Woodland Treasures

woods treasures

I’ve created a nice, regular slot in my Tuesdays during which I choose to ‘walk my talk’ (both literally and figuratively!). It’s time and space in the stillness under the wood’s branches to drop beneath the waves of thought into the deep undercurrents of feeling and sensing that exist in ‘now’, and to behold the treasures of wisdom and self-healing that are available to us when we access that way of being. This fuels my own energy, meaning I can give to others at home and work coming from a place of heart rather than of head.

Some days I notice resistance to going, some days not. Today was a resistance day….’It’s toooo cold!’….’I won’t be able to sit still!’ (again with the ‘it’s toooo cold!!’)….’I need to do some writing and make a phone call’….’My mind is toooo busy, I’ll never be a able to detach from my thoughts!’….

Of course I can – and I did!

I walked fast in the hope of warming my ice-pop toes (‘doing’) and was surprised to find my attention, after only 15 minuets, drifting firstly to what I could see, then gently to what I could feel in response to what I could see (‘being’).

It was the Pine trees that really got me. Seen at first from afar, the cluster appeared so dense and dark, triggering a little fear, images of Red-Riding Hood flitting into my mind (where is the Wolf hiding?!)…as I got nearer the space under the needles opened out to reveal that quite the opposite of the initial impression was true!

What a difference a change of perspective can make to our experience. The space there felt so peaceful and still it moved me to a few heart-full, grateful tears…I felt so ‘held’, as if I was surrounded by all the benevolent help and company I could wish for (which may well have been the case if you care to believe in Angels!).

The inner treasures received in the woods today were peace of heart and mind, which I still feel now hours later; the material treasures you see in my hand above, such beautiful, miniature perfection right under our noses when we take time to see it….and warm toes at last after all.

(Oh, and I still managed to fit in that writing and phone call when I got home, of course I did!).

 

 

Celebration!

 

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I was so happy for my daughter at sunrise today!

We had one of those breakthrough moments this morning that you feel like singing from the chimney tops. So here I am, singing in all my Mary Poppins glory 🙂

Distraction whilst getting ready for school has always been our archnemesis and I know we are not alone here! Getting sick of the sound of our own voices when we hear ourselves grumble ‘Have you brushed your teeth yet and why are you still in your pyjamas??’ for the 50th time, is a common complaint in the playground chat room of parentdom.

Well, this morning, things were a little different chez Salmon… I was not the one to drag my eldest (now 11) back from the Distraction Zone because SHE was the one to recognise that she had got distracted and was therefore able to bring herself back into the present moment (to her tooth brushing to be exact 😉 ).

It may not sound like a giant leap, but in terms of mindfulness it is huge!

The aim of the mindfulness practitioner is simply to notice where their attention lies at any given moment. Once we are aware of this we then have the power to choose to re-direct it if we feel it is beneficial to do so. For instance; if we notice that whist doing the washing up we have become distracted by thoughts of how much we have to get done the next day, which may make us feel agitated and anxious, we can then choose to turn our attention to our breath, helping it slow down, and to our senses, feeling the warm water and bubbles on our skin, which may be infinity more pleasant than worrying about something out of our control at that particular moment of washing up.

For my part (because we do always play a part wether we wish to acknowledge it or not), I noticed that instead of the usual frustration in reaction to her being distracted, I was conversely filled with delight that she had experienced such a moment of self awareness. Had I followed my old pattern I would most likely have reacted with an anger fuelled  cutting comment, which may have sent the message that her self observation was not important. As it was, I applauded her and enjoyed her own sense of accomplishment, and the rest of the pre-school routine was decidedly more upbeat, and definitely a lot smoother sailing, than usual!

Please don’t think, by the way, that we sit in mindful meditation each day together, or even talk about mindfulness much. Whilst it would be lovely if we did, my daughters definitely benefit from the more subtle approach of being in my presence as I simply attempt to live as mindfully as I can. This can be pointing out what I am noticing as we drive along or talking about how I feel emotionally and what sensations I feel in my body…it’s a gentle process of modelling that is occurring naturally in each and every moment…not always easy, I’ll grant you…but so worth it for the peace of mind, body and heart it brings :).

