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 /|\

 

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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 /|\

 

Checking in: Setting the Scene for the Coming Day

I have a busy day ahead so this post will be short and concise, and get the day off on a positive note.

I was up at 04:45 this morning, I gave myself an extra 15 minutes so that I could enjoy my Matcha green tea whilst listening to the healing affirmations I’m currently using.

Spent 10 minutes in silent meditation, just becoming aware of my breath and the sounds I could hear. I like mindfulness as a meditation so thought that would be good for this morning. Followed by 5 minutes visualisation; being healthy and strong was obviously in there, but I also visualised completing my DIY project! I must get the new hearth and fire-place installed and finished! it looked great in my mind’s eye so just need to manifest it now.

Had a good exercise session, managed 80 push-ups and 30 squats. I’m planning of doing some stretching and loosening up exercise once I’ve finished this post.

Spent about 15 minutes reading ‘Miracle Morning’ almost completed it so will be looking for my next read. Something positive, inspiring and something that will add value to my life.

Gratitude

  • Yet another fantastic Sunrise, more peach than Red this morning
  • Bella, our whippet, was so full of energy and joy this morning that I had to delay my exercises for a few minutes as she insisted on me playing with her and throwing her rope for her. She obviously wanted to get her exercises in too!
  • I feel energised this morning and looking forward to a productive 12 hour shift at work. Caring for people who are ill or recuperating is very rewarding and satisfying. I’m grateful for my career choice as it not only gives me satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment but it also gave me the chance to move from the city to a beautiful coastal part of Wales.
  • Feeling energised, healthy and full of positivity for the day ahead

I need to get ready to leave for work so will wish you all a blessed day, have fun, enjoy your day and see the positive in all things today 🙂

My day ahead

Daily Affirmation

I am at home in my body

What does it mean to be at home in my body?

I think I’ll start with the meaning of home. Is home a place or a state of being? For me home is more than just a place that I lay my hat, it is more of a ‘feeling’ of being at home, a sense of peace, security and safety. Obviously, for me, this means that I have the opportunity to be at home no matter where I am. Although it doesn’t guarantee that I will always appreciate this! I also think that the sense of being at home, no matter where you are, is also influenced by your connection to those around you and how open you are to the beauty that resides in people, it doesn’t matter whether they are in a state of joy or suffering most people just want to feel a sense of belonging and to feel valued.

So, my task for today is to really feel at home in my body today. If you have been following my blog you are aware that I currently have a health issue, my body is throwing a bit of a spanner into the works! Therefore, can I manage to feel at home in my body when my body is clearly having a relationship issue with me. Deep down my body longs to be healthy, fit and supportive of my life goals so I need to look at my relationship with my body and try to ascertain what my body is trying to tell me. I need to open up a dialogue with myself and see what my body is trying to achieve with this current health issue. I’ll report back later today with any thoughts that arise during the day.

After Work

Well that was quite a busy shift! but I am happy that my body has cooperated with me with regard to the fast. Day two and I have hardly thought of food or had any hint of hunger. I’ve also been researching a bit more about autophagy, and based on what I can find out I think that I’ll be ok to break my fast tomorrow as I should have maximised the autophagy by then. So I’ve been kind to my body and give it a rest from having to deal with food, and in the process have given my immune system the chance to reset itself with new macrophages etc. I considered how I feel about my body and its decision to produce cancer and I’ve come to the conclusion that I hold no animosity to it, in fact I feel a little guilty that I’ve put my body into the position of producing cancer in order to get my attention! whether that’s through poor dietary habits, lack of exercise or exposing it to noxious chemicals. It wasn’t my body that chose those actions but it was my mind. So I’ve decided to be gentle with myself and my body, and moving on with a positive outlook to maximise my potential to self heal, So dealing with the stresses of my life is a major activity, increasing my levels of exercise is another, improved diet is paramount. But above all else I need to focus on being appreciative of everything in my life. At this point in time I do ‘feel at home in my body’

Gratitude

What am I grateful for today?

  • Being alive
  • Being in paid work in a job that helps to bring healing to others, thereby healing to myself
  • Supportive work colleagues
  • The support of my family (can’t be said enough!)
  • The connection I have to nature (the, almost gibbous, Moon was like a grinning mouth in the sky this morning which did bring a smile to my face)
  • The knowledge that generous people pass on via various internet sites, without a single request for payment, there’s a vast amount of information out there to help with any issue.

Back to work

Affirmation of the Day

I choose to be Happy

First day back to work after an extended weekend. Getting myself into the right mindset for the day ahead involves quite a routine, I suppose it could be called a ritual of sorts. I have been inspired by a well-known little book by Elrod Hal called ‘Miracle Morning’ (available online to buy) the following is a little taster of my morning ritual today.

