The final stage of the Wayfarer’s Walk, filmed in July 2019, from Portsdown Hill to Emsworth. The walk passes through Bedhampton before meeting the coast at Brockhampton, and along to Langstone and Warblington.
The final stage of the Wayfarer’s Walk, filmed in July 2019, from Portsdown Hill to Emsworth. The walk passes through Bedhampton before meeting the coast at Brockhampton, and along to Langstone and Warblington.
From the downland village of Hambledon, through Denmead and the eastern edge of the Forest of Bere, the path then slowly climbs the north side of Portsdown Hill near Widely.
Unfortunately my camera didn’t record the views from the hop overlooking Portsea Island, so I used a couple of pics found online to illustrate the hazy scene that day.
Awake in the night for a couple of hours. This has become normal for me now. Back to sleep around five, lapses into thought growing, reactions softening and body relaxing before oblivion returned.
Yet it wasn’t oblivion for long, dreams sparking up involving a festival I never quite made it to, now forgotten dramas along the way; my life but with the feel of a thousand films. So many films I’ve watched, in which the characters and me the viewer are sucked into a writer’s story, usually not fully resolved. So there they lie, these thousand stories, unresolved, unfinished business, to come out when there’s less for the brain to process day to day. But by now they’ve gotten twisted and a bit weird, mixed with the raw power of my own emotion and experience.
To bring light into this murky world of the dream. It’s never far away, ready to pull into a daydream, a thought fantasy, a random scenario unrelated to here and now.
AM 1 hour
And so a drifty dreamy hour’s sit, in my new corner the other side of the wall separating my new and old bedroom, facing a new direction: west. I don’t know how significant the way one faces is. I sat kneeling as my back didn’t like cross legged today. Although dreamy, there was a steady coming together of an initially scattered consciousness, bouncing around like tigger, with the fear of piglet. This boinging steadied about half way through.
Now I would like to sleep yet work starts in 30.
Spent much of the day writing out archives projects on our new list of todos for the charity as a whole. Steve and I talked a while about my unsettling experiences during the facilitating a couple of weeks ago. This was helpful. A respect is growing between us.
Lunch in the retreat centre with Steve, Roland who is back for a visit after five years, a hypnotherapist, and Louis who is back to guest help (volunteer). Roland and I had arranged to take a walk after work and we talked about his trauma therapy practice which is going very well and helping a lot of people, and also about our inner lives and explorations. This for an hour as the sun went down. At one point above West Meon the view suddenly opens up and we lingered as a soft mist formed in the valley.
After a quick supper I unpacked some more, finding a place for everything in the kitchen, then as I got more tired, my clothes, now all neatly in the closet. It was fun for a while to have an actual dressing room but at the same time it was unnecessary and an odd place to be each morning. Again, too many mirrors. I much prefer this place.
Then bath time yes indeed. A gentle self massage all over as muscles unwound, focussing on those curious muscle tingley tickley fizzes as I relaxed. Self massage is so good. I haven’t done it enough, and it’s such a caring thing to do for the body that works so hard for us.
Earlier as we walked through the darkening wood towards the end of the walk, Roland said our bodies come from the earth, the ground, and ‘we’, our consciousness, just inhabits them a while. Visitors.
One of the main reasons for moving flats was so that I could have a bath in the evening. And so I did and it was delicious. It’s a bit of an art to get the temperature just so and today it was slightly too hot. But it’s a good day when this is the only thing to complain about. Candlelight.
I spent the day moving from flat five to flat four. Fortuitously workmen put scaffolding up just before the weekend and on waking I suddenly realised I could use it to move my stuff from one window to the other, which are next door to each other on the first floor. This made it so easy. With help, my possessions were passed out of the window onto the scaffolding and then into the new bedroom window. This saved a lot of walking around the building with bag after bag or using the car. The only things to carry round was the mattress and the glass desk top.
I love my new flat! It feels so different to the hotel suite feeling I had next door for nine months. There is a light atmosphere and a very good, still energy to the place. There is more room in the bedroom for yoga instead of having to do it in the living room. The living room has lots of light and two curved wooden shelves made especially for the place. There is plenty of storage and a new kitchen table. The bathroom is smaller with only one mirror instead of the slightly ridiculous three, and of course it has a bath.
After a very relaxing and balancing siesta, I worked on the outside landing, removing an old IKEA shoe cabinet and vacuuming the stairs and entrance. It’s also nice to be next door to my good friend.
I hope there’s enough room for my meditation cushion once the bed arrives. The final item will be a sofa arriving sometime in November. Meanwhile I have a futon mattress in the living room. I’ve been thinking of getting an iMac for writing, and watching films on from the sofa.
