True Self

A note from True Self

It is time to remove the masks, those masks you made over many years.

Not just that one, but the others as well.

It is okay, I know it can feel a little raw,

please take your time, please be kind to yourself.

This is you, the real you, I am here waiting, I have always been here waiting for you.

Look no further, seek no more.

There is nothing else you have to become,

nowhere else you have to go.

Sit, listen, be still.

Watch with curiosity this thing we call life.

I will be revealed in the sunsets, the birds singing, the feeling of your feet touching the earth.  All those simple, beautiful moments.

I will be waiting in those quiet times, those times you go to sit, those times when you practice this awareness.

Waiting with a big smile and open arms,

Don’t be fooled by those masks that you wear,

there is a freedom here, here with me, your true self.

A great adventure

An adventure, lost in time

Those times so vivid in my mind now, times when an hour seemed like a day, a day seemed like a year and Summer felt like a lifetime.

Times when a ride out on my little bike to the next village was a great adventure.

Times when I was awake, vibrant, unencumbered by conditioning.

It seems dream like, may be not real, just a fleeting memory of a time when I was young, the past, gone, never to be experienced again or so I thought….

Life raced on, for some strange reason for years I stopped myself experiencing, I closed my heart, closed my mind, closed my ears and tried to close my eyes as often as I could to block it all out.

Pain, grief, loss, joy, happiness, anger all pushed away or held on to so tightly, not allowed to pass through.  I didn’t know there was another way.

I didn’t know that those times, those endless days, unencumbered, alive and awake, they were still there, just under the surface waiting to be discovered again.  Re-born again into existence by simple, beautiful awareness.

So ordinary, so simple, so easy to miss, no wonder for years I didn’t see it.

Little moments in time

The coffee with my friend.  My ears open, I listen to him speak, there could be a thousand people talking around us at that moment, but all I hear are his words.  My mind is nowhere else but there.  I fully taste the coffee, rich, bitter, strong.  I feel my feet on the floor, grounded, solid.  We seem to drop out of time. For a while our time there seems endless.

The drive to work.  I feel the hands on the wheel, my bum on the seat.  Everything considered.  I turn the radio off, I want no other sound, just the car’s engine.  I hear the gears changing, I do a little wave to lady who has just let me through and mouth the words thank you, I see her smile but she doesn’t wave back.   A car shoots out of a side road right in front of me, I have to brake, for a second I feel that familiar knot in the stomach but I let it pass through, the stimulus has gone, it is over, I don’t need to react or respond.  I wind my way across the lanes, the sun is just poking its head over the horizon, the trees like skeletons, bare, waiting for the season to turn. Just at that moment, I feel more alive than ever, unencumbered.

A walk in the garden.  I let the dog out, he wants to wander around and sniff the myriad of different scents he can pick up.  I look out, not much happening in the garden at this time of year, but wait that little palm I planted last year, crikey it has grown.  A flash of white catches my eye in the bed at the side, snow drops with little heads dangling. My ears pick up on the sound of the little Robin singing away. There is another bird call further away, one I havent heard for a while. I can hear it over the sound of the traffic, a crystal clear ‘keeow’ shriek almost.  I stand on the chair to get a better view over the fence and to the fields beyond the edge of the town. There, high above the trees are two buzzards soaring.  I sit for a while and just listen, a beautiful simple moment in time.

Moments that are disguised in everyday life, I have nothing but gratitude for finding them again.  Those times that seem to last forever.

Moments that make you see that there is nowhere else we have to go and nothing else we have to become.

The great adventure is right here, right now.  It always was and always will be.  When we think we have lost it, there it will be right under our feet.

Be well

Be happy.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to life

Life and awareness

As I sit and write today my attention keeps being drawn to the little puddle that is being formed on the patio outside the door. The rain is falling at a steady rate, drumming on the glass and roof, each raindrop forming a ripple of perfect circles in the puddle, the sky reflected in its surface. Simple,  absolute perfection.

You may wonder if I have gone a little strange staring at a puddle and wonder why I make such a big deal of it, but it is oh so easy to miss in our quest for something grander, something bigger.  So easy to by-pass in our striving, plotting and planning.

