Monday, 17 October 2016

A test for Grandpa?

This could be us!!!
A patient man?
We are in a queue for travel to the Far East.  This is a test for Grandpa mostly because waiting is not his bag!!! Some of you who know him will be conjuring up pictures of him at airports in the past.   I say that this is a test for his years of meditation.  Of course meditation isn't just to get you through Heathrow with a beatific smile on your face.  It is an aid to combatting the tendencies to negative emotions which you seem to come into life with, it helps to clean up the neural pathways and this is where science and spirituality agree.  Grandpa isn't that interested in his neural pathways, he quite likes them I think, he enjoys the challenge of a traffic jam or a cold call on the telephone. He likes the drama of enacting the part of a gangster chase.  He is a really disciplined meditator, 30 minutes twice a day and never a minute short.  His interest in meditation is as a way of understanding that he isn't the drama, not the gangster or the Grandpa, he is just the director consciousness behind it.  My test is letting him  play all the Grandpa games without rising to the bait of his more dramatic confrontations with people doing their best to carry out the rules!!!  Our meditation isn't, I suspect going to change that drama but I hope it will come to our aid today as we hang about Heathrow waiting to be called.  Watch this space though to find out where we are going and who we are going to see!

Sunday, 16 October 2016

taking the medicine as prescribed

It is the easiest thing in the world to take medicine when you need it; when you are feeling poorly and your appetite for everything else has gone.  Then you are so grateful for the way back to health that you swallow antibiotics, anti-emetics, anti-inflammatories, anti this and anti that.  The same thing with meditation, you are very grateful for it but until the habit is firmly established, you can easily fall away from a twice daily practice.  The other thing is that once you have missed one meditation for some very good reason; a visiting aunt or an urgent call or you have been somewhere you just don't seem to be able to make the move to a meditation seat, then it is much harder to get back to it and much harder to do the whole half hour.  This has given me cause for thought especially as I think what other things in my life I seldom miss.  A morning cup of tea or lunch for instance, a riveting programme on the telly or the radio (not the Archers, you can catch up on that!) and the irresistible call of cheerful voices in another room just asking to be joined with.   The pull of meditation is there but you have to develop a taste for it above all other temptations because reasonably one day the other things won't have the same hold over you and you will want to be able to naturally move into the space which meditation provides.  The speakers at St Martin-in-the-Fields on November 23rd are there to show how it is possible to establish and unshakeable practice of meditation.  You can listen directly by coming to St Martin in Trafalgar Square, London or you can tune in via the website by clicking on the sparkly globe.  It will be worth it I can promise you.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Give us this day our daily marmite. A Meditation.

Crumpets without marmite, Julie Fleming-Williams
What do you think is missing from this picture on the left?  It is by my good friend Julie Fleming-Williams who paints a mean steaming picture of our favourite mealtime comforts.  I have a picture on my wall of one of her pictures which has a pot of marmite alongside a boiled egg and toast fingers.  In the picture of crumpets there is no marmite and as of today, marmite has been taken off the shelves of one of the nation's supermarkets.  Don't they realise that marmite isn't a product to be messed about with, it's our British birthright; almost every British child has been weaned from mother's milk to Marmite via a couple of mashed bananas.  Marmite should be given free as part of our heritage.  What I love about watching marmite eating in my house is how many different ways there are of having marmite.  Grandpa puts it on as thick as marmalade and we all groan and say how can you eat marmite like that with which he responds by actually having a spoonful, straight into his mouth just to show what it means to him.  My Grandfather used to have a spoonful of marmite in boiling water with a slug of sherry for elevenses.  My son butters his toast right up to the edges and does the same with marmite.  I just put lots of butter, preferably unsalted onto hot toast so that it melts in and then a thin layer of marmite.  Sometimes I put more butter on the top of that.   
The pot that transcends taste!
Marmite has enticed the sick  back to appetite and health, it has I'm sure got a place at Buckingham Palace on the Royal tea table as well as down below in the staff quarters.  It is meat to a vegetarian, and vegetable to a meat eater.  It is a leveller, a social leveller and a leveller of people with different diets.  It is like meditation, anyone can do it even if they do have their different methods of realising how delicious it is.  And of course there are a few people, (to  be pitied in my view!) who don't like marmite at all. Imagine what the world will do without marmite being readily accessible and canvas for change.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Wherever you are, you can join this meditation and perhaps make a difference
I sometimes wonder how it happened that Just this Day slipped unnoticed into my mind and came to exist and take over the kitchen table for a couple of months before it happens.  But that was what did happen, one moment I was reading about meditation helping people at a much more profound level than anything we could do in the physical realm and the next moment I was walking past St Martin-in-the-Fields when I heard myself say...This is where we should do it.  One thing led to another and meetings with surprising people took place.  I expected at every moment that someone would say it was a mad idea but they didn't!  What they said was oh yes, come in and you can do it and we will help.  So, 9 years on and we have a great programme to bring people from different groupings together to meditate, to hear about meditation as a way of transcending our differences and to maybe make a small or large difference somewhere in the transcendent space.  I like to imagine all that good will going upwards rather like inverting a drop of red colour in clear water but it going upwards and spreading out and maybe just stopping one person from hitting another, help another person move towards a kind way of treating someone they wouldn't normally treat well and maybe maybe maybe open a tyrant's heart even just a crack to allow something better to happen.  I have heard it on good authority that meditating creates an auspicious energy which people in need can tap into and I believe that to be true.
The speakers this year personify good will.  Father Laurence Freeman, Neville Hodgkinson and Lama Gelongma Zangmo.  Each one has given much of their life to help others.  Each one has a core practice of  meditation and each one of them help others to meditate.   And even if it isn't possible for a person to learn to meditate, somehow the meditation and goodwill of these truly disciplined practitioners can change lives.  If you know any one of them, you know what I mean but if not, here is a chance to meet three remarkable people and hear them talk about the transcendental possibilities which meditation offers.  Come and join us wherever you are, go to the www.justthisday website on November 23rd and click on the sparkly globe you see above and you will be with us even if you live in the furthest part of the world

So, every year since the start, on we go and The Just this Day Newsletter was sent out today!!! Yippee for Mad Mimi which is the engine which does the sending and yippee for me that we are only one newsletter away from Just this Day itself.    Click here to read the newsletter.  Then register for the day at St Martin or get in contact and let me know what you are doing via the website and if you want it advertised on the website.  