Thoughts – know your place!

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Autumn and I have had a rocky start to our relationship this year!

I recognised that I was stuck in a place of non-acceptance of this season in late August. I judged myself a little harshly for clinging on to lazy days and warmth, feeling a deep resistance to the beautiful, natural and inevitable change afoot. ‘What right do I have to teach mindfulness if I can’t accept ‘now’ and go with the flow?!’ I chastised myself….until I remembered that the point to mindfulness is simply to notice what is, what ever that is, ie, in this case, my non-acceptance and feelings of resistance!

Ahhhh, ok, I’m doing that….well, that takes the pressure off then 😉

Today, during a brief and mindful walk back to my car after dropping the girls at school, I found myself absorbed in the colours and shapes of the rain laminated leaves…I made a little collection and really looked at them for a moment. In this state I became aware that I was no longer experiencing the resistance…I realised how caught up I had been in the thought of ‘I can’t accept Autumn this year’, remembering how many times I’d repeated that thought internally and out loud during conversations, giving it power, affirming it again and again, keeping the loop playing!

By literally coming to my senses with these leaves this morning, I have stopped the thought in its tracks, it no longer holds power over my experience and I am unstuck, now fully present in this moment of Autumn 🙂

(A witty article about our relationship to thought and how we often let it rule the roost over and above our equally important sensing self; https://palousemindfulness.com/docs/nisker-thoughts.pdf , balance in all things is the key to health and contentment.)

 

 

Animal Magic

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Animals can help us and our children access the present moment and relieve our stresses and worries beautifully as they live totally in the moment and are easy to give our full attention to; they don’t judge us and they give love freely without condition.

When spending valuable time engaging with animals we can help our children (and ourselves) become more mindful by getting in touch with our emotions and inner sensations and sharing our experiences;

‘The rhythm of stroking the silky, soft fur makes me feel calm and peaceful inside… there is a warm, open feeling in my heart and I’m smiling.’

If our attention is split we tend not to experience this deeper level of being, the recognition of which is so beneficial to our health in all respects.

 

upside down

inversion

This was my inverted view this morning as I stretched out my tiredness after a broken nights sleep with some triangle postures. Whilst we do, thank goodness, have a lot less of these now the girlies are over 5, rising to the challenge of existing on less than a full tank the next day takes no less effort than in the ‘old days’.

When the girls were small I experienced a LOT of resistance to taking even a few minuets to practice yoga, meditation and mindfulness. It was as if I was slave to the negative thought patterns and beliefs that cycled through me, caught in a loop of ‘there’s no point’, seeing every interruption of ‘Mummmeee…’ and the inevitable clutter of childhood play around the house as thwarting any attempt to re-enter the state of stillness I’d felt the benefit of pre children. There was a definite belief that that state was unattainable in this new chapter of life; a hopelessness had set in.

Thank goodness for the subtle pull of my soul, never giving up it’s gentle whispering ‘come home’. It’s been a steady, tough climb over the last seven or so years to shake off and re-programme that negativity, and it’s taken a LOT of determination and will power to let the innate, positive aspect of myself take over the driver’s seat. It’s been my Everest!

Now I have no resistance to doing what I know will benefit us all; I can get down on the mat with the cars and laugh at the fact they have a great view of my bum whilst I forward bend… and it doesn’t matter if someone shouts ‘Mummeeee…’ because if I need to move away from the mat, it’s not going anywhere and I can return… and it doesn’t matter if I can only practice for 5 minuets because that is enough… and breathe 🙂

Soothing Sensory Sunday

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I’ve always been a sensory kind of gal. I mean, we are all sensory beings obviously, but how many of us pay regular and full attention to what we’re hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and feeling (physically, emotionally, intuitively) in any given moment? And how many of us recognise the gifts of doing just that?

