Saturday, 5 March 2016

A Body Meditation, in case it's of use

I've hummed and hawed about whether to post this or not. It is a personal body meditation practice that came to me unbidden whilst I was within a normal meditation period and has proved to be very helpful to me.

It obviously draws on my well of background experience with chakras, The Middle Pillar, and a wide range of body based psychotherapeutic methods, but doesn't seem to be any one of them.

I offer it here in case it can form a useful basis for someone else's practice: please adapt it for your own use - it is not set in tablets of stone!

 I'm assuming that you already have an established meditation practice and wouldn't presume to give directions about things such as body posture, time, breathing.

Focus attention on:
Base chakra, pubic area, bottom of belly:
~ I am free from guilt; from hyper-responsibility.

Second area/chakra/around navel:
~ I am free from fear.

Third area, at waistline, within to the diaphragm, maybe:
~ I am deeply secure and safe.

Fourth area, heart-lungs, just below midpoint of breasts:
~I am Loved by the Self, Love flows through me, fills me, overflows me.

Fifth area, heart-throat, the bone there:
~ I am deeply in Peace, at peace, peace-filled.

Sixth area, on the throat, the larynx:
~ Spirit speaks though me - and I only speak at her/his inspiration.

Seventh area, top of shoulders:
~ the cloak of God is on me. (Feel this weight on the shoulders. This takes the tension from my neck and shoulders... The world is not my responsibility, it tells me. I act only as a representative.)

Eighth area, around the head:
~ I wear the chaplet of God. (I don't think I can describe this in words,  but a chaplet is a thin band or garland worn around the head. )

Ninth area, just above the centre of where the fontanel was when one was an infant:
~ Know silence in  awareness of the flow of God.

Friday, 10 July 2015

The Man with the Bike

On the way down to the shops today we put some things in the recycling bins that we pass. There was a cycle leaned against the fence, laden with what looked like extremely well-used camping stuff, and I waited there in my wheelchair whilst Paul put our stuff in the bins. The bike's owner came back from the bins - and I'm not clear whether he was putting things in or taking things out - and grinned at me with huge glee. An elderly man, roughly shaved, weather worn, but not the classic tramp or hobo that we see frequently here. I grinned back.

"Happiness is WITHIN!" he declared in heavily accented English, tapping his chest, the grin even broader. Gesturing with his right arm to take in the whole world in a sweep, he added, "People all think that happiness is out THERE - but it ISN'T." I nodded a heartfelt agreement. He continued, again tapping his chest, "No - happiness is in HERE! In HERE is both heaven and heh...."(to me, in less declaratory tone, "what is the other place called?" "Hell" I provided. He continued) "heaven and hell!" And in unison we both said, "And each one of us can choose!"

We grinned at each other with delight. He got on his bike, and, joined now by Paul, I went on to the shops, immeasurably cheered by this encounter.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

A Commitment to Silence


There seem to be several books published lately about silence and the importance of recovering the physical presence of silence and our individual and communal ability to be in silence.

Many years ago I tested my vocation to be an Anglican nun, profoundly attracted by the silence within which the sisters dwelt. As it happens, it wasn't the direction that I was to go in, but I learnt a great deal from the sisters and kept contact with them, returning each year for a time of retreat and withdrawal to renew my ability to find quietness within.

The years passed and I had a long period of personal, spiritual, philosophical upheaval and tumult, during which my silence scattered. My loss was enormous.

But gradually I have relocated the silence and begun again to find my centre within it. It is stronger and more robust, I've discovered, now it is not bound to a particular philosophy or creed.

What is silence? Not simply or principally the absence of speech or other noise. Indeed, I enjoy good conversation all the more when it is allocated carefully. Just as I enjoy music when I am consciously turning my attention to listening to it, but feel confused and distracted by background musak.

Simply, silence is the essential core of being. Ancient scripture writes that in the beginning was the word: but a silence had to precede the outbreathing of the creative word. It is this stillness before and within utterance that makes certain music and poetry great.

So, why do I feel drawn to writing this right now?

Possibly because I need to make a formal public statement about my commitment to having my centre within silence. In a different setting to the life I have been placed, I might feel it right to join a contemplative order, or become a hermit. As it is, I want to, need to, make a formal dedication of my life to stillness. To keeping my focus of attention upon the still small voice and thus organising my life in such a way that this always has priority.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The Last Post

It is more than a little trite to entitle this The Last Post, but there it is - I can do no other!

Because this will (probably) be the final post in this sporadic blog. I feel I've said what I want to say and anything more is just plain tedious and repetitious. I've also realised that if I don't read other people's blogs why on earth should I think anyone would be interested reading mine?

But I wanted to draw a line under the event that has seen me blogging, and not simply abandon it to hyperspace.

Thank you for visiting. I think that some of the articles I've written continue to have some value in them and, if you haven't done so already, they might be interesting to read.


