Falkland Summer Walk – 30th June 10am-1pm

A mindful walk starting from Pillars of Hercules organic cafe, through the magical Falkland Estate up to the Tyndall Bruce monument and the Temple of Decision. We will have just past the Summer Solstice, so this is a time of celebration and renewal of our energy at the mid point through the year. Everything is in full abundance, so we will delight in looking at the trees and wildlife in full swing as we walk up to the monument, with stunning views across the Howe of Fife. We’ll then proceed to the Temple of Decision, for a period of quiet reflection, before returning once more to the cafe for refreshments. Approx time 3 hours. Cost is £10 per person. Please book via this page, or text 07846 399594, or e-mail info@craig-gilbert.com

Burntisland to Aberdour coastal path walk: Saturday 8th June 1pm-3pm

A slow meander along the Burntisland to Aberdour coastal path. We’ll take our time, enjoying the moment and the sights, looking at wildlife and stopping to view the sea, before finishing in Aberdour Silver Sands cafe for refreshments. There will then be an option to walk back, or get the number 7 bus back to Burntisland from Aberdour High St. Cost £10 per person. If interested in attending, please contact Craig via this page, text: 07846 399594 or e-mail info@craig-gilbert.com to book your place.

Resilience in a modern world

Some people have asked me why I decided to quit my I.T. job and become a mindfulness practitioner. There have been many quizzical looks and eyebrows raised at my choices in life, as if I’m walking a path hidden to most, or just more threatening in some way. I have lost friends and gained new ones, all through the practice of mindfulness. It certainly at times feels like a unique path (though of course it isn’t) that many people shy away from. To have the security of that job, to make sure one’s needs are met, is a perfectly understandable and common trait in our current society.

There is an element of fear in people, that one can’t walk a certain way, or follow a heart’s whim, due to our financial economics. It rules our world, this head-space, this need to be secure, stable – our future to be planned out. It’s like we create a risk assessment for our lives, just wanting that security to live on forever. So, it can be alien and disturbing for people to look at someone like me, who has created a ‘security threat’ in not having a full-time job, in trying to follow one’s passion, and be more free.

There’s also the argument that what I’m doing is ‘selfish’, in that by practicing mindfulness, that might be OK for me, to sit on a cushion and do nothing. How lazy is that, some say! You need to work. Earn a living. You need to contribute. What the heck are you doing, just sitting there, practising your ‘being’, when there’s so much to DO?

Having been trapped in the endless stream of work, the business as usual model that – deep down – I knew wasn’t helping the planet; shredding all of the Earth’s resources so I could maintain my own interest in buying the latest gadget, or have that holiday in the sun; it actually moved me to become more mindful, to start practising the art of being. In so doing, I’m noticing what I do, why I do it, and whether I do it out of conscious choice or just old sub-conscious desire patterns that are built on ‘feeling safe’.

Yes, it’s a challenging path. I’ve chosen to earn less money, to buy less, to be more with less. It’s creating more resilience in me. It’s making me see the ‘desire’ and not give in to it. I can be happy without those cravings. I can be happy right here, right now, if I choose to be.

This then, this change in me, is something that I believe is building my resilience for whatever comes next. Yet here’s the thing. It’s also building my own compassion for everyone else, the plight people are in, the need for security, the need for safety. As a mindfulness practitioner, my need for security is lessened because I’m more and more living in the moment, where I can do something, or not. This way of living doesn’t look to the future for stability, it enjoys the present which then carves a new, more conscious future without me thinking about it. Because I’m living with less fear of the future, I’m more able to look at other people’s lives, and offer kindness and support wherever possible, which, at the heart of mindful practice, lies humanity’s true form: a being of loving-kindness. Mindfulness, in essence then, is selflessness, and being aware of what we do to ourselves, our friends and our planet.

I believe that if we all can harness the capacity for mindfulness in our own lives, we will begin to make the right choices that will save our world. We will notice, decide what’s not important, and ease our own unhappiness. This in turn will lead to happier relationships with everything.

So, people wonder why I left my job(s) in an I.T. background. This then, is my answer. I just want the world to be happy; and I’m starting with myself.

In search of red squirrels – Ladybank woods walk – Sun 26th May 2019 11am-1pm

A mindful walk through Heatherhall Woods by Ladybank in search of the elusive red squirrels! We’ll meet at the southern end of the woods, and walk through the woodland quietly and patiently, looking for squirrels and birds. We’ll then return to the car park, with an optional visit to a nearby cafe for refreshments to discuss our findings. Cost is £10 per person. Event will last approx 2 hours (though longer if we go for refreshments), and run at 11am – 1pm. To book, please message Craig on this page, text 07846 399594 or e-mail: info@craig-gilbert.com. Thank you.

