March Perspectives

Dysart View Ever looked at things with a different perspective?

With fresh eyes, I’m wandering around Fife, near my home, fully immersing myself in the land around me. A walk along a beach, done many times before, the same beach, greets me with new sights. Perhaps I’m just looking a lot more clearly these days.

2017 has already been an interesting year. My work in my Mindfulness groups has expanded to include practice sheets, and each practice sheet contains 4 different practices. I’m up to ten practice sheets, so that’s 40 practices, not just focused in Mindfulness, but in all other areas of life. To share and discuss these practices with other like-minded people has been fabulous, and they are fast becoming part of my daily life routines.

Each morning, just when I wake up, and again at night, just before I go to sleep, I’ve been doing a breathing practice. The aim for this is to concentrate on my breathing fully, not thinking about anything else, and capturing the present moment in the process. In the morning, it’s useful for me to slip out of my subconscious into conscious mode this way – perhaps I won’t say something straight out of my subconscious, such as ‘I can’t be bothered to get up’, ‘it’s far too comfy in this bed’ or some such ego storyline. Again, at night, it’s relaxing and calming to descend into the subconscious with no other thoughts; that, if the subconscious mind had its way, would keep me up all night and give me insomnia. Again, such drama, but when I’m just breathing, where is the drama?

I’ve also been doing a bit of creative visualisation – imagining something in the future as already being achieved. I’ve imagined having more 1 to 1 Mindfulness clients, and also the success of selling 10 books a month from my novels/poetry. They’re not huge targets to achieve, very do-able in reality terms, so it’s not a big stretch to think this could already be happening. Once I imagine the success, and feel it, more importantly, the emotional responses from this reach into the world, and…well…maybe…just maybe…

…currently, since doing the visualisation, I’ve got a new Mindfulness client doing 1 to 1, and I’ve sold 5 books so far this month (2 from an unusual source!)  Is this proof then, that this sort of visualisation works?

I think part of the truth of it, if we’re thinking more in a science, logical based way, is that by creating positive intention in my life, I’m generating more positivity in my dealings with people, in my self-expression, my creativity, and rewards are coming from that alone. How important it is then, in my view, to be positive about myself, to keep an open-mind, and remain curious about the wonder that is this thing we call life. Who knows where next it will lead me?

My next intention for 2017 is to keep writing, to finish some of my projects this year, and generally reach as many people as possible with my Mindfulness teachings. If I visualise that, I wonder what will come.

It’ll be interesting to see the journey unfold.

 

 

2016, the year of change

Old_Bridge Well what an interesting year 2016 has been for me. Having just returned from a lovely walk seeing old bridges crumbling (like the one pictured, along with a furry friend), I can’t help but feel this old bridge is a metaphor for the year: things have been crumbling, things have been changing, and pretty soon there won’t be a bridge at all. What will be in its place?

For me, 2016 started as good as any other year, if not better. I had plenty of ideas of where I wanted it to go, especially with my writing and learning all about Mindfulness.  It’s interesting, but as the year turned, I could sense a lot of my old fears and issues falling away, just like an old, crumbling bridge. I was on an adventure! A new start, a fresh perspective on life, and it was amazing to start practicing this perspective, not just through Mindfulness, but through every facet of my world. I’ve deliberately spent a lot of the year pushing in to things I might have chosen not to do before, and certainly done things that have been a bit outside of my normal comfort zone. I’ve been on a journey, daily, looking inward, focusing a lot more on my feelings (and not trying to fix them or solve them, just let them be) and it’s helped me so much.

It’s not all been smooth sailing. I’ve certainly not written as much as I would’ve liked; I’m only just beginning to get back into doing that, finally overcoming a mental block on it which has hounded me most of the year. I’ve also played around with time, and my perspective on it: moving from feeling too busy to just being busy, moving from blaming the outside world to acknowledging my inside world, and giving myself the choice to do something different.

