The poetry of breathing

I was with a friend recently and for a short while he had difficulty breathing. He needed oxygen – extra breath – to restore him.

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This poem is by Sarah L Harvey and you can find it here.

There is joy, beauty and life in our very breath. Be thankful for it. Enjoy it.

This is Mindful Monday @ essencecheltenham on 24 September 2018. 

Autumn dates for mindfulness gatherings available later this week.

 

 

 

Thankfulness with Louis

skies of blue and clouds of whhite

I live in a town but frequently drive through or walk through the countryside. And friends grow fruit and veg, and at the moment have more than enough to share! So that makes me aware that harvest time is here.

It has made me think of Louis Armstrong’s fantastic song ‘What a Wonderful World’. Here are the lyrics (go on, have a sing!)

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They’re really saying I love you

I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world

I wonder what you would include in your own version of these lyrics? What do you see that – even on an average kind of day – makes you thankful? I bet it is the simpler things in life, things that are more valuable than money can ever buy.

I am leading a Harvest service in a few weeks. We will listen to this song and reflect on what makes it a wonderful world for each of us. And we will be thankful. We will go on to reflect on the Maker of All Things who is good. And we will be thankful.

This is Mindful Monday on 10 September 2018.

Dates available shortly for Essence Cheltenham mindfulness gatherings this autumn!

Living forwards

Life must be lived forwards but is only understood backwards.

forwards

This was beautifully carved on stone in a seasonal exhibition of sculptures I saw last year (Showborough House Sculpture Garden). It was actually on a path so you had to avoid actually walking on it.

It is a great visual of the truth that we can only live in each moment. And yet there is learning as we reflect back on the journey.

I walked one way over the stone – and of course back the other way too.

Sometimes it takes more courage than other times either to do the walking forwards or the learning from the past but there is health in both.

This is Mindful Monday @ essencecheltenham on 3 September 2018. 

If you have ever come to an Essence Cheltenham event, please give your input this week to help us plan our forthcoming gatherings.

Here are some suggestions of things you might want to feedback on but input as occurs to you. How do you find the blend of activities at sessions, including types of activities you find less or more useful? How do you find the mix of body, mind and spirit-focussed activities? How do you find the regularity of gatherings at every 4-6 weeks? How do you find the (most usual) venue at the Oasis Cheltenham? Do you have a preference for night of the week? Would you like to do a more regular mindfulness course, meeting say every week or every other week for something like three to six weeks, or some variant on that?

How can you give your input? You can use messenger or email hello@essencecheltenham.org. If you are happy writing down your input do it through messenger or by email.

 
If you prefer to talk through your input send a message through messenger or email – or add a comment on Facebook – and we can arrange a time for a call or to meet up.

 

 

 

Change the view

go far together

Here’s a saying that caught my ears this week:

If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

There is a richness in travelling with others. Their perspectives on the world (often different from our own) changes the view. Their insights into their own lives and situations sheds light on our own. Their observations on others whom we also know gives us the possibility of fresh understanding.

There are times when speed is of the essence. And there is truth in the idea that we will make our decisions – reach our destination – quicker alone. After all, we do not need then to consult – adjust our journey – for others.

But there are also many, many times when working with, sharing with, travelling with others is the best approach. It’s usually slower. It has more uncertainty. It leads to a better view.

Essence Cheltenham runs regular mindfulness events. We seek to journey together, as a  community of people with a shared interest in deepening our awareness of ourselves, others and the world around us.

If you have ever come to an Essence Cheltenham event, please give your input this week to help us plan our forthcoming gatherings.

Here are some suggestions of things you might want to feedback on but input as occurs to you. How do you find the blend of activities at sessions, including types of activities you find less or more useful? How do you find the mix of body, mind and spirit-focussed activities? How do you find the regularity of gatherings at every 4-6 weeks? How do you find the (most usual) venue at the Oasis Cheltenham? Do you have a preference for night of the week? Would you like to do a more regular mindfulness course, meeting say every week or every other week for something like three to six weeks, or some variant on that?

