Living today

 

Don't miss the sun today

I went to a thanksgiving service last week. It was a heartfelt celebration of a friend’s life, appropriately filled with music (for he was a musician). Mike died of MND and wrote a blog in the last months of his life.

Reading his blog I am struck by how much he lived life – with all its joys and its challenges – and this is an image and theme from one of his blogs. You can read the full blog ‘What’s the use of worrying?’ here.

Each of us will have very different joys and challenges today. And yet as we make a choice to live today – to notice what is – we (like Mike did) will find there is sunshine in the midst.

You will only live this day once – so don’t miss it!

This is Mindful Monday on 18 March 2019.

If you live in or near Cheltenham, join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness on the theme of growing in patience next Monday (25 March).

To reserve your place (no charge, just make a donation towards room hire if you are able), email hello@essececheltneham.org.

 

Cuppa?

mug picture

Like me, do you ever find yourself checking if you have drunk your cuppa or not, only to find it empty? You drank it but didn’t notice doing so!

Sometimes we are scarcely aware as we eat and drink – and because we are not aware, we are not thankful for what we eat and drink

Here’s a meditation to do with a cuppa: increase your awareness; be thankful.

Look at the liquid as if you have never seen anything like it before.

Pay attention to seeing it. (Pause)

Note the colour of it. (Pause)

And now smell the liquid, moving the cup gently beneath your nose, and with each inbreath, carefully noticing the smell of it, if any. (Pause)

And now taking another look at it. (Pause)

And now slowly taking the cup to your mouth, maybe noticing how your hand and arm know exactly where to put it, perhaps noticing your mouth watering as it comes up. (Pause)

And then slowly taking a sip, noticing how your lips reach out to sip it, and hold the liquid in your mouth.

Notice the tastes you can experience in your mouth.

And when you are ready, very consciously swallow it. (Pause)

See if you can follow the sensations of swallowing it, sensing the liquid down in your stomach.

This is Mindful Monday on 11 March 2019.

Join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness on the theme of growing in patience on Monday 25 March at the Oasis, Cheltenham. Book your place by emailing hello@essencecheltenham.org (no charge but make a donation towards room hire on the night if you are able).

As smooth as a pebble

pebbles

It was unusually warm in the UK last week – and for glorious moments I sat on a large piece of drift wood on a beach on the south coast.

I watched and listened to the waves break on the sea shore.

As I got up to walk back along the beach I started to look at the pebbles on the seashore. So many different kinds of pebbles: grey, white, brown – and all the shades of each colour and combinations of each colour.

I started to pick up pebbles. Each pebble was a different shape but the uniting feature was that they were either entirely smooth or in the process of being worn smooth.

The pebbles are worn smooth through the action of the waves: there is something lovely in holding them and feeling that smoothness. It is wave erosion and yet it is producing something lovely.

Could there be things that I think of as irritants or frustrations, things that I think are wearing me down like wave erosion on a pebble, that are actually shaping me – rounding me – for the better? Not an easy thought but one worth considering.

This is Mindful Monday on Monday 4 March 2019.

Join Julie Hill and Sara Shailer for an evening of mindfulness on the theme of growing in patience on Monday 25 March, 7.30-9 pm at the Oasis. It helps us to know how many are coming so book your place by emailing hello@essencecheltenham.org.

 

Barefoot earlier in the Spring

daisy-2.png

It is warming up in the UK. I haven’t yet walked barefoot outdoors but the time is coming . . .

Enjoy this poem ‘I’d pick more daisies’, which is attributed to Nadine Stair at age 85. What does living in the moment mean for our choices today?

If I had my life to live over,
I’d try to make more mistakes.
I would relax. I would limber up.
I would be sillier.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would take more chances.
I would go more places.
I would climb more mountains,
swim more rivers, and watch more sunsets.
I would eat more ice cream and fewer beans.
I would have more actual troubles
and fewer imaginary ones.

You see, I am one of those people who lives
prophylactically and sensibly and sanely,
hour after hour, day after day.

