Here is the next batch of photos taken each day. A trip to the Lake District, a rare orchid, summer in full glory. (Random order.)
Here is the next batch of photos taken each day. A trip to the Lake District, a rare orchid, summer in full glory. (Random order.)
Spring turns to summer in this batch, nature bountiful, a first aid class, solar cooking, a hike on the South Downs.
Here is the next batch of photos I’ve taken each day. Spring deepens, blossoms and bluebells continue, fresh leaves arrive. This set includes trips to the Isle of Purbeck and Puy L’Eveque in Lot, France.
Gundleton Rail Bridge, Watercress Line
God’s Acre Cemetery and Corfe Castle
Kimmeridge Bay and the Jurassic Coast, Dorset
Here is the next batch of photos taken each day. Spring is in full bloom, with the focus here on bluebells and blossoms. I consider myself very fortunate to be surrounded by such beauty in my daily life.
Last week I spontaneously decided to start another daily photo project. I’ve done a year of photos before, maybe six years ago, with one aborted attempt before that. So here we go again, with the first ten below. All taken with an iPhone 5S or Lumix TZ-40. (Photos are posted daily on my facebook page)
Scenes during a walk in late autumn, from Bishops Sutton near Alresford, to Gundleton and back.
An old granary at the northern edge of Bishops Sutton, perched on staddlestones to keep it drier and relatively rodent-proof:
Into an autumnal Sutton Wood:
Looking south from Northside Lane to Park Dale and the woods of Bramdean Common:
The bridge arch. Always interesting patterns of decay on these bridges. This bridge would have been made around 1865. Just visible top right is one of two small trees we saw somehow growing from between the bricks:
And right at the end of the walk we saw a bird of prey swoop across the road into the hedge. We stood and watched for a while before it went deeper in to eat its prey. Later we identified it as a kestrel:
Six years ago, I took a similar walk. Here is the video.
From Camden in London, west along Regent’s Canal path to Little Venice at Maida Vale. The path soon leads to Regent’s Park, where the canal cuts trough the zoo, and the back gardens of some stately homes side by side along its banks. Then there’s a tunnel, so one has to re enter London streets a while, before the busy but tranquil Lisson Grove moorings and Little Venice itself. After an unusual request, I walked a little way along the Grand Union Canal, to Paddington Station.
Sunday, 13 September 2015
Slept through to six-something again. Sleep pattern stabilising after a few weeks of waking very early?
Went to the monastery last night. They have a traditional (English) barn for meditation, chanting. It has a certain atmosphere, something in the air, and my brain quickly attuned to that quality of non thought, the difference between there and at home just now tangible. But in both places a feeling of not fighting, not fighting thought or sensation. I’ve learnt it’s not worth it; struggle leads nowhere and is simply a waste. Of course struggle takes place, but I am not consciously adding to it and it more easily dissolves.
But there’s still a lot going on physically. It is worth making the little effort to move through the body. I’ve spent a lot of time moving as far as say the eyes (from the top of the head) and getting lost in thought for twenty minutes. Easily done. That’s okay too, but perhaps not as ‘worthwhile’ as moving through the body. But maybe thought needs that space sometimes. Like how often do I just stop and think? Yet I’m not on the cushion to stop and think, as such, so a little effort to sense areas of the body does seem more… real, genuine, actual.
Monday, 14 September 2015
The rest after mediation is where the integration takes place for me. Like sivasana at the end of a yoga session, in the relaxation any understanding can be incorporated.
Despite thoughts of yesterday and of general work matters, there was a steady movement through the body, good connection. Some head shaking, and neck tension, also legs and feet aching.
Tuesday, 15 September 2015
For those first fifteen minutes it’s not really worth trying to do anything. Just sit. The mind is going to be flirting about, and playing catchup on yesterday’s day. I guess this is why it is said best to sit twice a day, to unwind from, and go through, the day just gone, in the evening time. ‘Evening’ – how about that for a word! Evening out. But I’m evening in the morning, which is better than no evening at all I guess.
