stepping stones of truth

A journey along the path of life - the stones can be rough, smooth or even wobbly!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Mindful breathing

Those of you with good memories will remember a similar view of my feet in another month and another sea.

Due to an unforseen change in circumstances, I was left with a free weekend - and I mean truly free: no washing, no wallpaper stripping, no shopping. I had done all that so as to make myself free for the weekend. When I was working unsociable hours in the public side of the library, I would get a day off in the week. I used to jaunt out into the countryside, wherever the whim took me, and discover all sorts of places and enjoy a day for me. I don't seem to do that now I have weekends off like normal folk. But here was a gift day!

I headed straight for the sea, only twenty minutes drive away. It was still below freezing, and a brisk wind took my breath away. But down out of the wind it felt warmer. The sea was flat calm and blue, but - and I have never felt this before - it seemed to be breathing. There was a stillness, then a sort of sucking in and back, followed by an expectant pause when the stillness was radiant, and then a magnificent exhaling, followed by a foamy settling down. And the cycle started again.

I was transfixed. It really felt like a meditation, only watching the ocean's breath rather than my own. But it wasn't comfortably regular. There would long periods of shallow breaths/waves. Then, from out of nowhere, a series of satisfyingly huge ones, that made a deep reverberating boom as the weight of water crashed down. Occasionally the foam aftercrashings made thousands of little peaks that caught the sunlight and sparkled, before subsiding.

It was very like a meditation in that it was difficult not to await the arrival of the peak experiences and delight. But having seen through that little snare, it was so easy to be content and peaceful.

Eventually my gaze wandered along the length of the pebble ridge and I discovered I had company in the form of a large black bird, who seemed to be enjoying the sunshine too. And then I noticed a heat haze, like a mirage, rising off the beach. Nah, not in sub zero temperatures, surely? I stood up to see whether the distant kite flyers had lit a fire, but I couldnt see one. Weird.

Inevitably I got interested in the pebbles, and remembered the lovely St Columba's beach on Iona. These were much smaller, tiny, a centimetre or two across. I brushed away the dry top layer to find a glistening array of miniature marvels. Of course I couldn't resist taking a few with me! Just a translucent white one, oh and a pinky granite looking one, oh and one with the greeny tints reminiscent of serpentine.....

As I went back to the car with bulging pockets (camera, phone, car keys and just a few tiny pebbles!) I was looking forward to a nice cup of tea by a log fire. But apart from that, I was totally happy.


At 2:09 am, Blogger Val said...

Oh, Val, such a great post. First off, I immediately recognised the photo, or similar one from your trip a while back. And I take it those are hiking boots you write about.

It was so restful to read this post, almost hypnotic, like a meditation in itself. I could feel the rhythmn of the ocean as you describe it.

I too love to go places that are out of season - it generally means that there is less competition from other people and you can enjoy the place more.

You certainly have put your free day to good use.

At 3:30 pm, Blogger David Barltrop said...

Oh super Val! This is just enchanting.

I know what you mean about the sea breathing, I used to meditate on such things myself as a child. You can get a similar effect with wind through trees in a forest. Don't get down to the seaside much now, being so far away. But when I do I love it.

This is the heaven we share, the powers-that-be would rather we were out shopping, or working to pay for shopping. To witness the wonders of nature, that is the prophylactic we require, far more nourishing than any retail therapy.

At 9:13 pm, Blogger Sonia said...

What a beautiful post, Val. I agree with Val and David, this post is enchanting. You write so well!
Love the photos, too!

At 10:29 pm, Blogger Kerri said...

Beautiful descriptions Val! I can almost hear and smell that wonderful ocean. Lucky you to have a day at the beach....and peace and quiet to enjoy the sights and sounds. Pure heaven! I'm truly envious.
When I wrote about the snow drops blooming, I meant to say they WILL be blooming in (in late March or April). They are showing a little white now actually. The weather was quite spring-like today. Lovely!
Thanks for sharing this lovely day with us.

At 9:56 am, Blogger Scaryduck said...


Ooh, I love going down to the Fleet.


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