Ten little seconds…

Meditation can be done for many different reasons. Some use it to find inner peace, others to help find a focus in their lives and their work, others to increase compassion in their lives and for others. But for the most part, I think an aspect of meditation that is often over-looked is the simple aspect of it being nice to just stop every once in a while, sit down and enjoy the moment.

I use meditation for all the reasons given above, and more. But it’s in the simple pleasure of stopping where perhaps it is of most use. Taking the time to light some candles and incense, get some cushions out and just simply “be” is a great gift that I can give to myself at the end of a busy day or week. As I sit in front of my altar, I allow all the thoughts that are running through my head to make themselves known to me, rather than just being background stress and noise. Eventually, the thoughts slow down, quieten and then comes that exquisite moment when all is still. No more mental gymnastics. No more body twitches, itches or squirming trying to find a comfortable, relaxed position. Everything settles, even if  this feeling lasts for just ten seconds, and it is good. Better than good. The heart opens, the mind and body are one. There is nothing but myself and the world, here and now, sitting, breathing, peaceful.

Having even ten seconds to still the mind, to allow it to take a break from all the thoughts has an enormous effect on you for days afterwards. Taking the time to allow you to set aside the cares and worries, the reminiscing and the to-do lists, the work and the family issues has a profound effect not only on your mind but also on your body. Have you ever just sat on the couch after a busy day, flopped onto the sofa and just stopped for a minute or two? Meditation is the same thing, for your mind and your body, allowing it a moment of rest.

In that deep silence, when that moment is achieved, we can have some profound realisations as well. When we stop the mental chatter, we allow ourselves to refocus on what really matters in our lives. Just a few seconds of that blissful silent state can alter our perception and allow us to put things into perspective. What really matters? Not what the guy said to you in that social media group. Not the office gossip or your infuriating work colleague. We find that spending a little time in the quiet of our homes or meditation space, whether inside or outside, allows us to see that it’s in the joy of being alive right now, and the people that we actually physically share our lives with that really matter. Our family and friends. Our home. Our gardens. Our religion or spirituality. The Earth. Our perspective can get so skewed by what is happening in the world around us. Allowing us to stop and refocus changes everything.

It’s amazing what ten little seconds can achieve.

Cover 1To find out more about meditation, stillness and finding peace, try my little e-book, The Stillness Within: Finding Inner Peace in a Conflicted World.

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The Music of Autumn

Got my camera and harp out today, and had to snap some shots before all the leaves had fallen…

“Harp and carp, Thomas,” she said,
“Harp and carp, along wi’ me,
And if ye dare to kiss my lips,
Sure of your bodie I will be!”

“Betide me weal, betide me woe,
That weird sall never daunton me;
Syne he has kissed her rosy lips,
All underneath the Eildon Tree.

“Now, ye maun go wi me,” she said,
“True Thomas, ye maun go wi me,
And ye maun serve me seven years,
Thro weal or woe as may chance to be.”

extract from “Thomas the Rhymer” by Sir Walter Scott

October Skies

I adore this time of year. The light in the sky is amazing, the colours of autumn in their full glory, the smell of woodsmoke on the wind. Everything is turning, everything is changing, every day is so very different to the one before.

We just had our first weekend of getting together with the Year 1 apprentices from Druid College UK (all eighteen of them!) and once again we are truly blessed with a wonderful group. I am very much looking forward to working with them, as we move through the realm of the Land during the autumn and winter months.

Work is still in full swing for my eighth book, with Llewellyn Worldwide (working title “Hedge Druid – Beyond the Hedgerow”. I’ve gone and worked so hard that I’ve given myself RSI these last couple of weeks, so that’s why it’s been a bit quiet on here. I’m slowly getting back to the computer and keyboard, but must be more careful.

In the meantime, I’ve gotten out my camera, and today got the photos on the hard drive. THIS is why I love October…

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© Joanna van der Hoeven 2017

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Tasty Morsel © Joanna van der Hoeven 2017

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October Skies © Joanna van der Hoeven 2017

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© Joanna van der Hoeven 2017

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Sahara Dust & Sun © Joanna van der Hoeven 2017

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© Joanna van der Hoeven 2017

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© Joanna van der Hoeven 2017

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© Joanna van der Hoeven 2017

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© Joanna van der Hoeven 2017

Escaping…

Right now, I’m in “book jail”, as Jhenah Telyndru so wonderfully describes it: when you are working so hard on a project, and it’s pretty much all that you can think about. I’m currently working on my 7th book, and this one’s a big one for Llewellyn Worldwide.  However, today I thought I would get out and check on the progress of autumn in my area, because before you know it, it will pass you by! Sometimes it’s just nice to do something different creatively, so…

Here are some of the moments, captured on camera.

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A quiet moment in the beech wood…

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A crow going to join his mates…

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This year’s youngling!

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A proud mama…

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The last of the heather…

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A majestic hawk…

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A moment with the Old Oak

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The incredible autumn skies…

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Going for a canter…

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Harvesting the carrots

Samhain: Ancient and Modern

Here’s a taster of a blog that I put up yesterday for SageWoman’s channel at PaganSquare. To read the full post, click HERE.

samhain 1Calan Gaeaf (Welsh) or Samhain (Irish) begins at sunset of 31st October and runs to to sunset 1st November according to most Western Pagan traditions. If working by the moon, it is the first full moon when the sun is in Scorpio. If working by the natural landscape, it is when the first frosts bite. Samhain was termed the Celtic New Year, as it marked the ending of one cycle and the beginning of another. The Celts reckoned their days from sunset to sunset, and so the start of the year would begin in the dark time at the beginning of winter. Samhain marked the first day of Winter.

Calan Gaeaf, however, is a time that is not a time, and therefore some Pagans honour this tide and season from 31st October right through to the Winter Solstice. It is a time after many things have died, and there is a stillness to the air, an Otherworldly feel in the silence. It’s a dark time here in the UK, with long nights on our northerly latitude, and usually a very wet time as well. It’s not hard to see how these months could be seen outside of time, outside of the cycles of life, death and rebirth.

Calan Gaeaf, Samhain, Hallowe’en, All Soul’s Night – for many pagans this is the ending of one year and the beginning of another. It is often seen as the third and final harvest – with the last of the apples harvested, the cattle were prepared for winter and the grain stored properly. It is also a time when it is said that the veil between the worlds is thin, and the realms of the living and the dead are laid bare to each other. We are approaching the darkest time of the year, and the killing frosts and snows await just around the corner. It is a time of letting go, of releasing into the dark half of the year, and getting rid of the dross in our lives so that we do not have to carry them with us through the long winter nights. We consciously make the effort to live better, meaningful lives and let go of all that holds us back – our fears and worries, our anger and hatred. We nurture the beneficial and the good that we have in our lives, ensuring that they are well kept for our plans to come at the winter solstice. So the cycle continues.  READ MORE…