trying to get maximum nutrients, that’s probably a good idea. However, I remember Nina saying that you only need to make contact with the plant.

When the tea is ready, I filter it and study it once more before sipping it.

Betony tea

The colour is a fresh, delicate green that begins to fade almost as I look at it. The fragrance is earthy. It makes me think of a cottage, somewhere on a damp moor, with a peat fire creating a simple, peaceful warmth.

As I drink, the soft texture of the liquid reminds me of marshmallow tea. It soothes my dry throat, and the warmth spreads throughout my core. The taste is not a ‘pretty’ taste. It is more like the taste of Mother Earth, with fresh green after-notes.

I am beginning to feel distinctly light-headed. Images of scenes from my childhood and teenage years appear in my mind, one at a time. Alongside these images, there is a tight heaviness in my heart. What would make my heart feel better? Without really thinking about it, I imagine myself as a tiny point of consciousness, able to travel at will within a symbolic version of my body. I go to a control room just behind my eyes. There, I see a mini-version of myself at a big console. She is steering my body.

“It’s no use talking to me,” says the mini-me, who looks very busy. “I have to follow the programmes I’m given. If you want to change your direction, you need to talk to the programmers.” And she directs me deeper into my brain, to the programming room.

There, I find a small team of mini-me’s behind more consoles. These ones look quite boffin-like, with big dark spectacles. I talk to one of them, who is very friendly. She’s happy to write a new programme for me. We decide the words together and she hands me the completed programme. “You can take this to the navigation room yourself if you like,” says Boffin Me, smiling.

So I carry the programme back to the navigation room, and there it is received by the navigator who pops it into her console. “It’ll overwrite the previous programme,” she explains, comfortably. Together, we watch that happen on a big screen. I feel a huge sense of satisfaction.

Gradually, I return to my normal awareness. My heart feels less tight now, although I get the impression that changing course is a slow process that can take days or weeks to complete. I will be making more Wood Betony tea, though I will probably mix a leaf or two with another fragrant favourite such as spearmint, or lemon verbena. These have healing properties of their own.

And what was the new programme that I installed? Here it is, short and sweet:

“I have the power, wisdom and confidence to choose right action, or non-action, as appropriate.”

The answer is gazing right back at you

02/09/2013 at 5:46 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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Sky glow

Yesterday evening, I was tidying up indoors. My hands were present, but my mind was elsewhere. I was wondering about the new term of meditations I’d be running in the Studio. Would it go ok? The theme I’ve chosen for this week is ‘glow’. Would ‘glow’ be a good word to meditate on?

“Come outside,” called Steven. You’ve got to see this.”

His voice was light and excited.

I went outside.

And I saw this sunset.

Just to be clear, I have not altered the image in any way. The sky truly was lit with orange and red, with a tiny sprinkling of town lights below.

The sky was simply glowing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it glow so fully before.

So I guess that answers my question. Thank you Universe, for a very big answer to my question.

Avebury vision: gateway to the Universe

01/09/2013 at 9:56 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments
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Avebury stones 1

John Wilding lives with his family in the centre of Avebury Stone Circle. It must be a little like living in a fairy tale, full of myth and magic. Do you know Avebury? It’s a picturesque Wiltshire village which contains the largest stone circle in the world. (Or maybe, even, the stone circle contains the village).

John runs the Henge Shop, which is full of delightful mystic gems and esoteric books. It’s a hub for spiritual travellers from all around the world.

To help the visitors, John is setting up a new website, to be called Visit Avebury. Last week he asked me to write 200 words on sacred sites and meditation for the new website. “I’d love to,” I emailed back.

It then occurred to me that I can’t remember the last time I meditated at Avebury. How can that be? I only live 15 minutes’ drive away. So I decided to get up early at the weekend and do my usual morning meditation there, within the circle…

First, I share a quick breakfast with my nine-year-old daughter, who usually loves a trip. She wants to know why I am going to Avebury. She doesn’t look impressed when I explain.

