I have set a date for the publication of my mantra book Essential Mantras for Everyone. At last! I hear you say :) Well... I wanted an auspicious date, and I reckon the first New Moon of 2018 is just perfect! It will be out on 17 January. Meanwhile, a chance to get acquainted with a truly beautiful mantra, sung by the extraordinary Carrie Grossman. I am so honoured that she has given her blessing for me to make the video below - putting my photos to her beautiful music. Enjoy!
And so another year is upon us... and here we are, a little bit older, a little bit wiser? I guess so. At least I have realised one thing: I need my daily practice! So off I went on 1st January to 'my happy place'. And (in the words of Kate Bush's extraordinary song 'Somewhere Inbetween') 'It was just so beautiful, It was just so beautiful, It was just - so - beautiful...'
These days I don't make New Year's resolutions – they feel too restrictive somehow... a bit of a negatve vibe about them. But I do take time to reflect on what I want less of and what I want more of. Less anxiety, more trust. Less worrying and more dreaming. Less consuming, more creating. Less procrastination, more action!
And each year I have a word to reflect on. This year it is Transition. (Lots of depth in that word – lots of ideas and possibilities). Do you have a word? I highly recommend the practice of taking just one word and finding out what it tells you throughout the year. Don't get too hung up on choosing it. Just go with it – whatever word comes to you. (Sometimes the word shows itself in a dream!) Gift yourself this word, and open to it. Be prepared for synchronicities! We live in an amazing Universe!
I went for another walk this morning (2 Jan)... and I saw my friend the heron! Now, that has to be a good sign, right? I did a quick Google just now and was delighted to discover that one of the many symbolic meanings of the heron is 'easy transitions' Yay!! It also represents the 'in between' state of being (reference the Kate Bush song!)
I do love a bit of Synchronicity! I hope you are feeling refreshed and ready for the new year. May it be just as you dream it to be.
You are welcome to leave a comment – or just say hello! You can connect with me on Facebook and Instagram.
In her poem 'Wild Geese', Mary Oliver begins:
'You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.'
Her poem goes on to speak of how we are all part of Nature and we all have our place 'in the family of things'. It seems to me that the point she is making is that all our 'wrongness' is created in our minds. We need to let go of these intellectual concepts and allow ourselves to just be.
Recently I listened to a podcast by an Indian yogi called Sadhuguru, in which he was talking about being more receptive to life and life's gifts. He said that one thing we need to do is to stop 'being good'. 'When you are full of yourself "being good", there isn't much room for anything else!!" And he is right!
It's not that we should never be kind, or helpful or generous. But we should stop trying so hard. It's all about balance. Being good comes naturally when we work on letting go of the ego and accepting ourselves as the imperfect beings we are. We are just fine. Can we accept our imperfect selves?
Curiously, Christmas reminds me of how this 'being good' vibe is drummed into us at an early age. "Have you been good this year?" we ask our children. "If you have, then Santa will bring you some presents!" How about we rewrite this story? How about we say "Have you been yourself this year? Have you been sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes inbetween? Great, well every gift in the Universe is yours – and it always has been, no matter what you did or didn't do."
Now wouldn't that be something!!!!??
Happy Christmas! xxx
I am a writer not a TV personality. I say this because publishers these days kind of expect you to be both. Ever noticed how easy it is for a TV chef or wildlife presenter to bring out a book? I'm not knocking them – good for them – but what about the people who don't like standing in the limelight? They may have something important to say – but who is going to listen?
It all comes down to 'marketability'. Publishers are running a business; they want a sure thing. The TV chef is a 'no brainer'. But a relatively unknown author – that's a bit of a risk. But don't mistake a publisher's reluctance to take you on as a measure of your artistic worth. It's simply a business decision.
So what can authors do? Well, we write (cos, let's face it, we're going to do that anyway). We work diligently, submitting our pieces to journals and entering competitions. Many rejections later... and a few successes... gradually, gradually we build up a presence.
That is all well and good. And it does work. But what if you have a book that you want to 'get out there'? You can't sit around and wait. So you self publish.
And if you are going to self publish – you have to do the whole self-promotion gig. That means, blogging, social networking... and generally 'being seen'. Now for someone who doesn't like being in the spotlight, this is uncomfortable. But it's necessary.
When I wrote 'Essential Mantras for Everyone' I quickly realised that I would have trouble finding a publisher. I began to doubt myself... Why on earth did I write it? Who would want it? What is the purpose...? The answers are easy:
Why write it? Because I want others to experience mantras and enjoy the benefits. Also to prove to myself that I could have an idea and see it through to completion (for me this is HUGE).
Who would want it? Anyone who is interested in meditation and spiritual development. And that's a lot of people.
What is the purpose? To communicate, connect and share. To encourage me to create more books!
And so I have decided to publish the book through CreateSpace. It's on its way.... I am feeling VERY uncomfortable – but excited too. And, you know what? It's OK to feel self-doubt. It's human. I just have to keep telling my inner self the mantra below:
I went for my walk on Sumner Beach today and as I was walking I collected fragments of 'sand dollars' (I wonder why they are called that?) and seaweed. I put them together to make a sand mandala with pentameral (fivefold) symmetry. Sand dollars naturally grow with pentameral symmetry, but it is rare to find one intact. They are so delicate that they are easily broken apart by the sea.
These beach mandalas are fun to create out of whatever you find. Though broken, the sand dollar fragments had a beauty of their own. I could see the inner workings – such intricate detail. Truly beautiful!
I wondered about what medicine this mandala had for me - and I think it reminds me that though we may be broken, we can be put back together again. Also, in our brokenness there is a deeper beauty, rarely seen.
When the harshness of life leaves you feeling battered and bruised – even broken – remember that there is always a way to mend. It is part of life, the mending. It humbles us and teaches us how to be stronger.