So quite a domestic day, getting this new home in order. It feels so clean and fresh and I can relax here and study and meditate and stretch. The alarm is set for 620 and I aim to sit for one hour each morning then kind of meditate or at least unwind in the bath at the end of the day.
In my life it feels as if everything is fitting together and is in order. This is new to me and something I’ve craved for such a long time.
Six months after the west section, here is the video for the eastern part of the Oxdrove Way
I started back in Old Alresford and proceeded in a 22km loop around Abbotstone Down, Bradley, Lower and Upper Wield and back over classic downland. The walk follows ancient green lanes and ox droves and is often contained within tree tunnels.
In January, on a cold, clear day, I walked the western part of the Oxdrove Way. For one reason or another, I only just round to editing it. The eastern section follows soon.
The Oxdrove Way is a 25-mile looped long distance path in mid-Hampshire. I started in Old Alresford and headed west, above the Itchen Valley to Itchen Wood and the M3, then back over downland via Abbotstone. Much of the walk follows old cattle droves or green lanes.
Woke at 0500. Yoga nidra with Julie Rader, her of the dolphins and meeting a teacher in a cave near the beach. She brings in elements of visualisation and guided meditation. Slept a little afterwards until 0630.
AM 45 minutes
Breathing in for four, out for eight, a clearing, resetting and grounding breath. As yesterday, groans and moans on the exhalations. Tightness in lower jaw and shoulders. Moving through the body, realising how scattered the mind is, subject to subject, fear nearby. On noticing this I calmed down and could feel that the jumbled thoughts were responses to the fear, moving moving. Again, what does it really feel like, fear? It’s been so common in my life but it’s still a stranger to me; I know it from afar. Inviting it closer, easing nearer. Nausea. Fizziness at the solar plexus. Intense awkwardness and lots of energy seeming to be swirling like a whirlpool or vortex. Reactions easing as the sensations were felt. No sense of anything changing but maybe the intensity was fading. I could only handle so much of this directness, it seemed and attention was drawn elsewhere: legs tight and a slight headache. Sleepy. The feeling I need to rest and rest.
Aiming for steady days, with so much happening this month: two essays to finish (tidy), presentation about myself for 15-20 minutes, portfolio to put together, skills assessment, interview for next course. Step by step, acknowledging achievements.
My sleep is improving, averaging 83% over the month, up from 70% or so the month before.
Evening sit a bit dreamy and full of pleasant sensation, like drifting off into sleep…
Tree I sat next to at lunchtime, chatting with a friend, beautiful even in death:
Woke at 0420 for a pee behind the tent, the sky just breaking and the birds begun. 45 minutes yoga nidra with Tim Rowe, he of the soothing voice. Then got real cosy against the dawn chill under my duvet, tucked up tight, just a little breathing hole. Slept through to 0730 and in my dream I was looking for my dad, lost to me. I could hear his faint music coming from one of the many tents in our old back garden. I looked in a few but no one was there. Then I looked in the garage which was more like a cave but my vision faded, and I couldn’t see a thing. He was near but not in there. I’d have liked to have made contact again.
The blindness has been common in my dreams over the years but recently dreams seem to have been more about making connections between aspects of myself.
Possions by the side of my bed in the tent:
Towards close of the day at the campsite, a pleasant atmosphere of families chattering and distant conversations, the smell of charcoal in the calm air. It’s not a noisy place and every person I’ve met has been friendly and happy to be here. The mist cleared revealing the white of The Needles over the sea. Helped a lady alone with her tent, she was really struggling to figure it out. Later she asked me to help move it as she’d pitched on a bee hole!
A short visit to Corfe Castle, the first time inside for me. Cromwell blowing it up created a unique ruin.
Wrote more of the counselling essay this afternoon, about self development needs and blocks and ways to overcome them. 7/8 done now, and after I can focus on the presentation. I aim to finish and polish both essays tomorrow.
Short walk this evening at Shell Bay and a little paddle near the ferry, short excursions being all C can manage right now, mostly just wanting to rest.
I liked this phone box on the beach; really it’s between two beaches, to the harbour (ahead) side and to Studland Bay (behind).
Yoga nidra on waking.
AM 20 minutes
Emotions moving in cycles. The clear necessity to meet each one as fully as possible with my whole being, there being nothing else to do. Sitting with perceived rejection. Sitting with the awkwardness of having upset someone. Wanting people to like me and all to be smooth. Fear of presentation at college, images of everything I’ve been through in that circle and with that group, a feeling of care and support remaining after the fear dissolved.