Then after those first minutes, it is possible for awareness to go deeper. And to see it is obvious why the mind is scattered and fizzes about, given that the body feels like *that*. So, to touch all of the body, maybe not in one go, certainly not at first, but to touch it part by part or gliding over it, and in that touching, that connection, both the sensory part and the mind feeling it, undergo a change. A change towards softening, quietening, the mind less reactive, more at peace and the sensations soothed. If not this natural stilling, then at least an authentic connection and a togetherness lost in busyness and overreaction.
Wednesday, 16 September 2015
Even if not meditation as such, it is worth sitting quietly. The mind gets space and time to go through things, whether I like it or not, and the key situations from the day come to light – from my own and others behaviour. And without really meaning to I see things as they are. This is not easy as we are not necessarily nice people. The social cloak comes off when sitting, exposing the realities of who we really are. There’s all the talk of the ‘true self’ and ‘light’ and love, but the reality isn’t going to be like that, at least not at first. Yet through the eye-opening realisations of who we are in relationship, there is a watchful quietude maybe not apparent in the business of daily life. So, stop, sit, feel what is. It may not be pretty but it does feel it’s worth it. And what’s the alternative?
Saturday, 19 September 2015
Finger marks in my palm where the fingertips pressed so strong. I can feel they want to do it some more now but are typing this because my brain is overriding what they really want to do. To move into the tension and release it.
When at the top of my head, intense energy through the spine, particularly felt at the base, where it spreads in tingly blisses throughout the central and bottom pelvis.
Generally a bit scattered the last few days, even forgot to write, but did sit. Seem to be coming back together again, having learnt and unraveled some ravelling whilst out in the fragments.
No matter how much fun, connection, heart energy there is to explore outwardly, to keep coming back to oneself and integrating, that’s the ticket.
A general tiredness pervades.
Sunday, 6 September 2015
Went into a frenzy of body freaking out in its own awkwardness. Before long I thought, ‘This won’t do.’ And so brought my attention gently to the breath. Fairly quickly the breath became long and smooth rather than the panicky shallow it had been. (I’m never sure how much I’m controlling the breath.) Then the prime areas of sensation were apparent and I stayed with each until it dissipated: belly, pulled in and a bit stabby inside; lips pouting and needly; middle of the spine. Then I moved fairly steadily from part to part. Seeing if it’s possible not to compare with any previous times, better or worse. This includes moods and reluctance on waking up.
Tuesday, 8 September 2015
Forgot to write anything yesterday, on a day off, but did sit.
During the day yesterday, a closeness to myself. Realisations by thought that it doesn’t have to be busy, and so it drops away, leaving a refreshing directness in what I see and experience, a connection to what I’m doing. At some stage thought fires back up and in its moment of reboot, awareness is absent. Has to be.
Today, breath deep and smooth, some involuntary sounds of letting go, as happens in yoga, kind of groan moans. Able to move quite steadily throughout the organism. Noticing the areas I tend to skip over as ‘done’, like the fingers and toes. Go to the very ends, include all. This is possible but for some reason I prefer things to be incomplete, meaning there’s still places to hide, or where awareness doesn’t reach. Not necessarily in fingers and toes but in micro areas of the lower back, hips, legs and chest. Some minute twitching near right upper lip is ongoing.
Wednesday, 9 September 2015
Days sliding by, a third of September gone. Where we are headed so quickly I don’t know.
Woke at two-something. Sat forty minutes in the dead of night. Emotions and concerns pale to nothing in the context of sensations of the body. Breath deep and full again. Lips tingling, pouting. Not much other movement. Deep aches in the shoulders and lower back. Body more flexible than ever as evidenced in last night’s Iyengar class. Stronger too from cycling three or four hours a week and press ups every couple of days. This complemented by yin yoga, with its long holds, every second day. Push ups one day, yoga the next works well.