Then there’s been the media this year, full of celebrity deaths, full of war imagery, of new presidents, brexits and a myriad of changes. The climate is feeling warmer, too – double figures in the centigrade in December, in Scotland?? Unheard of. I sense more changes on the way, and a lot of them seem difficult to control, or accept.

It feels like we’re all at a tipping point, where we could all fall into the despair lurking all around us if we choose to see it, or perhaps we can choose a different path, a different perspective.

I end 2016 with a feeling of hope, for all those who are beginning to face their fears, and come out in the open, and be heard, and be part of the unfolding future. I end it with feelings that the old bridge will crumble, but what will replace it might not necessarily be better or worse, it’ll just be something new. Change is inevitable, and we could all do with some fresh changes.

2017 will begin as 2016 did for me, with plenty of creative energy and book projects, and more Mindfulness work. The difference for me, is that I finally feel ready to sink into it, to be a part of this amazing world, to do my best, to pour my hope and joy into everything I do.

I wish everyone a welcome rest at the end of this year, and love and joy for 2017.

Supermoons and the lightness of spirit

SupermoonI saw the Supermoon last night; a big, bright moon (in between the Scottish clouds). Standing there taking it all in, especially when I was standing on my own, really encapsulated my feeling of lightness. Just that evening, I’d been discussing lightness and heaviness with some friends. What makes us feel heavy? Well, I have my suspicions…(you knew I would).

Our atoms that make up our cells in our body vibrate at varying frequencies. Feel light? They’re doing a merry vibrating dance. Feel heavy? They’re sluggish, not flowing as they should.  What makes our atoms and wave frequencies feel heavy?  Well, the weight of the world, the thoughts of ego, the ‘victim mentality’.  It’s interesting, because our ego is designed to protect us (flight or fight) and it’s mighty useful in certain instances. But when we live in ego mode (which most of us do, basically subconsciously, and around 95% of the time) being in those thought processes causes our tiny atoms to, well, just not be as happy and merry as they would like to be.

The result? Disease, depression, despair…most things beginning with ‘d’. At worst we’re silently suffering, or perhaps we’re telling everyone we’re suffering (way to go, ego).

I looked at the moon last night, and I decided to let go of my ego for a few moments. It was just me and the moon. It was just a fact. There were no storylines going on, no drama between my ears (some of you may feel different about that one!) I felt light, anyway, a kinship with this amazing orb in the sky. Thank you, supermoon!

So, when you’re feeling a bit down (there’s another ‘d’ word), or sluggish, or lazy, or just can’t be bothered, ponder your atoms! Ponder the energy that exists in this world, especially within you, and notice whether you’re creating stories in your brain. Let it all go, even if only for a moment.

Go see the moon. That’s all you need to do.

One of my sit spots is a cave…

Cave

On one of the many walks on Falkland Estate, I encountered the cave pictured. It’s a pretty spot where I can sit and just be, surrounded by trees and gentle forest sounds.

I sat there just a few days ago, and really noted the quiet. It’s amazing what the quiet can do for you, if you’re sitting deep within it, nestled in comfort.

I have a lot going on just now, busy times, not difficult times necessarily, but coming to a place in nature like this, tranquil, quiet – well, it helps put these mental processes into order. Just relaxing and being, taking some time to sit and ponder has always been good for me.

I do have a chuckle with myself, too, for the melodrama I put into my life. Nine book projects are floating around in my brain. Not content with that, I’m working on my Mindfulness course that I’m now doing weekly, working out written hand-out sheets to give to clients. Not content with that, I have a craft market to organise and do admin for. Not content with that, I’m about to embark on potentially writing articles for a local magazine every other month. Not content with that, I’m – well, you get the picture. Lots going on! Feels like I need this cave more than ever, to walk to, to sit, and just be.

