Wellbeing notes: a question of perspective

01/05/2022 at 5:18 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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In the late spring, some years ago, a new telegraph pole was put up in a nearby field. At first, everyone thought the pole was a blot on the landscape. “Shame that beautiful view’s been spoiled by the pole,” we all said. But one day a practical friend visited. She pointed out that the pole formed only a tiny part of the view. So why were we obsessing about that, when there were acres and acres of countryside to enjoy? 

Ever since, I’ve been careful to keep any blots in perspective – not just in nature, but in my personal life too. When crisis happens – and it does, because that is the way of things – a good exercise is to list the items in our lives that continue to be beautiful, useful and enriching. If we are lucky, we have plumbing, housing, warmth, food and income. And if we are luckier, we have many people whom we like, or maybe love.

Once we remember all these good things, the blot, whatever it may be, is put into perspective. We can possibly go one step further and say that everything – including that benighted telegraph pole – is serving some purpose. And we might begin to accept that the blots, too, have their place.

Metaphorically, a blot is any flaw that we study – that grows larger in our imagination. Yet when we walk away, the blot shrinks – and the landscape is revealed as infinite.

Wellbeing notes: This is the colour for growing and flourishing

01/02/2022 at 10:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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We’re focusing on colours in my Thursday meditation group – a different band of the rainbow for seven weeks. The latest colour we’ve been studying is green. My local countryside is still wintry, not yet verdant, so meditating on green brings a dose of early summer to the imagination, and tranquillity to the mind. Picture yourself, right now, in a lush green landscape. How does it feel?

The word ‘green’ comes from the Proto-Indo-European root, ‘ghre’, meaning ‘to grow’, signifying the way natural landscapes gain a colourwash of green as the weather warms up. Somewhere between the passion of red and the purity of white, green is associated with the heart chakra and can be viewed as a colour of healing, freshness and balance, a wonderful hue for feeling relaxed and calm in mind, body and spirit. 

If you feel the need for more green in your life, seek it out. Imagine it. Plant it. Grow it.

On the windowsill in my study are three flourishing plants. Each is beautiful in its own way. The frequent attention they receive helps them to thrive – a reminder that what I care for is more likely to do well. This principle applies equally to people and work projects as well as plants. 

So these are my questions to you. What in your own life is currently becoming green? What aspect is flourishing? And how can this be honoured and encouraged?

Building up your kindness muscles

06/12/2021 at 11:26 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A wise person once said to me, “The most important thing you can learn to do is to forgive.” The act of forgiving has become a life-long lesson. It’s hard to forgive someone who has hurt me personally, or hurt others whom I care about, but there is something freeing about the act.
A useful tool if you wish to become more forgiving is to practise loving kindness meditation. Sometimes called Metta bhavana in the language of early Buddhist texts, or simply ‘Metta meditation’, the concept predates Buddhism, suggesting that kindness is part of our human character.
Try this common form of metta meditation. Close your eyes and think kindly thoughts towards yourself. You might say, silently: “May I be well. May I be happy. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease with myself.”
Then, think of someone you love. Repeat those same kind thoughts: “May you be well. May you be happy. May you be safe. May you be peaceful and at ease with yourself.”
Then, think of someone you feel neutral towards. Cultivate the same feelings of non- judgemental kindness, and repeat the same words: “May you be well…”
And now, think of someone you find difficult, and repeat the process again, as best you can.
Finally, think of all four people together, in the same spirit of loving kindness, and repeat the words: “May we be well. May we be happy. May we be safe. May we be peaceful and at ease with ourselves.”

Wellbeing notes: do these three things every day

01/11/2021 at 11:02 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Continue Reading Wellbeing notes: do these three things every day…

Dancing goddess – a (free) audio meditation

15/08/2021 at 1:17 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Friend Sue picked the theme for this week’s meditation, but she couldn’t make the actual event, so I decided to record the meditation for her, and for others who might like to hear it. May it relax and empower you.

Photo: Julia Caesar/Unsplash

Message from the oracle deck

03/08/2021 at 5:28 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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There is a pack of oracle cards, called the Oracle of Illumination, that was given to me by Vivien, a dear friend whom I met during my training with The Healing Trust. The bag that the cards rest in nowadays was a gift from Judith, a beloved sister of mine. Both women are now in the light, and yet it feels to me as though their kind influence is evident each time I use the cards.

This morning I drew the card, ‘Energiser’. The book that came with the deck was discarded long ago as I am one of those lawless beings who likes to receive impressions directly from an oracle, without reference to the authors’ personal interpretations. Instead, I went for a walk through the local meadows and let the word become a refrain as I strolled. And these were some of the questions in my mind.