Thursday, 10 September 2015
My heart is more open. I can actually feel it. Being more open I am more receptive and more freely giving. It is also more open to the old hurts from long ago, perhaps sparked by more recent events that remind me of then, such as miniature rejections prompting memories and feelings of old major rejections. From long long ago. More than twenty years. Abandoned by my father due to alcohol and his death. Abandoned by my then wife due to… disinterest? So when something happens now those patterns and grooves of thought and emotion are well established and are affirmed.
In sitting, the sensations and memories are right there. There’s little I can do to escape and I’m running out of tricks to avoid feeling. Vulnerable. But learning that vulnerability doesn’t have to equal weakness and fragility. Also aware of bitter conclusions and in the quietude it seems possible for the conclusion not to get locked in as fact, but to remain uncertain as to how it is and open to a new possibility of the conclusion dissolving.
This week and recently and at other times over the years, the experience of thoughts sometimes suddenly becoming more archetypal and dreamlike in meditation and relaxation, like one moment there’s thinking normally and then a sudden shift to a deeper level, which feels like the basis of thought, which then, because of space and awareness, realises its own uncessesaryness and ceases, retires, undoes, of its own accord.
Friday, 11 September 2015
Sleeping all through the nights these days.
Mid back physical focus today. It eased as I stayed with it.
Regrets. Concerns. Worries that I’ve wasted much of my life. But no clear idea how not to do so in future.
Second half more of a sense that everything is in fact okay. If there is any waste, it’s bowing to fear. Not to become mighty, but acknowledging fear and allowing it its rightful place and no more.
Less inclined to need sleep after sitting, more ready for the day. Probably because it’s seven a.m. not five. But also, a deep old tiredness may be lifting. Somewhere though, I feel I could sleep for a week. Is it possible to stay near the tiredness, giving and allowing it rest? Will see in yoga nidra now.
…yes, kept returning to the tiredness and there were many fallings away and a quick half snore with each.
Saturday, 12 September 2015
Refusing to fight and refusing to control has an interesting effect on thought. Suddenly there’s a whole bunch of space. It’s like giving thought permission to think and do exactly what it wants to, instead of leading to chaos and everlasting thinking leads to order and understanding and acceptance.
A daydreamy session five hours after going to sleep. That’s okay too. Why not take the attitude that it’s all okay? Of course, attitude, stance, a way, only can go so far. Within the arena an attitude creates, the attitude itself can be understood, itself understanding itself, and then something new can talk place; the attitude being a little old fashioned. So it only has its place a little while, but we have to include our stance.
Also with the body, I’m refusing to fight it. That really intense tension in the webbing of the fingers? Let it be. It then expresses itself to the max and drops away easily.
Sunday, 30 August 2015
Week four after the reboot. I do feel like this is new territory, although I’ve done it before in terms of consistence and regularity. I think after the first ten day retreat I sat morning and evening for sone months. But the uncovering and the sheer realness feels new. It feels like I am going to cry soon, for deep, unknown reasons. Maybe it’s the very exhaustion from this forty years of running moving shifting trying. Learning how to cease unecessary movement toward and away. What am I running from? Is it really so bad? Where do I want to go? Is it really so good?
So, yes, it feels like I’m going to cry soon. Really cry. It comes often watching TV or films. Pretty sure it will come alone, whilst I sit early one morning. Is that what I run from? Only that? What can be so bad? Why this moving moving moving away from something, or towards something nicer? It’s a lot of work. So I guess the start is stopping physically, sitting myself down regularly and consistently. And let it come. And learn that constant movement is not necessary. I can’t put on the brakes, other than stopping still. I can’t stop thought. It can be out in a position though, where it itself seed that it can gracefully retire.
At age 44 I’m feeling healthier in mind and body than ever before. My days are less fearful and I’m so much stronger.
Doesn’t stop this being the hardest thing I have ever done…
Monday, 31 August 2015
Paranoia seems to be based on shame. Shame seems to be based on… I don’t know, it seems pretty fundamental. Insecurity? Ack, the things I’ve done wrong in my life! And worse, I’d probably do them wrong next time around too. The paranoia is also that I don’t really know which are the wrong things, all twisted as they are. It has to do with discovery too, or rather exposure. The fear of being exposed as I am. And when I don’t know exactly what I am, this is very frightening. So is this part of what meditation is about, in the totally safe space of the mat, to uncover what I am, in awareness and equanimity, to face fears, shame even, and allow forgiveness and resolution? Maybe. It’s all *right there* as I sit; there’s no escaping oneself in all its facets. Again deep in the early morning, waking around four.