Then it strikes me: do I really need this cave? Do I feel overwhelmed, struggling with all the things in my head? It’s an interesting question, and at one time I’d have responded with the affirmative – yes! I do need the cave. Everything is just too much…

…only I’m noticing a real change in myself. A change that says, yes, I can do more, in fact, I actively enjoy doing more. I want to be part of all the things I do, and why not try and do something else as well? I’ve gone from feeling ‘too busy’ to just ‘being busy’, a small but important difference.

My life is incredibly rich, just now. I see abundance flying in from all over the place: people who want to see me, places that hold so much beauty, emotions that are full of laughter and humour, the list goes on. I’m the most content I’ve ever been; years ago, with all this stuff going on, I’d have been anxious, full of worry, self-doubt, eating at myself, and my ego would’ve been shouting at me to just STOP!!

It’s still a pleasure to come to this cave, and all the other places I visit. It’s still good to pause, and reflect on things, but not with a view to healing myself; with a view to just being, just being a part of the world as it flows around me. There’s always something new and unexpected coming around the corner, and it’s exciting. In fact, visiting a place like the cave actually gives me more creative fuel, more ideas, potentially new projects. Perhaps I’ll never get round to writing them all, or doing them all, but that’s OK. The important thing I’m noticing about myself is there’s no longer any need to beat myself up over things I haven’t yet done. I’m doing what I’m doing right now. Tomorrow can wait, but it’ll be different, again, again and again.

 

 

On the shores of an infinite imagination

unlearnWhat an interesting couple of months. Seeing the rising turmoil in the UK and all the pain/anguish on social media in response to the EU referendum highlights the depth and breadth of how quickly our connected minds can become lost in seas of negativity.  It almost becomes a burden to not share one’s own thoughts, as the sweeping tide comes in and washes us all out to ‘perceived’ stormier climates.

I witness the comments online from the national media as well as social media and see the rising gloom infect everyone and everything I know. There’s vitriol on the headlines, and judgments of guilt, shame and blame in the people who are elected to help our land. This in-fighting and bickering needs to stop before any new intention can come forward, a working together of the collective mind for a greater good. Why is this not happening? I think it comes from dormant fears and unobserved patterns.

The solution to such things, I believe, comes from the heart, from the hidden depths of ourselves. We are all born into love, and merely learn fear and subsequent protective mechanisms to make us feel safe as our life journey flows. We need to unburden that fear, shake it loose, dust ourselves down, and learn to love one another again, as our own innate ability understands only too well. By completely accepting just where we are can then offer a fresh start and perspective for what is to come without lingering on old wounds and memories of what could have been.

The creative minds in our civilization are beginning to come together to seek these new perspectives. I can see that positive progress everywhere in my life; it doesn’t need to be published by newspapers (indeed, they choose not to). Having an open minded, curious nature is key for us all to let go of those old ideas about what keeps us safe, and begin to question why we do what we do. That’s why there are poets, and artists, and writers out there – they all ask the necessary questions to really get to the source of the problem in society.

I’m now sensing a real importance in the sharing of mindfulness practices. There is so much anger and pain all around and mental illness because of it. When I looked into my own anger, I came across a blatant realization: that I was a lost, lonely boy who felt misunderstood. Once I looked deeper into that, the pain of it lessened, and my new beginning started to emerge.

We are all on the shores of an infinite imagination, just waiting to walk out and dip our toes in these magical waters. We can all choose to be positive, to choose to be curious, to not judge, and accept things when they happen. We can choose to do what we have to do right now, and not fret over the past or sneak away to hide from the future.

It all begins with a long, deep, beautiful breath…

Non judgments, i.e. this is just a blog. It just IS.

wipersThis blog isn’t rubbish.  It’s also not good. It’s just a jumble of words we can identify with written on a screen. So many times I have to stop myself from judging something or someone. It’s built into my unconscious, after all, I’ve got really good at it. 43 years of judging. Phew, try knocking that out overnight.

