Sunday, 28 September 2008

Morning Meditation

It is early on a cool, end of September, morning. There is quite a thick fog, but I know the day will brighten to a warm clear day. I travel to a place I discovered last year, I think, and to which I have always wanted to return to do a meditation. Finding places for such an activity is not always easy around here unless I venture off the public paths a short way. I look for places where you won't be disturbed by traffic, walkers or whatever. Being found by a game keeper is a likely possibility, but I am always surprised at how quiet the countryside can be. Very rarely have I come across any farmers or game keepers on even my normal walks and, more often than not, they are whizzing around on quad bikes or similar. But wherever I am I still respect the land I am on. I just know my landscape intimately so I always know where I am and who or what I am likely to find or meet. Sometimes you just have to take a small risk.

In writing notes after a meditation, they become an aid to recollection of some thoughts but, as I often do a moving, speaking meditation, the content and focus of what I write will be different in places. When I am meditating, I don't want to have and stop and jot things down every few minutes. Today I just retraced my steps, noted things in my sketch book and then wrote this up at home later. It may not be written exactly how I performed it, but I've written it in a more practical and logical order, and in a sort of note taking style.

Anyway, here it is:

I first face the sun and prepare myself. I did a simple exercise in thinking about the directions and the symbolism they evoke:
To the East:
The sunrise. Awakening to a new day. Renewal. Watching and waiting for the new. Birth. Welcoming. Moving to the unknown. Beginning of the day, journey or meditation. Preparation.

To the South:
Growth, activity, doing. The sun is at its highest. The journey. Being in the present.

To the West:
Sunset. End of the day or journey. Completion and finish.

To the North:
Rest, sleep, darkness. Winter and cold. Waiting. The unknown, yet expectation.

Then I did a little four-stage action based prayer that I do in many situations:

I welcome the place and acknowledge my presence there. I prepare, quieten and become still. Focus on my being there.

I ask that I might me shown things. That I might offer the right prayers. I ask for inspiration and guidance from the place I am in.

I ask to be open to what I may receive, and know answers to my prayers.

Go forth
I give give thanks for being there and ask for a blessing as I go.

Now I become more deeply aware of the place I am in and tune into my surroundings, first by walking around and then by standing still:

The place I am in is a patch of trees and undergrowth at the corner of some fields. There is a circular patch of grass surrounded by various trees. Mostly tall ashes, but also oak, elder, hawthorn, blackthorn and elder. It is cool. The mist lingers and the sun's hazey light is barely strong enough to cast any shadows. The grass has been worn to the earth in several places by the presence of deer and scuffed grass and moss and deer droppings also indicate their presence. The surrounding fields have now been harvested, ploughed and await final cultivation and seen sowing.

I slowly walk around the circle, keeping my steps silent on the damp grass. Around me, the trees and grasses are covered in water droplets and cobwebs are so highlighted everywhere I look. Such delicate beauty in many amazing forms. How do the spiders develop a sense of space in their surroundings to enable them to construct their webs? The task seems almost impossible to my mind.

Contrasts: The strong and the weak - the tall tree trunks and the delicate beauty of the cobweb; Light and Dark; Life and Death - insects/midges, a rising toadstool, decaying piles of wood.

People: we are surrounded by and, interact with, so many people. In this place I am surrounded by plants and trees. All unique and different. Similarities. Some of my friends are facing a period of deep change and uncertainty - an autumn, from which new things must grown and evolve. Sometimes we meet people we don't get on with. We have to learn to co-operate, to live together, to understand, to know how to relate to and understand them. Others bring great inspiration.

I pick up some freshly turned soil at the edge of the field and enjoy its fragrance. A single nightshade flower of purple and yellow brings a focus of almost incongruous colour to the place. Red hawthorn berries, bold in the sunlight. I touch an ash tree. Its bark almost softa nd warm. Beautiful patterns are created as the bark splits in growth. Lichens on a elder branch - such a bright green, seems almost out of place. Was that a squeek of a mouse in the grass? I see where possibly rabbits have been scratching in the soil, though on my way here I found some deep digging that may have been the work of badgers.

I find a place to stand in silence, in stillness, to just 'be'. In front of me are tall golden grasses, water droplets glistening on their seed-heads as the sunlight brightens. Around me is the constant sound of water dripping off the mist soaked trees. Birds: jays, an unseen woodpecker tapping, wrens, possible assorted tits and chaffinches; a couple of pheasants scratching for food in the field.

A stoat appears beneath a patch of blackthorn about 12 feet away. It hasn't noticed me, and it scurries around for a while before wandering off.

With the sun in front of me I realise I can actually see the droplets of mist moving horizantally across my field of view. Almost imperceptible.

I finish by giving a thank you to the place and giving a small bow. I am grateful for the timelessness of being there, for experiencing new things even if it is just a new time to just be still. The smallest detail in nature can be inspirational, you don't have to look for the big event, the best view or the most beautiful flower. I know that I have to be thankful for being there, for being able to freely pray and to be comfortable in what I do.

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