Monday, 23 September 2013

And I am grateful.

"Gratitude is the most fruitful way of deepening your consciousness."
(Henri Nouwen)

It's been said so many times before, in many different ways, but Gratitude, when you really 'get it', when you really practice it is a powerful tool for mindfulness.

When I hear myself starting to think 'poor me', I try to stop it right there and fend it off with a small dose of gratitude. 

Yes, I was up many times in the night with a very snotty, teething baby, but I also get to spend my day with that baby and am fortunate enough to be able stay home with her and not have to put her in a nursery. And I am grateful.

Yes, there's never enough money for me to go and buy those nice outfits I see in the shop windows, but we are fortunate enough to live in a nice, warm house with a lovely garden and there is always plenty of food on the table.  And I am grateful.

Yes, it seems like there's never enough time for me to do something for myself a yoga class, a trip to a gallery, poor me, but I always wanted to have children, would have been devastated if I couldn't have had them, and here they are, all three of them, beautiful and healthy and funny and clever.  And I am grateful.  

Friday, 20 September 2013

Something to think about ...

"Ask the river: 'Do you feel useful, given all that you do is to keep flowing in the same direction?

And the river will answer: 'I'm not trying to be useful. I'm trying to be a river.'

Don't try to be useful.  Try to be yourself: that is enough."

('Manuscript found in Accra', Paulo Coelho)

Monday, 16 September 2013

Greening up

"You are not separate from the whole.
 You are one with the sun, the earth, the air.
 You don't have a life.
 You are life."  
('Guardians of Being', Eckhart Tolle)

It comes with the territory.  When you try to be mindful it becomes obvious that living mindfully means to live lightly upon the earth.  In harming our world we are only harming ourselves and our children and their children.

I have always been very interested in environmental issues, though I'm not so great at taking the relevant action.  Lately, I think I appreciate the need to 'green up' our lives due to my interest in mindfulness.  How can I be still, be quiet, be present and not hear the voice of nature asking me to be gentle with her as I try to be gentle with myself, my husband, my children, my friends?  It's just so obvious that it is the right thing to do. 

There is so much that can be done in order to protect our environment that it simply overwhelms me sometimes.  As with all things, little baby steps can help.  Making sure I take my shopping bags to the shops, trying to make fewer car journeys, making cloth hankies instead of buying disposables.  Little things I know but important nonetheless.  I am also always aware of the example I am setting for my children, they should see their Mummy doing all that she can to safeguard their future.

Some much-needed inspiration recently came from Bea Johnson's book, 'Zero Waste Home' and her excellent blog We are far from being a 'zero waste home', but this woman is such an inspiration I'm certainly much more aware of the waste we produce and the things we buy.

So, I'm reading, I'm learning, I'm reflecting.  I'm trying to go about my day in mindfulness so that my actions and my purchases do the least harm to the environment.  I have such a long way to go, but I believe in it and I want to do it in any small way I can.  

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Mindfulness in the everyday

Mindfulness in the everyday, this is what I'm interested in. Always on the hunt for inspiration I recently watched this video It's the highly inspiring Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, at the Plum village monastery in France giving a talk about mindfulness.  In it he discusses 'mindful walking and breathing' and 'mindful eating'.  He goes in to great detail about how to conduct such activities with mindfulness and thus bring more joy and contentment in to one's life.

It occurs to me, as I go about my daily tasks, can't all of my tasks be undertaken in mindfulness should I choose?  Today, for example, there was 'mindful drinking of tea'.  It tasted so good and was so warming on a cool September morning.  There was 'mindful washing of dishes'.  'Mindful driving'. 'Mindful changing of nappy"!?  Mindfulness in everything, that's the goal, or at least the journey.  

Mindfully conducting each task.  Taking deep, nourishing breaths. Trying to not think about all of the other things you need to do, but  trying to be present and enjoy the moment as it is right now.  This is not always easy to do for sure.  As a practice it is so worthwhile and I know for certain that makes for a more pleasurable day and a more calm and present Mummy.  I try to practice all the time.  Listening to my girls' stories from school, playing with my baby, taking a moment to be still and savour the beauty of a curl on my daughter's neck, a bird in the garden, that first cup of mint tea this morning.  This is mindfulness in the everyday and it tastes good.  

Monday, 2 September 2013

Rockpools and reverence

"If we perceived Life with reverence... we would stand in awe at the experience of physical life and walk the Earth in a very deep sense of gratitude."
('The Seat of the Soul', Gary Zukav.)

The most beautiful August morning.  Already warm, the dome of a clear blue sky above us, white cliffs behind us and sand, pebbles and rockpools all around.  She grabbed her bucket and ran to the shore.  So eager to explore those rockpools, in search of treasure.  We found some too, a starfish, which she handled and gazed at for the longest time.  

She has 'reverence' for Life in abundance.  It comes so naturally to her.  It is quite something to witness.  She stood 'in awe at the experience of physical life'.  I don't know if she yet walks the Earth 'in a very deep sense of gratitude', I hope she will one day.  I know that I sat there on that beach and watched her, utterly content, and immersed in the natural surroundings.  I watched her pick up pebbles, swirl the water in a rockpool looking for creatures, she was so alive and present.  

I try to walk the Earth in a very deep sense of gratitude.  For mornings like this one, for this daughter of mine, for all of my many blessings.  For a few quiet moments on a beach, with the sun on my face and a few deep breaths, observing this child.  Sometimes the experiences of this physical life are just so beautiful, if I take the time to be still and witness them.