Simple present moment awareness, I missed it for years, it passed me by.

Even when I started this mindful exploration of life and journey into mindfulness and meditation, my mind played a little trick to push me out of the present moment.  It showed me a little snap shot picture of what it thought life would be like in the future, when “I had got it”.

A calm mind, bliss, peace, no stress, oh how wonderful it would be.

Many times I wondered why it wasn’t working. Many times I nearly gave up. Many times I felt uncomfortable.

I staked my happiness on some future ideal, which was just an illusion.

My practice changed when I settled  into  fully accepting what is here, right now. Be that to get rid of my racing mind, stress, bliss, peace, whatever, I stopped chasing it.

It is subtle but made a huge difference.  I stopped meditating to become different.

We meditate to be who we already are, to be right here, right now, awake and vital, our natural self, nothing added, nothing taken away.

Swallowing a bitter pill

This can be a bitter pill to swallow. I know we sometimes desperately want to change, to escape from the present moment but we find the harder we push it away, the harder it pushes back.

The truth is, there is no other moment, this is all we have. This is our work, right here, right now.

Not always comfortable, not always easy, but when we turn our attention to the present moment, it can open us up to moments of wonder and beauty.

When we make this subtle change of acceptance we can start to be satisfied with just being.  For me it was like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, a big sigh of relief.

We may find that the things we chase such as happiness, peace, a calm mind etc.. we no longer have to go out looking for them, they come to us.

Which takes me back to that little puddle, simple present moment awareness.

Our minds can race away but in this moment is a little bit of peace, a space where we can rest a little while…..

Lets rest here a while, in this moment,
in this space between stimulus and response
a space of peace.
With nowhere else to go but right here, right now, this is the only moment we have.
There is no-one else we need to become other than who we are right now, right here.
Simple awareness, simple perfection,
sometimes the most profound is found in the most simple.
Thanks to life
Thanks to life

Surrender to the call for deep rest

“In the silence it will appear, wait, be patient, all will be revealed”

I don’t mind admitting that this time of year usually leaves me feeling exhausted.  December and the beginning of January is the busiest time of year at work, I am usually leaving the house long before the sun has risen and returning long after it has set.

Previous years have seen me battle this busyness, pushing away the tiredness, denying it, avoiding it, wishing it away.  Sure enough, the more I pushed it away the harder it pushed back!   Sleep and rest would become impossible as my mind raced with thoughts of the future and regrets about the past, little stories playing over and over, a sure sign of a tired mind.

So often we try to run away from our emotional states, we run and run and think  we have got away from them, only to turn a corner and see them standing right there in front of us, we may repeat this time and time again.  I know I have, it took me years to realise maybe there is a different way.

What if we stop running and pause.  What if we turn to our emotions as if they are an old friend, helping us, telling us what we need to hear, showing us the way, pointing us to our own inner voice, our guide, our intuition.

A few days ago I turned and greeted the tiredness, I opened the door and invited it in, I surrendered to its call for deep rest. I gave it permission to be here, thanked it for telling me what I needed.  In that acceptance something new began to form, a sense of peace, a place of contentment.

That night, I had the deepest sleep, a good ten hours solid.  I woke up to the feeling that my mind had been filing things away all night, clearing and sorting.  I felt fresh and deeply rested.

Sometimes our emotional states are trying to tell us something, they wont let up until we listen, until we fall silent, until we pause.

A guide to deep rest

  1. It sounds strange but give yourself permission to do nothing.  Often we find an excuse to run, to carry on.  There is always something to do, somewhere to go, but right now give yourself permission to stop, to breathe, to pause.
  2. Sit in quiet meditation for 10 to 15 minutes a day, this is your time.  you don’t need to practice a certain technique, just sit there, be aware of your breath coming in and going out.  Allow whatever thoughts, feelings or emotions to be there, you don’t need to change them, right now you don’t need to do anything.  Allow thoughts and feelings to come and go.  If you find yourself getting lost in a thought or stuck in an emotion, come back to the breath, back to just sitting.
  3. Say no to those unnecessary commitments, give yourself some space, some time to reflect, some time to pause.
  4. Sleep.  There are some great guided sleep meditations on the free App insight timer. Give your mind the deep restorative sleep it needs to recover from the busyness of life.
  5. Accept yourself just as you are.  You are amazing and unique, its okay to feel low but be kind to yourself, be your own best friend.  Be gentle.