Our Sunday just past was full of everyday sensory pleasures, easy to miss if you’re not in the habit of mindfulness. Given that my eldest was tussling with some pretty ‘strange feelings’ as she put it, which were manifesting as defensive and sometimes aggressive behaviour, being able to encourage her to – see the pleasing reflections of her dress in the spinning cup at the park; listen to the sound of the water filling the bucket and watch the light playing on the bubbles within; feel the weight and motion of the mop swinging in her hands as she positively expended some of the emotional energy; feel and smell the jelly making process – really helped us all navigate the storms and find the calm waters beneath the waves as they passed 🙂

The more attention we pay to what our senses are telling us about our present moment, the more grounded in it we become (able to function more effectively on every level of our being). We can be aware of emotions and therefore let them flow through us, rather than suppress them, only to have them fester and erupt at a later date and/or cause mental and/or physical illness. We can also become less embroiled in the seemingly relentless, fearful and distracting thought cycles that cause our muscles to tense and our hearts to race, again potentially causing illness. Present moment awareness results in a calmer and healthier mind, body and spirit.

Our children are excellent at sensory living if we give them the time and space to engage in it. When we, as adults, are able to enjoy it with them, they see that it is a valuable way of being and will not ‘grow out of it’, hopefully meaning that their adult lives will be smoother sailing!

 

 

 

Make A Wish

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Tonight, at bedtime, my eldest squid and I had a chat about ‘childish’. She is 10 and proudly said ‘I’m childish and I love it!’, I replied ‘Me too, it’s one of the things I love best about myself!’ (My youngest proceeded to jump up and down in enjoyment :D).

I went on to explain that traditionally the term ‘childish’ carries a negative connotation, but that I, and many others (including their headmaster, who has been known to dress up as an actual squid to induce smiles in strangers), know that it is a very excellent thing to keep the child inside us alive all-life-long; that it is one of the traits that can bring us to life, lifting our hearts sky high and making our souls sing with the finest frequencies!

So what does this have to do with the images above?

‘Make a wish’ – a delightful thing we encourage our children (and hopefully our adults) to do every time they blow out a birthday cake candle, but I wonder how seriously we take wish making? For me it is proving itself to be a powerful act of creation in line with the writings of Rhonda Byrne (‘The Secret’) and Esther Hicks (‘The Law Of Attraction’). Ask for what you want with the absolute faith that you will receive (that you are worthy of receiving), allow the time that’s needed (not always as fast as our egos would wish but always perfect!)….and hey presto you have manifested yourself a hawk moth! Well, that’s my most recent example anyway….

One week ago I was looking though a book about insects, trying to identify a tiny, shimmery, golden beauty of a moth that had flown into the house. I didn’t discover it’s name, but did spend some time marvelling at the multitudinous varieties of these magnificent creatures, particularly the hawk moths. With much intention of receiving (careful not to be ‘needful’ or ‘wanting’, pure knowing with gratitude that you will receive is the key) I put out the ‘wish’, ‘Please can I see a hawk moth?’….without mentioning it to anyone. The night before last my husband set up a moth trap at bedtime without telling me (he has done this before, but it is not a regular thing). You can maybe imagine my response to my youngest calling out in the morning ‘Mummy we’ve got a huuuuge moth!’.

Awe, gratitude and pure ‘childish’ delight flooded through every aspect of my being upon beholding the vision above….I am so lucky….I deserve this gift….thank you from the depths of my heart 🙂

Beautiful World

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At times this week both inner and outer chaos have been consuming. Now familiar with the oppressive pressure this energy creates inside me, not to mention the effect it has on my behaviour and thought patterns, I took measures to stop it in its tracks today! I took to the hills again and gave myself up to the ever wide open and welcoming arms of Beech, Yew and Ash, the sights, smells, sounds and feelings of nature who knows me so well.