Oh, I have had my moments.
And if I had it to do over again, I’d have more of them.
In fact, I’d try to have nothing else.
Just moments, one after another.
Instead of living so many years ahead each day.

I have been one of those people who never go
anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle,
a gargle, a raincoat, and a parachute.

If I had to do it over again,
I would go places and do things.
I’d travel lighter than I have.
If I had my life to live over, I would start barefooted
earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall.
I would play hooky more.
I wouldn’t make such good grades except by accident.
I would ride on merry-go-rounds.
I’d pick more daisies!

This is Mindful Monday on 25 February 2019.

Join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness in Cheltenham on the theme of growing in patience on 25 March 2019. Book your place by emailing hello@essencecheltenham.org

There is no charge – if you are able make a donation towards room hire on the night.

Choice thoughts

thoughts

What are you thinking about now? What will you think about throughout today?

Random thoughts will pop into our minds all the time but we have a choice in the thoughts we choose to dwell on. It is another way of saying, ‘You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair’ (attributed to Martin Luther).

I was amazed by the kindness of two strangers yesterday. They had found my wallet dropped in a car park and taken the trouble to track me down, delivering the wallet back to me before I even knew it was missing.

Their action was honourable and admirable. I am grateful to them. I will choose to dwell on their kindness.

Of course there are many other things for me – and for you – that are true, right, pure and lovely. Each of us will notice different things if we pause long enough. There is joy in the noticing. There is well being in identifying these things and dwelling upon them.

Here are some wise words from Scripture, written way back when but just as relevant today:

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

This is Mindful Monday on 18 February 2019.

Do you live near or in Cheltenham, UK? We meet for an evening of mindfulness on the theme of growing in patience in March. See events page for more details and how to book your place.

Just a minute

mindful minuteWhatever your day looks like, here’s a meditation that takes just one minute and will help you press pause.

As it takes only a minute you could do it several times a day, either at planned times such as after eating each meal or at unplanned times when you notice that your mind is overly busy or you are feeling stressed.

As you do this meditation you will be amazed – even stunned – at how it increases your awareness of yourself and what is around you. Why does that matter? When we increase our awareness, it increases our chance of making good choices of what we do or how we react in the minutes that follow.

  1. Feel your breath coming in and out of your nose. Feel your breath as it fills up your chest and lungs, and feel it as you release it.
  2. Notice what’s happening around you, using your senses. Hear any sounds, notice any smells, and feel the temperature of the air against your skin.
  3. Observe the emotions and thoughts you have. Just notice them, without judgment, and without any desire to change them.
  4. Notice how your mind drifts, and bring it back to your breath. Feel your breath coming in and out of your nose. Feel your breath as it fills up your chest and lungs, and notice it as you release it.

Click here for an audio recording of this meditation. And it is actually just 55 seconds long!

This is Mindful Monday on 11 February 2019. 

We next meet for an evening of mindfulness in Cheltenham on Monday 25 March 2019, 7.30-9 pm. Our theme is growing in patience. Book your place in advance so that we can prepare the space for the right number of people.

 

Steps to peace within

Steps to peace within

All of us seek peace within – and most of us will have found it is a journey, the path of which we continue to walk, rather than having a sense of having reached the destination called ‘total peace’!

Tomorrow a group of us will meet in Cheltenham (UK) for an evening of mindfulness, on the theme of ‘growing in peace’.

We will reflect on actions we can take today on our journey to peace, including looking back to identify things in our past or our thoughts about the future that might rob us of the peace we seek now. We will touch on two equally powerful choices of acceptance or action to change our perspectives on our past and our future, enabling us to live better in the present.

I just watched a four-minute video by Terry Waite, a hostage for several years. He suffered and yet he seeks to address the anger he had, rather than let it simmer:

If I allow my anger to get the better of me [because of what happened to be in the past], it will destroy me.

He also says:

This is your life now. Not tomorrow, not yesterday. Now.

Click here to watch the video.

This is Mindful Monday on 4 February 2019.

If you would like to join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness at the Oasis on Tuesday 5 February 2019, email ahead to book your place as it helps to know how many of us are gathering to prepare the space: hello@essencecheltenham.org.