How does the word ‘energiser’ figure in your life today? What and who energise you? What and who leave you feeling low in energy?

I realised that walking in green spaces or doing some yoga or writing my current novel can be deeply energising, even if, before the start of those exercises, I was feeling tired. In contrast, sitting still for long periods doing nothing in particular can actually deplete my energy. And although there are necessary, dull tasks in everyone’s day, making sure to include energising activities, whatever that means to you, is essential self-care.

Celebrate what your body can do

27/12/2018 at 6:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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At this time of year it’s so easy to feel bad about eating too much and exercising too little. That’s why it was good to step through the sunlit winter mist and into my local gym, where the following unattributed message was displayed: “Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment for what you ate.” So true! Have you ever noticed that it’s easier to exercise when you accept and appreciate yourself wholeheartedly, just as you are? “I can do this” is a mantra that gives us wings.

The next step from appreciation is thankfulness, and that’s the word that we will be meditating on in sessions through January. I’m thankful for a body that is, on balance, pretty healthy. I’m thankful for family and friends and warmth and nourishment. I’m grateful for being part of overlapping circles of community that cooperate and help one another. Being thankful gives sustenance to the very things we appreciate. What will you appreciate in 2019? What forces will you feed with your thankfulness?

 

Try this simple star meditation for wellbeing

24/07/2018 at 6:48 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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This exercise is quick and easy to do. Once you’ve learnt it, you can complete it in just six breaths. Many people find it relaxing, and it can help you step into a mindset of good health and happiness. It’s a little about the hand movements, and a lot about the visualisation you do during the sequence. You can do this every day, or whenever you feel like it.

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1. Clasp your hands loosely together with the thumb pads touching. Focus on your breathing. Follow the breath as it moves in and out. As you breathe in, say the word ‘Divine’ to yourself – breathe in the word silently – and imagine a golden white ball of light, shimming and glowing right in the very centre of you. As you breathe out, say the word ‘light’ to yourself – breathe out silently – and imagine the light at the centre of you radiating outwards like a star. Imagine that the light clears away any detritus in your energy field that is no longer needed, so that you glow and shine ever more brightly.

 

 

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2. With the next in-breath, keep your thumbs together, and place the two index fingers together. Repeat as above, breathing in the word ‘divine’ and breathing out the word ‘light’. Imagine the light radiating, and clearing old energies.

 

 

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3. With the next in-breath, keep thumbs and index fingers together. Place the two middle fingers together. Repeat breathing and visualising as above. Imagine yourself like a star, with beautiful, life-giving rays of light streaming out in all directions.

 

 

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4. With the next in-breath, keep thumbs, index and middle together. Feel the sensation of the thumb pads and the finger pads connecting with their counterparts. Perhaps you can feel your pulse through the connection. Repeat breathing and visualising as above. With each in-breath the light in the centre of you glows more brightly. With each out-breath it radiates outwards.

 

 

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5. And with the next in-breath, keep all your digits together, including your little fingers. Take your time to be still and breathe meditatively. Imagine that the light in the centre of you is dazzlingly bright, and that the light is streaming outwards in every direction. Picture that any areas of physical or mental pain are harmlessly being cleared away by the powerful radiating light, leaving your body, mind and spirit full of radiant good health and happiness.

 

6. Finally, conclude the exercise by placing your hands briefly in the ‘namaste’ position. As you do so, focus on a sense of the divine in yourself, and in all living beings.

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How to meditate with crystal geodes

04/07/2018 at 7:30 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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What are geodes?

Geodes are rock-encased cavities or bubbles within which crystals have formed. The crystals tend to point inwards, towards the centre. On the outside, geodes in their natural state are lumpy and bumpy. They may weigh less than you expect. On the inside, they are crystalline worlds that sparkle when the rock is cracked open and exposed to the light.

The contrast between a plain exterior and a detailed interior is one of the reasons why geodes work so well as tools of meditation. In meditation, our minds are revealed to have an internal richness, like a geode into which light shines.

The word ‘geode’ itself comes from the word for ‘earth’.

The geode sphere shown above is fantastic to meditate on, because it feeds both the senses and the imagination. This is a pale amethyst that has been removed from its bumpy exterior, and been shaped into a sphere. Platinum and silver vapour was then passed over it, creating permanent iridescent colours over every surface.

What’s the best kind of geode for meditation?

