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. 

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