Going home

Pond at arboretum-2347

‘Going home is like turning down the volume, so I can hear myself again.’

Steve Jampijinpa, from the documentary ‘Milpirri, Winds of Change’

Where is the place you can ‘come home to’, where the noisy volume of your everyday life is muted so you can become more grounded, gather your thoughts, hear yourself? When people meditate, they often describe a sense of coming back to themselves. Life is still busy, the demands which others make of them haven’t decreased, but there is a greater sense of living out of their centre rather than simply being buffeted about by life.

Home can be a physical place where we feel comfortable, at ease, not having to prove ourselves or be someone special. We can also cultivate a sense of going home through rituals, reflection, taking time out. It is where we can reconnect with our deepest values, with what really matters to us. Yet it’s possible to rush along for months or years without ever touching base with this sense of returning home. Continue reading “Going home” »

Presence

Orchid in Anglesea

‘The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.’

Thich Nhat Hanh

What does it mean, to be present? In one sense we are, of course, always present. Where else could we possibly be? Yet we probably all know the feeling of being present in our bodies while our minds are elsewhere.

We also know what it’s like to be with someone who is not really present with us – who nods mechanically from time to time and mutters a disinterested ‘oh really’ while scanning over our heads to see if someone more important has arrived at the party yet. Other people have the gift of making everyone they talk to feel like the most important person in the room. We flourish in the presence of someone who is listening deeply, who is attentive and kind. Just to be in the presence of a person like that can be healing for us. Continue reading “Presence” »

Even in Kyoto

Mist at Wilson-0662

Even in Kyoto-

Hearing the cuckoo’s cry-

I long for Kyoto.

 

Matsuo Bashō

Sometimes we have a sense of yearning which has little to do with what is happening in our lives. Often we yearn for something in particular – a beloved who has gone overseas for a while, a sense of calm which may elude us, our youth which is long gone. Yet at other times, we may be filled with a sense of yearning which seems to come from a mysterious dimension of life we cannot name. Perhaps life is good, things are going well, and yet…

We are often drawn to practices like mindfulness meditation in order to understand ourselves better. Continue reading “Even in Kyoto” »

The sparrow and the baby lions

Rosehip-2332

A few years ago, I took the three-year-old daughter of our neighbours to the zoo for a few hours. It was a sunny autumn day, just a gentle breeze, and we were both looking forward to the afternoon. As soon as we’d gone through the gate, little Emily became enthralled by a scrawny sparrow hopping about on the path, and clapped her hands in delight.

‘No, Emily,’ I told her, ‘don’t worry about the sparrow. Look at the baby lions over there!’

As soon as I said it I knew I was wrong. Why shouldn’t Emily be just as interested in the sparrow as in the recently-born baby lions? Admittedly we hadn’t just paid a lot of money to look at sparrows, which we could have seen for free on the other side of the fence. And I was certainly keen to see the baby lions, and both Emily and I loved watching them tumble about at play a few minutes later. But in this case, Emily was my teacher – to be interested in whatever we came across, regardless of whether it was common or rare. Continue reading “The sparrow and the baby lions” »