 

“Gently, Gently, somehow the spirit of gentleness tells us what we need.  With a gentle strength, a gentle courage, we see our thoughts unmasked.  Like the clouds in the sky and the ripples in the water, they come, they go”

The Mind Shed

 

Self care – meditation

“Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life”

Brian Andreas

Lets rest here for a while and watch the sun rise across the land.

Lets just be here for a while, a little rest, a little bit of self-care.

Feel your feet on the ground

Breathe.

It is okay, you are alive, vital, present.

Open the senses, what can you see, smell and hear.

Lets linger for a while, no rush, no battles, no pushing or pulling.

We can let it all be for now.

Sometimes we just need to come back home, back to our true nature.

The tension in the belly, the closing of the heart, all little signs telling us to return back home, back to the breath, back to just this moment.

Watch the sun rise across the land, the mist rolling across the fields, the day dawning and unfolding.

Listen to the sounds, the birds singing, the distant traffic, the sound of your heart beating. So easy to miss in the busyness of life.

So often it feels like we are being pushed along out of control.

Feel your feet rooted into the earth, grounding you, supporting you.

Feel your breath, the rise, the fall, in and out.

There is a quiet stillness here, we can just observe it all with a gentle curiosity.

A space where we can just pause and rest.

A space between the stimulus and response.

A space where we can dwell deeply in the present moment and feel truly alive.

It is right here, amidst the chaos, it always was and always will be.

Rest in this self-care, soothe your soul and replenish your energy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A beautiful place

 

There is a beautiful place, underneath all the judgements and the resistance.  A place of quiet stillness, where we can just observe with a gentle curiosity this thing we call life.

A place where we can hold life as if it was a little bird in the palm of our hand. Lightly held and observed with curiosity.

A place where we can just hold it all in awareness and let it be just what it is, not manufactured but authentic and real.

A place where we can see that everything changes moment by moment.  The simple, the profound, it all changes.  From this place we can end the pushing and pulling and just let it change and evolve as it does and as it always will.

A place where we can greet ourselves like an old friend, with open arms, an open heart and a big smile and drop the judgements, end the fight and say lets rest for a while.

A place where we can hear our inner wisdom, our intuition.  In the stillness it speaks to us, telling us what we need to hear.  A place where we can learn to trust this voice.

A place we can breathe, I mean really breathe, to feel the air going in and out of the lungs and to know we are fully alive in this very moment.

A place we can meet the resistance and just experience what we are feeling, beyond good or bad, not grasping or rejecting, just simple experience.

A place we can just watch our thoughts come and go, like clouds in the sky or ripples in the stream.

A place that is with us all the time even in the chaos, in the busyness, know it is there just quietly waiting, whenever you need it.

Nothing we need to become, nowhere we need to go.

A beautiful place, right here, simply in what is.

 

 

Back to the beginning

“Go back and take care of yourself. Your body needs you, your feelings need you, your perceptions need you. Your suffering needs you to acknowledge it. Go home and be there for all these things “

Thich Nhat Hanh

I am going to take a step back today and take a bird’s eye view of things.  I think it is crucial to do every now and again in this practice of mindfulness meditation and life in general.

It is a wonderful thing just to zoom out every now and again.  You could see it as a meditation in itself. To pause and zoom out so you can see clearly all the little nuances of the practice and life, the twists, the turns, the forks in the road.

I hope you would like to come with me, take a flight and take a look, here we go ….

Beginning again

As I look down from a bird’s eye view, I can see that this journey is far from linear but more a series of returns to the beginning.

