Reflections

Reflections at Stourhead Gardens, November 2021

I spent a glorious morning enjoying autumn colours at Stourhead Gardens and knew you would want to share in it. I particularly enjoyed seeing reflections of buildings and nature in a lake. Some detail is present in the reflection and yet the scene is more muted, softer.

Imagine seeing a reflection of your life right now. What are the shapes and colours that would show in ‘the lake’? You might want to draw or write down what stands out.

Ensure the reflection of yourself you are seeing has a softness in it. We need a softness in our perspective that enables us to reflect with kindness, not judgement.

This is Mindful Monday on 15 November 2021.

The winds that shape us

Winds that shape us

Each of us is shaped – or influenced – by many different winds, from infancy to today.

Pause and identify one or two of the winds that have influenced you.

Some winds are positive. How do we know them? They are the ones that tell us that we are valued and loved, and enable us to value and love others.

Some winds are negative: they are the ones that tell us that we are useless and unlovable, and make it harder for us to make good relationships with others.

Being able to identify and classify the winds that shape our thinking about ourselves and the world around us gives us understanding, including compassion for ourselves. We weren’t always in a position to control what shaped us. We will find weather damage!

Being able to identify and classify the winds that shape us also gives us the opportunity to review what we are being influenced by, opening ourselves more fully to some influences and closing ourselves to others.

For me today, thinking of the winds that shape me, I am resolute to open myself more to the breath of the Divine – God’s Spirit. The Spirit is the one who knew me while I was still in my mother’s womb and is each moment all knowing (omniscient), all present (omnipresent), and all powerful (omnipotent). It’s the best of winds.

May you too open yourself to life-giving winds.

This is Mindful Monday on 8 November 2021.

All weathers

All weathers

It’s definitely autumn now; summer is behind us.

In the UK, there’s an increase in wind and rain, temperatures are beginning to drop; there are also glorious foliage colours and bushes full of red berries.

Like every season, it’s a mix of moments in the ever-changing weather, if we take the time to notice.

The weather is the weather. It can be ‘glorious’ (most of us love it crisp, blue skied and sunny) or ‘dreary’ (most of us dislike it grey, wet and cold). It is what it is, like it or don’t like it.

I have been intentionally noticing the wind. Early one day on a hill, it was strong and steady and nearly blew me over. On other days it was gusty, making itself heard quite clearly indoors. And on one day it has been soft, a pleasant breeze on my face.

This week, take moments to experience the weather. Notice the wind on your face, a raindrop on your hand, the softer light of the sun in the view from your window.

Notice what arises in your mind and your body as you allow yourself to experience the weather, including any tendencies to reject or hold onto particular weather. When we start to notice and experience the weather, our judgements of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ weather will become more blurred.

Sure, we like some weather better than other weather but let’s be in the autumn. For like all seasons, it too will pass. While it is here, let’s experience it, rather than miss it. It’s part of living.

Health check

Be wise

These are wise words: “Simply let your `Yes’ be `Yes,’ and your `No,’ `No’”. But it is easier said than done, in some of our relationships at least.

Some of us may have been taught as children that it isn’t polite to say ‘no’. Or we think that setting boundaries in our relationships means that we are not being loving.

Thinking like this makes it harder as adults to take control of life, to know that we can make choices for what we do and don’t take responsibility.

Let’s observe our choices this week. Are we clearly thinking through for what we take responsibility? Or are we welcoming all comers, without discernment?

It’s healthy to be able to use both words, ‘Yes’ and ‘No’.

Give yourself a health check by observing when you find it easier to set boundaries and when you find it harder. Self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom.

This is Mindful Monday on 25 October 2021

Healing

I didn’t write a Mindful Monday post last week. I was immersed in family celebrations – enjoying being with loved ones. It was healing.

I then went to a funeral of a friend. As I recalled the good times and my friend’s gifts, there was healing.

The day after the funeral, I sprained my ankle. It swelled up. Fluid moved into the injured area, evidencing white blood cells getting to work. I found watching the healing take place day by day healing in itself!

Sometimes we need to simply take time out or take a particular action. As we do, we find restoration or put another way healing.

What was the first event, the family celebration? Ah well as you asked, it was celebrating my brother receiving a doctorate. I’m a proud sister!

This is Mindful Monday on 11 October 2021.

Recognise misconceptions

Observe your perceptions to recognise misconceptions

Walking along a country lane, I brushed my arm against stinging nettles. Here goes with a rash. Indeed, I could feel the rash starting.

Reading an email, I saw confusion about the date of an event. This is going to take quite some unwinding.

Heading out the door on an overcast day, I put on my fleece. It’s bound to be cold outdoors.

The reality of all these events was different from my perception. The vegetation I brushed my arm against was not stinging nettles and a rash did not appear. When I read the email more carefully, there was no confusion about the date of an event. Although overcast, it was in fact very warm outdoors and I quickly removed my fleece.

These are three little reminders that my immediate perception in a situation is not necessarily reality. Learning to reflect, to pause, just for a moment, has value.

With gentleness, let’s observe our perceptions of situations during today. Then we will recognise misconceptions more quickly, enabling us to engage more fully with ourselves, those around us and the world.

This is Mindful Monday on 27 September 2021.

Life in all its wonder

I am re-reading an amazing book this week. It is a book by Kate Gross as she approached the last months of her life while only in her late thirties, the mother of two young boys (Late Fragments: Everything I want to tell you about this magnificent life).

I am re-reading the book now as part of remembering a friend who died recently, in her late fifties. She read the book and appreciated it in the last months of her life.

If you are still reading, well done. Many find the subject of dying too painful to dwell on. And yet it’s a book about the wonder that is life. Yes, wonder.

Kate is mindful. She writes of her hopes for her boys, “I don’t know how they will experience the world, any more than I can guide them through it. I hope that its breadth and variety will provide them with the endless thrill it has for me. But staying at home is fine too. I need them to know that wonder doesn’t require a passport, it only requires your attention. My dad has always been evidence of that. . . . his truest sense of wonder has always been found in a smaller world around him. He sees things, you see, in the details: the curve of a while tulip petal, the way a tree branch stretches over a lake, the perfect structure of the green hills . . . “

Kate describes the joy of living so well, looking and taking in the wonder of life. May be it’s all the more acutely in our sight when we can see the end of our earthly life more clearly before us. But let’s not let a day pass without looking – and truly seeing – something of the beauty that is around us.

For me, being mindful – looking – draws me to the Creator of all things. And the wonder that fills me is part of understanding the present and also a hint of the future, the promise of a life beyond this earthly life which will be wonderous beyond imagining.

Wonder doesn’t require a passport (or any other complications of travel in a Covid world!). It doesn’t need us to be approaching death. Simply look. Wonder. Live.

This is Mindful Monday on 20 September 2021.