Of storms and miracles

28/10/2013 at 9:11 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Sunset and fiesta

Wind and lightening came at 5 am. We were prepared. The apples ­– Fiesta and Sunset – had been gathered. Windows and gates were fastened shut.

The raw, elemental power of the wind hit our windows almost full on. The howling sound as it tore through the trees was unrelenting. We couldn’t see, but heard the sound of branches being torn out and raked along the ground by nature’s pruning shears.

In the darkness it’s so easy to become wide-eyed, to lie in bed with teeming thoughts. So I said these most reassuring words: “I am safe, and all is well”.

The “I” in that beautiful mantra stretches beyond the individual, to all who may be in need of reassurance at that time: “We are safe, and all is well”.

And suddenly, all was well. The high-velocity air became a friend once more: a welcome agent of change.

The storm has passed. It’s sweeping eastwards. Meanwhile, the rain is still with us. There is an Atlantic freshness in the air. I notice that my mind feels like a newly ploughed field: well-watered and fertile. All I have to do is plant my questions and the answers will grow.

This One is Special rises to the surface of my thoughts. This book that I am writing is all about my experience of having a child with undiagnosed special needs. He has been called a miracle child. After thStrange, that it’s come to mind in the context of the storm. I know that there will be a good reason for it. Somehow, in a way that I don’t yet see, the two will be connected.

“You want to know about the Miracle Child?” asks my inner voice of guidance. “The Miracle Child is not one person. It is each one of you. Every human being is a miracle child. When you share your story, you remind readers who they really are.”

I ask for clarification. My guidance directs me to a dream I had five years ago, entitled ‘The Angel Labels’. So I retrieve the relevant dream diary from a drawer. My eyes go straight to the following paragraph:

“I woke from that dream understanding the power of words and symbols. I saw that everyone is like a blown glass vessel – like a Christmas decoration – with a hazy, open bit at the top, connecting us with all that is, from whence we are blown.”

“From whence we are blown…” I love that expression. I was born into a Mediterranean storm. I am literally a child of the storm. However, according to my guidance, we are all blown in from the heavens, from the All That Is. So when the storm comes, don’t be afraid. Be glad, because it signifies birth: birth of the new you, the Miracle Child, who is blown in from the Universe, and eternally connected with it.

Today, this moment now, is fresh and sparkling and new. Your life right now is a new life, full of fertile possibilities. Whatever age you think you are, the reality is you are young, and vibrant, and the world is lying before you: fresh, and new and fun.

How to meditate the EASY way

21/08/2013 at 11:31 am | Posted in Meditation | 4 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.

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