Thursday, 28 June 2012

I am ...

I am not courageous,
I am not brave.
I am full of fear,
doubt, mistrust and self-loathing.
I think I have nothing to say
to those I call strangers.
I worry about things that will not happen
and presume the worst.

I am not truthful either,
because that is not all I am.

I am content and peaceful,
I am smiling and laughing
at what the world has to offer.
I am full of joy
with the support and encouragement
of family and friends.
I enjoy silence
and am a good listener.

I am not truthful either,
because that is not all I am.

© 6 July 2012

Monday, 25 June 2012

Our front garden

During a silent morning yesterday I was reflecting on our front garden, because although we apparently created it to our own wishes, many of the neighbours have commented on how beautiful it looks, and it seems to give them a lot of pleasure, which I think is wonderful!
I wrote this poem about it yesterday.

The flowers of the Cherry blossom have already come and gone.
Seedheads are all that is left of the Aquilegia.
Rain has bent the Foxgloves and they flop in an ungainly manner.
The Lupins are part-purple and part-seed;
the ones in the back garden are festooned with greenfly and have all been eaten.
The Weigela flowers are non-existent now
and the plumpening seedheads are all that remain of the beautiful Irises.
Is there a moment when the garden is in the prime of perfection?

The anticipation of flowering in the Spring led to a brief flurry of colour,
and sun and rain produced a profusion of growth,
and some unidentifiable weeds, that appear like magic overnight.
Yet there is so much more to the garden than the brief splash of colour the flowers gave.
The elegance of the Cherry tree lends support to the climbing Clematis, yet to flower.
The darkened leaves of the Copper Beech offer a contrasting background to the greenery.
And the dancing ladies of the Fuchsia are yet to appear.
Is there a moment when the garden is in the prime of perfection?

The evolving, changing and growing garden continues to delight and amaze.
Forgotten Poppies suddenly announce themselves.
Small heads of Jacob's Ladder add a touch of whiteness,
and the tall purple-headed spikes,
that continue to perplex us whether or not they are weeds
are just beginning to emerge.
They keep their place because they are purple!

The perfection of the garden is in each moment
of looking deeply
and delight in what seed, sun, rain, wind and a little cultivation can produce.
Next year it will be completely different.

© 6 July 2012

I find it very helpful to recognise and accept the ever-changingness of the garden, there is never a moment when it is complete, it is always evolving. After the flowering comes the all-important seed-producing for next year, and the creation of compost from which something new will emerge. Accept the beauty of the moment without regretting what has past, or longing for what is to come :)

Thursday, 21 June 2012


the uncertainty,
the not knowing,
not having all the answers.
Wanting a neat, concise package to present and instead
having a messy, unwieldy armful of stuff
that refuses to be condensed into

"Hello my desire to present certainty, clarity and neatness"
"Hello world that offers an amorphous mass of messiness"
"Can you two meet and shake hands?
Can you live together knowing that one will never be the other?"

Where is the thesaurus when I want to present
a concise train of thought
instead of a jumble of disconnected ramblings?

I see you both,
my desire and reality,
the knot in the stomach
produced by not finding
the smooth and equanimous path
I want to present to others.

Mindfulness and acceptance
are not about waiting until
the sea is calm to set sail,
but learning how to ride the waves,
and embracing the thrill of the ride
as well as sea-sickness.

Where is the neat conclusion
to this train of thought?
There isn't one!

© 6 July 2012

Monday, 18 June 2012

The Dalai Lama in Manchester

Yesterday ten of us went over to Manchester to hear the Dalai Lama talk, what a great man he is! He's so jolly and just full of the joys of being alive. He had 3 points to deliver in his message
1) think globally, think at the level of humanity - recognise our interdependence
2) pay more attention to your inner realm
3) keep optimistic

That's it! And this is clearly what he lives and practises. He also talked in a very similar way to Thay about the urgent need for moral ethics to be taught in schools and throughout education, from the kindergarten upwards to university level. Not in a religious way, but to introduce morality back into schools and lives.
He also addressed the urgency of ecological thinking and acting. Someone asked a question about how to best show compassion to this earth and he said, 'use common sense!' He reminded us this planet is our only home and we need to look after it, he used the analogy of being cold and burning the furniture to warm up, it doesn't make sense and in the end it harms us.
One of the last questions put to him was, how to love the unlovable. And his answer was 'that's real love, genuine compassion, you should try it!'.
One of the 14 Mindfulness Trainings that I am currently looking at on my path as an aspirant to becoming a member of the Order of Interbeing is number 8, using compassionate listening and loving speech to avoid separation and suffering. To me, this is connected to what the Dalai Lama was teaching, we need to find ways of inclusion rather than rejecting those we disagree with, or stop listening to them. We all have an input into this life and the sort of contribution we make will determine not only how happy our own life is, but also the people around us. If we can be compassionate and loving towards others, especially when they don't deserve it, we can make the world a better place.
All the great teachers of all time have been telling us this, Jesus said turn the other cheek, Gandhi said hate the action but not the doer, the Buddha said 'hatred is never appeased by hatred, it is only appeased by love'. We need to start living these teachings for ourselves.

