Transcending the body

Transcending the body

Transcending the body

When the vicar, Sarah, arrived yesterday to see my grandmother and to say a prayer for her, she walked into the room and said “Oh, it doesn’t look like Dora.”   Far from being an insensitive comment, it was tinged with tenderness and some surprise.  Of course, she would have always seen my grandma at church dressed smartly in a skirt and navy blue blazer with court shoes, beautiful white hair perfectly curled–always immaculate.  But her observation ran deeper than that, for me. There is something that, when it begins to fade, makes the person look less and less like

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Misconceptions about meditation

Misconceptions about meditation

I went on a weekend meditation retreat a little while ago and, without doubt, the most frequent comment I received from colleagues on Monday was: “Oh, it must have been so relaxing!” Well, yes.  And no.   Yes, because I was away from the traffic and noise of London, away from work, away from the constant pinging of technology and away from anybody I knew, just for a couple of nights.  The retreat took place in the countryside so, of course, being able to walk in nature and enjoy the stillness, the peace and the fresh air was relaxing. But

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Monday morning mindfulness

Monday morning mindfulness

Sometimes, whether because of a difficult week, an upsetting conversation or just a general, existential feeling of sadness and ‘flatness’, we need to narrow down what we are focusing on and giving our time to, just temporarily.   This is where going back to the basics and keeping it simple really helps.  It’s a cleansing experience, a necessary and often reassuring one. Today, focus on the everyday tasks or habits, in your work day or whilst at home, and try to carry them out with consciousness.   Whether you are rinsing out a mug, filing papers or drinking a cup

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The struggle after acknowledgement

The struggle after acknowledgement

When we’re talking about behaviours we want to change, habits that are no longer helpful to us, acknowledgement is the first step and, for some people, the hardest.  Noticing our behaviours, our emotions and our triggers is absolutely vital if we are to make positive changes. But I’ve realised, through my own experience, that acknowledgement doesn’t automatically equal change.  It seems to be a facet of human nature (or at least my own!) that we can absolutely know that something is unhelpful or even harmful, but we continue to do it anyway.  Sometimes that is necessary, for a while, until

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Body beautiful

Body beautiful

“Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos — the trees, the clouds, everything.”  I love this quote from Thich Nhat Hanh.  It helps me to realise that, whilst the physical form may be superficial and fleeting, it is still precious.  A flower dies within days of blooming, but don’t we enjoy it, celebrate it, nurture it and revere it while it is alive?   With the discovery of a newfound spiritual practice there can be a tendency, as I suggested earlier, to think that it is futile or even arrogant or shallow to take

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Don’t stay on the park bench for too long

Don’t stay on the park bench for too long

Like many people, I have read and listened to Eckhart Tolle’s teachings for the past few years, finding them of great benefit to my own life. Yesterday, I listened to a recent radio interview with him on YouTube.  He talked a lot about his early life and experiences, and his responses seemed more personal than before.  I could hear that, while he says he is basically surrendered to the ‘isness’ of each moment, there are still difficulties for him–his sudden fame, busy schedule and lack of time and opportunity to hold one-to-one sessions with individuals.  He also said that he

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A quick catch-up

A quick catch-up

Happy Saturday, friends!  And to those of you in the States, I hope you’re enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving. I’ve been a bit quiet the past couple of days because there has been so much going on at work.  We had parents’ evening on Thursday from 2:30pm until 8pm so, as you can imagine, I fell into bed pretty much as soon as I arrived home!  The school term never really slows down–what with Christmas productions, assessments and all sorts of festive parties and afternoon fayres, there is always something to keep us teachers busy.  I do enjoy this season though,

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Why should it take an earthquake?

Why should it take an earthquake?

I’ve been thinking, this morning, about how quickly one’s perspective can change, often through illness or a sudden event that causes us to focus on what’s important. I have often listened to people who have faced trauma or long-term, serious illness and been inspired by their views.  Then, inevitably, I have thought ‘What if it didn’t take something so huge and catastrophic to force us to re-evaluate our lives and our values?’ I had an awful dose of tonsillitis just before the summer.  I was at home, off work, for almost a week, in a lot of pain, shivering, sweating

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What feeds your soul?

What feeds your soul?

It’s so easy, especially today, to watch, listen to and read things that provide only temporary gratification.  Or perhaps they provide hardly any gratification at all… they are just habitual.  Things we have become used to ingesting.  Scrolling idly through Facebook, gossip columns or depressing news stories. It’s so easy to do this, and to never evaluate the effect that this unconscious consumption has upon our minds and souls. I realised a while ago that, whilst my natural propensity when choosing a film, for example, is for thrillers, creepy stories or gritty dramas, they generally have quite a negative impact

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Something to soothe the soul

Something to soothe the soul

I took this picture in Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire, England about a year ago.  I loved the reflections of the stained glass windows in the water of the black font. The inscription on the side of the font read: “As you pass through the waters, I shall be with you.” A reminder of the beauty of love, silence, stillness and grace, no matter what your religious or spiritual faith.

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