Wonders in tough times?

Be well, including in tough times

We remain in winter. We remain in lockdown. While some have had an initial dose of a vaccine, others wait. Inequalities are widening in the UK and across the world. Those living in war torn and economically destitute countries are badly impacted. Tough times.

Helen Keller was blind and deaf from a young age (tough times). An American, she lived an extraordinarily full life as an author, campaigner and traveller (1880-1968). She wrote, “Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.”

When we look, we too will find wonders in the coming week. Note them. Treasure them.

There is challenge in her words to accept our situation: to be thankful for what we have rather than wanting what we do not have.

The life she lived shows her to be an activist – a campaigner for change – and yet it’s action based on the foundation of contentment in her own situation. Maybe when we are contented we are able to reach out to others – to show love – in a way that we can’t when we focus on achieving more for ourselves.

On first communicating with another person about God, Helen Keller said, “I have always known about God, but until now I didn’t know His name.”

It is in tough times that we may reach out to the Divine. We discover we are loved. We discover contentment.  And then just maybe we too can bring about change; we can begin the journey of learning how to love others as ourselves.

Be well – even in tough times.

This is Mindful Monday on 1 February 2021. Join a virtual evening of mindfulness – with time for individual reflection – on Monday 8 February, 7-8.15 pm (UK). No charge. Email hello@essencecheltenham.org for details.

A winter of discontent?

We are in tough times. Many of us in the UK found it a shock to hear we would emerge during this coming week from national lockdown to being under further stringent measures in either tier 2 or tier 3. (Or should I say tears 2 or tears 3?)

Regardless of our views on the measures in place and our specific situations, the phrase “winter of discontent” seems apt. Yet sad.

Instead of being discontent, we can choose to be content. This would mean discovering that we are satisfied with what we have or, put another way, we know that we have enough.

We can make this discovery even alongside recognising there are things that we would want otherwise. It isn’t about ignoring the tough stuff; it is about choosing to notice and be thankful for those things that we do have.

When we practice being thankful for what we have, we take a big step towards contentment. It’s a path worth taking.

Practising being thankful means intentionally bringing to mind things that we are thankful for. To help us do this we might choose to make a list or draw pictures. If we are in a household of more than one, how about discussing the things we are thankful for at a meal? (Food tends to bring out the thankfulness in most of us, especially during lockdown!)

The phrase “winter of discontent” is in a Shakespeare play. A character starts a speech, “Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York.”

Is it possible that our winter of discontent can be transformed – seem like summer (or even just a little sunnier) – by our intentional thankfulness?

This is Mindful Monday on 30 November 2020.

Join others for an evening of mindfulness on zoom next Monday evening 7 December at 7 pm. Simply email hello@essencecheltenham.org for details.



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.