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.

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!

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.

An hour of concentrated mindfulness

Lines on Kirkcaldy beach
Lines on Kirkcaldy Beach

This week I took it upon myself to do a solid hour of mindful walking along Kirkcaldy Esplanade.

A mile long, normally the walk takes about 15 minutes. I made a point of taking a whole hour. I decided to really focus on the movement of my walking, noticing every time I lifted my foot and placing it back on the ground. I walked slowly, feeling the movement of my body’s muscles as each part of my foot connected with the ground – slightly leaning forward at toe, slightly leaning back at heel. I visualised my muscles and tendons of my legs moving as I walked, imagining them getting stronger, fitter, healthier with each step.

Every so often I would stop, and gaze across at the sea, watching the waves hitting the beach, white froth moving along the edge of the sand. I listened to the seabirds, and watched the seagulls swooping. I felt the wind on my face.

As it was dusk, and descending into night at the time I walked, I began to notice the stars appearing in the evening sky. Across the water, lights shone from the coastline opposite, and twinkling lights of boats and lighthouses became clear. I also spotted the lights of planes crossing over to Edinburgh airport in the distance.

Every time my mind wandered to another topic, or thought, or ‘thing to do’, I brought it back to my breath, concentrating on that, breathing in and out as I walked, coming back to the Esplanade – to the here and now.

A full hour of mindfulness does not need to be sitting on a cushion doing meditation. After the hour I felt refreshed, nourished, and fitter. My mind felt calmer. I had arrived, back once again with my body, in the present moment.

The walk gave me an idea to run events on an ‘hour of concentrated mindfulness’. It’s good practice, and will form part of a series of ‘deepening’ events this year.

In the right circles

This has been a year in three distinct parts for me.

The right circles

The first part, up until May, was business as usual – going to work, paying the bills, practicing mindfulness and running my groups part-time, yet from a visit to the Isle of Bute in May I received a message saying I just had to let go of this routine and become a full-time mindfulness practitioner. I also needed to regroup on my writing projects and change my approach, which was haphazard at best and not regular enough for the creativity spark that runs through me. However, “not regular enough” was obviously a story-line (see later).

The period from June to August was making this transition happen: handing in my notice, striving to write every Monday to continue my book projects and devising my plans to be able to survive through being self-employed. I realised by the end of August that the universe had provided some surprising means for me to be able to survive and seemed to guide me through. My heart’s intentions had been seen and honoured. I am filled with gratitude for all the ways things have happened.

September to December has been a curious state of affairs – seeing how “the plan” has played out, and again I’ve come to another insight: striving does not work (or only in part)!

My future plans had to change, something that has occurred more “in the moment” than on paper and in response to differing circumstances from month to month. I smile from this lesson, because one of the mindfulness attitudes is all about “non-striving”, not trying to force change by ‘needing to be over there in the future’, but by doing what is in front of me in the present. Once I harnessed my energy into focusing on the here and now, I realised I could cope with what came up, and often new ways came clear that I couldn’t have planned or foreseen. The future basically takes care of itself. Taking the pedal off slightly; removing that ‘need’ for change, actually created all the change I wanted anyway.

So, I end 2018 in a kind of blissed out awareness of the present moment, more and more as I dip into it through mindfulness, and always try to “deal with what’s going on now”. I am treading in the right circles! I have had plenty of eureka moments and ideas for deepening mindful practices next year, which I’ve jotted down: yet all of these will happen naturally when the time is ready for them. Also, with writing, I write more when I’m in the mood, rather than forcing it out every Monday. This approach is working well and I’m writing more regardless of that former rigidity. It is interesting to me that this approach had failed to work before (as mentioned at the start of this blog), but I believe my thoughts got in the way (thoughts lead to procrastination after all). Just write to write, I keep saying to myself. Enjoy the art of writing. What comes up, well, is what comes up!

I wish everyone a happy Christmas and peaceful New Year. I’ll see you soon.

Space to breathe

20181108_110543Everyone needs a space to breathe. My place is very simple; just a couple of large cushions, resting on a storage heater, with a frame above and a piece of fabric to the left.  It doesn’t need to be ostentatious. I’m only breathing, after all.

But, aren’t we breathing all the time? Yes, we are, but are we focusing on it? Are we giving ourselves that space, that permission, to just sit and focus on our breath? Even just a few minutes of doing this can be calming. We begin to notice our difficulty in doing nothing, or rather, just being – just breathing, and knowing we’re breathing.

