Extreme wintering

Aligning with nature’s seasons

Live in each season as it passes;
breathe the air,
drink the drink,
taste the fruit,
and resign yourself
to the influence of each.

Henry David Thoreau

For many of us winter may be the hardest season in which to be present; we may be more inclined to be more accepting of Spring, Summer and Autumn.

Winter plus lockdown seem to be taking it to the extreme. We are likely to be even more aware than usual of shorter days, the cold, and the rain – and the sense of isolation (even hibernation) that the season engenders.

It feels rather enforced this winter in the UK. But if we can accept the season as it is – rather than just willing Spring to come – we may find we can benefit from it.

How? Join with nature by slowing down the pace and prioritising rest: this might even mean you find you go to bed earlier and rise later. Sense the season outdoors by looking, smelling, listening and touching to see the changes to nature including on those oh so familiar walks. Eat seasonal foods; there is design in what is in season and the nutrition our bodies need. Be thankful for warmth and shelter – this is easy to do as we move from the outdoors to the indoors at this time of year.

Reflect for you (the unique and special person you are) what the season might be suggesting to you: learn from the season rather than willing it be gone!

This is Mindful Monday on 25 January 2021.

Join with others for an evening of mindfulness at 7-8.15 pm on Monday 8 February. Simply email hello@essencecheltenham.org for details.

Something boring?

Surprise!

Each day has tasks which are repetitive – and which we often label ‘boring’. It could be hanging out washing, stacking the dishwasher or doing the washing up, peeling potatoes, buying milk, taking out the rubbish – or clearing junk emails.

Our minds are often impatient during these tasks. We focus only on the end of the task. “When this is done, then I will have a cuppa/watch TV/phone a friend.”

The fact of the matter is we need to do these tasks (usually anyway!). But we can actually immerse ourselves in the task, instead of putting our lives apparently on hold until we complete the task.

When we do the task with our full attention we start to notice, often drawing on our senses.

Give it a go. You need to do the task anyway. What will happen when you give it your full attention?

This is Mindful Monday on 5 August 2019.

If you live in Cheltenham or the surrounding area, join Julie Hill and Sara Shailer for an evening of mindfulness in the outdoors on Monday 19 August. Contact Sara on hello@essencecheltenham.org for further details.

Dates for autumn events available soon!

 

 

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.

 

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.

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.

 

Tomorrow, I will . . .

tomorrow

Do you – like me – suffer from procrastination? I fail to act now – in the moment – but instead put something off for another day. The more I do this, the more I come to dread the task. It grows in complexity in my mind. It grows in the amount of time I expect it to take.

Clearly there are some things that we need to put aside to deal with on another day – but these things that I leave tend to be small things that I could do in the moment I think of them.

Mindfulness is about practicing awareness of the present moment. It is about being aware – of ourselves, of others – and (for me) of God. And yes it can take us to a place of stillness (inactivity) but it can also take us to a place of action.

As we become aware of an action, we can choose to focus our attention on it and complete it. We can choose to:

  • take one task today that we have neglected
  • do it
  • actually finish it completely  . . .
  • and now – the bit we usually forget – stop. Take time to appreciate its completion.

This is Mindful Monday at Essence Cheltenham on Monday 9 July.

If you live in Cheltenham or nearby, join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness in the outdoors (weather permitting) on Monday 30 July. Please contact us for details.

 

Change the world

Listen. Change the world.

I am sure your day is full of many different things – including a variety of conversations with different people, whether in-passing or more in-depth.

‘In-passing’ conversations might happen with a cashier in a shop, the delivery man at your door or members of our household while waiting for the kettle to boil.

In-depth conversations might be planned or unplanned, with someone we know or hardly know – and we probably think of them as taking more than a few minutes. We probably also expect them to be about things that really matter to us or the other person.

But may be it isn’t the duration of a conversation that matters but the attention we give a conversation. It could be planned or unplanned, short or long, with someone we know or don’t know. The question is what happens if we give the person we are in conversation with our full attention?

Listen to the other person. In being present in that moment you – and they – will find joy. It’s called being in relationship. It is a special thing that costs our attention and changes everything.

Among people I am fortunate to know who are good at listening is my brother. And it is his birthday today. Happy Birthday Dave – and thanks for being a great listener!

This is Mindful Monday from Essence Cheltenham on Monday 25 June 2018.

Join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill tonight for an evening of mindfulness – on the theme of listening. It is at the Oasis in Cheltenham, 7.30-9 pm.