Tuesday, 1 September 2015
Into September and at four a.m. there’s not much sign of dawn. It’s owls not morning birds I hear.
Awoke dreaming of chaos in the office and in the middle of it an ex boss returned but I couldn’t quite recognise her.
On sitting I felt tiny within an expanded padded body. A sensation I’ve felt a few times when listening to music and once or twice in sitting. It’s like I am very close, to what I don’t know – myself – and the body is further away, a big cushion surrounding me.
Back to basics, following the breath as my thoughts run wild about trust, friendship, not really knowing or understanding anyone, us all being trapped in our inner worlds and not really able or wanting to share the realities of this with anyone.
Keep sitting. Be honest with yourself if not possible with anyone else. It must be possible all round. What am I trying to protect or don’t wish to show? Needs and vulnerabilities.
Wednesday, 2 September 2015
Into meteorological autumn we go!
Again, four something in the morning.
Very sore shoulders.
Neck tight. Found myself looking all the way to the right. I say looking; the eyes were closed.
Right hand contracted.
Mind inventing futures.
Through it all some kind of aware watchfulness and a knowing it’s all okay.
Thursday, 3 September 2015
A little later; slept till nearly five. It seems to be true that with meditation one needs less sleep. But I do feel I need a good rest, so will be taking time off work soon.
Mind wandering through work matters, now that personal issues aren’t a problem, at least for now. Neck less tense. Mouth stretching downwards, less about the lips, more the sides and towards the chin. Tummy drawn in like it’s massaging itself deep inside.
Some steadiness and togetherness but for the most part quite scattered. A little disappointing that I’m ready to stop at a little over half an hour, but I don’t want to push things. It has to be sustainable and I know when I push a little, practice soon ceases.
Friday, 4 September 2015
I’ve got to keep reminding myself of the last instruction I heard in my head that time: ‘Where are you trying to get to?’ it said. I.e. there’s nowhere to go. Easier to spot the subtle and not so subtle pushes and pulls towards and away in the mind. In savasana yesterday I honed in on the actual sensations of the brain rather than going along with them and bouncing off them, which is relentless and unsettling. What is settling is to stay right there with the grit, without force, and if there is force, to allow it to cease. I then fall several steps nearer to… ME. Or existence. Or life. Or the true self. Whatever. It isn’t really a thing but an energetic state. In sitting rather than lying, it’s harder as there’s the squirming body in the more energetic upright pose.
Going to experiment further now with some nidra.
Slept till 530 or so
Saturday, 5 September 2015
Those first twenty minutes can be very hard. Emotionally. Doubt. Uncertainty rife. Dependency, not actually on others but on them feeling a certain way towards me. ‘Must be well liked’. Not popular, that I’ve never known and don’t seek, but a certain level of buoyancy given by others liking me. And if that buoyancy is threatened or rocked, I get… upset. This seems never ending and relying on others this way is going to, does, distort friendships and twists honesty.
This all settled down in the second half as I came back to myself, so to speak. Soreness in neck and shoulders. Right hand was the main player, deep aches below the thumb and then in the pad just near the wrist.
Feeling fragile and feel like I need a good cry.
After colouring in a few of Millie Marlotta’s Animal Kingdom I felt like doing some of my own images from scratch. Here are the first four:
Sunday, 23 August 2015
Week 3 of the reboot.
Small reunion of old friends yesterday from a time when I wasn’t that well. Lots of bad hash all week and alcohol each weekend. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence but I woke up sweating a lot, and much earlier than usual. Two-something. Sitting was very awkward, squirming on my cushion. I wasn’t consciously reliving any of those times but my body seemed to be. Was able to stick it out for 35 mins.
