Notice. Notice as if your life depends on it. Your emotional well being at least does depend on it.

If we watch the news, listen to the radio, and use the internet, we cannot help but notice that we are in tough times. Headlines lead with the number of deaths.

And in our own lives, we are also in tough times. We may have been directly impacted or know someone directly impacted. Our work may have ceased altogether or it may have never been so demanding. Our choices on how we spend our time are more limited – as are our choices on with whom we spend our time.

It is Spring in the UK. The reduction in traffic noise means many of us are hearing bird song in preparation for nesting. Listen. If you look (even from a window), you will see trees beginning to leaf. If you look at many plants, new growth is evident.

Take time today to notice nature re-generating. It will refresh you. It will give you hope.

Notice. Notice as if your life depends on it. Your emotional well being at least does depend on it.

This is Mindful Monday on 6 April 2020.





Nature as a mirror

nature as a mirror

Spending time outdoors is generally seen as a good thing, with claims that it can

  • help lower blood pressure and de-stress us
  • combat tiredness, anxiety and depression
  • reduce inflammation, and even
  • improve short-term memory.

Here is an interesting article making such claims – and more.

And I for one have had a weekend in the outdoors and I feel the better for it.

As well as general health benefits, being in the outdoors also offers an opportunity to raise our awareness of our own state. As we look, we may find a glimpse of the natural world holds a mirror on how we are physically, emotionally or spiritually.

Take a look outside, even if it just from a window or a doorway – or, if you can, take a walk. What do you see that reveals something of your internal world?

This is Mindful Monday on 20 August 2018.

If you live in or near Cheltenham, join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness – in the outdoors – this coming week on Tuesday 21 August, 7 pm to 8.30 pm.

The theme is ‘the gallery of the outdoors’. There is no charge or donation for this event (as we have no room hire cost!). Just get in touch for details of the location – and so that we know how many of us are gathering.



I love greenery. I love the outdoors. And I also love waterfalls. And I got all three in plentiful measure on holiday recently.

Whether you are able to actually go on holiday or not, we can look at nature wherever we are. And as we do there is refreshment, almost a healing within.

There is something about the natural order – even the divine order – that we connect with as we look and see. In the everyday of life, we can look, see and be enriched. At times of confusion or a lack of wellbeing, we can find clarity and peace. We can sometimes catch a glimpse of the glory of God himself, whether we choose to use that phrase or another.

Be refreshed: look and see.

This is Mindful Monday on 23 July 2018.

Join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening in the outdoors on 30 July 2018. Just get in touch for time and location. The theme is the gallery of the outdoors.

The miracle of life


“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

This quotation is attributed to the physicist Albert Einstein – and whatever your science knowledge or your faith experience, it is an interesting expression of the choices we make as we live our lives.

This week I plan to be conscious of the miracle in each day. Join me.

And the azaleas? They are the miracle in my garden this week: untended by me and as a miracle of nature, they are blooming!

This is Mindful Monday on 21 May 2018.

If you live near or in Cheltenham, join Julie Hill and Sara Shailer for an evening of mindfulness on Monday 25 June 2018.



The sounds not the view

Our eyes are quick to see a beautiful view. And today the bluebells on the lower reaches of Cleeve Hill on the outskirts of Cheltenham are an absolute picture.

It is not only a sunny day but it is also an unusually warm day. The sweet smell of the bluebells was really strong when I was there just now. A really sweet perfume filling the woodland.

So often our eyes and perhaps our noses take in our surroundings – but we fail to notice the sounds. Our ears are one of our five senses and yet we may find it hard to listen, to be aware of the sounds around us.

Sometimes the sounds are captivating – like the woodland on this warm sunny day  – you can hear it here.  Sometimes the sounds around us may be less captivating or neutral or even distressing for us. Either way we can be aware: we can hear; we can listen.

As we practice listening, we can become more aware of our own thoughts and emotions, our bodies, and our spirits.

This is Mindful Monday on 7 May 2018.

Join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness at the Oasis in Cheltenham on the theme of listening next Monday 14 May 7.30-9 pm.

Please book your place so we can prepare the space for the right number of people. There is no charge but a donation of between £3 and £6 towards room hire is welcome, if you are able.


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 @

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.

Look and wonder

Look and wonder

This is a beautiful Spring photo – the flowers and the budding leaves are stunning. And my thanks to the photographer, Yendis, who took the time to notice and to share.

Recently I spent five minutes looking at what seemed to be a twig. As I looked I was amazed what I saw. There were tiny buds of leaves. They looked like just a bump on the twig but when I looked they were bright green and so beautifully formed: still compact but you could see the leaves that would emerge. And the leaves were arranged on the twig in a surprising geometric pattern: buds of leaves next to one another on either side of the ‘twig’ but then alternating at 90 degrees up the stem. Perhaps this is so they can maximise the light getting to the leaves?

The flowers are obviously stunning. The twig looked like nothing but it was actually also stunning.

I found the five minutes I spent incredibly relaxing. Being able just to look – and to wonder.

Try it out. Choose a detail in nature to study – just five minutes of your day – but you will be stunned.

This is Mindful Monday on 19 March 2018. We meet for an evening of mindfulness in Cheltenham on 16 April 2018 – join us if you can.