Monday, 11 June 2012

We shall not cease from exploration

"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time". T. S. Eliot
This kept coming to mind yesterday, on a silent morning at our house, and a question about where a journey begins and what about the influences on the way, especially people.
It's interesting the things that come up on a silent morning! There were 5 of us, enjoying the delights of the sunshine (before the rain). Some went for a walk after we meditated together, some read and I wrote, but at the end when we each feedback, there is always a thread that links each person's perceptions and observations together. I find that really magical! Here's what I wrote

Where does a journey begin?

Where does a journey begin?
Is it with this next footstep, crossing over this threshold?
Or does it track back to what got me here?
Does it begin afresh each morning?
Or is it a culmination of many footsteps, leading to this door?
Is there a moment I can pinpoint and say,
'now this is where the journey began'?
But what about what went before?
Does it begin afresh each lifetime?
Or is it a culmination of many lives?
How many lifetimes have I been on this path?
Is it a moment of awakening?
Or the steps that led up to that moment?
Does it begin afresh each moment?
Or is it a culmination of many moments?
Was it a particular person that opened a particular door?
Or a sound that was heard and responded to?
Was it you, was it you, that set my journey off?
Does it begin afresh with each person?
Or is it a culmination of many people walking together?
Is this one journey, one path that I am on?
Or have I meandered from one to another,
attracted by the flowers or scents caught along the way?
Does it begin afresh with each stepping stone?
Or is it a culmination of many paths?
Is it a straight path?
Or does it twist and wind continuously,
so that the way ahead is unclear, and the destination unseen?
Does it begin afresh at each crossroad?
Or is it a culmination of many meetings?
Looking back, I see people I have walked with,
some for many years, and others a shorter time,
some are still beside me, and others lost in the mists of time.
Does it begin afresh each meeting?
Or is it a culmination of many people coming together?
Those people I carry in my heart, as clearly as a photo in a wallet,
because they have made a contribution to this journey.
Does it begin afresh with each person?
Or is it a culmination of a team moving together?
To those that have walked with me, I thank you,
to those still walking, I bow to you in gratitude,
to those waiting ahead, yet unknown, I greet you.
Does it begin afresh with each moment?
Or is it a culmination of many moments?
Where did this journey begin?
Like Eliot, will I recognise it, at its ending and know it afresh?
It is enough that it has begun.

© 6 July 2012

Many questions, and not so many answers. Something that came from yesterday morning's meeting was whether we can be comfortable with the unknown, the unnamed. Being mindful, being present is about accepting what is, and sometimes that may be not knowing, but who would want to know everything anyway?! There is a vitality about learning new things, having new experiences, so that stepping into the unknown suddenly seems not only interesting but necessary. Today, do something you have never done before. Take a different way home or speak to someone you don't know, do something outrageous!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

No mud, no lotus - Thich Nhat Hanh

Thay often says, 'no mud, no lotus', what does this mean? That without suffering there can be no happiness, without the grit there is nothing to create a pearl. There has to be something that wakes us out of dullness and mechanical living to be able to appreciate the present moment. It recently occurred to me that Thay talks a great deal about happiness, much more so than suffering. Whilst acknowledging suffering he doesn't dwell on it, but speaks instead of the fruits of happiness, of the wonders and joys to be found in the present moment, unadulterated by desires and fluctuating emotions.
In writing my thesis I am fortunate to be immersed in his teachings and his beautiful poetic words, they are my inspiration. Here is my interpretation of what Thay calls the wonders of life.

Hello nowness

Precious moments
frittered away by bursting bubbles
can't take them back,
can't rewrite the script,
can only take a mindful breath
that wipes clean the blackboard
of what has gone before
and presents a new moment
fresh and clean,
full of potentiality and promise.

No regrets,
no need to replay conversations,
and write your part in a different way.
Let it go.
Take a mindful breath,
a mindful step into
here and now.
'Hello nowness, what do you have to offer?'
A life full of possibilities.

A script unwritten,
a blank page.
No need to rush towards
some future moment,
leap-frogging supposedly dull moments
and forging on to the next excitement.
Take one mindful breath,
one mindful step
to see what is available
'hello nowness'.

© 6 July 2012

Hello nowness audio