“Are you definitely going to meditate at the stones?” she asks.

“I am.”

“Then I’m definitely not coming,” she decides.

I smile. It appears that my daughter has just started to understand that parents can be Seriously Embarrassing.

As I walk down to the garage, I happen to glance into our front yard. I see the words ‘hope’, ‘joy’ and ‘love’ chalked onto the stone slabs in a childish hand. I smile again. Maybe she and I are not so different after all.

At Avebury, I walk over to my favourite part of the circle, the quieter north semi-circle. There are no people here, just sheep. I go up to several of the stones and place the palms of my hands against their rough surface. It feels like a form of greeting, a ‘signing in’ as it were. I study the patterns of rock and lichen. I am tuning in.

I notice that I am feeling distinctly light-headed, and the feeling persists.

Carefully, I choose a stone in the outer circle to sit by – then walk to an entirely different one. I sit on the ground and lean back. The stone supports my back so well, it almost feels soft.

Meditation stone

The sun is warm in front of me. The stone is cool behind me.

A gentle wind brushes a few hairs against my face. I hear wood pigeons cooing placidly high in the trees.

I decide to do a listening meditation. Simply breathe, and listen, and feel, and listen.

Meanwhile, my mind has decided to do its bit to unlock the mysteries of the circle. No one really knows why Avebury Stone Circle is here, and there are countless theories. My mind is intrigued by the fact that there are two smaller inner circles within the outer circle. Within the best surviving inner circle, near where I’m sitting, there are two giant stones which many people call a female  and a male stone. Guess which is which…

Avebury stones 2

And then I remember that I am here to meditate. I am here to breathe, listen and feel…

Maybe, my mind points out, the stone circle is a Neolithic depiction of Yin and Yang? All physical matter is composed of binary opposites: sun and moon, male and female, hot and cold and so on… surely Avebury is a beautiful representation of that?

And then I remember, once more, that I am here to meditate…

The area around my heart begins to feel warm: a spreading, pleasant glow.

It’s then that I notice that a particular, unusual word keeps popping up in my mind:

“Locus. The circle is a locus.”

Just in case there is any doubt, the voice repeats itself.

“Locus.”

And then… it happens.

I hear these words:

“It is not the stones themselves that matter. It’s the spaces in between. “

Without any warning, there is a whoosh!

I see a gateway to the All That Is. The stones are the gateway.  Through them, I can see the Universe.

And on my right side, between the stones, laughing, I can see women, very like those I have seen before. Maybe they are the same. Natural, lean and bare-limbed, they are laughing at me, though not unkindly.

At least you are beginning to get it,” they are saying.

And then I am through the gateway and I am dancing between the particles of matter.

I am bigger than the stars and smaller than the atoms.

My previous light-headed feeling has gone, because I am now in the space in which  I am meant to be. This is my normal state of being, I realise. The rest is just a crammed up, box-like dream.

This is real life. This is reality.

I am in bliss.

I am bliss.

There is only bliss… bliss stretching out to infinity….

Gradually, as if from above, I become aware of the pattern of the stones again. I understand now how they act as a locus. The circular structure is helpful for returning back to your body.

We can think it, perhaps, as a Neolithic landing pad for the soul.

And then I am back again, sitting on baked bare earth, the sun on my face, cool stone behind my back. My heart area still feels pleasantly warm and glowing.

I am happy.

I return home via Silbury Hill, the tallest prehistoric human-made mound in Europe.

Silbury

In my psychically open state, I can see a man directing others in front of a younger and smaller mound. A wise woman, well-regarded, is behind him. She is in the light. Younger men are asking why they are building up the sky.

The old man says, “It will remind them. 

“The time of forgetting will come. 

“The time of forgetting is necessary.

But then, the time of remembering will come. “

This is fascinating, and I want to stay, to learn more. But I am feeling a growing pressure. At home, my family are waiting for my return. So Silbury must be a story for another day.

