Sunday, 29 September 2013

Walking meditation

On our MBSR Intensive retreat one of the most memorable and outstanding experiences for me (and there were many) was a walking meditation we did outside, walking barefoot in the grass. Firstly we had to cross a stony drive and it was quite a different practice of mindfulness to be aware of the sharpness of the stones, yet if one walked carefully they did not hurt the feet. In walking slowly and carefully it was like being a toddler again, learning how to walk for the first time, being unsteady, unsure, losing balance.
And the experience on the grass was sublime. I found myself totally engrossed with the meeting of bare foot against warm yet damp grass, looking only at the grass I was stepping onto. At one moment I stopped and looked up, surprised to find a whole landscape of hills and fields before me, they had gone completely out of my consciousness whilst concentrating on the feet on the grass. It was one of those moments that will always connect me with that retreat, that centre, that landscape.

And here is the poem that came out of those reflections -

I am feet

I am feet
only feet
bare feet
meeting soft and yielding,
cushiony grass.
I have no body
only feet,
meeting warm and welcoming,
inviting grass.
Treading carefully
to avoid worms, insects and flying creatures.
Each separate footfall
a new moment,
a remarkable meeting of
feet and grass coming together.
Each footstep
lasting a lifetime,
a moment,
an infinity.
I am here,
in my feet,
on this grass,
with the grass,
soft and yielding,
cushiony grass.

Only feet and grass.

© 26 September 2013

Saturday, 28 September 2013

The doors and windows of the heart are open

I have just come back from co-leading our first MBSR (Mindfulness based stress reduction) Intensive retreat, for people who want to do the MBSR course but can't commit to 8 weeks, so we did it over 5 days. It was a fantastic retreat and we all took an incredible journey together as we settled ourselves to a few days in the glorious Yorkshire countryside just above Skipton, underneath the imposing Kilnsey Crag! We had a lovely venue to stay in at Wharfedale Lodge and food provided by Relish caterers in nearby Grassington. And so together we explored how stress affects us, how we can use mindfulness to develop a new relationship to stress, what is going on in the brain and the body, and how we can use different meditations to calm the body down and come to a more peaceful place of acceptance and openness.
We had a joyful, as well as challenging time together as different personalities explored not only what we were learning as part of the course, but also how to live closely together for 5 days with people who started off as strangers and have now become friends. It was clear we were taking a learning journey together and several poems have emerged from these few days which I will share over the next few days.
We will be running another Intensive about this time next year, as well as other mindfulness retreats throughout the next few months and 2014. The next one is a Mindfulness and Creativity retreat which gives people a chance to approach their particular creative leaning from a foundation of mindfulness. I am particularly excited about this retreat as I find the more I practice mindfulness the more creative I become, and certainly the poetry has come about from practising mindfulness.
More information about these retreats are on the website

And here is the first poem to come out of this retreat.

The doors and windows of the heart are open

The doors and windows of the heart are open
for love to fly freely,
spiralling through a lazy Sunday afternoon sky and
catching air currents to ride effortlessly through open space.

The doors and windows of the heart are open
for love to cartwheel on dew-laden grass and
roll down hillocky and bumpy fields and
land in a breathless, giggling heap at the bottom.

The doors and windows of the heart are open
for love to dance barefoot and carefree
into welcoming arms and a tender embrace.

The doors and windows of the heart are open
for love to tangle her hair and catch her clothes
on a thrilling ride through dark and dense forests
full of knotty roots and clasping brambles and
emerge into the sunshine with a racing pulse and pumping blood.

The doors and windows of the heart are open
for love to touch your outstretched fingertips and
know you are less than a skip away.

The doors and windows of the heart are open
for love to be herself,
to be heartful and compassionate,
to be truthful and trusting,
to be loving and to be loved.

The doors and windows of the heart are open
for love to meet you at the edge of daring and
to jump together into the unknown abyss
without caring if or where our feet will land.

© 28 September 2013

Friday, 20 September 2013

Time and time again

The idea of not enough time
and yet priorities suddenly
become jumbled with unnecessaries
as clarity goes out of the window.