These wonders, along with many deep breathes, have delightfully and subtly coaxed me back into a brighter present moment, one that tingles with the vitality of life….and I feel so much more present with the version of myself I like the best….the one who’s heart sings with the birds, whose smile reflects the sun and whose soul resonates with the purest colours of the rainbow 🙂

Mindful Meanderings

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Being so very conscious of the need to, quite literally, walk my talk in order to offer authenticity to my work and be my holistically healthy self, I ensure time each week to head out into the great, green wilds here-abouts. I tune out of my chattering mind and give myself over to my senses, letting my inner compass guide my wondering feet.

Whilst I’ve trodden this path many times before, this moment is new….the smells on the air are new, the plants and flowers along the way are new, the weather is new, the creatures I observe are new to me in this moment and each bird song rings with a new melody….and what wonder they all bring!

An open heart is a happy and loving heart in my view, so it is interesting for me to watch how easily my heart closes at the potential prospect of being judged by others (fear) as I sit in stillness in the woods, simply listening and observing the outer and inner worlds. I watch  my ego mind create negative narratives about what the dog walkers and joggers that pass by may be thinking if they clock me….of course, in truth, they are most likely in the depths of their own experience and won’t notice the lady sitting on the fallen tree with a broken umbrella on her knee….and even if they do, what of it, really? Why does my mind assume their thought will be detrimental, if they give it at all? Why wouldn’t they think ‘Good for her, how lovely that she can sit contentedly for a while in this peace and quiet.’?  But my heart reacts to my thoughts non the less and it’s only through my taking command of my thinking and repeating gently to myself that ‘I am safe and supported, I am safe and supported, I am safe and supported.’ that peace seems to descend upon me and my heart opens wide and graciously once again.

And with my wide open heart I sit in absolute and utterly sincere gratitude for my curious, adventuresome soul, for the happy, shiny snail who made me smile, for the sweet, sweet scent of the rose in bloom and the wondrous rain that helps to make it all possible!

 

Curious Creatures

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‘I’m just going out for a moment.

Why?

To make a cup of tea.

Why?

Because I’m thirsty.

Why?

Because it’s hot.

Why?

Because the sun  is shining.

Why?

Because it’s summer.

Why?

Because that’s when it is.

Why don’t you stop saying why?

Why?

Tea-time. That’s why.

Hight-time-you-stopped-saying-why-time.

What?’

(‘Conversation’ – by the fantastic Michael Rosen)

I first read this poem when I was 10 and it’s stayed with me ever since 🙂

I was conscious, even then, of asking my adults a lot of questions and now, as a parent, I’m (mostly 😉 ) delighting in my daughter’s asking a lot of questions!

Curiosity, and nurturing it in children in particular, has been a strong theme for me recently. It’s one of the 5 Keys to Happiness we introduce to school children on their Magical Day Out with http://www.theinsideout.org.uk . Why? Because without it, what are we? What drives our passion for living and developing? What pushes us on when times are tough?

I feel that deep curiosity is a quality that goes beyond our everyday thinking. I feel that curiosity is a fibre of the soul. For me, being deeply curious about who and what we are, where we come from on a cosmic scale, where we can go personally, in a global and even universal sense, is part of my life blood. It’s a passion that goes way beyond my physical experience of life, one that, when I take time to engage with the present moment, arises in that priceless sense of awe and wonder that makes life worth living for me.

Taking a close look at a sun-soaked fritillary flower with a group of year 5’s yesterday was one of many highlights as we helped open their eyes to the wonders of the world that co-exist with us on our incredible journey through this life. ‘How does nature doooo that?’ they mused with reverence. It was as if their personal worlds started to open up along with the springtime blossoms all around us. Watching them I had a sense that they were realising that they were a part of all this; that they were not separate from any of it. What better way to encourage compassion for our world and all that exists than to feel your place in its grander scale, to feel humble in the face of it’s magnificence and to marvel at its creations?