Tag Archives: meditation

When not Writing I…

…spend a lot of my time writing!

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My work means that I spend a lot of time on a keyboard, whether it’s in answering emails, writing documentation, reviewing someone else’s documents or other things like that.  I’m not a full time Writer, and what I do on this blog is entirely for my pleasure. I find it a way of managing my thoughts, of making order out of the myriad of things going on in my head, and in some cases even making sense of the world around me.  I don’t believe I’ll ever be a published author (because I don’t think I’ll ever try), and I’m never sure how many people actually read my blog anyway.

So, when I’m not writing for work, or Writing for pleasure, how do I fill the time and why?  Family takes up a lot of time, and I love spending my days and nights with them.  We like to go on day trips, road trips, afternoons out, to all sorts of places and for a number of different activities.  Dee and I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in bookshops, and are continually seeking out interesting volumes on a wide range of topics, though rarely fiction.  That’s because one of our other favourite pastimes is reading: we’ve always got several books on the go at once.

Other than those, my main distraction is generally music, whether listening to it or playing bass. That and walking I find helps clear my mind, to simply be, and they help me to return to every day life refreshed and full of new ideas.

If I had extra time, would I write more?  I don’t think so.  I enjoy the time I spend writing my blog articles, and I enjoy reading other people’s blogs, but I think if I had more time I’d find other ways of spending it.  My diverse ideas are finite and I wouldn’t want to get to the end of them too soon!  I’d like to spend that extra time becoming more adept at mindful meditation, and practicing mindfulness.  I’d like to be more thoughtful – or at least, less thoughtless. I’d probably try to complete a Tai Chi course we’ve been signed up for for ages, and I’d like to try yoga, though as a tall 50 year old slightly overweight bloke with very little flexibility, I think it would take me years even to be able to touch my toes without bending my knees!

Do you mind? Image #57

Today has seen the end of my first course at evening class in many a year, and I have to say that I think I’ll miss it.  Every Friday for eight weeks Dee and I have gone along for a couple of hours to learn about and to practice Mindful Meditation, and tonight marked the end of the Beginner’s class.  It was taught by a bona fide Buddhist monk, and as he said we were getting the real deal!

 

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Most people think it would involve sitting cross legged, chanting, with hands on your knees, thumb and middle finger touching: they couldn’t be more wrong.  On the course we learned how to meditate when sitting or walking, though standing and lying down are also “postures” which can be used.  You don’t necessarily clear your mind either: if you’re doing noticing meditation you let your mind go and just notice where it goes.

I’ve learned a huge amount from these classes. Not least is that, with regular practice (20 minutes a day), I can sleep soundly and wake refreshed every day.  I’m generally calmer, more rational, more chilled out.  Being aware of the moment, the now, and knowing that at that point in time that’s all there is, is liberating and refreshing.

I’d go as far as to say it’s been a life changing experience, and we will both be doing our best to continue the practice.  At some point we will definitely do the Advanced course, but that takes 6 months and requires sitting still for 4 hours at a time, so we’ll need to work up to that.

Exploring Tibet’s Secret Temple – Image #23

Except it’s not so secret now, is it? 🙂 Today we had a trip to London to see an exhibition at the Wellcome Collection. They have a number of really interesting shows on over the course of a year, along with a great shop! We’ve been to see several exhibitions over the last year, it’s free entry and for the first time we actually had to queue to get in. There was only a 10-15 minute wait as the queue moved quite quickly.   

  
The theme for this show is based in a series of murals from a private meditation chamber in the Lukhang Temple in Lhasa, which was used by a number of Dalai Lamas, and which was originally built by the 6th Dalai Lama back in the 17th century. It was fascinating to read so much of the history, and to find that the monastic way of life didn’t suit everyone! 

I have to say that I struggled with some of the exhibits which featured skull drums, bone trumpets and bone ornaments, but it was interesting nonetheless. I’d hoped for more on meditation as I’m currently doing a course on that, and felt that that aspect was perhaps rushed a little (kind of ironic when you think about it), but on the whole it was a great way to spend the afternoon. Masala chai and book buying in the shop followed. Can’t wait to see what else they put on in the year ahead. 

I think I must be part Boov

I have to admit that I’ve taken the phrase in the title image from the file “Home”, where an alien race called the Boov invade Earth.  One of the Boov is called Oh (that’s what everyone says when he appears) and he utters the phrase I’ve “borrowed”.

In many respects I feel that I “fit out”, in terms of what family, friends and  society may expect of me.  Admittedly I also “fit in” or conform to a lot of the norms, such as holding down a job, having a house and mortgage, paying my taxes and bills etc.  But am I “normal”?

That’s a difficult question to answer.  What is “normal”, and who decides what it is?  I don’t have the wife and 2,4 children that Western society expects – though since divorcing my ex I have a new partner and am stepdad to 2 children, so I guess that’s pretty close to conforming?

In the last year I’ve embraced spirituality, and have particularly found peace and purpose in Buddhism.  I’ve started mindful meditation and am trying to practice that every day, along with mindfulness in general. I burn incense every day at home, and can’t seem to pass a shop selling the stuff without buying some.  I guess that the upshot of all that is that I’m trying to slow down, to get off the rollercoaster of life and to enjoy every moment. It strikes me that this is not a “normal” thing to do and that it’s perhaps one way in which I fit out.

I’m also looking to spend some of my spare time volunteering or helping others in some way.  I’ve read somewhere that there are over 20 million volunteers in the UK – that’s about 1 in 7 of the population, so maybe that’s more like fitting in, but in the circles I’ve moved in in the past it’s definitely fitting out.  It’s all a bit daunting, but I’m looking forward to it too.

Again, in the circles I used to move in, with the friends I had with my ex, alcohol played quite a significant part.  Not only have a I cut down drastically on my intake over the last year, I’ve signed up to give up alcohol completely for all of January.  This is definitely not “normal” in my experience, and the last time I had two alcohol free weeks was when climbing Kilimanjaro several years ago.  (It’s going well though, thanks for asking.)

At the ripe old age of nearly 50 I’ve joined a band playing music from the 50s-70s, rock and roll as it should be.  This is a bit of a departure from playing in an originals heavy rock band (which was probably more fitting out than the new band) but it’s still a bit of an odd thing to do for someone my age I think.  Too old to be trendy but too young to be vintage!

Then there’s the type of music I listen to.  I’m still going to see my favourite punk bands from when I was a teenager (I’m so glad they’re still going / still alive) and there’s a real feeling of togetherness at those gigs.  The rest of the crowd are like me, of a similar age (generally) and I’m guessing all enjoying the gig for the same reasons as me.  But when I was in my teens, that style of music was not mainstream, and we were definitely on the outside looking in.

Do you know what though? I like my new life, I like being me, and I like fitting out.  And I’m not the only one.  Check this out on my partner Dee’s site, Helping You Sparkle.  This is what inspired me to write this post.

 

Spirits in the Material World

Apologies to The Police for using one of their song titles for this item, but it seemed apposite somehow.  Regular readers will know that 2015 has been a year of big changes for me, and one area which I’ve not really touched on is the spiritual one.  Before you pass the rest of this article by, I’m not going to get all religious on you, spouting off about some great being looking down on us and handing down lessons which may or may not have been true.  (And, by the way, if that’s what you choose to believe in, I’m cool with that.  Each to their own and all that, but it’s not for me.) Continue reading Spirits in the Material World