I have always believed that you can change by starting at either a physical or psychological level. I have been studying Taoist Tai Chi for a year now and it confirms my belief. I have noticed myself becoming more able to let go as I do even five minutes of practice a day. The teacher we had on Saturday explained how a slight change in posture made all the difference. “So we are aiming for lightness, ease and letting go of struggle?” I asked. “Exactly,” she said, as one of the lads giggled and said, “You should put that on a T shirt!” I had already known that at times I put too much effort into trying to make things happen as opposed to doing my best and then letting go. Tai Chi is teaching me how to use minimum effort to achieve the same result. It takes a “Head” understanding down into the body and effects transformation easily and subtly, once you continue practising. I have also finally learned in the last year or so that simply going to a class once a week is not enough for me to actually learn a new skill. Doing a small bit each day is the key. For me, the best thing about Tai Chi is knowing that it really doesn’t matter whether I get it right or wrong. It feels good, it feels relaxing and enjoyable. It requires focused concentration to get the “form” or sequence of movements correct, and because you have to focus, the mind quietens down. Meditation in motion. How peaceful is that.
It’s been a rough year, and it’s only May. I won’t go into the gory details of why, except to say that an elderly mother is part of the equation. For those of you caring for an elderly parent, enough said. So I have needed to regroup. Part of what I have done in the last few months was to take a sabbatical from writing anything other than my Morning Pages (from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.) It has been a time of paring down commitments in order to give myself time to recover. One of the great things that has supported me is the Tai Chi class I started going to last October. I love it. It requires total attention to detail so the thinking mind has to go on holiday. It’s also very graceful and flowing, like a slow dance. We do the form, or practice of the 108 moves, in total silence. I find it incredibly peaceful. Mobile phone off, quietness, and moving meditation. It teaches you patience, because you practice and practice and then one day, you find that you know a bit of it, and gradually add a little more to what you know. It can’t be rushed. I know about the first eight moves and the two snake movements, that’s all. I bought a bamboo plant and put it in a pot in the back garden. The bamboo is on one side of me and the shed is on the other in a very small space as I try to practice the little I know out of sight of the neighbours, so that they won’t call for a strait jacket for me. The second string of my regaining my equilibrium has been my daily meditation practice, a godsend in tough times. It’s a lovely rest for the mind and helps me focus on all my blessings, of which there are many. Of course the cats are a great help too. Felicity leaped on a sheet hanging over the stairs last week, and slid down the bannister with claws stuck in the fabric, a look of total shock on her face. It was the funniest thing I have seen all year and gave me a much-needed belly laugh. So I am grateful for all mercies, large and small, and especially the way the Universe responded when I asked for help in regaining my joie de vivre. Try it. Sure what have you got to lose?! 🙂
As a therapist and animal healer, I am very aware of the suffering in the world of both humans and animals. When I work with a stressed animal, I can feel my stomach contract with their fear. Emotional energy is contagious. Three years ago I started an experimental news fast for a month as I found my energy was being brought down by a constant diet of bad news. I stopped watching the news on TV and reading newspapers. It worked. I use my improved energy to do what I can to help people and animals and to honour my soul work. I have never gone back to following news, but because I use a computer naturally I see snippets even when I don’t want to.
As a clinical hypnotherapist, I know that whatever we focus on expands. As a healer, I know that healing is like water, and it flows from a higher vibration to a lower one. There is a lot of reactive fear in the air at the moment. How can we respond more wisely and well to the climate of fear? We can take a proactive approach and choose to respond rather than react. Three suggestions are: 1. Start a gratitude log to shift focus to the positive. 2. Choose to see the best in everyone, including ourselves. 3. Focus on service by asking the Universe/God “How can I help today?” and when the opportunity to help or be kind to a person, animal, or the earth itself comes today (and it will) take it and make the world better, one intentional act at a time. To connect with other like-minded people and see the scientific underpinning of the benefits of a heart-focused life, have a look at Global Harmony Initiative .
I’m not much of a gardener, to be honest. More of a pottering-around person than someone who actually knows what they are doing. Sometimes I celebrate having cut the grass by having a beer while wandering around my quite small garden looking at things with my head to one side. So I was quite surprised when I finally got the raspberries right this year, definitely more by accident than design. I am confused as to what I am supposed to cut back in the autumn. Two years ago I cut all the raspberry canes back, thinking it would cause them to grow stronger. It didn’t, and there were a paltry few raspberries to be seen last summer. So last year I went to the other extreme, and I cut nothing back. I inadvertently threw some vegetable fertiliser on them in May and I must have got the timing right for once. The raspberry harvest has been abundant. While I have been out picking them, I find that I am completely absorbed in what I am doing, which of course is so relaxing. I seem to have a muscle memory of exactly how much pressure to put on a raspberry to persuade it to be picked, and if it resists, I leave it be. I also unknowingly remembered that a great way to find extra ones is to kind of hang upside down and look up at the bushes. I am amazed at how many gorgeous, plump, ripe berries I have missed until I do this. Probably because of the weather (the usual “soft” Irish summer i.e. lashing rain all the time) the berries are huge. They are so huge they are impressive. I began to realise that in the past, when something was flowering nicely or producing fruit I took it for granted and just ignored the plant, expecting that it would continue to do so without any input from me. I guess it’s my age, but now I am more inclined to reward good effort with fertiliser or whatever might be needed. Taking less things for granted. It can only be good. I also use the biodynamic principles of leaving 10% of the harvest for the slugs, snails and birds. Of course, where I grew up, they would say that I am for the birds but hey, not my problem. All I know is that I have an abundant harvest, and if my fellow creatures want their share, that’s okay with me. I also whisper “thank you” to the plants each time I collect the raspberries. I have had great enjoyment out of sharing the bumper yield with my neighbours. One of them slowed down his car yesterday and shouted “The raspberries were lovely!” which made me laugh. Imagine, such pleasure to be had from such simple things. So that’s why I think raspberries are intelligent. They respond to kindness like all the rest of us, hide their berries under the leaves so you have to go looking for them, which makes you spend more time in the garden, which lets your soul be peaceful. Clever fruit.