Pausing is helping, being mindful is helping, so many things are helping. I’ve woken up from it all. I see the news, I see the weather, I see my car’s window wipers stop working (this is true, I’m currently dodging rainclouds while I drive!), and it’s ALL a valuable lesson for me.  So it’s snowing (in April; oh Scotland, I love you). So the car tests my resolve and patience once again (Elaine, I’m sorry, I failed and rushed for a triple chocolate muffin to ease the suffering!) So I’m not perfect. So I’m writing this blog. It just IS.

One thing I’m fast beginning to understand, is that if we judge people or situations, we’re actually just defining ourselves as someone who judges. If we’re ranting about it, that’s even worse, because we’re taking in that pain of judging something/someone to not be satisfactory in some way, and it GETS to US and our own inner peace. Often I used to take things far too seriously. Goodness, if my wipers had stopped working, say, two or so years ago, I’d have been beside myself with worry. How would I get to work? How could I function without my trusty steed (I mean car?) Ok, it’s a small issue compared with the world.

The principle is the same. It’s amazing how liberating it is when I’ve finally caught myself in time, and chosen NOT to judge. Try it! See how it fits with you. Most of the time we judge without thinking, it’s all automatic. We can’t unsay words we’ve uttered. Sometimes these words can hurt and the empathy for others goes out of the window. We’re all in this together, this saving the world lark, I’m sure of it. Every breath, every pause, every moment, is gifted to us because we’re still here breathing, pausing and having more moments. So perhaps some people don’t see it that way, and they’re looking out for themselves, and they’re selfish, and they’re greedy, and they’re non-environmental – oh look, I’ve fallen back into judging. They’re doing those things because that’s all they know…it’s unconscious stuff. And most of what we look at and call ‘negative’ is actually just someone acting out a fear they have deep inside. Who are we, to judge their fear? Maybe if we sat the person down, really talked to them, listened and understood them, they’d change. But the point isn’t to make them change, only they can do that. The point is to BE, is to discuss things, without it affecting our OWN mood. But don’t take my word for it – have a read of this blog by a psychologist which really helps with this judging thing, and helpfully reaffirms my position that judging isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

Imagine a world without judging. If nobody ever judged YOU, how would that feel? If nobody called you stupid, or fat, or ugly, or even beautiful. All you need know in this life is how you feel, about yourself, just you. If we all took our time, really looked at ourselves, and decided not even to judge our own self, how would that feel? I for one am curious and open-minded to see what would happen.  I’ve certainly stopped telling myself how stupid I am. The result? No, not more intelligence, but a bit more inner peace, a bit more letting go of old stuff.

It’s feeling good.

Incidentally, my wipers are booked in to get fixed on Saturday. Well, maybe they will, or maybe they won’t…!

April walks and hidden nowness

Maspie_Den_Waterfall I had a lovely walk yesterday up Maspie Den, part of Falkland Estate, with friends.  At the top of the Den is this unique waterfall, where you can walk behind it. This is still such a joy to do, and I feel truly blessed I live only about 2 miles walk from this place.

Walking will be a theme this month, as I’m taking part in a Step Count Challenge, where I wear a pedometer and do as many steps as I can each day. The Challenge will last 8 weeks, and I’ll record what I do on a website. Having done the challenge last year (that one was 4 weeks long) I still smile at the memory of me heading out and walking Falkland village to get my steps up and to meet the total number of steps allocated to me that day, in rain and gale force winds.

A few weeks back, I took part in an evening event where a group of us headed into a local woodland at night-time, to sit out for over an hour and just be with our thoughts. We subsequently shared our moments around a fire, with tea and laughter. It was interesting, but as I’ve just completed my Mindfulness Diploma, I felt I was in training to be ‘in the present moment’, and wanted to try an exercise I’d learned from the course. However, it wasn’t an easy task! Sitting in a woodland at night presented itself with a myriad of problems, as well as an over-ripe imagination peering into the gloom, sensing noises and shapes; it seemed hardly a time for a mindful mood. I could still see lights in the distance, and hear cars, and an odd humming noise which may have come from a pylon or something like that.  I heard rustles, and the spitting of the fire nearby. All of these things took me away, travelling on my thoughts, more and more thoughts coming into my head. This is the opposite of what I was trying to achieve.

