Wellbeing notes: tiny plant, giant teachings

03/05/2021 at 10:12 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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One regular walk takes me over the old canal bridge. I passed over it not so long ago and took a photo of a tiny clump of moss that grows there. Small details from nature such as moss make for excellent meditation subjects. You can give yourself a few minutes of quiet, close your eyes and imagine the tiny plant in sensory detail: the green, textured cushion; the slender stalks supporting spore capsules no bigger than a grain of rice. 

When you notice that your mind has wandered, you simply remind yourself that you are here to meditate, and you focus again on your chosen subject – in this case, the moss.

We meditate in this way to pause the relentless chatter of our thoughts. It’s impossible to empty the mind completely; focusing on one subject is the next best thing. Doing this regularly can help us become calmer and less stressed. We can become more self-aware and may enjoy physical benefits, such as better sleep and decreased blood pressure. 

Yesterday I returned to the bridge. I was taking a longer walk than usual and although I did pause to take in the view, I hurried on towards my destination. It wasn’t until I got home that I realised I hadn’t even noticed the moss that grows on the bridge. And I realised a simple truth: what we focus on is what we see.

My invitation to you is to choose mindfully what you focus on today. 

This is why I let the wild bees go

10/06/2019 at 8:01 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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The honey bees buzzed into the garden like a striped, determined blizzard, and settled in a wild cherry tree where they became a solid mass that moved constantly yet kept its shape. The way they seethed and settled seemed alarming to this bee-ignorant person. I called a local beekeeper, who said he would turn up the next morning and capture the swarm. In the meantime, cautiously, I studied them. And began to see patterns in their movement.

Firstly,  they were reassuringly peaceful, cocooning and protecting their all-important queen. Then there were individual bees, scouts, who constantly buzzed off to search for a new nesting site in the nearby woods, and returned to communicate their findings to the swarm.

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For hours, on and off, I watched them. They were mesmerising. Gradually I began to see the swarm’s point of view. I liked the way so many bees could act as one community. As chance would have it, my own home was about to become a community. Within the week, our disabled son, Tim, would return from college to live a semi-independent life with us. He would bring a team of carers with him. I was looking forward to Tim’s return very much. However, I felt trepidation about the team that would nearly always be with him.

While I watched and waited, the bees quietly buzzed their message, that it’s okay to be part of a community, in which everyone has their role to play. During those hours, my attitude shifted. I began to accept my family’s new phase. Our home shimmered and changed shape around me, becoming its new, more public self.

The next day, I phoned the beekeeper and asked him to come a couple of hours later than planned. I had to go out but also, secretly, I hoped our visiting bees might have the chance to live a wild, free life. And sure enough, in that time the bees lifted and vanished into the woodland. They were gone within seconds. I understood that they had found their own home. And I wasn’t sorry that I let them go.

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