How can you give your input? You can use Facebook messenger (www.facebook.com/essencecheltenham) or email hello@essencecheltenham.org. If you are happy writing down your input do at through messenger or by email. If you prefer to talk through your input send a message through messenger or email and we can arrange a time for a call or to meet up.

This is Mindful Monday on 27 August 2018. Look out for autumn plans!

Nature as a mirror

nature as a mirror

Spending time outdoors is generally seen as a good thing, with claims that it can

  • help lower blood pressure and de-stress us
  • combat tiredness, anxiety and depression
  • reduce inflammation, and even
  • improve short-term memory.

Here is an interesting article making such claims – and more.

And I for one have had a weekend in the outdoors and I feel the better for it.

As well as general health benefits, being in the outdoors also offers an opportunity to raise our awareness of our own state. As we look, we may find a glimpse of the natural world holds a mirror on how we are physically, emotionally or spiritually.

Take a look outside, even if it just from a window or a doorway – or, if you can, take a walk. What do you see that reveals something of your internal world?

This is Mindful Monday on 20 August 2018.

If you live in or near Cheltenham, join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness – in the outdoors – this coming week on Tuesday 21 August, 7 pm to 8.30 pm.

The theme is ‘the gallery of the outdoors’. There is no charge or donation for this event (as we have no room hire cost!). Just get in touch for details of the location – and so that we know how many of us are gathering.

Perspectives: elephants

elephantYesterday I was caught in a shower of rain. And I was delighted! Why? The South-West of England where I live has had little rain over recent months – and I am now imagining the brown grass in my garden starting to green.

I know there have been many other times when it has rained. And my reaction has not been one of delight! So it all depends on perspective.

This is a well-known story associated with being mindful and I thought you would enjoy reading it, whether for the first or the tenth time.

Six blind people were asked to discover what an elephant looks like. Each of them was guided to an elephant and felt a different part.

One felt a leg and said the elephant was like a pillar. One felt the trunk and said the elephant was like the branch of a tree. One felt the tail and said the elephant was like rope. Another felt the ear and said the elephant was like a fan. The one who felt the belly thought the elephant felt like a wall. And the one who felt the tusk said the elephant was like a solid pipe.

They argued, insisting they each knew what an elephant was like.

A wise person overhead their argument and joined the conversation, suggesting they were all right to an extent. They simply had their own specific perspective – and had not yet experienced the perspectives of one another.

This is Mindful Monday from Essence Cheltenham.

If you live in or near Cheltenham, join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill on Tuesday 21 August 7-8.30 pm for an evening of mindfulness in the outdoors (weather permitting). The theme is the ‘gallery of the outdoors’. As usual all activities will the optional and there will be time for shared meditation as well as individual reflection. No charge and no donation. Contact us to confirm details of the venue.

Our story

Once upon a time . . . who I am . . .

We each have a story to tell. It is story about how we see ourselves. Who we are.

I heard an ancient story this week. There were three characters in the story: a father and his two sons.

One son’s view of himself was ‘I am not worthy’. Or you could phrase it in a dozen of similar ways such as  ‘I am hopeless’, ‘I am a bad person’, ‘I have done bad things’, ‘I am unlovable’. You get the picture.

The other son’s view of himself was ‘I am hard done-by’. Or he could equally have said ‘I am angry’, ‘I am bitter’, ‘I am taken advantage of’, ‘I am unloved’.

The third character, the father, reached out to both of them, with love. He gave them everything he had. Both sons seem to miss that they are loved.

The ancient story is told here. It is a story about how the divine reaches out to each of us with love in our unworthiness or our bitterness – whatever our state.

I wonder how different the sons’ stories would have been if they had paused to notice, if they had been able to say ‘I am loved’. It changes everything. It changes who we are.

We don’t know what happens next. What if the sons experienced that love? What if their story became ‘I am loved’. It is a very different place from where they were. It is a place of life and living.

This is Mindful Monday on 6 August 2018.

If you live in or near Cheltenham, join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill on Tuesday 21 August 7-8.30 pm for an evening of mindfulness in the outdoors (weather permitting). The theme is the ‘gallery of the outdoors’. As usual all activities will the optional and there will be time for shared meditation as well as individual reflection. No charge and no donation. Contact us to confirm details of the venue.