We want to be anywhere but in the breathing space. We fidget, we sigh, we get bored, we want action…and yet, that’s the point. By practicing on the breathing like this, we begin to expand our calm self, our calm mind, and thus our body becomes calmer. We can sit for longer periods, even begin to enjoy the sitting, with nothing else to do but to breathe.

The benefits of this are forever reaching, and I’ve still not tapped into the huge mystery of it. I’ve barely scratched the surface. I’m noticing my thoughts, distracting myself from my breath. I’m noticing aches and pains in my body, or emotions and feelings coming up that are lurking inside, somewhere. I’m just accepting all of these, not getting rid of them, just observing them in my awareness, and then I’m gently coming back to my breathing.

The longer I do this, the more I sink into a deeper sense of being. This is invaluable training for when I’m out and about in real life; I begin to notice my thoughts, my emotions, my feelings and my body in a much more tuned in way. So, when I notice an irritation, I can relax into it there and then, in the moment, by just returning to my breath. This is the practice.

I’m now using my breathing space to sit, especially when I feel something – like anxiety, or sadness, or something that’s not comfortable in my life, and I breathe with the emotion. I accept I’ve got it, I welcome it in, and I breathe. I breathe without trying to breathe deeply, or change my breath in any way, I just focus on the breath. That’s it.

What I’ve discovered is a wealth of calmness, a huge bottomless pit of serenity, a deep well of peace that can be brought forth whenever life decides to throw a curve ball at me.

Welcome to mindfulness.  Welcome to your breathing space.

I think we all need a breathing space.  Just setting aside a few minutes, to interrupt the flow of the rush of the day, the constant stream of thoughts, of doing this and doing that. Just be. Just breathe. I find as a result I’m a lot calmer, able to react better, and more consciously, than before. The breathing space is particularly useful when we’re judging all the time, blaming something (or someone) for our troubles. Let go of the judgment, focus on the breath. This continued practice always brings the solution to all my problems, and most of the time, I find the problems are made up in my head from past experiences anyway.

So, try it, see what you think (literally). You might be surprised at what concentrating on your breath can do for you.

Transformative Mindfulness

18102016340Change is coming.

Not only is it autumn, and the trees shed their leaves, changing their form in time for winter; not only is it getting darker at night, the day shorter and cooler; not only did I just end one life path and start another (as a self-employed mindfulness practitioner), change is coming, everywhere.

I see it in people I meet. I see it in the world. I see it in the way we act with one another. There’s a deep rooted fear in society, that, through my practice of mindfulness, I’m seeing so much more clearly. Perhaps it’s always been there, but it does feel like an abyss of despair at this point in time.  Yet there is hope – we can pause before we plunge.

People are frightened of their own lives. I’m noticing the anxiety in so many people, and it’s their thoughts that’s causing the anxiety. Worse, they’re not seeing these thoughts, but descending further into the ‘what if’s, how do I fit in, what should I do, why me’ process. So many of my friends on social media and in life, shut themselves out, or complain about how this world is affecting them, or worry endlessly about this, and that.  It’s getting worse. Things are imagined, or made to look dramatic, when the reality is there is absolutely nothing going on – it’s just what’s in our heads – so we believe it.

Awareness is the only truth: what we see, hear, smell, touch, taste, and feel.  It’s this moment, or nothing else. It’s why I’m so passionate about mindfulness. It’s the truth, it highlights what is really there, not what we think is there.

That’s why I consider mindfulness transformative.  If we look deeply at ourselves, and really take that courageous step to do so, we will begin to see the patterns we’re in. We begin to see the habits and destructive thoughts we wage on ourselves. We wake up, and we can choose a different path.

I have totally transformed my life with the miracle that is mindfulness. It’s why I kinda dig it, you know? It’s interesting to me that a lot of people run from the very thought of mindfulness. It’s scary to some. Well, it’s brave to look deeply at ourselves, isn’t it? We know the truth of it, deep down, and why we’re running, but we continue in the distraction nonetheless.  Sometimes, it’s easier to do that, and I can see why we do. I’m hugely compassionate to people because I’ve experienced the same fears, the same distractions.

But, there is a way.  Pause before you plunge – pause before you dive into that realm of despair (all based on your thinking).  Pause, breathe, and come back to what is actually happening – the facts. The awareness. At this moment, I’m sitting here typing this article. My hands feel slightly cold. I notice I’m a little bit hungry. I feel full of determination. There is nothing else that I’m aware of  at this moment. If I’m worried about what people will think of this article, I might not finish it. This kind of thinking is fear; this is the imagination of a subconscious thought program – nothing more. When I breathe, when I really come back to this moment, all is well.