Monday, 24 August 2015
The now familiar routine but always subtly different. In order:
Lips pouting, then mouth stretched open, then intense piercings in the very edge of the lips, sort of like pins and needles but much sharper.
Right hand clawed, then flexed, culminating in white hot piercings in the finger tips and around the nails.
Stomach drawn in, up, tight, some digestive pains, mild.
Head shaking fast side to side.
Thoughts and emotions based on rejection, isolation, dependence on others to feel fully okay and validated. Then going through events of the previous day and recent days.
Tuesday, 25 August 2015
Actually slept until 05:45! Not that long in total as I didn’t sleep until almost midnight. But longest for the last couple of weeks. Also sat for 43 minutes, about ten minutes more than the recent average.
Not easy. Pin point sharpness across tops of shoulders. Stiff aches in sides of neck. Grotty stabs in the lower digestive tubes. Tummy tightly pulled in. Some head shaking. Some arching forward while the belly was contracted for long periods.
Are these underlying sensations and tensions in the body what makes the mind so flighty? It is clear that I don’t want to go near them, to feel them more fully. Well, the curious meditative aspect does want to, but habitually I don’t want to. The trails lead in the other direction, well trodden and smoothed. It’s seemingly easier to flee. And maybe that is what I’m doing most of the time. Using lots of energy in: away away away! Staying gently in the vicinity is less energy consuming and leads to other possible destinations than the well trodden paths.
Wednesday, 26 August 2015
Signs that the body is settling down, two and a half weeks in. No great movements; the head was shaking rapidly side to side at times, but short lived; some arching forward. But mainly, and for a full 45 minutes, sitting still, erect, relatively at peace.
With the body more stable, attention turns to the mind. And it’s clear there’s not a lot of stillness there. That’s okay. I would touch upon an area of the body and thoughts zoom away. Subject to subject, idea to idea, fear to fear. But not obsessing, just doing what it’s been able to do these 44 years. It knows little else. Underneath or over the top, not sure which, and probably neither, there’s a sense of growing stability beyond the flighty thoughts. I am refusing to control thought and get into that game. Anyway, the me who wants to control would be a part of the same flighty thought pattern. No, meditation seems to be nothing to do with me as such. Or at least nothing for me to do.
During the day, glimpses returning of a core self, kind of saying ‘hello once again, I’m still here waiting, all is well.’
Thursday, 27 August 2015
Yes, definitely calming down. Body wise, it was token gestures today: a minor lip pout towards the end, a little head shaking and some initial belly tucking.
Mind wise, very active, which is totally fine. To push for a quiet mind is not meditation. Moments come when there really is nothing to think about, and the space and stillness that present themselves are unrelated to what’s gone before. Whereas the train of thought and feeling seems to be always related to that which was previous.
In stillness or relative stillness, an energy then can do what it needs to do, wants to do, or naturally does. This is most apparent in the spine. I can feel the energy meet resistances in the body and mind, and the impact of energy meeting stuckness causes the jumping shaking body movements of the last weeks. If there’s no resistances it rushes and embraces in entirely its own way, resulting in blisses and tingles and who knows what.
My nights are steadier too, sleeping through to around six today. Quite different to earlier week’s three or four. And less tired on finishing a session. More than ‘less tired’ – energised. Although it is nice to have a good lie down a while. Further integration.
Friday, 28 August 2015
More awkward again today. The wheat from yesterday’s lunch? The old mushrooms of yesterday’s supper? But was able to stay with the body, after some initial daydreaming at 4-something in the morning. First light of dawn now as I write.
Lips pressing forward, upper jaw a bit tight. Right palm tense. A general instability throughout.
Saturday, 29 August 2015
Three weeks into the reboot and today I touched upon mediation. Or rather, mediation occurred. It’s at once foreign and familiar. Not something that can be remembered in the unusual way, and when it’s going on it’s both brand new and very ancient.
Breath was naturally deep and fluid, with some slight purposeful lengthening for the first minutes. I then began to move over the body, at first swiftly and haphazardly as was the state of my mind; despite just resting in sleep it was scattered and diverted.
