Tuesday 20 August 2013

My journey

My journey began
by arriving at Plum Village
to be greeted by the sign,
'I have arrived, I am home'.

my journey began before then and
that was a stepping stone on the path.

My journey begins afresh each morning
in a silent sitting,
being with the breath
and seeing what arises.

My journey is a spiral
that keeps coming back
to the silent space
at the centre of the heart.

My journey is often walked alone
and is never walked alone.

My journey lasts a lifetime,
several lifetimes
and begins and is concluded
with each awakened footstep.

My journey starts and finishes
each time I acknowledge
'I am home'.

© 20 August 2013

Friday 16 August 2013

The Blue Sky

Lying in the grass
gazing at the blue sky
scudded across with
white and greying clouds.
My teacher says
our mind is like the blue sky,
punctuated with scudding clouds,
but can we appreciate they are
moving, not static?
They arise, move onto the horizon
of our awareness
and they go.

Some are more immovable.
They come
and seem to stay
longer than invited.

I see layers of clouds
letting sunbeams shine
arrow-straight, through.
Some come and go
with barely a moment’s interruption
to the blue sky,
and some linger,
demanding to be noticed,
begging for attention.

For all these clouds
in their shape-changing infinite variety,
the blue sky is unchanged,
untouched by them all
and remains a clear, blue sky.

© 7 August 2013

Thursday 15 August 2013

What are these stones?

What are these stones that lie loose
to trip my footfall?
These stones with treasure hidden in their centre,
shiny, blue-grey flint
gleaming from within an innocuous, pebble-like rock.
Are these the same stones
the innocent Tess walked on
towards her dangerous adventures?
And is this rolling landscape
with ripening wheat fields
the same that Hardy knew as
he depicted Tess and her Angel?
They would not recognise the distant mechanical hum
of the combine harvester collecting the wheat,
but would they know the trees with
the same secrets to share
in an ivy-clad hush?
And in years to come,
when another Hardy strolls
these lanes and gazes appreciatively
over the undulating hills,
will he stop in wonder
to select a treasure
from beneath his footfall,
shiny, blue-grey flint
gleaming from within an innocuous, pebble-like rock?

© 7 August 2013

Wednesday 14 August 2013

I am come

I am come.
I am come because I heeded your need.
The wandering wind caught your cry and
brought it to me.
The busy butterflies on the butterfly bush
heard your calling
and beat their wings to let me know.
The purple-centred poppies proclaimed 
the news of your need.
The buzzing bees humming
from flower to flower
came to tell me of your suffering.
And so I am come.
I am here.

© 14 August 2013

Monday 12 August 2013

Breathing meditation

Incense-filled nostrils on the in-breath,
aware of cold nose on the out-breath.
Breathing down in the body,
gentle expansion, gentle retraction.

Aware of breath in the hands,
soft, undulating breath,
hands take on a new identity,
not mine, but part of me,
expanding and retracting,
a new awareness of hands.

Sitting, breathing.
Incense-filled nostrils on the in-breath,
aware of cold nose on the out-breath.

A pain in the back
comes to the forefront of awareness.
Don’t push it away,
don’t wish it away.
Breathe into it, and out from it.
Be with it, embrace it.
It is part of sitting meditation,
part of breathing meditation.

© 6 August 2013

Sunday 11 August 2013

Take my hand

I've just been on a retreat to New Barn in Dorset for a Community of Interbeing retreat which was amazing and wonderful and spacious! And quite a few poems were written, so there may well be a number of posts in the next few days with my offerings :)

Take my hand

Take my hand and I will lead you
to a place of miracles,
where we will glide noiselessly over
scrunching pebbles and
our feet will not make a sound,
we will ride the curled clouds
that cry out for the golden fire
the sun adorns their shoulders with,
we will surf atop the rolling waves
never having to experience the crash on the beach,
we will paint ourselves from the vast palette
the combination of feathery clouds,
blue sky and setting sun throw out,
we will sit silently until
the dance of endless colours fades
to a darkening sky,
and the evening star appears,
we will meet in that magical place
where the sound of the bell and
the surfing sea intermingle.
Take my hand.

© 11 August 2013

Monday 5 August 2013

The miracle in the commonplace

Being in the present moment
is seeing the miracle in the commonplace.

Rejoicing that planted seeds are shooting,
are growing into flowers.

Rejoicing that planted seeds
are bearing fruit,
turning into pea-pods, courgettes and lettuce leaves.

Welcoming the frog that has been
disturbed from his leafy lair
and boldly hops onto the grass
in full sun.

