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.

Contented?

fishing

Being happy, being at peace, being contented: these all seem related as I reflect on them and observe myself but I can’t fully explain why!

I want to share a story. It is about contentment in relation to riches. May the story enrich you!

A capitalist was horrified to find a fisherman lying beside his boat, smoking a pipe.

“Why aren’t you out fishing?” he asked.

“Because I have caught enough fish for the day.”

“Why don’t you catch some more?” the capitalist persisted.

“What would I do with it?” asked the fisherman.

“Earn more money. Then you could have a motor fixed to your boat and go into deeper waters and catch more fish. That would bring you money to buy nylon nets, so more fish, more money. Soon you would have enough to buy two boats . . . or even a fleet of boats. Then you could be rich like me.

“What would I do then?” asked the fisherman.

“Then you could really enjoy life,” the capitalist replied.

“What do you think I am doing now?” responded the fisherman, refilling his pipe.

I have enjoyed this story in many locations but I have quoted this particular version from Godzone: A guide to the travels of the soul by Mike Riddell.

This is Mindful Monday on 28 January 2019.

Join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness on the theme of growing in peace on Tuesday 5 February, 7.30-9 pm at the Oasis in Cheltenham. Let us know you are coming so we prepare the space for the right number of people by emailing hello@essencecheltenham.org. There is no charge – simply make a donation on the night towards the cost of room hire if and as you are able.

 

 

Shhhhh. Rest.

silence

Silence. The sound of silence. How often do we intentionally choose to be silent? For a minute? Half an hour? An hour? A day?

And what happens when we make that choice? Or what would happen if we did make that choice?

I was fortunate this last week to spend some of a day in silence. It was on a retreat with others. Somehow being intentional about it helps: going somewhere specific; being with others who also want to cultivate being in silence (strange as that may sound!).

What did happened for me in the silence? It felt as if  ‘raggedy’ bits of me knitted back together. Perhaps it is just being human but in the rough and tough of living, we get bashed: cracked and chipped most often; smashed to pieces exceptionally.

I guess the ‘raggedy’ bits knitting back is an image of healing. Wholeness restored – or in the process of being restored at least!

Why might this happen in silence? Intentionally being silent may be a restorative in itself, i.e. we are choosing to care for ourselves by giving ourselves a break from communicating or engaging with all around us. There is rest in this choice. Being silent may also give space or permission to the healer – the creator of all – to restore us. There is the divine in this choice.

Your circumstances may make it impossible to step out of the everyday for anything approaching a day. But try choosing to spend a short time in silence. You might choose a specific chair in your house or a bench in the park to sit it – or you might choose to walk a specific route while you practice being silent.

Ah yes, it is a practice – which means we won’t be perfect at being silent. We can make a choice to practice loving kindness towards ourselves – treating ourselves as our best friend would want us to treat ourselves – while we practice being silent. Patience with yourself is a virtue indeed!

If you receive these posts by weekly email, you will have missed the last one – not a software problem as such but a software user problem! Here it is if you would like to read it now.

This is Mindful Monday on 21 January 2019. 

Do you live in Cheltenham or nearby? Join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness on the theme of ‘growing in peace’ on Tuesday 5 February 7.30-9 pm, booking your place in advance by emailing hello@essencecheltenham.org.

Listening – to you

listening to you

Most of us would want to be good at listening to others. We would perhaps even regard it as a vital skill we want to actively nurture. We want to listen to our loved ones and those with whom our lives connect.

Perhaps fewer of us are good at listening to ourselves. And we may not place the same value on this as we would on listening to others.

Yet learning to notice ourselves – how we are, what is happening in our thoughts, emotions, spirits and bodies – actually creates a more positive space to notice – to listen to – others.

I have been intentional about listening to myself over the last week. I have had varied and many things to which I have needed to pay attention (happy and sad events; some activities that have been mentally demanding and some simply requiring the commitment of many hours; some physically demanding and some physically constraining).

When we listen to ourselves (and others), we often find compassion rising. We realise the needs we have for rest, for good nutrition, for laughter, for companionship, for essential ‘chilling out’. We listen and we increase our chances of making wise choices.

One of my wise choices was to plan for a Sunday afternoon relaxing on the sofa. A time of rest. Lovely!

Listen to yourself. Allow yourself to be compassionate to yourself (not always easy I know). Make wise choices.

This is Mindful Monday on 14 January 2019. 

Do you live in Cheltenham or nearby? Join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness on the theme of ‘growing in peace’ on Tuesday 5 February 7.30-9 pm, booking your place in advance by emailing hello@essencecheltenham.org.