After a few trips downs and ups from head to feet and back again and back again, more connection was felt to sensation and, again naturally, attention lingered and moved more slowly. As this happened the scatteredness of thought started to decline, the web of thought tightening like a net being gathered in. I don’t know if there was a gatherer; it just happened as the disparity became obvious.
More connection with body more attention of mind. I lingered on obvious sensation in shoulders, right hand. Head shaking came out of the blue and was intense and sudden and freer, and stopped as suddenly as it started.
Some tingles and bliss and, at last, rest.
Sunday, 16 August 2015
So, I’ve been a fair weather meditator. Or a fair month meditator. Doing it for a while until things got too much in my life or inwardly, then taking the option of meditating lying down, or doing yoga nidra instead. Both are better than nothing and allowed some continuity. But it’s not the same. And now here I am feeling frustrated outwardly and the temptation is to skip it, to stay in bed. But one week in, I am continuing come what may, even if for only half an hour like this morning.
Remembering the guidance of awareness AND equanimity. I’ve been under the other guidance of doing nothing to what is and so exploring some kind of pure awareness. Trouble is my ‘pure awareness’ isn’t pure but riddled with pushes and wants and dislikes subtle and not so subtle. So I’m learning there is something to bring, and this really calmed things down when feeling the neck for example, and I was able to go deeper quicker and more steadily and with much less flitting about of the mind.
Monday, 17 August 2015
Mind racing and stimulated after conversations last night until midnight. This racing of the mind didn’t stop the body continuing whatever it is it’s doing. Head shaking rapidly. Right arm stiffened. Right hand flexed seemingly more than I can flex it myself. Tummy in and up tight back towards the spine. Not all these things at once and this is probably the order they occurred. Again the early morning waking, even when sleeping late. I certainly need less sleep these days.
Tuesday, 18 August 2015
All the sensations of the last week turned up to 11. But each for a shorter duration. And the addition of a new one, in the chest. Much of the 45 minutes I was bent forward, tummy pulled in, chest compressed, tight. Then coughing. As I’ve said many times, it’s not me doing these things in the usual volitional way but the body itself. All I’m doing is bringing attention to that place, somewhat systematically, as evenly as possible. And even if not bringing attention to that place, it’s happening. Ended the session in the right lower jaw where teeth meet bone and gum. This arose as I travelled back up across the face.
05:44 now, so a little later today, and also sleeping at 10-something not like the previous night’s gone midnight. Now I have some time for rest until needing to get up around 08:30.
Wednesday, 19 August 2015
I hurt a friend by not telling them something as I didn’t want to face the consequences of possible anger and violence if I told them. Of course they now know anyway and so now there’s the anger along with the disappointment and mistrust stemming from my keeping it quiet.
The difference is that when something major was going on I would quit the sitting and the yoga until it had calmed down . This time I am continuing whatever. This is really new territory for me.
Thursday, 20 August 2015
It’s hard to know I’ve disappointed someone; someone who already seems to have a mistrust in most of mankind. I’ve probably confirmed this and now join the 95% of people he hates. And because of a cowardly non-action. This was my mind as I sat quietly with the lightening sky. The first bird song was around 05:45. Neck quite tenses, and shoulders. Right leg unhooked itself from cross legged. So, I’m learning to forgive myself and learning that not everybody has to like me. I have led a pretty quiet life this last decade and so it hasn’t been hard not to upset anyone. I guess issues like this is why mediation is so unappealing to many. The notion of sitting quietly with one’s own self in all its forms can be horrifying. It might be possible to neutralise this horror, or feel it fully.
