Truth rediscovered

Again and again

We need to re-discover truths again and again. Not because we doubt them but simple because they are so big.

Here’s one of those truths: the only moment we know is the present. However much energy we devote to the future, it is unknowable. The future is unchanged by our ruminations and anxious thoughts. Yet while we’re focused on the future, our present is impacted. We miss it in the fog of imagining what is yet to come.

We can control only how we respond to the present. Today – with all its burdens and responsibilities, its joys and opportunities. Happenings we would choose and those we would not choose.

If we can glimpse this truth, begin to accept it (again and again), we start to notice what is, to live more fully. It isn’t a one-size-fits-all panacea to the tough stuff of life; it is reality. As we put our energy into today – to notice what is and respond to it – the tomorrow that never comes will indeed take care of itself.

This is Mindful Monday on 22 February 2021. Join an evening of mindfulness on zoom on Monday 8 March 7-8.15 pm. Email hello@essencecheltenham.org for details.

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.

Story time

Story time

I recently sent a children’s book about Elmer the elephant to a niece in Australia – her two boys liked it so much that I think their parents know it by heart and have had to limit how often it is read!

Even as adults we like a good story. We may prefer to read or watch a story. A good story engages our emotions and takes us on a journey. It entertains us but it may also enlighten us i.e. we learn something along the way.

It is many years since I first read Spencer Johnson’s best-selling self-help book The Present: the secret to enjoying your work and life, now! I have probably read it over a dozen times. It is a short: I know because I re-read it on a train in 1.5 hours this week. It has big print, for those of us that still choose the printed version and might be pleased to have a bigger print size! It is a light read with characters that are easy to identify with.

But being short, big print and a light read are not the reasons I have read it so many times. I have read it so many times because it contains insights that ring true – and I find I take something different away each time I read it.

In fact I am just about to co-facilitate a mindfulness course of three sessions that includes a brief story time each session. Time to sit back, listen and – each of us in our own way – learn.

Alongside the story time we will also use meditation, discussion, video, music, and poetry – ah yes and we will listen to one another. There’s gold in the sharing.

This is Mindful Monday on 10 June 2019. Join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for three sessions of mindfulness on Monday evenings 17 June (being in the present), 8 July (being in the present while learning from the past) and 22 July (being in the present while helping to create the future).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

To notice (to live)

Take time to notice - to turn at Beauty's glance,And watch her feet, how they can dance.Like me, you may be starting out on a week full of a range of commitments. Or indeed you may be starting out on a week that looks a little blank, lacking in specific commitments.

It is interesting that whether we would describe the week ahead as busy or way too quiet, the temptation is still the same. It is the temptation to miss the moment and fail to actually be – for the hours and days to pass us by in a blur while failing to actually live.

It takes effort to notice, to be aware – of ourselves, of others, of all that is around us, and perhaps even of God – but when we do, we start to be, to exist, to live.

I love this poem by Henry William Davies. I first came across it in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral way back when. It reminds me – whatever the schedule busy or light – to pause and notice. Nature can really help us to pause and notice but we can pause and notice throughout our days in our interactions with others, in the food and drink we have, in our thoughts and emotions, in our hopes, in our very breath. Take time to ‘stare’ – to look – and be enriched.

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

This is Mindful Monday on 16 April 2018 @ essencecheltenham.org

If you live in Cheltenham or nearby, join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness tonight at the Oasis, 7.30-9 pm.

Perspectives

Perspectives on Spring rainMindfulness helps us to notice – to observe – what we are reacting to. It is a journey of learning how to switch off automatic pilot and be aware of what is happening.

A couple of weeks ago I had an experience of the Spring rain. It was late one afternoon and I went outside. The rain was fine. It was incredibly soft as it feel on my face. There was the coolness of the evening yet still with the warmth of the day. I welcomed it. And I still recall how much I enjoyed the moment.

Today it is raining. The ageing roof on my house is being re-done and it is only partially tiled. The rain seems relentless. It seems cold and wintry. I can hear the wind rattling the scaffold. I keep willing it to stop.

Then and now, it is rain. The first memory is of a pleasant moment. My experience now is less comfortable, with anxiety within it!

Just typing this blog is part of my journey to acceptance, becoming aware of my anxiety about the rain. Now what?

I remember this is a question in the introduction of a book by Jon Kabat-Zinn on my bookshelf. And this is what this father of western mindfulness writes,

. . . we have got to pause in our experience long enough to let the present moment sink in; long enough to actually feel the present moment, to see it in its fullness, to hold it in awareness and thereby come to know and understand it better. Only then can we accept the truth of that moment of our life, learn from it, and move on.

So I feel the anxiety – but what can I learn from it?

  • I learn that I am rattled when I doubt how water proof my home is and accept this as normal.
  • I learn that when the roofers return to site tomorrow I will explain to them my anxiety and explore how we can reduce the time that the tiles are removed when rain is forecast.

And the day awaits me with many good things in it, regardless of the rain. I will recognise the anxiety in the moment but I will also seek to be aware of all that is good in the day. It would be a shame to miss other things that are in this moment too.

This is Mindful Monday @ essencecheltenham.org on 2 April 2018.

If you are in or near the Cheltenham area, join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness on Monday 16 April, 7.30-9 pm.