This is sometimes a bitter pill to swallow.  In a world where we are taught that forward movement, progression and striving are the norm, to think that you might need to start again is a tough one. For the practice of mindfulness and meditation to be effective it is something we have to get comfortable with.

In the beginning, we know nothing, we are just there taking it all in.  As we take information in, we start to put judgements to it, this works, that doesn’t work etc. Soon we are making preferences, we start attaching to the thoughts and before we know it, we are only able to meditate whilst sat on the top of mount Fuji.

I believe this is such a crucial point in the practice.  If we can cultivate the ability to constantly return to the beginning, we can let go of those thoughts, those judgements and those preferences.  What this opens up for us is peace, stillness, an end to the pushing and pulling and an ability to see a new approach and endless possibility.

We can strengthen this in our meditation practice, simply by pairing it back, always bringing it back to the beginning, bringing it back home, back to the breath.

Simply just sit. Sit with no intention other than just to be there.  Just breathe in and out.  A thought will come along, let it come and go like a cloud in the sky or a leaf floating down a stream, you don’t need to chase it or grab hold of it, let it float on by, simply return to the breath, return to the beginning.  Sounds will come to your ears, just let them, let the sound in, listen to it come and listen to it fade away, back to the breath again, back to the beginning over and over, a pure and simple meditation.

I say simple, it is not always so simple.  When our minds are racing away it can seem far from simple but gently gently, we don’t need to come at this with a hammer.  Some thoughts may slip through.  We may realise after ten minutes that we have been lost in a thought, that is okay it really is, this is not a race to the end. Gently come back to the beginning, back to the breath.  We don’t have to strive to be a great meditator. We just have to show up, keep returning to the beginning and keep coming back home.

As we practice this returning, we can see it start to ripple out into our life.  We may start to see a little more peace even in times of chaos. We may start to be able to separate useful thoughts from thoughts that serve no purpose (let them drift on by).  We start to see that the practice of meditation and our life are not separate from each other.

That constant returning to the beginning, is far from failing, it is where the magic happens, where we can grow and transform.

See it rise and fall in awareness

There are times in the practice when things come to the surface. Feelings and emotions that we may have suppressed for years start to be uncovered. We see our desires, our ego, our habitual patterns and addictions clearly. The image of the ‘self’ seems not as solid as it once was.  It can be far from peaceful.

I was lucky to have a teacher that alluded to this early on into my journey.  I also read an amazing book by the late Charlotte Yoko Beck “Everyday Zen”.  An amazing teacher, I recommend her books.  Challenging but very practical, no non-sense, just as it is. She describes the processes we may go through with the practice.

It came to me on a silent meditation day not that long ago, all laid bare, emotions that had been suppressed, rising to the surface.  I didn’t ask it to, we really don’t need to force this. This is the practice at work, shining its light on the dark, hidden places.

We have to have great trust in the practice at this point and lean into our own kindness.  When what we thought was our ‘self’ for many years comes under attack, it can be a little unsettling.

With patience and determination and a continued intelligent practice, the light of awareness shines bright, gradually we start to see more joy and more peace, a release almost.

We see that we don’t have to fight this, we can use what we have cultivated in the practice up to that point.  We can just be with it, observe it, and feel it, non judgementally, bringing forward our innate compassion and kindness.  To just let it rise and fall in awareness. By acknowledging it, it can pass. Not suppressed, but released. Then a return to the beginning, back to the breath, back home.

It is not always peaceful but this is where the changes happen. If this happens, have trust in yourself and the practice.  Be kind, be strong and be patient.

Back to the ground

It helps every now and again, just to rise up, take a birds eye view, to look down and reflect, so we can return with a beginners mind again. Grounded and solid, open to the new possibilities and wonder of it all.

 

“Gently, gently, get comfortable with starting over, come back to the beginning, come back home, no rush, no race, your life seen, acknowledged, felt. This is it.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change

“A walk in nature, walks the soul back home”

Mary Davis

This morning, as me and George tromped across the fields on our morning walk, I could feel and see the subtle shift in the seasons.  The smell of damp earth, the misty sky as the sun broke through, the vivid colours in the trees, reds, yellows all just starting to change.