Friday, 21 August 2015
There really is no stopping it. My body is alive and has movement and action independent of me. But of course! After all I don’t know how to covert glucose to whatever the body converts glucose into. But I mean the parts I normally have the say over, like when to move my arm and how. But no, the right arm hangs free with its partner, the less kinetic left, and within moments it is off on its shaking gripping twisting adventure. The lips too and all around the mouth, grinning grimacing pouting, generally contorting left right and centre. Tummy too, pulling right back at the naval and up under the ribs. I don’t try to stop it. I know I could if I HAD to, like in an emergency, but whilst sitting quietly there is no need to get involved. And today playing with how little I can be involved and the less I am, i.e. the more the mind was still, the freer the body was to do its thing. I do wonder when it will stop; this is nearly two weeks into my sitting reboot, so that’s at least 8 hours worth. I suspect, hope, it’s not just undoing stuff from the previous 24 hours but is releasing older and older holdings and knots. That’s what it feels like.
The relationship issues of the last couple of days have faded.
Awoke with the last call of the owl as the dawn came; somewhere around six I heard the first bird song.
Saturday, 22 August 2015
The end of week two. My sense of progress would like things to be changing, to be able to sit without all the body stuff going on. It will change and for sure it is changing, just in ways the impatient sensor of progress can’t feel, and it’s changing in its own tune, not mine.
Systematically I went from head to feet and each part had its own tale to tell, and even while that part told it, other parts clamoured for attention: neck, lips, belly.
Awoke around five, slept around eleven. Yesterday I practised some yin yoga for the first time. It really suited me. It was mainly about the hips and hamstrings this sequence, so not as total as the Sivananda but certainly less next next next. I don’t have to do the practice the way it’s done in the recording, I could do it at a slower pace. But good to mix it up and the yin yoga seems great for when I’m caught up in a kind of post-work hyper mode.
As we move into late August sunrise is now after six.
A proper South Downs Walk. Continuing along the long distance path from the downs south of Kilmeston, along a bit of the South Downs Way before cutting south past Lomer, Preshaw, the legendary Betty Mundy’s Bottom and Corhampton Down, noisy that day with the shooting. The path then heads in a more easterly direction past Corhampton golf course and onto Fir Down above Droxford. After the village we cross the River Meon and follow the water meadows to the small village of Soberton. Outside the White Lion pub I met a white cat, who I was told is deaf and blind.
Back to the mat after a long period (a few months?) of yoga nidra instead of vipassana body scan meditation. Here’s some of something like what happened:
Sunday, 9 August 2015
One at a time:
Head shaking immediately on sitting.
Hands flexed, tingly tightness all over.
Head wanting to look right.
Mind reeling through yesterday’s party, a lower upper class, upper middle class BBQ at the cricket pitch; neighbour’s birthday.
Lasted for 42 minutes of the 45 set. The sitting that is; the party two hours, which was too long into the awkward arrival stage and too short before people really started to enjoy. Also very hot. Feel a bit of a satellite circling around society but not central to anything. And now I’ve even moved from the community at BP. Where actually I was also a satellite. I guess a lot of people like me have a more outgoing partner and that kind of balances out, but C is also a satellite which can make us even more aloof detached socially outcast happy in our own space. Actually did have another offer yesterday, a sea paddle in Dorset with an old friend. That would have been far preferable but I thought I should do the proper thing and c wouldn’t have liked to have gone alone. Ah, the unsatisfactory compromises!
It’s now gone 0530 having woken at 0430. Maybe sleep till 0800…
Monday, 10 August 2015
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the idea of progress and lack of it, assessing how one is doing in mind and body. Why does that still ache, why am I still thinking about this, I thought I was over that by now, I’m more peaceful than I was, stronger, wiser. And so it goes, the game of comparison. And not just in oneself, but with those around.
It’s not a competition, there’s nothing to win. There is a movement away and towards but it doesn’t need to be assessed.
Sivananda yoga session every other evening and now I’m back to the mat in the mornings, 45 mins is the set time. The last two mornings it’s been very early, pre dawn and then going back to bed with earplugs and face mask, which I’m about to do as c will be getting up at six.
In touch with a good old friend first time since the 90s, who was there when I was making the big changes from married with a flat to hedonism to a more spiritual life. Woke up to a whole string of messages from him. Seems he’s taking the opportunity to reflect, as I shall do. Without the assessment, or too much of it.