Welcoming the drenching shower
that refreshes the earth and
nourishes the seeds
to become the flowers and vegetables
we hope for.

Welcoming butterfly, bee,
snail and slug into the garden
and enjoying their play.

Welcoming the unique painting
that occurs each evening
with the setting sun.

Welcoming a heart that gladdens
to discover each
miracle in the commonplace.

© 5 August 2013

Inspired by;
"In a field I have watched an acorn, a thing so still and seemingly useless. And in the spring I have seen that acorn take root and rise, the beginning of an oak tree, towards the sun.
Surely you would deem that a miracle, yet this miracle is wrought a thousand thousand times in the drowsiness of every autumn and the passion of every spring.
Why shall it not be wrought in the heart of man?" (Kahlil Gibran: Jesus the Son of Man).

Around us, life bursts forth with miracles - a glass of water, a ray of sunshine, a leaf,a caterpillar, a flower, laughter, raindrops. If you live in awareness, it is easy to see miracles everywhere. (Thich Nhat Hanh: The Sun my Heart).

Friday 2 August 2013

What takes away my peace?

I started this blog in 2012 as a means of expressing what I have learned from Thay (Thich Nhat Hanh) as I endeavour to follow his path and his teachings. This path has taken me into unforeseen new areas and I now find myself regularly writing poetry to express those moments of connection when something makes sense, those Aha! moments. I have taught my first 8-week MBSR course and have some mindfulness retreats coming up in September and November, as well as two more MBSR courses. I have been to Rome for an International Conference on Mindfulness and am writing a paper as a follow up to that. And of course this all started because of a Ph.D. examining Thay's teachings and a retreat to Plum Village in 2009, supposedly merely for research, which changed many aspects of my life as I knew I had to incorporate what Thay teaches into my life. I find his teachings gentle yet persistent. They are not so gentle that one can ignore them, and once one starts to examine any aspect it basically comes back to the same question, are you being mindful or is your body here and your mind elsewhere?

As an aspirant to the Order of Interbeing I am often encouraged by my mentor to examine what takes away my peace? What are those little irritations in life that take one out of the present moment? Sometimes they are so small as to seem insignificant, and in a recent conversation with my mentor I saw that I held an idea that that these irritations had to be of a certain size and magnitude to be worth reporting to the Sangha. Yet we all experience moments when things do not go our way, or something unexpected happens and we don't like it! When we can't find something we are looking for, when there are no parking places just where I want to park, when someone says something innocuous but we take offence.

The other day we had arranged a trip back to my home town on my brother's birthday to explore again the lanes and fields we had played in as children, which I had described in an earlier post http://lauribower.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/the-summer-of-76.html
My sister and her two children arrived as we got a message from our brother it was raining! Should we continue with our plan or give up and rearrange something else? We decided to carry on as planned and arrived at his flat for lunch before setting off in the rain. We could have chosen to let the rain spoil our day as some of us were ill-prepared for walking in the rain but we decided to stick with the original plan, knowing that half way round was a cafe where at least we would have some relief from the rain. And what is rain anyway? On these hot summer days we should be grateful for the rain that nourishes the earth and the plants and relieves the heat, but why did it have to rain today? Again this comes back to what I have said earlier about expectations and attachments. We had an idea in our heads of this lovely sunny walk where we could remember times gone by, here we played, here there were horses to visit, here we camped. But the idea is not real, and it is only by us trying to make it real that the complications arise because expectations are not fulfilled. Instead we have to look at what is happening now, yes it is raining but that doesn't stop us from walking and enjoying the walk. We found some abandoned bread as we got to the dam full of ducks, and laughed heartily as they raced across the water, fighting for each mouthful. We walked past our childhood house and remembered friends we played with on the streets we passed through. We could enjoy what could have been a terrible day because the family were together and we chose to be happy and not let the rain spoil our plans. There is a lovely saying, "some people choose to walk in the rain and others just get wet". What are we choosing and what are we rejecting?

I began this blog with no real sense of where it would lead and how it would develop but thanks to blog statistics I can find out which countries those who read this come from and I am delighted to say that people from 31 different countries are having a look, and it would seem, sharing what they like with friends and family. I have recently learned how to change the settings so you no longer need to sign in to leave a comment and I hope this will encourage you to leave comments on posts you enjoy, find challenging or share with others. I cannot find out how many people are signed up to receive email notifications of new posts, so that is a further unknown audience, but I am delighted that so many people seem to find these posts helpful or interesting. Thank you for reading and for sharing. And if it helps Thay's teachings reach a new, wider audience I am delighted. So to leave you with something to consider for today, what takes away my peace?
Have a mindful day :)