  • 10 minutes meditation – using my own Awen meditation technique
  • 10 minutes exercise – push-ups 80, sit-ups 50, Lymphatic stimulation
  • 10 minutes hot shower followed by a cold shower to stimulate the immune system
  • 10 minutes reading a positive book – Miracle Morning
  • 10 minutes writing my blog
  • 10 minutes to make and drink my Matcha Green Tea in a meditative state

Following my morning routine I am ready to take on the World!

Morning Blessings

  • Another beautiful sunny morning greeted me upon awaking. I awoke before the alarm and was able to gently come round before the gentle buzz of the alarm instructed me to get up.
  • A nice greeting from the dogs when I finally got down stairs
  • A refreshing Matcha tea – I can almost feel the antioxidants and polyphenols at work
  • A lovely kiss off my wife
  • The walk to walk with the sounds of the birds surrounding me
  • Lovely greetings from my work colleagues

Breaking the News

Informing every one of my biopsy results went ok, I don’t think it’ll hit me until I have had the MRI and know if its spread or not. Hopefully I’ll remain as stoic as usual and concentrate on doing what I need to strengthen my immune system. I’ve had great support off everyone at work so far and I’m managing to function reasonably well.

Fasting

Day one of my 48 hour autophagy fast has gone off without a hitch. I’m not yet back into ketosis following my cheat day yesterday, but getting there. No major hunger sensations and energy levels ok. Having a plentiful supply of water with added electrolytes has helped. I think the first 24 hours was fairly easy so lets see what the next 24 has in store!

I’m ready for a good nights sleep in preparation for another day at work, so signing off now.

Wedding Anniversary 2018

Although I hate selfies I had no other choice than to try to get the most photogenic shot I could LOL, not a bad shot as far as selfies go! Happy anniversary to my wonderful wife Sue and thank you for being my wife, lover and friend for the past 35 years xxx

Wedding Anniversary

Daily Affirmation

“Joy floods my thoughts and my life”

Awoke fairly early today, the Sun was already up and flooding the garden with the promise of a beautiful day. From the comfort of my bed I could see that the bees were already busy and had started their daily activities. Yesterdays drama of the swarming of the hive was long forgotten and they looked more settled today.

My ten minutes meditation helped me to set the mood for the day, I had a go at my own meditation system based on my work with the Awen, the Druidic symbol of inspiration. It went really well and I know that I’ll be incorporate that into my Spiritual practice and will definitely be writing a blog post on my Spiritual blog At The Hearth about the philosophy behind the technique.

I came across a great quote today by Marcus Aurelius, a stoic philosopher, that I have found great comfort in:

Quotefancy-26419-3840x2160

I think the Stoics were highly intelligent philosophers and made some great points. I’m all for positive thinking but I think applying a bit of Stoicism at times can ground you into reality. No more so than being given a diagnosis of cancer, as I was a few days ago!

Shit Happens!

Yeah, it certainly does! I’ve always been a very positive person and have looked after my health fairly well. So being given a diagnosis of cancer was a bit of a shock to say the least. But, having spent a few days contemplating the issue, I’ve decided that it’s time to call upon the philosophy of the Stoics and say “shit happens for which I have no control over, but my true power lies in my mind, that which I do have control over” so how I choose to react is up to me. I have little control over the actual cancer, but I can educate myself, and do all within my power to give me the best chance I can for long term survival. There are no guarantees that I’ll win, but I’m sure as hell going to give it my best shot!

What am I grateful for today?

  • Waking up next to my wonderful wife
  • A beautiful sunny morning
  • The sound of the birds in the yard and their musical chatter
  • Living by the coast and being in a position to walk to the beach and go swimming and snorkeling
  • Seeing the wide-eyed amazement on the face of Jax, my grand-child as he slurped on his ice-cream
  • The fantastic support of my family, all of my four kids are fantastic human-beings and I couldn’t do without any of them.
  • The joy of watching the innocence of my three grand-children and the expectation of the fourth one on the way
  • The pleasure I get from just being in nature, watching our bees in the garden as they collect their honey stores which, hopefully, they will share with us later in the year
  • Apart from the cancer I am fit and well with no chronic illness, therefore, I can get around and still do the things I love to do.
  • 35 years of a wonderful marriage, even with the ups and downs that come with it!

I think that’s about it for today, on the whole it hasn’t been a bad day, it’s so nice just to have a day dedicated to just Sue and I. Had a lovely time on the beach, not to mention the yummy Banana boat ice cream. LOL