So if you feel anxious, pause. If you feel upset, pause. If you feel sadness, pause. If you feel jealousy, pause. And so on. Breathe. Come back to the moment. Observe the facts. Transform yourself to doing something different.

That’s why there is always hope. That’s why the future IS mindfulness, because if we don’t embrace it, don’t learn about it, we’ll end up going round in circles of defeat and despair in our heads, and we’ll be lost.

Life is bute-iful

Bute_poolI’ve just returned from a wonderful trip to the Isle of Bute. I spent just under a week immersing myself in the landscape, scenery and ‘just being’.  I’ve returned feeling rejuvenated, more mindful of myself and more in tune with the present. Practice, practice, practice!

I also spent some time researching areas of Bute for my forthcoming novel, ‘The White Fox’, and picked up some gems along the way (one of them this pool, pictured, that will feature in the book).

Viewing the landscape reminds me of the need to create space in our lives; to just be and watch the scenery, the wildlife, hear the sounds of the sea, the sounds of nature…just to fully embrace everything around us. There’s an expansiveness about that; a sense that things aren’t just about ‘me’, they’re about the cosmic unfurling of the universe.

I see things these days with fresh eyes, less frightened, less anxious, less needing to change things. It is an inner joy bubbling away within me, a brewing of spirit, of something wonderful constantly emerging.

There is such emergence everywhere. I see transformation happening all around me. Is it co-incidence that people I know are wanting to change jobs? That people are wanting to move, to find something better in their lives? Is it co-incidence that communities are beginning to come together, to talk to one another, to heal old wounds? Is it co-incidence that scientists are discovering more about our world, including us, and how we work? Is it co-incidence that the last movie I watched was Avengers: Infinity War, and it’s all about re-balancing the universe?

Seeing synchronicity in life, like this, is becoming a daily habit. I’ve always enjoyed synchronicity, and often feel there are no co-incidences when we’re in the cosmic flow. Acceptance of things just lets us keep in that flow, and journey with life rather than fighting against it. I’d spent my first 40 years of life fighting, now I’m learning to accept – and the change that acceptance gives is extraordinary. How ironic that acceptance incites change? It’s a paradox, but it’s true. I just go with the river. Whatever comes, comes. What bends in the river ahead of me I don’t know, but I accept going down the river anyway. It’s trust. It’s faith. Can we learn to just flow with the river, or do we want to divert it, make it go a certain way, a way that looks brighter?

I’m encouraged by my continuing happiness by ‘just being’. I’m not striving for happiness. It’s just there. Only now, I can see it, because I’m in this cosmic flow – I’m seeing everything, and I’m not really thinking about ‘me’ all that much.

Thank you, Isle of Bute, for reminding me of this fact; for your birds and seascapes, for your embrace and for letting go.

 

Do peaceful minds go to war?

einstein So, the UK has decided to send military action once again, this time to Syria.

As a Mindfulness practitioner, this highlights to me the lack of understanding in the world and why we’re all continually suffering with one another.

At a basic level, if someone says something rude to us, our first (subconscious, survival instinct) is to say something rude back. It happens all the time in our lives. Our mind thinks we have been wronged: “they shouldn’t have said that to me” or “I can’t believe that just happened, I’m going to really ignore that person from now on” and so on.  This is how arguments begin, how anger can manifest within us, how grudges start. We’ve been wronged, or so we think, and so we need to justify ourselves, defend our position, fight back!

This is not mindful. With Mindfulness, we observe what is going on in the world without judgment – a very difficult thing to do for our ego mind. However, with our practice, the more we do this, we more we gain insight and understanding on what is really going on.

If someone says something rude to you, instead of getting annoyed with them or wanting to punch them, or plot your revenge (or, hey, let’s make it really big – start a war with them!) why not seek to try and understand them first? What made that person want to be rude to you? What insecurity/fear do they possess that caused them to do such a thing? Curiosity is our friend in these cases, it stops us thinking about ourselves and our ‘justifiable righteousness’ to defend our position. Maybe the rude person was just tired, having had a difficult day themselves, and blurted something out without thinking. Maybe the rude person was actually wanting to inflict a wound, but that too is cause for pondering why. Each act like this is actually a cry for help. It’s saying “I’m not happy and I want you to know about it”. It’s someone, in their mindless state, leaking out their suffering…something that they’ve had all their lives, something that’s not resolved within them because either they don’t see it, or they are stuck in a conditioned habit. Mindful people do not seek out pain and suffering. They do not choose to be rude, or be angry. As humans, we are fundamentally born with love, not with this hate, this fear that can so inflict so much damage. Whatever happens in our lives brings in the fear, the threats, and the rub is that the vast majority of these threats are actually just thoughts in our head: the mind is very good at making things up that aren’t real.