Then, suddenly, and taking me by total surprise, the moon revealed itself through a gap in the cloud. All my awareness seeped into it as the bright light of it descended through the trees, casting shadows and a surreal colour to the proceedings. For a few moments I was awestruck, and then it hit me - I was, finally, being mindful. Without trying, without forcing it, staring at the moon in all its glory was enough for me to be transfixed, for a few minutes, staring at the beauty without thought. It was just the moon and me. A perfect, glorious, present moment experience…!

Since that night, I’ve been really working hard to stay in the present moment. There, no problems surface. There, no emotions can take hold of me for too long. I forget time, I forget everything except the moment I’m in. It is a profound and wonderful experience, and we can all do it, if we tune ourselves in, if we give ourselves enough awareness, enough consciousness to it.  I’ve been reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and it is a truly inspirational book to me. If we can all just get to that hidden nowness (which isn’t really all that hidden) and our mind stops thinking for a bit, there is a deep essence of being just sitting within us, to make us feel completely at peace. It still eludes me at times, but practice is getting me there more often than not. Perhaps I’ll soon no longer need the awe-inspiring beauty of the moon…

…who am I kidding! It’s always a beautiful sight.

 

 

Just another Falkland craft market?

05032016314 Another Falkland Craft Market has been and gone. Pictured is my table which showcases my books and poetry postcards/art prints.

Each time I go to this market, I get something different out of it. Sometimes, as was the case on Saturday, we get quite an influx of people coming through the door, and many stop and chat, asking about poetry and the like, or just generally asking about the market.  We tried a different position this time, right by the door, so we could tally up the number of people who came in, and we almost reached 300 people. How exciting!

I sell a few things; on Saturday I sold two books, two art prints and two postcards. This is about my average every time. I’ve been doing these markets for three years now with no real difference. My wife and I do have some ideas to change the stock, layout etc, but I’ve began to realise that if I’m expecting the day to be a roaring success from my products, I’m often disappointed.

So, changing my ‘mind set’ somewhat, I go to each market now without any expectation of how my products will do. I go in order to talk to people, to meet up with the regular crafters that I know (I see many of them as friends after three years), and generally just ‘be’ in the market.

As part of the organising team for the market, I also used to take things to heart when something went wrong, for example if a crafter failed to turn up, or something broke, or people complained about the organisation, or where they sit, or the lack of cakes, or the poor weather, or the lack of people coming in…the list of ‘gripes’ is endless, really. I’ve began to realise that none of this is my fault.

I believe that this event is becoming something greater than the minor quibbles and odd mistakes that happen. On one front, it is a place, well, a community of crafters, coming together to chat about their work, but more importantly, their lives. It gives a platform for people to improve their confidence if they’re just starting out. It gives regulars the knowledge that there are events coming up where they will be able to sell some of their work. It gives an event which becomes important and brings people together. On the other front, it is a learning for me. It teaches me to be more compassionate to people. It teaches me to be more empathic to people. It teaches me to be more resilient when things do go wrong (life throws these curveballs at us all the time). It teaches me to not feel like a victim and stop my ego from saying: ’woe is me, people are complaining at me again’.  It basically teaches me confidence, and lessens my (often imaginary) fears. It also teaches me mindfulness, to really be in the present moment – when that place is reached, all worries and anxieties fall away.

It’s so much more than selling books.

Thank you to all who come to these markets, and to all those who stop and chat, and to all the crafters who make the event possible. You are all fantastic.

 

Robins, bullfinches and deer

This robin pictured was so tame it came and stole a piece of toast that I had for breakfast while I was eating it!