We may be breakable, but we are mendable, too.
I'm so enjoying getting back into my daily practice. Walking along the causeway today there was a nip in the air, but I could feel the warmth of the sunshine on my face. It felt so good. And the smell of the sea brought back childhood memories of trips to the seaside. People were going past on skateboards and bicycles and I was giving them a great big grin. Most people smiled back and some even said hello. It really doesn't take much to lift people's spirits – a bit of sunshine works wonders.
Now if my blog has caused you to ponder whether you could devise and follow your own practice – DO IT!!! I so highly recommend it. A mindful walk for half an hour in your neighbourhood or nearby park/wood/beach. Even 15 minutes would probably have an effect. Just try it and see.
Mindfulness doesn't annihilate thoughts. Instead it trains the mind to let go of the constant chatter that goes on – the worrying about the past and the anxiety about the future – so that you can be fully in the present. If you let go of that 'noise' you find there is a stillness, or space. I won't call it a void, because it is actually very full. You might call it 'awareness'; you might call it 'the devine' or 'creator'; you might call it 'Love'. I can't tell you what it is – you have to experience it for yourself.
But I can tell you that it is kind; it is welcoming; and it is there for you – always will be – when you are ready to go within.
Hope you are having a wonderful weekend! Connect with me on Facebook and Instagram. Namaste.
The tide was fully out this morning when I did my walk and there were lots of patterns in the sand made by the flow of water. The water was just 'doing its thing' and leaving behind such beautiful markings. The beach was pretty empty as it had just been raining and it felt good just to walk and to 'be'. Just to see what I would see...
... like this clump of shells thrown up from the seabed. And I've just noticed a couple of bird footprints on the left. Keeping to this walking, mindfulness practice gives me a real sense of spaciousness that lasts through the day. It is only for half an hour but it makes the rest of the day seem less pressured. I wonder why? Maybe it is because it give me time to be quiet and reflect.
I picked out a card from 'The Wisdom Oracle' deck yesterday and it was 'To the sea!' ~ well that told me (as if I didn't know already!) I knew it was time to start my beach walks again. But the card has another meaning: going with the flow. It reminds me to be patient, to keep on keeping on. Like the flow of the tide, I just need to do my thing. And so... another day of my practice. And oh do I feel good!
'Learn patience from the sea.
Never hurried, always making progress.'
~ Beautiful Sky
A crab mandala! Recently while walking along Sumner Beach I came across these crab shells all at the same time. They were undamaged and so it was clear that they had been shed by the crabs. It was quite unusual and made me wonder whether crabs have a moulting season? I don't know much about crab biology, but I do know that when they shed an old carapace, they are very vulnerable until the new carapace hardens.
It seems to me that as we learn, grow and change we will shed many layers or 'shells' of ourselves – and while we are doing this we need to take extra special care. When opening up, make sure those around you are nurturing types. Don't expose your soft, partially formed body to challenging or 'toxic' people (you know the ones). Be kind to yourself, too. Transitioning from old habits to new ones takes time – and patience. Even a habit like negative self-talk, which we KNOW is unhelpful, can take a while to change.
During such times of transition be like a crab and hide in the seaweed for a while – go on a retreat, meditate, walk in nature, or just make sure you take time every day for yourself. Feed yourself with things that lift you up and support you. Write a journal, keep a gratitude diary. Make space for these things while avoiding noise and bustle and negative people. You will be able to cope with them when you are feeling stronger. But for now, you need to look after you.
Connect with me on Instagram @mybeautifulskyphotos and Facebook. Namaste.
I took this photograph while I was doing my recent 40-day practice. I was struck by the beautiful pattern of indentations in the sand. They look a bit like tyre tracks but are entirely natural – made by the sea. I took a little video too as the light was playing along the ripples and looked quite magical.
The following day I went back to the same spot – to see if different light might give me another lovely picture. But no! The scene had completely changed – the sand was flat and dull. It seems that different currents produce different patterns in the sand on a daily basis – I never knew!
In a way, it is like a natural sand mandala. Like the Tibetan sand mandala I witnessed recently, made by patient monks, it symbolises impermanence. The sea creates it and then the sea washes it away.
And it reminded me that beauty is so fleeting, and for that matter so are we. Our lives go by in the blink of an eye (on the Earth's huge timescale at least). We are here and then we are gone. We must enjoy it while we can. Enjoy the beauty, bathe in the sunshine, swim in the sea, laugh with friends, drink tea, dance.... do whatever your heart is calling you to do. The heart is wise, so listen...
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I didn't take the camera with me today so this is a photo from earlier. There is a cave you can walk through on Sumner Beach, but only when the tide is out.
I have been thinking about what the practice has given me. One of the things is a kind of sanctuary – a sacred 'space' within my day. The walking is good exercise, too. Apparently, recent studies have shown that regularly walking for just 30 minutes every day can make a difference to your physical health and mental wellbeing. It cuts the risk of premature death by a third, prevents dementia and improves your mood.
The mindfulness has an impact too. The more I do it, the easier it is to do. And the result of regularly inhabiting the mental space that it creates is that there is more 'space' around just about everything in my life. There is space around emotions so I can respond rather than react. Instead of being jerked around by whatever mood or event hurtles through my life, I am able to pause and choose what to do.
Do you have a sanctuary? I recommend you claim one for yourself. Getting out into nature does wonders for the spirit – even without practising mindfulness. Just letting the wind brush your face and inhaling the sharp salty seaweed smell of the ocean. It calms the mind. If you can't get out, you can think of a place you love and go there in your mind's eye.
I hope you are having a very calm and pleasant Tuesday.
Connect with me on Instagram @mybeautifulskyphotos and Facebook.
Just a few words and a picture.