Afterwards I was left with strong feelings of independence and liberation, acknowledging my repeating of patterns of relationship, of using people to cure loneliness and seeing it doesn’t work that way.
I’m facing being truly alone, the feeling I ran from all those years ago. It’s okay this time.
By evening, pitched up in Dorset, at a new site next door to Tom’s field, which looked crowded and claustrophobic compared to the wild openness of Acton Fields. Views to the sea at Swanage and the Purbook Hills
Up late so instead of sitting I listened to a long yoga nidra by Maalika Shay Devi Dasi. It goes deep, through all five koshas or sheaths of our being. From Yoga Journal:
The outermost layer is the physical sheath, which the sages called the food sheath, not only because it is made of the food we take in from the earth but also because it will ultimately become food for other creatures. Encased by the physical sheath, interpenetrating it and transcending it are the three layers of the subtle body: the pranamaya kosha, or vital energy sheath; the manomaya kosha, or mental sheath; and the vijnanamaya kosha, or wisdom sheath. Deeper than these is the anandamaya kosha, the bliss sheath.
It’s good stuff if you have 80 minutes and not as woo as the above might sound. I was conscious throughout except for, interestingly, the guided breathing section. Ended relaxed, towards 8am.
At one point during nidra I suddenly met a reluctant petulant aspect of myself, standing. He resolutely had his back to me and to the world and just didn’t want to know. He was angry and refused to communicate. I lingered, caringly, curious, glad to meet despite the back and the lack of communication, as there was a connection and immediate understanding of a long term upset part of me. I am pretty sure it is this aspect of me that used to fight others at school. A healer recently met him too. She said he said ‘Go away, I’m pissed off!’ to her. I wonder if there aren’t parts of us stuck at various stages, in various states, and I wonder if in sitting, in yoga, in gently listening and being attentive these start to free up. It seems that way.
AM 1 hour
It’s hard to remember the beginning of the session, the end of second-half being so different. I do remember a moment when I came together, aware of the breath. Before that, scattered in the hundred directions and suddenly I was back, me, simple me, good old me, watching, aware. The session is coming back to me now, I remember I’m moving through the body, feeling all the sensations, aware of the familiar fear, its focus on the upcoming presentation about my personal journey and development, to share with the counselling skills class. This focus and context meant that as I moved through the body feeling it all, the presentation started writing itself, as if my story is right there in my body. I am no longer afraid of it, more excited to share something real. Ideas were doubling up freely and fitting into place. If this is not proper meditation I don’t care, its meaningful and valuable to me. Once I’d gone through the body a few times and the main structure of the presentation had formed, a delightful stillness eased through my whole being. I rested there. And then areas of tightness were super apparent and attention moved to these spots, such as behind the eyes and at the lower throat. And then it was naturally over and the timer went to begin lovingkindness, in which I felt very sleepy and restfully content. Now I feel I could sleep peacefully for some hours after a stirred up few days. I’m going to give myself half an hour before work instead of yoga.
Such a good day, back together, balanced, energised, well.
Good progress on assignments this evening.
Sat in the sun for supper with an old friend back from Thailand and New Zealand
PM 20 minutes
Breathing in four out eight really helps relax, release, ground and balance. Ten minutes first half, then feeling sensation, penetrating deeply, easily feeling the whole body in blissy tingles and yet restful.
AM 1 hour
I’ve been afraid for much of my life, the sensation familiar and to be avoided. And yet I don’t really know what fear is. It seems that it’s a projection of a future event based on the past memory merged with imagination. This is combined with a fizzy sensation in the chest and solar plexus, fizzy and a bit sweet like the beginnings of nausea. And there it was, dominant of all sensation as I sat in the post dawn. At first there was the usual skirting around it, thoughts bouncing off it, generated by it, imagination of the presentation in mid June. I’m not sure if I got closer to the fear or the fear got closer to me but there was a point when I truly didn’t know what the sensation was any more. It was brand-new and and unknown. From here my thoughts about the subject became clear and even logical, rational in its imagery of the future event, even going round each classmate and realising there is nothing to fear in any of them, and that the fear really relates to past events not the future.
In the second half of the meditation was dreamier and less precise, but within this I felt a deep rest, perhaps deeper than sleep. I ended with the usual five minutes of loving kindness meditation, only this time with my eyes open, me on the mat, speaking aloud.
Before sitting it became very clear what my compulsive browsing and checking for newness online is about. It starts when there is something I don’t want to feel and I reach the phone. Once this chain of avoiding sensation begins, it’s almost automatic. However the chain can be broken at any moment given awareness, and this happened this morning after a minute or two online.