Avebury stones 3

What I wish I’d said to Anita Moorjani

26/08/2013 at 1:08 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 58 Comments
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There’s an autumnal edge to the air, and outside the leaves are speckled brown in places. The apples are reddening on the trees, and children’s school shoes are flying out of the shops. I’m about to plan the meditation themes for a new term in the Studio. So, all in all, I have that ‘going back to school’ feeling. The weather is cooling off and it’s time to learn again (as if we ever stop).

Instead of working, I keep thinking about a ‘nearly’ conversation I had with Anita Moorjani at the Hay House ‘I can do it!’ London conference last autumn. It keeps playing on my mind. I haven’t thought about it for months. So there must be a reason why it’s coming up now.

I heard Anita speak about her near death experience at the conference. I had previously read her book, Dying to be Me, and loved it. Last year, Anita was still fairly new to public speaking, and she was accompanied on stage by Dr Wayne Dyer. I liked her lack of ego. She wasn’t trying to prove anything. She simply had an amazing experience to share. Anita’s essential message seemed to be: Live your life fearlessly. You are always loved. You are magnificent. You are meant to be you, no one else. Live your life to the full. Enjoy being you.

At the end of the conference, I saw Anita again. I was standing in a long queue on the stairs, waiting for luggage from the cloakroom. Anita walked up the steps with her husband Danny. I said a quiet, heartfelt ‘Thank you’.

To my surprise, in all that noise Anita heard me and stopped. She looked at me, waiting for more. I didn’t know what to say. So I opted for: “Thank you for your talk. I really enjoyed it.”

“Why, thank you so much,” said Anita, and carried on her way.

Now the thing is, I wasn’t being honest. There was more I could have said. Much more.

What was I really thanking Anita for?

The clue is in this photo.

Timothy and Steven

It’s a picture of my teenaged son, Timothy, with his lovely, supportive dad – my partner Steven. You will notice that Timothy is disabled. He has an undiagnosed condition which means that he cannot walk, except for a few wobbly steps. He cannot talk, beyond a few basic words. “Ready, steady go!” is his favourite expression. He uses signs to communicate. He is holding his ‘taggy’, a favourite soft shape covered with labels that he likes to play with.

You may also notice that Timothy is smiling. Timothy smiles a lot. He loves people. When I’m with him I always have a sense that I am unconditionally loved and accepted. Other people experience the same thing. Timothy feels good to be around.

So what does this have to do with Anita Moorjani?

A vision of bliss

Unlike Anita, I have not had a near death experience. But the year before Timothy was born I had an experience which was very like one. I call it a vision, but it involved other senses too.

In my vision, I wasn’t in my body. It felt to me that I was pure energy. Somehow, I was occupying the space between matter, between the particles of matter. Matter itself, our physical world, appeared insubstantial, like a movie image that you could put your hands through.

The feeling I had was pure, absolute bliss. I was known, and witnessed and absolutely loved by the overriding intelligence that was everywhere in that space. For want of a better word, I called that intelligent being, ‘God’. But I knew it had nothing in common with external views of God.  I was unconditionally loved. I was incapable of sinning. I was this shining, wondrously loving consciousness in which I bathed, and it was me. There was no separation. And these same truths applied to every being on this earth.

Hard lessons

My vision of bliss has never completely left me. It sustained me when Timothy was born with complex and life-threatening issues, which became more apparent as he grew older.

As every parent of a disabled child knows, it is incredibly difficult dealing with the complex medical decisions for someone you adore, whose survival may at times seem fragile at best. It took me a while, and I stumbled many times, but gradually I learnt to trust my intuition – the inner voice of wisdom. And I believe this has helped Timothy immeasurably, many times over.

Not only that, after the vision it was as if a door remained open to the Other Realm. I have had, and continue to have, other visions that teach, sustain and delight me. Increasingly, I share these with others.

To me, it seems that Timothy himself occupies a space between this world and the Other Realm. He can appear immensely intuitive. He can sign an answer to me when I’ve only just framed the question in my mind – before I’ve spoken it aloud. And his unconditional love, his lack of judgement, is powerfully like the energy I experienced in my original vision of bliss.

