Return following an extended break

Hi everyone, I have had a short break from writing this blog a we had a sudden, and unexpected death in October due to a car accident. It has been a difficult time for the family but I now feel ready to continue my public blogging. It’s good to be back!

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Teddy Bear’s Picnic!

It never ceases to amaze me when inspiration arises at the most unexpected time, or in the most obscure of places.  It all began on the day of the Teddy Bear’s Picnic, which is a nice promotional day organised by the Talyllyn Railway where families take a ride on the narrow-gauge railway from Tywyn to Abergynolwen on the edges of the wonderful Snowdonia National Park in North Wales.

 

The weather was gorgeous and perfect for a picnic in the play area at Abergynolwen Station. Scarlett was already tucking into a tasty cool ice-cream! and cuddling up to her Teddy bear.

We had a great time on the picnic, and we were joined by a small pack of Teddy Bears that had joined the party on our table! 20180726_120109

You may at this point be wondering what the strange thing was that happened whilst out at the Teddy Bears Picnic? Well, it happened on the train journey back to Tywyn, as the Lub-Dub, Lub-Dub of the trains wheels on the track sent me into an almost hypnotic trance.

A Train Journey: Metaphor for mindfulness Practice

As I was gently swayed from side to side by the gentle rocking of the carriage I automatically slipped into a state of mindfulness. The gentle Lub-Dub becoming the focus of my attention as I became aware of how the gentle rocking was synchronised with the repetative sounds. I found this blend of sound and movement to be extremely relaxing.

At times my attention was grabbed by something within the passing countryside and my state of mindfulness was, for a moment, broken as the object of interest took hold of my consciousness. Sometimes I was able to relax my attention and return to the Lub-Dub sounds and the gentle swaying as the attention grabbing scene disappeared out of view. This reminded me of how in mindful practice, a thought, vision or sound could grab-hold of your attention and, without you even being aware that it had happened,  could hook your conscious attention. Before you know it you find yourself on a train of thought that takes you away from being mindful of the ‘Now’ moment. The moment you become conscious of this happening you have the opportunity to gently, without irritation of expectation, return your attention back to where you are. Becoming aware of your breathing helps you to centre back into the moment and once more allowing your attention to fall, relaxed, upon the current surroundings and what is occurring within the ‘Now’.

As I contemplated this process, and how the train journey itself was an excellent metaphor for the whole mindfulness experience, I realised that the things that grabbed my attention and ‘Hooked’ me were mainly sights or sounds that initiated some kind of emotional response within me. It really didn’t matter what the emotion was; be it Awe, Curiosity, Irritation, anger etc. the power of the emotional body to take control of your attention and thoughts was quite surprising and quite a revelation. Just like life itself the train journey had plenty of opportunities to grab my attention and take me on a thought journey away from the experience of the moment.

My next revelation was realising that my thoughts would often be taken, either forward along the track to possible future experiences or back along the track to what had already happened. This was another aspect that mimicked the process of mindful practice. Whilst practicing mindfulness I often find that it takes some time, and quite a bit of persistence, to let go of my thoughts about the future or the past and to just experience the moment of ‘Now’. This doesn’t require any effort or physical activity, but requires a letting go of attachment to whatever is driving this though form. Just like on the train where you can look back along the track to see where you have been or forward to where the train is being taken, it would quite easy to allow your attention and conscious awareness to follow these trains of thought and to become so engrossed in what has been, or the possibilities of what may be, that the beauty that exists just outside the train carriage is missed.

Looking out the window to the tantalising hint of the sea that appears through the trees it would be tempting to get drawn into the future and the past. Thoughts of enjoying the seashore when the journey is are in conflict with thoughts reaching back into the past as the memories, and the emotions related to the memories, come flooding back and clamour for my conscious attention.20180726_134948

At times the train was forced to slow down, or stop, for a minute or two and I was able to allow my awareness to fall onto the surrounding beauty. I had time to take in the scene and feel gratitude for the sense of calm and peace that nature often provides. Having no distractions at these times, other than my wandering thoughts, I was able to appreciate the moment and see aspects of the countryside that otherwise would be missed. These were like the moments within my mindfulness practice where I become fully immersed in the now and become acutely aware of all that surrounds me or what is happening to, and within, me. Those moments of clarity and pure mindfulness are like the metaphorical station stops along the train journey of life.

My message to you, the reader, is simple:

mindful train ticket

Have a mindful day!
Regards Chris /|\

 

Chamomile & Lavender Tea: What a magical herbal mix.

The gentle breeze was just enough to take the heat out of the mid-day Sun while I sat watching the bees as they were busy coming and going from the hives. It was idyllic and I was lulled into a state of mindfulness by the warm breeze and the gentle hum of the hives. Just what the Dr. ordered for some spiritual recuperation 🙂

During my sojourn into the ‘Now’ the chamomile that grows around the hives caught my attention  as they swayed and bobbed in the breeze followed quickly by the subtle scent of the lavender encroaching into the periphery of my senses.

Not one to pass-up a message from nature I felt inspired to make a nice cup of Chamomile & Lavender tea. I’d have a look at the properties of these two herbs after I’d indulged myself in the brew.

