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.

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.

Joy doubled

dog

If a trouble shared is a trouble halved, is a joy shared a joy doubled?

We met for an evening of mindfulness on the theme of ‘growing in joy’ last Monday. At one point in the evening we moved into small groups to share a photo or picture that gives us joy.

The photos and pictures were of loved ones (both people and pets!), the beauty of nature, creative pursuits enjoyed, and moments cherished. They were lovely to see. But what was more wonderful still was the face of each person as they shared. There is indeed joy in sharing in the joy of another.

Look today. Notice the joy of others. Be ready to see it. Be ready to be enriched.

This is Mindful Monday on 10 December 2018.

We meet for an evening of mindfulness on Tuesday 5 February on the theme of ‘growing in peace’. Book if you would like to come.

 

Fragile and joyful?

The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, taken from www.bookofjoy.org

 

“We are fragile creatures, and it is from this weakness, not despite it, that we discover the possibility of true joy,” says the Archbishop.

And so begins the book I am reading which records the conversations of the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu meeting for a week in April 2015 to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s eightieth birthday – and share their wisdom on how to live with joy in the face of life’s inevitable sorrows.

The Book of Joy is co-written by Douglas Abrams who is Jewish (and secular) so there is a lightness in the midst of wisdom: A Buddhist, a Christian and a Jew walk into a bar . . .

This is an encouraging book. As well as a lightness, it also feels earthed in reality and offers interesting perspectives, like the idea of mental immunity.

“If your health is strong, when viruses come they will not make you sick. If your overall health is weak, even small viruses will be very dangerous for you. Similarly, if your mental health is sound, then when disturbances come, you will have some distress but quickly recover. If your mental health is not good, then small disturbances, small problems will cause you much pain and suffering. . . .  One must develop the mind over time and cultivate mental immunity. . . . Like the ocean has many waves on the surface but deep down it is quite calm. This is possible if we know how to develop mental immunity,” says the Dalai Lama.

The Archbishop agrees but wants to emphasise that we need to accept ourselves as we are, emotions and all. He urges us to avoid judging ourselves too harshly but instead identify our emotions, positive and negative (calm and turbulent), as they happen, helping us understand ourselves better. “There will be times when we catch a cold, and we should not make it worse by beating up on ourselves.”

I am encouraged that two spiritual masters meet – and reflect on fragility, emotions and the natural bent to beat ourselves up! These are the things of living we can relate to – be glad, celebrate, enjoy the common human experience.

This is Mindful Monday on 26 November 2018.

Join Julie Hill and Sara Shailer for an evening of mindfulness on the theme of growing in joy on Monday 3 December, 7.30 to 9 pm at the Oasis in Cheltenham.

There is no charge for the event – just make a donation towards room hire on the night if you are able. However, we do like to know numbers ahead of time so please book by emailing hello@essencecheltenham.org.

And if you are coming bring a photo of something that gives you joy – just one photo so enjoy selecting it!

 

 

Time to live

Time to live

In many cultures people don’t have watches but they seem to have lots of time. Here we are likely to comment on not having enough time (but I bet you have a watch!).

We all have – in any culture – twenty-four hours in each day. There are choices we make on how we spend that time (although sometimes we may feel that others take our choices away from us).

I love this proverb attributed to the Ibo, apparently the biggest ethnic group in Africa:

Always being in a hurry does not prevent death, neither does going slowly prevent living.

I am a fan of slow cooking but slow living? It is challenging in the day to day of living to live more slowly (more intentionally?). But I know when I took a day’s retreat last week (choosing to have a slow day) there was joy – a simple appreciation of living – in that time. 

Can you take a slow mo (even if a day isn’t possible)? And what do you discover?

This is Mindful Monday on 19 November 2018.

If you live in Cheltenham or nearby, join Julie Hill and Sara Shailer for an evening of mindfulness on Monday 3 December on the theme of joy. Book your place ahead to give us an idea of numbers.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.