 

So what exactly was I thanking Anita for? 

In a word, validation.

Anita appeared to be terminally ill with cancer, on the verge of complete organ failure, when she had her near-death experience. In her book, Dying to be Me, she describes how she experienced a state of extreme bliss while also being aware of what was going on in the hospital, and also where her brother was, many hundreds of miles away. She describes how she understood that she was completely loved, and magnificent. And when she returned, her body healed within days.

What Anita describes corresponds to my own vision, although our circumstances were very different. I am grateful that Anita worked hard to share her experiences in a thoughtful and balanced way. Eighteen years ago, when I experienced my vision, these things were less talked about. I have always felt that I live two lives: the physical one here, and the blissful one, in the space between the particles.  The first I talked about; the second, I did not.

Well, that is changing. Now I am talking about my experience of bliss – why ever wouldn’t I? Seeing Anita stand up and speak her truth, with dignity, on a stage before  hundreds of people has got a lot to do with that.

The autumn term begins here in one week’s time. There’s one thing I’m sure about, whether I’m learning, or sharing what I’ve learnt: I will speak my truth.

How to meditate the EASY way

21/08/2013 at 11:31 am | Posted in Meditation | 5 Comments
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P1070635

Meditation is the easiest way I know to feel better fast. During challenging times, meditation can be really helpful. During good times, meditation can create a sense of bliss. It calms the mind. It stops the cycle of negative thinking. And it creates a space for hope and happiness to enter.

I aim to meditate for 20 minutes a day, early in the morning. I don’t always succeed. Sometimes I miss a few days, or even weeks. But when I catch myself feeling low, I’m quick to start meditating again – because, quite simply, it works.

Here is the EASY method that works for me and many of the people who attend my meditation studio.

Establish a routine.
Accept that it won’t go perfectly.
Sit still in silence.
Yield to the process.

Let’s take each of those steps in more detail…

Establish a routine

You’re more likely to meditate if it’s booked into your diary. Find an ideal time of day for you. You might try 20 minutes at the start of every day, or in the evening; or both those times.

Aim to meditate at the same time every day. Choose a length of time that will work for you. Anything from 15 minutes to half an hour is good.  However, it’s better to do ten minutes, or even five, rather than none. Aim to meditate in the same place, and make it pleasant and uncluttered, the way you’d like your mind to be.  You might like a  shawl or blanket over you, so you feel warm and comfortable. It’s helpful to set a timer to let you know, gently, when the meditation has finished. You can use your phone, as long as you’ve switched off incoming calls. There are also some lovely meditation timers around, but keep it simple. A brilliant low-tech alternative which I use for my own morning practice is to meditate with beads.

Accept that it won’t go perfectly

Sometimes we try to create the perfect, calm environment, and then feel fazed if a fly enters the room and buzzes around, or building work starts up outside. Accept that life isn’t perfect. If anything disturbs your concentration during your meditation, simply witness it. It may well be a reflection of your own mind, which may be buzzing like a fly, or in a state of change and renewal, like a building that is being restored.

Sit still in silence

It’s helpful to focus on a single thing in your imagination, and to keep focusing on that during your meditation. An object from nature, such as the flower pictured above, makes a fantastic subject for meditation, because it has shape, pattern, texture, colour, scent and depth that you can dwell on in your imagination.

Or you might simply witness your breath, noticing every detail of it.

Or you might count up to four, one number per breath, and start again, counting up to four each time.

Or you might repeat certain words, silently to yourself. Breathe in “I am”, and breathe out an uplifting word that you have chosen. It might be “peace” or “love” or “leaf” or “flow”. This is the method we use during twice-weekly meditation sessions that I run in my Wiltshire studio.

In the studio, we typically combine more than one of the above. For example, breathe in “I am”, breathe out “tree” and visualise that you are a flexible willow tree, bending gracefully in the breeze. Or a tall, strong oak tree with rough bark and spreading branches.