Amazing to see wildlife up close like this. I could literally reach out and touch it, although he fluttered away slightly when I tried.

20022016313I had a walk through Falkland estate again, culminating my visit with some breakfast at Pillars of Hercules, the organic cafe that is reached by foot through the woodland trails. There wasn’t many people about, and it was lovely to wander about, taking my time, and catching some early morning sunshine.

The trip back was even more special, as I first spotted a male bullfinch on a bush, and then three deer bounded across the path I was on, not even a quarter of a mile away from the cafe (which has never happened for me on that particular, well used route)!

It appears to me Spring is coming. The beautiful snowdrops were out, and this flurry of wildlife activity seemed to be enjoying the sun as much as I was.

I’ve been practicing this living in the present moment idea, not thinking too much, if at all, and coming back to where I am, just walking, or watching birds, or eating etc.  I am surprising myself that my creativity is blossoming. I wonder if this is a natural occurrence following the mindfulness? I’ve written a new poem (Shining Bright), and written a new chapter on my latest novel. This is just the beginning. The sense of creativity is flowing through me right now, and when it’s like this, I can be scribbling away and tinkering with all the ideas stored up inside me…giving them life.

My enjoyment of life is increasing too. A walk to a cafe is rich with sights and sounds. I think it’s starting to show as other people seem more inclined to talk to me too. I believe we’re all mirrors for each other. Feel positive, and the positivity comes to you, attracted by some universal force.

It’s time to begin looking at the garden too…perhaps I can inject some of my positivity into that. I’m looking into herbs, with a view to producing a herb garden.  I’ll need to first of all lay some bricks for paths, and remove what’s there at present. It’s been difficult as we’ve had snow and the ground has been stubbornly hard, but the time is coming. I love this time of year.

There will be a news update on this site soon to let everyone know about my forthcoming projects. It is really good to be writing properly once again.

 

Art and ego

An art installation greeted me in St.Andrews’ Square in Edinburgh on my way to work last week. Here’s an image of it.

Art installation  It’s a funky thing which lights up at night, so has the perception of a figure running and doing acrobatics. Very cool.

I’m finding the commute to Edinburgh rather pleasant. Although sometimes the bus can be late from Dunfermline, and take about an hour to get in due to traffic across the Forth Road Bridge, I can switch off and practice my mindfulness on the bus. When I get in, if I’m early enough, I stop off at Princes St and walk to my work; I wouldn’t have stumbled across these guys if I hadn’t.

Work progresses nicely for me on my mindfulness diploma. I’m learning all about the ego at present, and how it can trick us into behaving a different way than what our soul actually wants. I’d read about this a while ago in a book by Pema Chodron called ‘Comfortable with Uncertainty’  which is an amazing small book filled with gems of wisdom. Of course, my ego wanted to tell you that, to prove to you that I’ve been on this journey for a good while. You see what it does? “Look at me, I’m amazing, and such a well read and learned person”. Piffle. I’m just a human trying to make his way in the world.  Every time I make an ego mistake, I smile, forgive myself, and move on.  It’s the way of it; I’m past beating myself up over things. Just learning to accept thoughts, letting them go and not having a mental storyline in my head about what’s going on is helping me immeasurably. Don’t we all do drama! As soon as I label myself (even mentally) as a ‘victim’ I do my best to stop that thought. I’m not a ‘victim’ of anything. So the bus is late; so my car makes funny noises; so that person said that to me…and so on and so forth. I’m making a conscious effort to not feel offended by anything. It just IS, and life is going to keep throwing things at me, because that’s just what it DOES.

I aim to have a complete acceptance of all events and people in my life (including myself), without judgment, fear or worry. That’s it in a nutshell.

All of these thoughts are starting to permeate into my writing as well, and I’m excited to have finally started up again on some of my many projects. Hopefully before too long there’ll be some updates to this site.

Ta ta for now…