When I look this way and that way and everything I look at is disturbing, there’s no settledness or peace to be found. An old familiar feeling, much of my life being like this, bouncing around in mild panic. Even the assured undertone so prominent over the last weeks this morning seems to have dissipated.
Anyone who’s got my back seems to be a long way off , even if I know they are down the road, across a lawn or just a text away, and thus Sunday morning I feel isolated in my fear.
An essay to finish, another to write and a personal presentation to prepare and give on the 15th. From a high on Thursday at college – the support, the togetherness, the genuinity – to this troubled morning.
I claim one and resist the other, hoping for escape in sleep or frittering time away online. It’s time to get up and journey a few steps to the bathroom then mat.
AM 1 hour
Dared to sit with it despite the compulsion to KEEP BROWSING. The very word ‘browsing’ suggests shallowness, the movement of fleeting interest. Sitting still is the opposite of browsing, the very physicality of the stationary body rippling into the brain sending messages of ‘this is what we’re doing right now, it’s okay.’
The fears on waking were felt deeply, in and of themselves rather than a me doing something to them. Emotions have their own story to tell, there’s nothing to do about them. Yet I try.
Moving through the body, thoughts intensifying then relaxing as I went. Then last ten minutes I stayed with the most intense physical feeling, a spot mid back, right of spine. Immediately the back arched, the right arm and hand stiffening, flexing.
Final five minutes, loving kindness, meeting myself, saying hi. May I be happy, may I be peaceful, may I be liberated. Then the same for someone I don’t know well, someone I like, someone I dislike, the local community, the country, the continent, then: may all beings be happy, may all beings be peaceful, may all beings be liberated.
PM 20 minutes
It’s about inclusion, acknowledging everything that’s going on, or as much of it as possible. For example, after about 10 minutes a ground of bliss took over from the more usual state of to-ing and fro-ing on realising there is nothing to do. Settling into the bliss I thought: this is it, nothing more to do but settle here in this loveliness. But then I also noticed a feeling that I can’t wait for the session to end. But if it’s so blissful why the urge to stop? So the bliss was partial and the urge to stop was partial, and unrelated. Yet in a peaceful state the other activity of wanting and doing is easily identifiable and in its recognition of itself, it more readily fades or dissolves, or is at least understood.
The last birds awake called out. Two men arrived (back) at the retreat centre, an aeroplane passed over.
Finished my assignment on ethics, so tomorrow it’s on to the personal development writeup. I can combine this with preparing for the presentation.
Began to watch the rather good Paterson, before my 9 o’clock screen curfew (apart from writing this.)
AM 20 mins
After a shorter yoga nidra after a lie-in after a good morning conversation with my ex, after a slow waking up, the end of my dream finding a node of some sort, like a leyline but marked in the walls of an old house, a single line diffracting into twenty or more. My dreams more coherent these days, less lost, figuring out rather than stumbling about. This is good.
Sitting: peaceful in my former bedroom, warm in the late spring morning. Body and mind at relative ease, memories of last weekend’s intimacy, last nights intimacy of a very different kind and this morning’s different again; intimacy, connection, sharing something real; the false ideas encountered and espoused online yesterday a mere shadow.
Bed at 2030, no evening sit
AM 30 minutes
On waking at 630 it’s so easy to slip into half an hour of Facebook, Reddit, news. It starts with a simple: ‘I’ll just check…’ I noticed this morning the compulsion to check only came when an unwanted feeling arose, the learned solution being to distract. And in the background a slight fear of going to the mat. After thirty minutes I’m full of online and then I’m ready, for a reduced sit. But still I sat and that’s what matters and that’s good; by the end of the next thirty minutes the fizz and series of reactions to that initial unwanted thought-sensation has calmed and I’m able to feel it at its source. And the thing is, it is only ever sensation. There’s that basic choice: attraction or repulsion, aversion or craving, towards liked, away from unliked. From this basic movement all the frittering and chain reaction stems.
Then I got into a fun but angrifying tussle on fb with an ex Brockwoodian who used his sharp intellect to expound his so called inquiry. It winds me up, his curruption of Krishnamurti in an arrogant facsimile. I too quickly responded and he tried to pick my words apart. He has a clear mind but none of it seems genuine, he never admits to struggling with anything and it’s ideas about ideas at the end of the day. I defrienfed him but not before I’d called his writing arrogant, conceited and I called him a K-bot.
I’m feeling so much more these days and that anger I felt at his preaching under the guise of questioning stayed with me, merging with every anyoing character at school who I’d sometimes even physically fight. On walking into college I suddenly realised: hey you are angry. This acknowledgement made it all okay and not something to resist. And then in skills practice I didn’t even talk about it but about stepping back in the education system, things out of my hands, paranoia and shame. Even though it was a practice it felt real. It was real inquiry together not like the intellectualism of this morning.