Whenever you notice that your mind has wandered, simply remind yourself that you are here to meditate, and go back to the object that you are focusing on, or your breath, or counting.

Yield to the process

There’s a sort of ‘giving up’ that goes on when we meditate. We’re letting go of that list of things to do that seems to have permanent residence in our head. We’re giving up trying to control anything. We’re giving up, sitting down and being still. That is when the magic happens. You may experience colours that aren’t there, voices of people you can’t see, shafts of sunlight, and sudden insights. Simply witness these. Keep witnessing. Keep returning to counting breaths, or noticing your breath, or whatever you have decided to do to still your mind. And at some point, you may well experience bliss. Let yourself bathe in that bliss.

Afterwards, don’t try to recreate what happened. Don’t worry that you’ll never manage to achieve it again. Remind yourself that you meditate in order to meditate, that’s all. There is no goal. Bliss is… well, blissful, but it is not a goal. Follow the EASY steps, and simply witness all that happens.

I wish you a calm mind, peace and happiness.

Thankful, optimism, support

01/02/2013 at 5:10 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments
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purseThis is a special bag: a beaded evening purse; handed down through the generations of my family. My mother gave it to me one day last December.

I typed out a list of positive, uplifting words, and printed several copies on card, then cut them up and popped them in the bag. During the Solstice, I invited many people, upwards of 80, to take a word out of the bag and keep it with them as guidance for the year ahead.

During the Solstice get-togethers I drew a total of  three words for myself: ‘Thankful’, ‘Optimism’ and ‘Support’. I looked at them, felt their specialness, then put them down and forgot about them.

January came, with snows, then wind and rain. There were winter bugs in my household, which meant I didn’t get to the gym, or go walking, or swimming. I reduced my daily yoga… gradually, imperceptibly, I was putting my wellbeing on hold. This is never a good idea, I know. But still, it happened.

And then, just yesterday, I found my three words once more: ‘Thankful’, ‘Support’ and ‘Optimism’. I hugged them like old friends. How could I have forgotten them?  The truth is, I need those words every day. Each word is a tiny, effective dose of wellbeing.

If you would like me to draw a word for you out of the bag, just ask, and I’ll be happy to send you your own little dose of wellbeing.

5 reasons to love December 2012

30/11/2012 at 3:44 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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Solstice 2012“What is all this about December 2012?” asked a meditation student. “I’ve been hearing some scary stories about the 21st, the Solstice. Should we be worried? Should I be preparing in any way?”

“What kind of scary stories?” I asked, though I had a pretty good idea.

“Oh, that there’s going to be some kind of natural disaster. You know, the world coming to an end; the Apocalypse…I’ve been reading about it.”

“Okay,” I said. “I’m going to give you some good reasons why we should love December  2012.” And here they are…

1) December 21st 2012 is the shortest day of the year, and also the date when a long cycle in an ancient South American calendar system, known as the Mayan Calendar, comes to an end. It has been suggested that this date will bring calamity. But calendars don’t create or predict events. They simply mark the days. And in any case, a new Mayan cycle starts on December 22nd.

Borders are always significant, and this border between two vast periods of time creates a pause. Within that pause there is an opportunity for old, outmoded ways of thinking to vanish, and a new, more humane outlook to flourish. This can be good for all of us.

2) Alarmist predictions about this month can actually teach us how to tell the difference between our ungrounded fears – in this case, a fear of the unknown – and our intuition. Intuition literally means ‘in-tuition’ and it is a form of teaching. We all know that good teachers care for their students and help them to achieve their best. So true guidance, whether it’s within you, or from someone in the wider world, is reassuring and uplifting – always. Trust your guidance.

3) A date can have powerful symbolic meaning, and this can be used in good and helpful ways. So, for example, December 21st 2012 is acting as a powerful focus for the ever-growing holistic movement. This movement can be summed up as this: the realization that we are all one. Humanity is one, magnificent, glorious being who is just beginning to learn that the only person we’ve been fighting all this time is ourselves – and that when we are kind to others, we are kind to ourselves.

