Wednesday, 22 May 2013


I have to confess when I heard Jon Kabat-Zinn use the term heartfulness recently I thought it was a word he was making up. And then I remembered that Thich Nhat Hanh speaks about the Chinese word for mindfulness incorporating now and heart, "literally, the combined character means the act of experiencing the present moment with the heart. So mindfulness is the moment-to-moment awareness of what is occurring in and around us. It helps us to be in touch with the wonders of life, which are here and now". It seems to me that heartfulness is being quiet and still enough to listen to what your heart is saying. I sat last night to consider Jon Kabat-Zinn's questions, beginning with 'what is our abiding vision, our passion, our love?' He speaks about doing something you love so much you would pay to do it, instead of being paid. My heart was beating very fast as if in acknowledgement that (finally) it was going to be listened to. And what arose from this contemplation was a vision to provide a space that is quiet enough for people to come and be themselves, to drop beneath the usual busyness of the mind and be able to listen to the heart. This needs to be a physical space, a mental space and a heartful space. Part way through my sister alerted me to the fact that at the Chelsea Flower Show this year there is a mindfulness garden and I began watching the programmes to find out what it is like. In fact it is not what I would call a mindfulness garden as it is too busy with a riot of colours, although it did have a lovely stone with a quotation carved into it in a spiral. It became obvious to me that an outdoor space is as important as an indoor one, and I began to envision what this could be like, with calm, soothing planting colours, trees and meadows with mown paths for walking meditation. I have to find a way of making this real!
In some respects the space that I recognised is being provided on a Sunday morning with our silent mornings, but for some reason this seems to attract only a few people, and the space I have in mind will incorporate bedrooms and a beautiful, peaceful meditation hall, surrounded by lots of outdoor space; a proper retreat centre. It seems I have to keep speaking this out loud in order to make sure it will happen, not to force things or make it a mission, but to ensure that somehow a venue will be provided that can offer a space to reconnect with ourselves and live a more truthful life.


  1. This is a wonderful idea! I've been thinking about the possibility of creating a retreat space for mindfulness in or near Whitby some time in the future. The surroundings there are so inspiring, I feel as if I'm meditating without even having to try. But then, I'm probably a bit biased about Whitby. ;) I think it would be a lovely project, wherever it took root. x

  2. Thanks Nat, glad to hear someone else likes the idea. I agree, the area around Whitby is very atmospheric and could be a great place to start a retreat centre. All the best with your move there xx