Be

girl lying on white surface petting gray rabbit

Photo by Anastasiya Gepp on Pexels.com

Numerous people are attributed as saying ‘We are human beings, not human doings.’ And just sometimes when many people say the same things, it is because it has truth within it.

Sometimes we put our value in what we do. This might be how busy our diary is, how many others we help, how hard we work, how much we earn, how fit we are.

What if . . . we practised just being? This would mean we don’t put value on what we do but value who we are. A bit like children do. Just be.

This is Mindful Monday on 12 November 2018.

If you live in or near Cheltenham, we meet for an evening of mindfulness of Monday 3 December on the theme of ‘growing in joy’. Join us if you can by booking your place in advance.

 

 

 

 

The wonder of water

 

wonder of water

Water can look so different, according to the setting, whether it is fresh or salt water, and indeed what is reflected in it.

I found it fascinating seeing how three teams of model railway enthusiasts went about using actual water or alternative materials to represent water in a competition for Channel 5 this week (The Great Model Railway Challenge). While I am not a model railway enthusiast, I enjoyed the skills and the choices the enthusiasts made – albeit with mixed results!

The sight of water can be refreshing, whether in a river, a lake or the sea – and even in the raindrops!

We also use it every day, here in the UK pouring from our taps. We wash in it, brush our teeth with it, drink it and cook with it.

Join me this week and practice thankfulness for the water we have both in the sights and the uses that refresh us.

This is Mindful Monday on 5 November 2018.

If you live in or near Cheltenham, join us for an evening of mindfulness on the theme of ‘growing in joy’ on Monday 3 December.

Look again

look again

I love this image – it always makes me look twice.

Looking again is what practicing awareness – or being mindful – is about. It trains us to look twice at a situation, a person, a concern, our thoughts, etc.

As we look again, sometimes we get a new perspective, a richer perspective.

This is Mindful Monday on 29 October 2018.

If you live in or near Cheltenham join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness on the theme of ‘growing in joy’ on Monday 3 December 2018.

Loving it!

loch awe 2Love is a big subject! We met for an evening of mindfulness last Tuesday on the theme of  growing in love. And we were enriched as we meditated and listened to one another.

Here’s a poem by Maya Angelou called ‘Touched by an Angel’. We explored it in small groups. Immerse yourself and see what speaks to you. It is a goldmine.

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

What’s the image? It is Loch Awe in the Scottish Highlands, the longest of the Scottish lakes. What’s the link? Steve shared his love of the place with me during the session. And then he sent this glorious view – which conveys something of the freedom that love offers. Thanks for sharing Steve!

This is Mindful Monday on 22 October 2018. 

Live in or near Cheltenham? Book your place on ‘growing in joy’ on Monday 3 December, 7.30-9 pm.

 

What if . . .

What if . . .

What if we did everything we do with love?

It’s a bold thought. And I have been observing myself over recent weeks.

I do a lot of things on auto pilot, in neutral. Of course I only even realise this as I look back at what I have just been doing – you don’t notice much in auto pilot!

I do other things with a meanness, a lack of generosity to myself and others as I seek to achieve a goal in my mind regardless.

When I do seek to do something with love, it changes what I am doing. I am not thinking here of our nearest and dearest relationships but the everyday relationships with others as we journey through our every days.

I claim no massive changes; the changes have been small. Like not interrupting someone when they are speaking or going out of my way to give someone a lift when they missed their bus. They have cost me a little patience, a little time. But they have changed everything. There is richness, a beauty, when – however clumsily (in my case) – there is love in the action.

I came across this from Mother Teresa

“I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, ‘How many good things have you done in your life?’ rather he will ask, ‘How much love did you put into what you did?'”

This is Mindful Monday on 15 October 2018.

Live in or near Cheltenham? Join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness looking at growing in love tomorrow – on Tuesday 16 October – at the Oasis Centre in Cheltenham. You can book even on the day.

 

Mindful in the everyday

white ceramic teacup on saucer with brown liquid

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

We can be tempted to make mindfulness something for special occasions. I went on a ‘retreat day’ recently – one of those special occasions – when it was good to spend some time exploring silence, that rare commodity in the everyday. However, it also reminded me that we practice awareness most of the time in our everyday activities, the 99.9% of our lives, and generally not in silence!

It is challenging to give a task our full attention. And yet when we do, we can be surprised with the richness of the experience. For example instead of absentmindedly drinking our cup of tea, eating our dinner, talking to a friend, driving to an appointment, or cleaning the bathroom, we can give it our full attention.

What does this look like? Here are three suggestions. It means not hurrying. It means making this task our focus, the most important thing to be doing right now. It means paying attention to the information our senses are giving us.

When we practice awareness, the task we are doing is meditation. And if we cannot do everyday tasks mindfully, we probably cannot meditate while sitting in silence. So the everyday and what for me are the ‘special occasions’ are connected. Practicing awareness in the everyday prepares us for moving deeper in our awareness sometimes through more disciplined practice. But for now, it’s time to clean the bathroom!

This is Mindful Monday on 8 October 2018.

Join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness at the Oasis in Cheltenham on Tuesday 16 October, 7.30-9 pm. The theme is ‘growing in love’. To book your place, contact Sara on hello@essencecheltenham.org, ideally by Friday 12 October but you can book even on the day. There is no charge. If you are able make a donation towards room hire.

 

 

 

A less exhausting choice

A choice

“You’ve had so much strife but you’re always happy. How do you do it?”

“I choose to. I can leave myself to rot in the past, spend my time hating people for what happened, like my father did, or I can forgive and forget.”

The reply comes, “But it’s not easy.”

To which the response is “Oh, but my treasure, it is so much less exhausting. You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day. You have to keep remembering all the bad things. I would have to make a list, a very, very long list and make sure I hated the people on it the right amount . . . ! No, we always have a choice. All of us.”

This is a conversation in a novel I read recently (more details here).

I was struck by the conversation because it resonates with another thing I have been reading. It is about having compassion, being kind, gentle and patient – and once again forgiving others but here for the reason that we too can be forgiven (more details here).

It is a choice. It isn’t an easy choice. We may need divine help to forgive but truly it is a less exhausting choice.

Thanks for the loan of the book Jo!

This is Mindful Monday on 1 October 2018.

Live in or near Cheltenham? We meet for an evening of mindfulness on the theme of Growing in Love on Tuesday 16 October, 7.30-9 pm. Get in touch to book your place.