Kinghorn Labyrinth Troll Walk – Saturday May 4th, 1pm-3pm

Join us on World Labyrinth Day to enjoy a mindful walk around the Life Labyrinth at Kinghorn Loch’s Earthship Centre, before walking through the glorious woodland to reach the Troll bridge. We will give the troll our problems and issues in life and ‘let go’ of our thoughts to reach the present moment, and then proceed up to an old ruin at the top of the troll path. We will then finish by returning to the Barn at the Loch cafe for refreshments. 2 hour event, from 1pm-3pm. Cost is £10 per person. Please let me know if you want to book, either by text: 07846 399594, or e-mail: info@craig-gilbert.com.

The troll under the bridge

Perspectives of unseen paths

The Bonnet Stane, near Falkland

As part of my ScotWays volunteering duties, I walk areas of Fife monitoring rights of way; checking if they’re still passable and doing spots of maintenance here and there.

A few years back, I had visited a route to ensure we had it mapped correctly: it was one of the many routes in the Lomond Hills Regional Park. I decided to retrace my steps, only this time in reverse, as I wanted to see the path from a different perspective. Sometimes it’s a good thing to walk routes both ways.

The route began this time for me at the Pillars of Hercules organic cafe (as do most walks in and around the Falkland area!) and then proceeding along the road towards Drumdreel Wood (just adjacent to Strathmiglo). From here, I wanted to reach the rock formation known as The Bonnet Stane via a new method, following fields at the feet of the Lomond Hills, with the immense slopes of rock to my left. I thought this time, in reverse, the route to the Bonnet Stane would start off nice and easy, as I would be traversing a flatter, simpler route.

After a fascinating time walking between large chunks of fallen stones (one was twice as tall as me and three times as wide!) and discovery of a multitude of bones (I can only imagine why, perhaps this was a buzzard feeding ground), I realised that walking in from this way was neither flat nor simple – in fact I felt like I was walking in the distant past, with nobody around, only the calls of buzzards flying above and the desolation of scattered bones and rocks for company.

However, it was all worthwhile, as I came across a small reservoir, and beyond that, the Bonnet Stane. It sits upon a group of rocks made out of calciferous sandstone, and was made over thousands of years by natural weathering in its exposed position. There is also a cave here, called Maiden’s Bower. The interpretation panel here tells of a story of a young maiden who fell in love with a rival family’s son. On one day, he came to meet her at the cave, and was ambushed by her father’s men and killed. She refused to go home, and spent the remainder of her life in the cave, becoming a locally known saint in the process.

Saying goodbye to the area, I climbed the slope behind and then walked an uphill route towards the ridge between East and West Lomond. I then carried on towards East Lomond, but instead of reaching the hill, turned left and made my way through woodland paths to reach The temple of decision, which bears the inscription ‘Perspective is the temple of decision’. This had been built for Falkland Estate back in 1849, now in ruins, and yet still serves a wonderful view across the landscape to Falkland and beyond.

I then walked to the Tyndall Bruce monument, another feature on the Lomond Hills. From here, having been struck with the synchronicity of walking my route from a different perspective, and then seeing this reflected back at me via the inscription at the temple; I decided to walk down directly behind the Tyndall Bruce monument and onto new paths I’ve never used before. The last part of my walk was truly magical, following unseen paths and finding interesting places to sit, with the sunshine piercing through the trees down on me, before reuniting with familiar ground later on.

The walk made me wonder how many of us just tread our paths in the same way, following marked routes, without seeing the other paths nearby.  The ones that are more hidden can be just as rich in scenery and even more enticing. I certainly had an adventure, and discovered way more than I had set out to, which for me, is the beauty and wonder of living in such an amazing country. I shall return, and always with a view to walk from a different perspective!

A day of mindfulness – 7th April, 9am-5pm

Come and join us for a restful day of mindfulness in the lovely setting of Old Lathrisk house, near Newton of Falkland.

Driveway to Old Lathrisk

The day will run for 7 hours, and we’ll aim to be as mindful as we can in that time, beginning at 9am and finishing at 5pm.

9am – Mindful Meditation
10am – Mindful Tea Ceremony
11am-2pm – Mindful Walk and Lunch
3pm – Mindful sitting/journalling
4pm – Mindful sharing

Please bring a packed lunch with you. Tea/coffee will be served at the mindful tea ceremony and also there will be home baking on offer, and again at the mindful sharing.

