for your complete wellbeing & lifting you up on the more difficult days
That much-loved question, ‘So, what do you do?’ is supposed to be a request for information about our working life. But a few years ago I think an alternative and accurate response might have been something like:
All too often the spiritual path is confused with being happy. We think that being spiritual means being positive, all the time. We look at people 'out there' who we consider to be firmly on the path and think that they're doing life better and that they don't feel certain human emotions.
I was in my local shop looking for some tahini to make some hummus. I couldn't find it so I asked an assistant who was restocking some shelves. He looked at me and said, 'I'm sorry, I'm so thick, I don't know what that is.'
And in that moment my heart went out to him for those words, remembering all the times I'd said the same.
I remember how I used to stand in the queue at the supermarket checkout, a never-ending stream of judgement flowing through about the rubbish people were buying, about the state of their bodies. It was disgusting to me. They were disgusting to me.
And all the while I was struggling with my own disordered eating.
'A safe place to say dangerous things' is a phrase I happened upon by some curious combination of a walk in the Yorkshire Dales and the unparalleled power of the internet. I found this phrase so powerful and so important, for how many of us have places we feel safe enough to share those things about ourselves we are most afraid to speak?
When the wave of deep sadness rises
Before what peers back in the looking glass
Before every thought
These words arrived in me after a meeting with a friend. These words are for you or anyone you know who might feel that they are not 'achieving' anything of great importance in this world.
Sometimes it is worth not just reading something, but giving yourself the opportunity to really read something. I mean that experience of feeling beyond the words to the space between and beneath. That's all the words are ever trying to do, actually - to form a shape and vibration that somehow beckons you deeper into the space where words do not exist and yet everything is communicated.
It was a gloriously sunny morning and I was sitting in the cemetery talking to a friend in London. The weather in London had been beautiful too and my friend was telling me about the pretty daisy chain she'd made the day before. It wasn't the beauty of the daisy chain she lingered on, however, but the fact that, the next morning, all the daisies in that chain looked pretty much dead.
Of all the things in the world that could have triggered me this time, it was a comment about salt that got me. Specifically, a note about how perhaps I should stop putting so much of it in my cooking. Whilst he was already moving on with the conversation, I could feel the familiar fire of having been triggered bubbling away. I was outraged.
The rain batters the window and the wind howls. There is a storm outside, but there is one inside too. Thoughts of your weakness, failure and inadequacy swirl somewhere in the space of you.
I woke up this morning feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and agitated. By the time I'd had a shower and got dressed, I was positively boiling over with tension.I put two blocks on my yoga mat, sat down and closed my eyes. Almost immediately, a phrase rose up:
"I feel overwhelmed right now, and that's ok."
A flurry of fine, soft snowflakes are falling as I write this morning, a thin layer of white already on the ground. It doesn't snow often where I live but when it does, I fall in love all over again with that still silence that always accompanies snow.
Some days I wake up tired, you know. Like I just can't quite get going. And others I'm brimming with energy, impatient to get up and get started. Sometimes I feel grumpy and would like the whole world to leave me alone. And other times I want to embrace every little thing.
It was the middle of an afternoon and I'd sat down on my yoga mat to close my eyes for five minutes of stillness. No sooner had I closed my eyes than an image formed in my mind's eye. A weary looking little girl wandering by a stream, a heavy-looking backpack on her back.
You may have made many mistakes in your life, too. Likely, I'd say. But dear goodness, if you could see yourself through my eyes, if but for a moment, their weight upon your shoulders would be nothing more than the gentle breath of the breeze on a summer's day.
If love came in a pot, like a facial moisturiser or cleanser, this is how I'd write the label:
Ingredients: Pure Love*
Directions for use: Apply generously, daily. Allow to sink in and reapply as many times as required, being especially liberal in your application to areas in need of special attention. If you notice improvements after several days or weeks of use, do not cease your routine.
How much time, on average, do you think you spend worrying about the future? Anything from worrying about how you'll pay your bills at the end of the month, to why your boss wants that meeting with you on Friday, to how you'll cope if you get sick.
The sky never yells, "get out".
When the rain comes, the sky rests in peace. Spacious. Open. Welcoming.
When the thunder comes, the sky turns towards, not away and says, "okay".
How to get better sleep: A journey into essential oils with Zane Zillner
I woke up feeling a little anxious. I'd gone to sleep in a worried state of mind about my website, of all things. I'm in the process of re-writing a lot of the content to better reflect how I see my work following the profound shifts and insights I've had over the last year. However, I've been in that process for months because the insights just keep coming and part of me senses that I simply need to wait.
Sooner or later, if you're lucky, life will help you see that the goal isn't for everything to go the way you'd planned or hoped. Sometimes it will and sometimes it won't. The goal is to know that both in succeeding and failing; in rising and falling; in gaining it all and losing everything; in making enough and not making ends meet - in everything and all of it you're still ok.
I woke up to it pitter pattering on the skylight at 5:16am. I smiled. Today the rain felt good. Today, when I looked out at the rain, I felt cosy inside. Snuggled up in my bed in my little rooftop apartment. I didn't long to be somewhere warm and sunny. I didn't long to be somewhere that wasn't blanketed in grey. Today the rain was beautiful and peaceful and delightful.
My emotions used to rule my world. Sometimes, my sadness and down periods would overwhelm me for days or even weeks at a time, drowning me in a sort of hollowness I felt helpless to escape from.
I have an image of myself curled up on my bed in my old flat in London, crying all the tears and wondering why life was so hard. So many times I lay on that bed, the emotions sweeping over me like titan waves in a never-ending storm.
And the mantra I carried around? "I'm just an emotional person."
My twin nieces turned a year old just before Christmas. Being an aunty is better than I imagined it would be. The twins are ridiculous amounts of fun and provide endless hours of entertainment.
I wrote to a friend the other day telling her that when I look at them, everything is clear. They're perfect. In their eyes is nothing but pure life. I can’t imagine anyone being able to look at them and judge them in any way as wrong, bad or somehow defective.
We’re all waking up to different realities. When you really see that this is the case - that everything you’re experiencing is just the thick fog of a story, a possibility opens up. A place where you can step back and view the fog from behind and see it for what it is: Weather passing through.
When I sold up and left London five months ago, there was very little I was certain of. But one thing I had absolute clarity on was that I wouldn't make my life in the UK. No more grey. No more wet. No more winter months of eternal darkness. "It makes me miserable", I'd say. In fact, I've been whining in true British style about the endless grey for most of my life.
Tomorrow I collect the keys to my new apartment. In the North West of England it's colder, wetter and infinitely more grey than London ever was and yet my problem with the grey just seems to have...gone.
It's 9am. The fields are white with frost. Yesterday's wet muddy footprints fossilised in time until the great winter bauble of fire rises a little higher in the sky. The skies are blue, the sea a lake of glass and the last of the leaves lie on the ground patterned pretty with frost.
I see her coming over a little mound in the distance. A colourful woolen hat upon her head, a pole in either hand, and a little terrier dog by her side.
The mind just doesn't know its way to the answers you're looking for. The intellect doesn't know. But the mind is what you know to use, so you go there. You have a problem in your life, a dilemma, something you really need to figure out. So you go to thought. Go to the mind. Go to intellect.
And you find it's just not giving you what you need. No answers. Just more frustration and more circular thinking. The quality of it all spirals down. And the more you look to the mind for answers, the further you travel from those answers. And the further you get, the more desperately you go to mind. Vicious circle, see.