So, the UK government is frightened, and it’s doing what it thinks is right ‘for the protection and security of Britain’. However, one cannot fight war with war. It just creates more war. What is needed is a deeper understanding of what is going on in Syria, why some people there feel the need to inflict suffering on others through chemical weapons. Those people must be in deep pain to want to do such things. Our retaliation will just ensure they have more fear, and are more likely to re-use their weapons from that fear. That’s why we keep having wars and conflict.

Fear needs to be looked at, to be met head on, to be understood. When understanding comes, fear lessens, and our real humanity emerges: a deep compassion for all life.

Peaceful minds do not go to war. Peaceful, mindful minds observe what is going on in the moment, accept it, and move on. They do not dwell on anything, they do not complain about being ‘right’ or ‘feeling wronged’. They do not fight.  What exists simply exists. Our minds are pools of compassion and kindness.

I will sit, and practice my mindfulness, with an intention to ‘not harm or judge anyone or anything’. If I do this, I will notice the times when I’ve not managed it, when I’ve got annoyed at something, or judged someone, and I will return to my breath and to my practice. Each time I do this, my mindfulness will become stronger, so that I’m less annoyed, less judgmental.  I will be heading towards a more quieter, peaceful mind. That way, I will never choose war as an option. I will seek understanding, with curiosity, and compassion for myself and for others. With that insight, peace may one day come.

 

Going on retreat…a tale of The White Fox and About Zen: Mindfulness

Kilchattan Bay So…how are you good people? First blog post of 2018, and we’re in March…having stepped through most of Winter, I am beginning to emerge on what promises to be a spell-binding year.

As people who are in the know, I am now teaching Mindfulness to groups on Mondays and Tuesdays, and the journey continues for me, the shifts keep coming and the Mindfulness in my own practice becomes ever more apparent. There is no end, only shifts; practice, practice, over and over. Enlightenment is never reached, or if I think it does, I’m firmly reminded by the universe that ‘no, no it hasn’t’.

I was amused to see a note on a website (from the International Futures Forum) talking of a Second Enlightenment. The aim, I’m realising, is not to strive for anything like enlightenment, or to sit on a mountain top with inner peace exuding from oneself; the aim is simply to continually observe what is in the here and now, as a way of life. This includes all the difficult stuff. Why? Because then I’m not making stuff up about my life, especially in thought form. It’s all about the experience, not the loss of the present into a realm of illusory thoughts, made up suffering and what if’s. We’re all suffering enough as it is. Mindfulness is all about not adding to the suffering, and by increasing one’s awareness to the here and now we do tend to suffer less as a result, and when we’re suffering less, other people around us also suffer less. That’s why, for me, it’s the most important thing I can do in life.

My guided mindful walks begin in earnest in just over a week away, and I’ve got 8 planned this year up until October. Not only that, with my continued 1 to 1 zen life coaching services, I’m immersing myself in the basic principle of ‘living in the present moment’ and sharing this with others, should they request the need. This has already been a four year journey. So, what’s next?

Continued practice…and a book on the subject.

About Zen: Mindfulness is underway. I take every Monday after my group to sit somewhere and write about the topic held in the group on that day. Whether it’s about gratitude, or about the ego, or about suffering, or about the flow of the universe, it’s all getting jotted down. My hope is that the book will reach many people, and will be an invitation for the reader to share in the practice of Mindfulness.

To deepen my own practice this year, I’m planning a solitary retreat, beginning on the Isle of Bute in May. I shall blog about it afterward. This will also culminate in writing more of The White Fox (my sequel to The Black Tree) of which much of the story for that book will be based on the Isle of Bute, so it’ll be great for me to research the area and add my descriptions to the book while I’m there. Yet the retreat will be much more a case of meditation, of walking the landscape in silence, and of exploring my own limits and connecting with the spacious, abundance of nature.  Silence and space are two great ways of being in the moment. In silence, we notice our need to speak. In space, we notice our need to fill it with distractions.

So the journey continues to unfold. It’s a pleasure to share it with all those who read this blog.

Hopefully I will catch up with one or two of you on my mindful walks.