There are many varieties of geodes, and each one has a place in meditation. Put simply, the qualities you notice within the geode are qualities that you may also discover within yourself, bringing you a sense of peace, and insights. Here are a couple of geode examples.

Lightness and sparkle

Last week I picked up two humble snow quartz half-geodes for a fiver from Bath Market. Here is one of them.

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Small and light, it’s easy to keep this in your hand or your lap, or just near you while you work. Gaze into its depths, and you are subtly taken into another world of beauty and sparkle. Each time you look into a simple geode like this, your perspective shifts, and you feel a small dose of relaxation.  Note, this type of crystal is sometimes described as chalcedony, which just means it’s a microcrystalline variant of quartz. However, a clearer example of chalcedony can be seen below.

Deep and powerful

If you’ve ever walked into a crystal shop, you’ve almost certainly seen one or more amethyst caves, which are geodes by another name. These can range from diminutive to giant-sized. Search online for ‘amethyst cave’ and you’ll find plenty of examples. Many people find these deep purple caverns calming and restful.

At the furthest end of the scale of magnitude is the incredible Cave of Crystals in Mexico, a searingly hot cavern lined with the world’s largest known crystals. The cave is usually flooded and inaccessible. However, for a brief period some years ago, it was drained, and small numbers of people were able to walk around the giant selenite crystals.

Organic flow

Not all geodes contain crystal points. Here is an example of chalcedony where the mineral seems to have been caught mid-flow. At just under 4 cm, it’s slightly smaller than the sweet and sparkly snow quartz geode illustrated above, but it’s noticeably heavier to hold.

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This example has a translucent, milky appearance, though it can equally be coloured – agate is a bright, banded version of chalcedony. With its flowing qualities, this form of chalcedony can have a organic, even intimate aspect to it. When you tune into those qualities within yourself, it can help you to be in touch with who you really are.

What’s the best way to meditate with a geode?

• Sit comfortably somewhere quiet and peaceful with your chosen geode. You might wish to set a timer for, say, 20 minutes for this exercise.

• Study the geode using your senses: handle it, gaze at it, notice how the light shines and reflects within it. Feel the weight of it in your hands. Tap it and notice any hollowness or otherwise. Gaze into it as though it is a sparkling cave that you can enter.

• Close your eyes and continue to notice your geode’s qualities in your imagination. Breathe in and out, slowly and peacefully. Allow your continued imaginary study of your geode to synchronise with your breathing.

• Continue your unhurried, relaxed breathing, and your imaginary exploration of your geode. As you do so, you may find your attention wanders. Whenever you notice that it has, just gently bring your attention back to your geode. Feel it in your hands to reinforce  your connection with it.

• As you continue your meditation, you may find spontaneous images or words enter your mind. Some of these may appear to make no sense. Some may feel like solutions to problems, or shimmering insights. Do your best to witness these without attachment. Let them float through and out of your consciousness. Remind yourself gently that you are here to meditate, and that it all.

• After the meditation, think about what has taken place. You will likely notice that your mind feels calmer and fresher, like a clear pool in which the silt has settled or been washed away. Note any new insights you may acquired as a result of your meditation.

In summary, geodes make useful and beautiful meditation companions. You can use them frequently as part of a regular practice, or simply to create a calm, meditative atmosphere in a room. You can also use images of geodes to focus on, or you can imagine the perfect meditative crystal cave, full of relaxing qualities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lift your mood with lavender

14/06/2018 at 7:56 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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In a week when a study showed that over a third of all medicines can cause depression, it’s worth remembering that simple remedies from nature can lift your mood. Lavender is one of the very best that you can rely on.

Run your fingers gently through a lavender plant that’s just come into bloom, and you will instantly relax with the characteristic, uplifting, restful scent. Inhaling lavender is proven to reduce levels of anxiety and stress.

A few drops of lavender essential oil on a tissue placed near you at night or near your desk will calm the mind and nerves. Diluted in a carrier oil and rubbed into the skin, molecules of soothing lavender have been found to enter the bloodstream and deliver pain-reducing, mildly sedative benefits. Lavender oil in an intensive care unit or hospital ward can reduce the levels of body-disrupting sedation required.

Lavender spray recipe

This is a simple and delightful way to feel the benefits of lavender.

Take a clean and empty 100 ml bottle with a fine spray attachment. Add 15 ml of vodka, 80 ml of spring or other water, and 40 drops of lavender essential oil. Put the lid on the bottle and shake. Spray on yourself, around rooms or around your bed at night for instant, soothing relaxation.

Do you have a favourite method of using lavender?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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