4) This month may truly turn out to be an Apocalypse, in a positive way.  The word ‘apocalypse’ comes from ancient Greek, and originally meant ‘uncover, reveal’. It developed an additional meaning of ‘insight’ or ‘vision’. So perhaps we are living through an apocalypse; perhaps it has already started. But this is a good thing. Over the past 12 months we’ve had covert wrong-doings exposed in people who run countries, businesses, banks and charities.  We are living in a more transparent time, and that is to be welcomed. We are also, finally, accepting our intuitive and visionary abilities, having learnt in the last century that science and logic can lead to inhumane actions on a planetary scale.  We need our insight. We need our vision.

5) Each of us can use the potential energy of this time in excellent ways. You can focus during the whole of December, and especially around the time of the Winter Solstice on the 21st, on love and peace, feeling it in your own heart, towards yourself, your family, your community, your country, and this whole beautiful planet. While you do this, you will know that countless other people are doing the same, all over the world. What we think and feel does manifest in the outer world – and the positive energy we can generate together is beautiful. Be loving to yourself, and loving to the world.

That is the real meaning of this amazing time that we are living in.

PS For your free copy of my Happiness Meditation mp3, just click here. 

The real meaning of home

28/09/2012 at 3:02 pm | Posted in Happiness, Meditation, Nature, Wellbeing | 12 Comments
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In our distant nomadic past, home was where we settled for the night: it was shelter, a place we lay down – a place of rest. Recently, on the West Coast of Scotland, I came across a perfect example of home at its simplest. This stone outcrop at Sand provided shelter for our ancestors nearly 10,000 years ago. It was their bedroom, and also their kitchen: there is evidence that they collected limpets from the sea shore and boiled them up in water before eating them.

My daughter led me up and onto the roof of the shelter. “There’s a place I’ve got to show you,” she said. “You’re going to love it; it’s really special.” And she was right. On the heather-clad roof there were several broad stones: slabs of natural paving. One, in particular, was a perfect meditation seat. It was easy to sit there, gaze out to sea and  simply let your thoughts drift into that in-between place – the other realm.

When I did so, I found myself talking to the inhabitants of that time. We weren’t using words, exactly, but we were communicating. To my surprise, I found they were admiring my build: the fact that compared with them I looked immensely well fed. I was aware of their lightness and slimness and superb fitness, and found myself wishing that I exercised more.

Self-acceptance

They were surprised at my lack of self-acceptance on this matter. They reminded me of the goodness of Mother Earth, or the Mother as they called her. She provided what we needed, and it made no sense to disparage her gifts. Abundance was a blessing. Each of us was a creation of the Mother. Each of us was divine. How could we criticise ourselves in that context? Criticism was utterly meaningless.

I actually had the sense they were laughing at me, as if I were a child who didn’t quite understand. And yet there was also respect. It was as if they saw wisdom in me, as I saw wisdom in them. And the wisdom wasn’t individual wisdom; it was collective. We all shared knowledge… and this knowledge was infinite awareness.

And then I understood the true meaning of home. It is unconditional love, and it is acceptance. When you are at home – truly at home –  you are loved, you are accepted. During the many times we find ourselves on our own, we can still feel unconditional love and acceptance towards ourselves. And when we are with others – however distant in terms of culture, or the passage of time – we can feel that exact same connection. As I did on that rock.

Down below, a car horn was sounding. I was being summoned back to the 21st Century. I clambered down the heather slopes, sea breeze in my hair, aware that the bliss I was feeling is our natural birthright.

It’s your birthright; it truly is.

This moment now

30/07/2012 at 10:25 am | Posted in Happiness, Meditation, Nature, Uncategorized, Wellbeing | 1 Comment
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This moment now is all we ever have, but it’s enough, because it’s everything.

Have a magical day.

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