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Chamomile & Lavender Tea

Properties of Chamomile (9 top Properties)

  1. High Source of Antioxidants
  2. Fights Anxiety and Depression
  3. Improves Digestion
  4. Has Strong Anti-Inflammatory and Pain-Reducing Abilities
  5. Helps Fight Cancer (in particular skin, prostate, breast and ovarian cancers)
  6. Relieves Congestion
  7. Promotes Skin Health
  8. Keeps Gums and Teeth Healthy
  9. Improves Heart Health

According to Dr Nasha Winters and Jess Higgins Kelley in their book, ‘The Metabolic Approach to Cancer‘, state the following regarding Chamomile:

Apigenin, a plant flavonoid found in Parsely’s stems and leaves (as well as in celery and chamomile tea) demonstrates cytotoxic activities)…

…its cytotoxic activity has been found comparable to that of doxorubicin.

Properties of Lavender

  • Antiseptic and Anti-inflammatory
  • Treats Anxiety, Insomnia, depression and Restlessness
  • Helps Digestive Issues
  • Relieves pain
  • Antifungal
  • Useful in wound healing

I’d say that nature was giving me a nice little helping hand there with its hint at making a chamomile and lavender tea! relaxing and calming properties plus anti-cancer properties 🙂

See below for a few sources to support the above, but there are loads more out there if you have a look.

Have a relaxed and chilled-out day, and remember to tell those you love that “You Love Them”

Peace and love
Chris /|\

Sources:

 

A Simple Question Caused a Rethink!

Today’s Affirmation

I accept my past without judgement, and Relish the Opportunity to Learn

I knew when my friend asked me the simple question it would cause a rethink!

Where did you spend your childhood holidays?

I spent sometime explaining that as a young child, about the age of 5 or 6, my parents had taken us abroad, mainly to the Mediterranean, for our holidays. This was quite unusual in the mid to late 60’s. Although unusual, for the working classes at least, it was made possible as Spain began to open itself up to tourism following its transition from a State run as an Autarky ruled by the military dictator Francisco Franco, to one pursuing economic liberalisation.

After this little discourse into my childhood my friend then made the following observation.

You were so lucky to have been given the opportunity to explore Europe at such a young age.

Suddenly. like a light bulb being turned on, I realised that, yes, I was so fortunate to have had this opportunity and that I had never really appreciated the value of these experiences, let alone felt the gratitude to my parents for giving us, I have a brother and a sister, these experiences at such a pivotal moment in our lives.

My Parents both worked and we were a typical working class family. I never really appreciated how hard they must have worked to allow us to travel all over Europe and have such memorable holidays. I still have vivid memories of all the countries we travelled through on our way to Spain or Italy, from turquoise lakes in the Alps to beautiful idyllic villages in Germany.

Spain’s tourist industry was, at this time, in its infancy and the little fishing villages and market towns we visited had the feel of an authentic Spanish culture that sadly seems to have long gone. I have memories of traditional Flamenco dancers performing in open air bars and feeling great amusement as my parents tried to communicate with non-English speaking Spaniards as English was hardly heard at that time.

So, I’d like to give a big posthumous thank you to my parents for the wonderful experiences they gave me. Sadly both my parents are dead and I cannot thank them in person.

The train of thought initiated by my friends comment ultimately lead to remember a moment in my life that stirred my young mind into pondering such great philosophical thoughts as to the meaning of life, the Universe and everything, that ultimately lead me down a path to forming an animistic, nature spirituality that has sustained me since that time. It was whilst travelling over the Pyrenees that we had to park up and sleep overnight in the car. I have a vivid memory of getting out of the car and being amazed by the sight of a field full of glow-worms. But what made it even more amazing was the sheer beauty of the sky, having never seen the milky-way with such clarity I was totally blown away by the sight of the night sky. The awe I felt in my soul was, and still is, indescribable. The vision of the night sky was reflected in the vision of the glow-worms on the ground, it was like seeing the sky mirrored on the grounds. Later this was to be a memory that helped me understand the Hermetic principle ‘As above, so below; as below, so above’.

milky way

Perhaps this is why I get such pleasure and joy from such simple things as seeing the dog digging in the sand on the beach with a look of sheer joy in her eyes, to sitting and just being mindful of the Sea and it’s sounds?

Gratitude

  • The beauty of nature
  • A loving family
  • Good friends
  • The example set by the dogs, the joy in simple pleasures
  • Living in such a beautiful setting
  • The Sun on my back
  • The sound of the jackdaws in the garden
  • Feeling healthy and positive
  • The NHS and all those who work so hard to care for others
  • My loving parents who ensured I had such wonderful experiences whilst growing up

Well that’s another snippet out of my life! Have a wonderful day my friends…

Two Day Chill-Out at Llyn Tegid – Bala

Being out with nature is food for the soul and nowhere feeds my soul quite as much as Llyn Tegid, otherwise known as Bala Lake. We’ve just had a couple of days camping with two wonderful friends Jackie & Kim. A great time was had by all.

True friends are there for you, through the good times and the bad. True friends feed your soul and accept you for who you are, warts and all! Jackie & Kim are two such friends, Sue and I are lucky to have them as our friends. Plus they make great sailing company. Apology for the selfie, I’m not very photogenic LOL

As we were camping on Monday to Tuesday the camp was fairly quiet and it was peaceful enough to do a bit of early morning meditation by the lake.

I have returned fully recharged and ready to take on the world! The weather wasn’t fantastic but I think the land needed the rain more than we needed the Sun. Plus it gave us the chance to take a swim in the lake in the rain! there’s something quite delicious about swimming in the rain.

Have a fantastic day
Chris /|\