The idea of too much to do
creating a churning stomach
and sweaty palms
and clenched teeth.

Time and time again
it all comes back to
a concept of time,
with the ticking clock
pronouncing constraints
and the flickering minute hand
moving ever eagerly forward.

Judgment becomes clouded,
reaction rather than a considered response,
fumbling mistakes,
badly written emails miscommunicating,
and an impending to-do list
growing ever longer
rather than shorter.

The panic that arises
takes away choice and
propels me into mindless rushing
without time to
stop and think,
stop and breathe,
stop and be.
And here is the answer!

And here is the answer,
in case the busy mind
was too loud
to hear the first time.
Stop and think,
stop and breathe,
stop and be.

© 20 September 2013

Tuesday, 17 September 2013


Twenty years ago,
a being came into the world
without any breath of life.
And all his parents could do was
hold him for a while
and wonder why.
They had to let him go
without any of the joys of parenthood,
without any of the delights of
nurturing a new-born.
And the white coffin was so small
it only required one bearer.
And the knitted toy soldier bought
to celebrate his birth
was not needed, not played with.
As time passed by the
deep-seated hurt became bearable,
and two other children came
into the family to fill
the hearts and minds and
empty spaces that only a child can
do for a parent.
Two decades pass by,
and life is filled by many
memories, incidents and happenings,
but on this date
we remember you,
a fragile being,
whose heart gave up
before life began,
who came into the world
without any breath of life,
and whose parents
hold you in their hearts
and wonder why.

© 13 September 2013

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Go outside

Memo to self,
go outside!
Your inner being
cannot be found
at the computer,
no matter how many
pages you google.

Go outside,
to see if the ripening plums
are caterpillar free,
watch the wasp eating the bean
you thought was yours,
smell the sweet peas,
feed the birds,
discover new growth in
the row of spinach seeds,
taste the juicy blackberry,
get some mud beneath
your fingernails,
see the raindrops collect
on the Cotinus leaves,
find a new Hibiscus
flower opening,
and feel the warmth
of the autumn sun on your face.

It doesn't matter what you do.
Go outside
and connect with your inner being.

© 10 September 2013

Friday, 6 September 2013

Learning to love

I love you
yet I don’t know how to love you
with the fullness and completeness
you deserve.
I love you
with a quiet sense of knowing
I belong by your side,
yet my expressions of love
seem clumsy and inadequate.
And I back away from
gushing, heartfelt sentiments
that bring forth tears.
I love you
and want to tell you
I am better for being by your side,
I am stronger from working with you,
I am kinder from receiving your generosity
I am gentler from seeing your gentleness.
I am glad we met
and friendship eyes
were washed away by loving eyes.
I am glad you see my foibles and uncharitable thoughts 
and love me anyway.
I am glad we dance together
and journey together,
and yet the winds blow space between us
so we do not stunt one another’s growth.
I love you
and I love that our being together
has provided a stable foundation
for our family to grow and know love.
I am glad that after twenty-five years
of being together
we have fun and laugh and
learn from each other
and surprise each other.
I am still learning to love you
and the process makes me very happy.

© 3 September 2013

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Last night you crept into my meditation

Last night
you crept into my meditation
and we walked together
hand in hand
and sat together,
but I was disturbed by an
undercurrent of competition
that seems to have run side by side
with our beautiful friendship.
I had a sense of standing
in your shadow and always
being two or three steps behind.

As we sat together
I saw the sense of comparison
was no longer necessary.
We have moved on together,
but your nature is not my nature
and your destiny is not my destiny.
Yet still we are spiritual sisters
and the joy and laughter and pain
we have shared
has nurtured a deep connection.

Last night
you crept into my meditation
and I was given a mirror in which
to see myself clearly,
someone who does not need
to walk in your footsteps,
because I can create footsteps of my own.
And though they diverge
and here we are now
on different continents
in the mirror I see spiritual sisters
who have so much to offer each other
and to nurture each other with.

Last night
you crept into my meditation
and I was glad to see
a friend worthy of loving,
who sees a friend worthy of loving.

© 3 September 2013