Palms still tight, stretching out. Lips super pouting in yoga yesterday. Shoulders undoing. Neck too. I hear the first call of a bird, at 5:05.
Tuesday, 11 August 2015
The body knows what to do once I get out of the way or put it in a position or place where it has space. Within minutes the lips in a mega pout. Then the neck arching forward. The right hand shaking. Then below the jaws, and back along the right lower jaw to the wisdom teeth, deep aches. Touching upon them and staying with it until the body moves on, and when no apparent sensations, scanning through from head to feet and feet to head. Then the palms and fingers, extended fully and opening out to their max. Then the abdomen pulling in tight. Then the shoulders. Lower back. Legs passive but feet tight too. Ended in an arm stretch, up up; didn’t choose it, just happened. I can readily see why they say the yoga postures came from those sitting in meditation. The body really does know what to do. At some point in the sitting the edginess of the mind could undo too.
Wednesday, 12 August 2015
It’s getting quite specific where the body wants to tense up then release, today including the webbing between each finger, one at a time. Right hand of course. Another time the entire hand spasticated. Points in the neck. Shaking. Once again, first to go were the lips, immediately on sitting, like the body just knows. All of which means this week there has been very little inquiry into mind thought emotion and the psychology of meditation and of self. But my organism at 44 is well as it has ever been. I can feel it in my day, in my walk, in my presence. And in going about the day, the mind is less troubled, caught, frightened.
Thursday, 13 August 2015
Five days of this now, the tensing up and sheer awkwardness in much of the body. The result of not sitting for a month or months?
Woke from twisted dreams of very sick people on chat shows, a couple even eating on camera, as their problems were thrashed out, pale fatty skin dripping off them, hardly able to storm off stage as their bodies didn’t do ‘storm’. Again, four-something when I awoke. It feels like I need some days off for complete rest. Perhaps alone.
Friday, 14 August 2015
The further I went from the head, down towards the feet, the less my mind fretted and demanded and fantasised. Woke with frustrations, envies, stickiness, desires. As I moved consciously from part to part – no vague scanning today – all on its own the brain calmed down, desires dropping away. There may be nothing to do but sense. The doing of the mind or thought seems to be of the very same nature as what it is trying to fix.
Such agonies and awkwardness riddled in the muscles, skin, nerves, even the very bones. But I sit and I sense and there it is, how I am right now, the reality of the situation. The modifications of the mind seem to be an attempt at a response to this body and its sensations. An inadequate response. By sitting quietly and sensing, an adequate response is emerging.
Saturday, 15 August 2015
Best to stick to every day. I’ve gotten confused with notions of a day off before. One day off and then it’s very easy to say ‘how about another?’ So I think that’s a week completed now. It’s getting less arduous in terms of the body. Right hand is still flexing, extending, then becoming a fist. Neck is still tight, along with shoulders. Head shaking for a while every session. Also, stick with the sitting instead of lying down. Which is easier, but is just not the same. And a day or two of lying down instead can easily turn into weeks, months.
Into the South Downs National Park after heading south from the market town of New Alresford (my new home town). The Wayfarers Walk then passes through Tichborne, across the small at this stage River Itchen, Cheriton, Hinton Ampner, Kilmeston and then up onto Kilmeston Down for a spot of sheep herding, and Mill Barrow Down.
Hampshire in the spring. A walk I took in April continuing the long distance path through the low downs of central Hampshire, nine miles or so from the Candover Valley to Alresford. The walk crosses the same stream many times, and passes by the villages of Totford, Northington and Abbotstone. The stream enters the very short river Arle which we see at the end of the walk with its ducks, swans (building a nest), geese and trout. Apologies for the wind noise.
It’s hard to believe I’ve made 60 walking videos! This one is a little different from the usual countryside walks:
A walk from Camden to Hackney Wick along the towpath of the Regents and Hertford Union Canals. The walk goes through or near Kentish Town, Islington, Hoxton, Haggerston, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, before branching off to the north east and Hackney Wick, towards the Olympic Park. A quieter alternative to walking in London by road, this took about three hours.
More London walking videos to follow later this year I expect.