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Sunday Suffolk, Autumn morning, Church and Breakfast

Sunday has a particular feel to it. And an Autumn Sunday especially so.  We wake up a bit late after a cheery family dinner to a damp morning.  The Church, just over the wall from the cottage is being opened for Communion at 8.00 am.  We get a move on and join 3 other communicants in the choir stalls.  This is the only service in the village today and the kindly vicar who, with his wife, looks after 5 Churches on the Deben peninsula, comes in on the dot of 8.00 am having rung the chancel bell just in case there is anyone else waiting to hear it.  The Church is full of light and the light shows up the curtains of cobwebs up the stained glass windows and in the corners of the high high walls.  This is a Church which had ambition!  or the people who were priests here, who built it, enlarged it and worshipped here must have been ambitious because it can take up to 200 people in the long straight nave. On wet days when we were here with the children (who are now grown up), I used to send them in to the Church with dusters and spray polish.  Its great expansive space absorbed them for hours and accepted the spray polish without a murmur.  This morning, we 6, with the vicar are wrapped in its light, we notice the care that the few take of it, the tapestried kneelers, the embroidered altar cloth and the vestments the priest puts on which are fit for an Archbishop.  We have the old words of communion which have been spoken in this place for centuries and which have a particular effect.  They communicate the continuous message of God within, God without, God who loves and forgives us when we don't notice that we are walking round in a created universe which is testament to its maker.

We come home for breakfast and the day begins. Steaming cups of coffee, toast, bacon and eggs.  Not only churches hold traditions, breakfast patterns hold them too.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

saturday suffolk thinking space

Sitting in the very nice cottage kitchen where so many friends and family have spent time I get a chance after breakfast, when they have all gone out to read a particularly special message from a wonderful 100 year old lady, Dadi Janki who leads the Brahma Kumaris world community.  What is remarkable about this organisation and about this lady is that it is based on cooperation and in fact their main centre in the UK in London is called Global Cooperation House!  I have often written about them because I find them so special and they have been unfailingly kind to me!  They are always cheerful and perhaps when you read the message sent just this week you will see why.  You will get the message too!
thinking space in cottage kitche



Learn to Smile

B.K Dadi Janki, 
Om shanti. Dadi often asks people: Are you happy? Are you contented? We need to learn not to get upset. If you allow yourself to get upset, then you cannot at the same time be happy. How then can you be contented? Sit in silence, and check yourself. Learn not to keep disagreeing and arguing. To do this is your own mistake. Don’t let your old habits influence you. Rather let the power of yoga influence you. We have to learn not to keep looking at situations and thinking about them. Learn to smile. Is there effort involved in smiling, or would you prefer to remain dry? Without smiling, how can we speak with love? Is there anything difficult in this? No, there is love. We are all one and we all belong to One.
On November 23rd at St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, Neville Hodgkinson who has learned much from this lady will be one of the speakers on transcendence.  He may show us how by smiling in the face of adversity, we can transcend the misery which can threaten ours and others wellbeing. It has to be worth it doesn't it, to exchange misery for happiness.  As they say, what's not to like about that!

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Meditation not always easy but worthwhile. Examples help
Ian Mason
When there is a lot going on in your house or in your head, meditation may be the last thing you WANT to do.  You may want to sort out the washing, the huge pile of ironing, you might be making a very important deal or there might be a most exciting thing you want to join in.  It is so difficult to leave a cheery gathering even if no-one is going to notice you slipping off for half an hour.  And then if you  start, your head stuff may want to come to.  If a problem slips in to your mind, it can be magnified a hundred times and played and replayed.  Of course, there are peaceful times when you easily leave things behind and meditation is a delight.  But it isn't there to always give delight, it is a bit like any relationship, you just have to work at it and when the worry or the enticing thought of holidays or wonderful creative possibilities comes in, you have to park them over and over again and make sure you are preferring the space where these things don't belong.  In fact, the effort is really in cooking them up but it seems the other way round, the effort to be still is a non effort, it is just a stopping, stopping, stopping, again and again and again.  Plus, it is only for 30 minutes twice a day, that leaves lots of time for everything else.
Lama Zangmo
Father Laurence Freeman
If I told you that your 30 minutes wasn't just making you better but was possibly creating a feeling for quiet for others to use when they needed it, when they were ill or were anxious or felt sad, wouldn't that be a spur to carry on?  
As a householder meditator with plenty to keep my hands and thoughts busy, I am grateful to people who give their life to creating the sort of space we all need through their meditation.  The speakers in November at ST Martin-in-the-Fields are marvellous in this respect.  Father Laurence Freeman, Neville Hodgkinson, Lama Gelongma Zangmo and Ian Mason have committed their lives and their time to make the way of meditation available to as many people as want it and even if you don't feel you do, or you don't feel you can, their meditation along with so many others who do the same thing, creates a good place for those in need.  Come to St Martin in the Fields or tune in via the live stream on November 23rd and find out how helpful this practice is and how it can transcend the pressing nature of worldly involvement

Neville Hodgkinson