Sunday, 26 May 2013

Pondering on peaceful patterning

Having just written to a friend, regarding a mislaid email, saying
"I didn't know that it was possible NOT to save Sent emails!"
I pondered on the following and have decided to post it here.
When I was a girl I was a very happy member of the Girl Guides (Girl Scouts in the States) and the motto of the Guides and Scouts is

"Be Prepared."

I took it deeply seriously and it has helped me to live a calmer and more trouble-free life than if I hadn't. And it has led me to a piece of wisdom which has been extremely important in my life. It is that:

**Often our problems come simply because we have set up our patterns of behaviour so that we will have them.**

For example, I had a friend once who had a reputation for being a 'klutz', things always broke around him, that sort of thing.
One day, in the kitchen, I saw that he'd opened a new and full pack of ground coffee and left it on the edge of the work surface - and I realised that he actually created the situations in which he could then exclaim, "Oh no - you see!? That sort of thing always/only happens to me!" and reinforce his sense of his own klutziness.

Being me, I pointed this out to him, telling him that if he created situations in which there were accidents waiting to happen then it was HIM that was choosing to do it.

Possibly, we could say that he was so accustomed to the frisson of, "Oh no! What a thing to happen!" that it was a kind of addiction. And the famous 12-Step programme's Serenity Prayer calls us to have courage to change the things that can be changed.
In case you don't know the prayer - originally by Neibuhr but made famous by Alcoholics Anonymous - here it is:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Like me, you can use 'g o d' as a placeholder term for that unknown and unfathomable power that, peculiarly, actually does become available.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

The world in a grain of sand - really

Grains of sand from ancient supernova found in meteorites
The supernova may have been the one that triggered the formation of the solar system

"How strange to think that two tiny grains of sand could be the humble bearers of such momentous tidings from so long ago and so far away."
Washington University at St Louis

"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour."
William Blake


Wednesday, 3 April 2013


Michael Drayton famously wrote,

"Since there's no help, come, let us kiss and part, 
Nay, I have done, you get no more of me, 
And I am glad, yea, glad with all my heart, 
That thus so cleanly I myself can free. 
Shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows, 
And when we meet at any time again 
Be it not seen in either of our brows 
That we one jot of former love retain. 
Now at the last gasp of Love's latest breath, 
When, his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies, 
When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death, 
And Innocence is closing up his eyes, 
Now, if thou wouldst, when all have giv'n him over, 
From death to life thou might'st him yet recover. "

This came to mind when, a few days back , I responded to a contact from someone whom I had known in my student Christian group of long ago,

"I  have to confess that Christianity just no longer 'works' for me," I wrote. "I spent some years desperately trying to hang on - but, I couldn't. It isn't that I've become unspiritual - just... Ah, well. Too difficult to explain, and probably impossible"

She replied
> Maybe it's churchianity that doesn't work rather than Christianity...

And I emailed back

"Doctrinally, I was having difficulties from twenty to thirty years back. (When the discovery of both Advaita Vedanta and poetry of Rabandrinath Tagore was revelatory for me). But, yes, churchianity is a big factor..."

And I was somewhat startled to discover that there still are wells of pain in me relating to christianity. 
"Every Railway Station ..." Yevgeni Vinokurov (1962)

Every railway station keeps a book for complaints
And, if you ask for it, they have to give it to you:
It wouldn't be a bad idea, I think,
If eternity had a book like that,
Then people wouldn't have to keep silent about their sorrow.
Timidly, cautiously at first, they would all come, bringing
The griefs they endure, the wrongs they are made to suffer,
To universal attention and judgement.
How we should then be struck I know,
By that entry of half a line
By that woman, who, slumped against its railings,
Was crying in the park last night.

Vinokurov's 'Every Railway Station' gives the feel of the sense that one has a need to bring complaints to universal attention. Whilst I say nothing, whilst I keep my complaints, my bemusement, inside, unformulated, they fester.  Unexamined, the whole experience - which stretched over, what? twenty, thirty, forty years of my adult life - remains a mal-understood chaos. It hasn't mulched down into being soil that I can grow from. 

Also, I don't really lay it to rest. As in Drayton's 'Since there's no help' , there is the hidden but eager hope that it could 'from death to life recover.' So, I've been addressing this, both by thinking carefully through my experiences and also, and importantly, by reading pretty thoroughly within the areas of church and doctrinal history and the history of philosophy. Writers such as Charles Freeman, Bart Ehrman and Ramsey MacMullen have featured in this. Along with Richard Tarnas.

 Within this reading, I've found it helpful to discover that my experience of christianity (and I'm having difficulty making this program accept the lower case c, which is deliberate) reflects the conflicts within the nature of christianity that Richard Tarnas spells out succinctly in his seminal overview of western philosophy. 