For further information and/or to book, please contact Craig Gilbert either by private message here at Zen Life Fife, or e-mail: info@craig-gilbert.com, or text mobile: 07846 399594.

Cost for the day is £40 per person.

Mindful Walk at Newburgh 24th March 11am-1pm

A gentle mindful walk along the coastal path at Newburgh, before heading back to the high street for cafe refreshment. Duration is 2 hours, and costs £10 per person. Craig will guide you through some simple mindfulness practices to get to the present moment to fully immerse ourselves in the walk. We’ll also keep an eye out for Bearded Tits in the rushes along the coastline (one of the only places in Scotland to potentially see these). If you’re interested in attending, please private message Craig on the contact page, text 07846 399594 or e-mail info@craig-gilbert.com to book.

Being vulnerable is OK…

I’m realising, as I reach my 46th year, that showing one’s vulnerability is OK. In fact, I think it’s necessary!

Having had a lifetime of being told what to do by others, (‘oh you mustn’t cry’, ‘be a man’ etc.) I finally observe that all of this diatribe aimed at what I can and can’t do has had a profound influence on my health, my mind and my conditioning. It has made me who I am. Initially, it made me a depressed, anxious human being. I had in the past even been suicidal, not seeing beyond my disturbed thoughts at that time.

It’s only in recent years, through the practice of mindfulness, that I’m beginning to tease these edges and understand my old subconscious patterns, and choosing to let go of them.

I now have gratitude (rather than grudges) for all the paths I’ve trod to reach here. All the people, jobs, events and influences in my life have pushed me onto the thread of mindfulness, which is now my true lifeline in this life. It’s a rope to safety, a cord that I hang on to whenever I can. With the ever increasing ‘threats’ of our world’s sustainability, politics, environment and fear-mongering among media, it has kept me sane and kept me from becoming angry at the state of the world.

I’m currently taking part in a workshop called ‘Active Hope’, which looks at the ‘crazy’ of the world and how we can deal with it as a species. It has three stories of this world: the business as usual model, the great unravelling, and the great turning. Business as usual is more of the same: more money, more profit, more work, more doing, doing, doing and not caring where are resources come from. This is no longer sustainable. We are already seeing much of the great unravelling, the breakdown in society and the fear that we’re all living in…the threat of climate change and war always prominent: just how do we cope? Then there’s the great turning, something organisations and people are doing already, a way forward, even if it’s just buying local food or watching where our fuel comes from, or using less plastic packaging.

The trick with the great turning is to start talking about this vulnerable world, and that includes our own fears and despairs. Only when we see our pain can we honour it and do something different. Only when we share our vulnerability can we learn compassion for others. This is the essence of mindfulness, and I believe in it so strongly I’m writing a book about it. I believe so strongly that I’m writing this blog to let you all know that there have been times I’ve NOT had it together.

By looking clearly at ourselves, and all our anguish, only then will an insight come to show us the way. I’m taking great steps to let go of watching the news, consuming that which I believe to be the ‘right’ thing to consume, and working on myself so I can become more resilient in the years ahead. If I can work with my own vulnerabilities and anxieties, then I am well served as one of the members of ‘the great turning’. We can all do this, if we choose to look and practice on ourselves.

I have been transformed by the practices I’m now doing, and I’m being much more hopeful and active – in fact, I’m enjoying life! I have more self-compassion and kindness for myself, and I have eternal thanks for everyone who’s supported me (which includes you, as you’re reading this).

So, yes, I’ve been vulnerable. I’m still vulnerable at times, but I smile and know that I can get through it, and I know I can trust in each moment to unfold as it should. I know this suffering has provided me the compassion to see the pain in others, and to be able to offer kindness when I can.

So, keep smiling, keep breathing, and let’s work together to make this world, our home, be at peace.

Mindful Walk – Kirkcaldy to Kinghorn Coastal Path – Sunday 24th February 2019

Our first mindful walk of 2019. Starting from Seafield beach car park (behind Morrisons), we will walk along the coastal path, past Seafield tower and along to Kinghorn. From Kinghorn there will be an option to either return the same way back to your car, or getting a bus. Craig will guide you to be mindful of your surroundings and to just being. The walk is approx 2 miles long (4 miles if returning by foot), and will last approx 2 hours. Cost is £10 per person. If you would like to book on this event, please contact Craig directly, either through a private message to this page, e-mail: info@craig-gilbert.com or text mobile: 07846 399594.

Runs from 1pm – 3pm on Sunday 24th February 2019.

Seafield Tower, Kirkcaldy