We also opened our letters to ourselves written at the start of the course and I cried just looking at the envelope, feeling the genuine difference between now me and then me, then me writing to the now me ‘…my dear future self’. Fantastic course.
AM 30 mins
Soon after sitting there was a sudden awareness of the whole organism, whilst being aware of the breath at the diaphragm. In that sudden moment everything shifted from me ‘doing’ awareness and doing breathing, to the body’s sensation itself. The abdomen then moved in and out rapidly and there was an ache there. My feet flexed and pointed and my back arched forwards. The body took over. After some minutes of this intensity, things settled down into a relaxed easyness, still the awareness of the whole rather than parts, and in the whole – wholesome – feeling, thought was subdued, as if it knew its place.
Yesterday’s headache and aches and fears dispelled in the night.
PM 20 mins
Near the end of a walk after work I decided to sit outside for a change. I left the path and ventured deeper in the ancient woodland. In a half shaded spot I found a fallen tree and on it I sat, sometimes eyes open sometimes closed. I now understand why it is said to begin inside; the wonder of nature was all around and I wanted to look and take it in instead of going within. Also the flies were checking to see if I was dead or had something tasty going on.
Feet in the leaves of 2016, 15, 14, 13, the light flickered as the trees swayed and the sun slowly moved in the sky. I imagined woodland animals shyly approaching like in a film but none did or there were none and it was just me on the tree surrounded by untouched nature.
Am 1 hour
Sitting with uncertainty, the feeling of a situation being out of my hands now, dependent first on the action and word of another, then dependent on the decision of a university. The next years of my life out of my control.
Sitting with annoyance, frustration in another’s actions tinged with arrogance.
Both sensations fading within minutes, slight returns as the hour unfolded, an underlying shiftiness.
Sitting with nerves in chest and belly, the familiar yet new sensation of tingles, awkward sweetness, powering reaction and thought. Unaddressed this would run all day and night would come and next morning will be the same. Sitting and not responding, breaking this cycle in stillness, sensation seen anew.
Deep aches in the eyes and a fatigue that is not relieved in sleep, only touched in the undoing of aware non-doing.
Pm 5 mins
Felt off today, probably sugar in yesterday’s lunch. Headaches, tired, didn’t want to see or talk to anyone. Did have a good conversation with Ashleigh at lunch about her art classes and then we went to see the old geodesic structure hidden in the big hedge.
Otherwise hiding away. Watched the first of the new Twin Peaks which was equally violent, scary and somehow funny. I hope Cooper gets to stay out of the Black Lodge. We need him.
“May there be peace among the gods,
in heaven and among the stars;
may there be peace on earth, among men and animals;
may we not hurt each other;
may we be generous to each other;
may we have that intelligence which will guide our life and action;
may there be peace in our prayer, on our lips and in our hearts.”
– Sanskrit Prayer.
Am 1 hour
Half an hour or twenty minutes is more appealing but it’s easy to rush fizzily through those shorter sessions, underlying states remaining unaddressed.
Scattered on starting, recent elements and images and incidents bumping off each other, a sense of flying and bouncing around, or rather each element bouncing off the last in a series of reactions. The force behind this quickly traced, revealed as an unsettled sensation in the brain itself. In awareness this unsettledness rapidly eased and there was a tangible feeling of a grounded steadiness, a return to myself, a centredness.
Physically an old pain to the right of the spine, stiffness of the neck and then tight hands stretching out, of their own accord. Each undoing.
By the end a sense of resetting and new beginnings, independent yet connected.
Pm 1 hour
Actually looked forward to it when I thought ahead during the day, to the peace and space.
Of course when it comes down to it there’s not a whole lot of peace. But there is a touching on the real, a shift from head to body, and a definite undoing of the day, incidents, episodes and speech replaying itself, once only, then falling away as awareness moved through the body.
Extremely tired when it came to the pelvis and hip area, suddenly lapsing into dreams, from being quite awake seconds before.
Tension freeing from the deep muscles of the face, feeling intense around the eyes, then mouth, then neck and shoulders.
I give five minutes at the end now for loving kindness meditation, though this evening I was drifting off by then.
Warm, sunny day. Good progress at work, mind relatively settled.
Lunch in the sun with one of the principals of the school, who I haven’t really talked to since the January staff week.
A wander in the grove and after work another walk, down part the peacock house, views to Sold Winchester Hill awhile.
An hour on the ethics assignment for college.