It is difficult to excerpt from Tarnas because of his wordiness, but I will try to get the idea of the two facets of christianity that he clarified for me and which helped me to see that my own confused reactions to christianity actually reflect a kind of split personality within christianity that has existed from the earliest days of its existence as a separate religion.

(Note, I use a lower case ‘c’ when I am speaking of the whole wide-ranging phenomenon of beliefs and structures that followed on from the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth.)

So, as a beginning of an attempt to disentangle my own experiences, I've excerpted some passages below and added some some notes.

Richard Tarnas The Passion of the Western Mind
excerpts from Section III The Christian World View

I have the Kindle ebook version and all references are to Kindle ‘locations’ as pagination was not available on this book. Emphases are mine.

Quotations from Locations 2512-2549

"To experience God’s dawning Kingdom was to be inwardly grasped by divinity, suffused by an inner light and love. Through Christ’s grace the old, separate and false self died to allow the birth of a new self, the true self at one with God. For Christ was the true self, the deepest core of the human personality. His birth in the human soul was not so much an external arrival as an emergence from within, an awakening to the real,
"The world was not an evil imprisonment, not a dispensable illusion, but the bearer of God’s glory. ... In this perspective, man was a noble participant in God’s creative unfolding."

THIS was what I had thought that I was buying into!

I had had two, totally unexpected, experiences of joy, of the numinous, a sensation of infilling with peaceful power and strength. (Both happened outside of any intellectual or belief context: John Wren-Lewis has written of something that has similarities.)

I made the assumption that these were linked to the christian church.

At university the group of christian students was a wonderful supportive community. The feel was more of the early part of Tarnas' description of christianity. I had no contact with any other spirituality, mine was just not a multicultural world then.  (I had little knowledge of history either.) I read a lot of C.S Lewis, who also appears unquestioningly to equate having an experience of the spiritual (in Surprised by Joy) with acceptance of a christian interpretation of its meaning.
Tarnas continues,
Locations. 2561 - 2568
"[But the apostle Paul was concerned that] the exultant element in Christianity, though valid in itself, could easily lead to negative spiritual consequences... which could thereby degenerate into a sinful overestimation of the self."
 As the expected return of Jesus the Christ does not happen and the first generation of followers dies off, written accounts and theologies are made -  and the emphasis changes (My note)

This, I realise, was echoed in my own experience with churches once I left university. On my first Sunday in London, I went to the church at the other end of the road in which I had my bedsit . The man at the door told me that I could come in, but that I'd have to sit at the back and not take any part in the service. Afterwards they would explain why I was in error... Or - he added eagerly - I could go elsewhere! I went elsewhere. To a church in which no-one either looked at or spoke to me. The following Sunday I tried another church (my choice was limited by being ones that I could park nearby, as my walking was limited even then.) At this was one I was spoken to - to be asked if I had been properly baptised.

Tarnas goes on to write,
Locations 2604-2637
"[T]he Christ of John’s Gospel [written about sixty to seventy years after the crucifixion]—portrayed ... in glory as the exalted Lord from the beginning of his ministry—seemed to far transcend the present potentialities of all other human beings, and consequently tended to highlight the spiritual inferiority and darkness of the natural man and the natural world. 
[and now] the other side of the Christian vision, the character of which in the long run would significantly redefine the primitive Christian message [begins to emerge. In this]... there resulted a pronounced tendency to negate the intrinsic value of the present life, the natural world, and humanity’s status in the divine hierarchy... only a scrupulous conformity to specific moral principles and ecclesiastical regulations could preserve the believing soul from condemnation. The struggle with overwhelming evil was of paramount concern,"

Locations 2649 – 2679
"[T]he suffering and crucified Jesus, bearing humanity’s guilt, tended to displace the triumphant resurrected Christ, bearing humanity’s liberation. ...The present world was an alien stage, [and] ...
... In this perspective, the idea of human deification became either meaningless or blasphemous.
Man was an intrinsically sin-permeated being who had willfully set himself in opposition to God. Hence his will was impotent against the evil within and outside him, and his salvation lay solely in the possibility that God might mercifully overlook the believer’s culpability, viewing his own Son’s death as atonement, and save the believer from the damnation that, like the rest of mankind, he genuinely deserved."
I now realise that these two conflicting aspects contained within christianity continue to be within it and continued to confuse and trouble me. I stayed as a church-goer for a further twenty years, increasingly disturbed by the contradictions that I experienced but didn't know how to formulate, let alone comprehend. I tried to discuss these issues but was met with the injunction to 'have faith and not to Doubt'. Although I 'passed' as a member for many years more, I was deeply dissatisfied and eventually quietly slid away, finding a resting place with the Quakers. 

I continue to experience the something that gives me purpose and joy. But find that this is better expressed by NOT giving 'it' any kind of doctrinal formulation.