stepping stones of truth

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

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The next step on the path

I really needed to have a few moments in the fresh air, so I set off on my first small journey across the road, to look at the river and see if any snowdrops were poking their green shoots through the hard earth yet.

I never realised that the sun set that far away from due west at midwinter. I cant believe I have never seen this sight before. It took my breath away.

And yes by the river there are tiny green shoots among the leaf litter - the first signs that spring will follow winter. And I too will follow my path from one step to another. Despite the progress being unpredictable.

Happy New Year. I hope it is a good year ahead for all of us.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Her first Christmas

Her Christmas stocking contained a lovable furry Loch Ness Monster and an orange.

Miffy is still a firm favourite, and I managed to find this wooden mobile. Love her smile!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

New moon, new year

It may not be the recognised New Year, but I am a bit grounded in Mother Earth, and always feel that the winter solstice (one of the old midwinter festivals) marks the turning of the year for me.

And today is the first new moon of the new year.

My enforced winter break is creating quite a contemplative feel. After all my time in Japan was almost like a retreat - visiting all the temples with their sacred space and gardens, and trying to be mindful of my reactions to my experiences there. Followed up by the mindful/meditation weekend on Dartmoor. Topped off with five weeks of not using my feet.

I realise that I have had to deal with the frustration of missing out on the fun of the build up to Christmas, and not being able to be out and about in the wonderful crisp clear days of winter. And not dealt with it too well. Or as well I would like to. But maybe my standards are too high! I have to just see that its easy to water the seeds of irritation in me at times like this. And that when irritation and anger arise, I DO have the option not to argue and shout back!

There is some advice on the Plum Village website about on taking care of anger which I can relate to, having just spent Christmas with my lovely grandaughter and her family :-
Thich Nhat Hanh often compares our anger to a small child, crying out to his mother. When the child cries the mother takes him gently in her arms and listens and observes carefully to find out what is wrong. The loving action of holding her child with her tenderness, already soothes the baby’s suffering. Likewise, we can take our anger in our loving arms and right away we will feel a relief. We don’t need to reject our anger. It is a part of us that needs our love and deep listening just as a baby does.

After the baby has calmed down, the mother can feel if the baby has a fever or needs a change of diaper. When we feel calm and cool, we too can look deeply at our anger and see clearly the conditions allowing our anger to rise.

When we feel angry it is best to refrain from saying or doing anything. We may like to withdraw our attention from the person or situation, which is watering the seed of anger in us. We should take this time to come back to ourselves. We can practice conscious breathing and outdoor walking meditation to calm and refresh our mind and body. After we feel calmer and more relaxed we can begin to look deeply at ourselves and at the person and situation causing anger to arise in us. Often, when we have a difficulty with a particular person, he or she may have a characteristic that reflects a weakness of our own which is difficult to accept. As we grow to love and accept ourselves this will naturally spread to those around us.

Now all I have to do, is to do it!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A winter break

But not the sort of winter break you normally think of though. I was in London for a few days, visiting my delightful grandaughter.

The weather has been lovely the last few weeks - sunshine, clear blue skies, but because of this it has been cold. Very cold. Freezing. We walked across the park in the late afternoon sun, but already the puddles were freezing over.

Well, it must be old age....I was walking out of a shop when I didnt see a step! The whole surface was made of brick, and one surface was a brick higher than the other. I wasnt looking basically. Not a patch of ice in sight. Just not walking mindfully!

My foot turned over. Yowch. I felt sick, but I always have the Bach Flower Rescue Remedy spray in my handbag, so that sorted the shock out. Plus the hot chocolate and almond cake that we were on our way to have in an organic shop that has a café.

I was actually on the start of my journey home, so I limped on to the bus after that, and home on the train to Dorset as planned.

Reiki, healing, ibuprofen gel and arnica tablets did wonders with the swelling , it was still swollen in the morning but nothing like as bad as the night before, when I had to go on my bum upstairs, ha ha.

The swelling was still going down, but I knocked a part of my foot and the ouch that went along it, reminded of the time I cracked the similar bone on the other foot about five years ago! I eventually went to A+E as it was obviously more than a sprain, and yes, its a fracture of the metatarsal - the one along the outside of the foot.

I had an appt for the fracture clinic and was given a lovely black samson boot - all velcro and plastic. A cross between a ski boot and an Ugg boot. Very trendy.

No, this isnt MY leg! I am supposed to wear it for four weeks, then do without it for two and go back to them in six weeks.

I bought some walking poles to use for balance on the boot. I was going to anyway, good for steadying when going down hills etc even though my husband thinks they are for showing off but he doesnt walk anyway, and in Japan when clambering about in the hills I used to find a piece of fallen wood was very helpful.

This is the view from my bed in the morning as the sun melts the frosty moss on our neigbour's barn roof.

And the view from the patio window onto the front garden - fairly lifeless and frosty - where I have a sort of day nest of blankets and cushions, and the laptop!

So now I sit and ponder just why I have this winter break, and try not to be impatient and restless. AND make good use of the opportunity. At least tai chi and ballet classes have ended for this term, and it should be on the way to mending by Christmas!

Monday, December 01, 2008

After Kyoto

I wrote in Kyoto Postscript "I felt that the trip had the atmosphere of a retreat", and there was the opportunity to go on a retreat with my meditation group on the edge of Dartmoor. I thought this would consolidate the Kyoto experiences nicely, and somehow set the seal on the visit.

It was with the group who follow the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh and was based in a Victorian house on a wooded hillside above a Dartmoor valley.

We got there just after dark on a chilly weekend, and woke to find that the world had changed.

It was as if we had been transported to a monochrome world, living within a Chinese scroll painting. No familiar hillside or fields across the valley.

There was a light dusting of frost on every thing in the landscape, and on the hillside garden.

Who needs to go to ancient Japanese temples on a Kyoto mountain? Here was the western equivalent. The Barefoot Barn is created from timber, and has underfloor heating and a crackling wood burning stove. Cosy meditations indeed! And such views from the windows across the valley to the moor - when you open your eyes.

We went, mindfully walking as a group, down the hillside between the bare trees to the still lake at the bottom of the valley.

It could have been Kyoto - but there was only the moor next to us, not a busy city - and no temple with curving eaves nor a tiled wall to surround it. Just a leafless hawthorn hedge.

But hidden under the autumn leaf litter, was this herald of spring. Ive only just come to terms with the chill air of winter. Spring is many cold grey months away.

We found stepping stones across a stream. I walked mindfully across at the back of the group - thinking of the title of this blog!

We stood and looked deeply at the water as it tumbled and rushed over the stones and down a small waterfall. And I was reminded of the words of a poem based on The Diamond Sutra.

You should see this world -
a drop of dew....
a bubble in a stream....
lightning in a summer cloud....
......a phantom, and a dream.