I remember a time I used to dread the end of summer, I would mourn for it, cling on to its memory, those long summer days and warm nights.

This time it feels so different.  As we stand in the middle of the recently ploughed field, my feet firmly planted into the earth, rooted right here in this moment, I look up and see the changes happening, I can smell and feel the clear crisp air, the mist flowing over the field, nature at work, a new beginning.

How strange, it is as if I have never seen this happen before, never before witnessed the subtle changes of seasons and how beautiful it is.  Maybe I was always too caught up in mourning the passing of summer, stuck in the past, worrying about the future and forgetting the present.

There is a sense of deep peace here, just here in this very moment, not clinging, not grasping, not reaching out.  Just letting these changes happen and witnessing it all unfold in awareness.

Just a little moment in time.

Beautiful nature, the greatest teacher of all.  Nothing is permanent, everything changes.

 

 

Nature – The teacher

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished”

Lao Tzu

This morning, as I stood barefoot on the little lawn in the Mind Shed garden and supped my coffee, I could hear the bees buzzing around the flowers. As I looked around, Mr Blue tit was stood on the fence fluttering his wings about and chirping. He is proud as punch, Mrs Blue tit has had some babies. My senses are alive, the cold wet dew on my feet, the scent of earth and wet grass, the sound of distant traffic, but closer, the birds singing, the bees buzzing and George our little dog snoring away (he likes to lie in the morning sun and often drops off!).

Over the last week, I have felt a bit out of sorts. The usual tell-tale signs, a fluttering muscle next to my eye, the sense of life speeding up, the anxious knot in my belly, fidgety and irritable. Little signs telling me I need to stop, to pause, to reconnect. Its taken about a week to notice these signs, they are subtle, easy to miss in the busyness of life.  Before I started my mindfulness journey, I would have missed them completely, so a week is progress.  Anyway, that brings me back to why I was stood barefoot on the lawn this morning…

Nature – The Teacher

Nature has been one of the most powerful teachers on this journey.  For the last seven years I have had the greatest pleasure of working very closely with nature. My day job as an interior landscaper means I spend most of my days around plants. Strangely though, when you are up close to it everyday, it is easy to miss the lesson that nature teaches us.

Being humble

As I stand on the grass, it doesn’t complain or wilt away, It bears my weight. As I shift my feet it springs back up.  We need this quality too in our lives. Humility and a quiet strength, to pick ourselves up when we need to.  It doesn’t mean we become a walk over, but our reaction to the things we have to face in life can change, we don’t always have to react.

Patience

In nature everything happens in its own time. The seasons change, the flowers open, all in their own time.  Sometimes, I am so desperate to move onto the next thing that I forget what is happening here and now.  No wonder, I sometimes feel like life everything is speeding up.  As I stood in the garden this morning and reconnected, I was reminded that this journey, this practice of mindfulness, takes time and effort. It doesn’t happen over night.  We are so used to instant results, this can throw us of guard.  Nature can teach us that things will happen all in good time and to have patience.

Simple beauty

We have a of self seeded plants in the garden.  The most prolific self seeder that is in flower at this time of year, is the humble Aquilegia. At first glance the flower isn’t anything special, but get up close and lift the flower you realize it is simply beautiful.  In the busy frantic world that we live in, we can sometimes miss the simple beauty of life.  Simply noticing the breath, being aware of our bodies, simply connecting with those that we love, no words required, just a simple smile, a hug.  Simple things that can bring us great happiness.

Nature can teach us that happiness, the beauty of life doesn’t always come and give us a big slap in the face and say “Hey I’m here”.  It can be subtle, you have to sometimes get up close to see it, but it is there, all around us.
Getting deeply in touch with nature can be a great antidote to a busy mind. For me it just helps me to reset, to become grounded again, to just be me again.

Nature – a great teacher in this journey of life. Try standing barefoot on the grass or just pause and take a look around, let nature help you to feel grounded again.

I love to hear from you, let me know how you get on, leave a comment below or drop me a line at info@themindshed.co.uk

Have a super day!