30 days of wild: day 19-meditate in the wild

Today was another scorching hot day, so took the chance to eat dinner outside at work in the shade of the trees. It was a pleasant temperature with the breeze rustling through the leaves. It’s good to have a break in the day, a moment of calm when dealing with 80 children through the morning.

I then completed the wild act meditate outside. This years 30 days has linked the benefits of nature loving to mental health. Taking a chance to go out and have a breather did me wonders before going to sit in a stuffy meeting.

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The meeting was just over the road from school. On the way I admired the wild planting outside one of the health centres. It’s good to see a decent 30 metre stretch put over to these in the middle of a built up city area. Between this and the trees in our school ground we do quite well for wildlife.

 

Quiet as the grave

Yesterday went for a little walk to the shops with Alice. We walked past Southgate Cemetery, which I haven’t investigated yet. Graveyards are usually excellent spots for wildlife, normally filled with birds and often squirrels and other small mammals. There is often an excellent variety of fungal activity with fairy rings being common. However yesterday it was obviously too cold for anything to want to move. Apart from the obligatory graveyard crow there was no sign of life, which believe it or not is actually unusual in a graveyard. Lots of bird song, but few visible.

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There was however signs that wildlife is being provided for with a number of batboxes and bird boxes around the site.

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Walking the graveyard reminded me of the Buddhist practise of reflecting on death, so it seemed like a good time to consider the five remembrances as detailed by Thich Nhat Hanh.

I am of the nature to grow old.
There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill health.
There is no way to escape ill health.

I am of the nature to die.
There is no way to escape death.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love
are the nature to change.

There is no way to escape
being separated from them.

My actions are my only true belongings.
I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.

My actions are the ground upon which I stand.

What may seem like gloomy statements on first read actually bring much solace as understanding comes through reflection. Without an acceptance of our impermanence progress towards happiness would be hard.

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Returning home Alice is really making progress with trying to stand. She is a very determined young lady. Doesn’t want help. She may well be off and walking before 9 months at the rate she’s going. She’s crawling, but doesn’t seems to consider it undignified, so is pushing for walking instead.

In the evening I released the first of the tiger moths we had been studying in school. We’ve seen them through from caterpillar to moth. I’m not convinced that their getting the sustenance they need from the suggested sugar water. They may not last long out in the wild this time of year, but they can at least have a taste of freedom.

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Buddhist advice for turbulent times

Yesterday I finished reading Pema Chodron’s book when things fall apart. This has been sitting in my kindle library for a while as a cheap purchase a while back.

Her writing had been recommended a number of times but I’d never given it a go. As life has been pretty good I hadn’t seen much need to read it, but came across it in my library having just finished one book. As a quick read I thought I’d give it a go and I’m glad I did.

Much of the focus of the book was on dealing with fears and difficult times through the Buddhist concept of loving kindness. First through love for yourself then widening to love everyone.

There was one passage that stood out as relevant to our current turbulent times. With uncertainty in America under Trump, Teresa May threatening to abolish the human rights act and more threats to the environment than anyone can track this stood out:

Times are difficult globally; awakening is no longer a luxury or an ideal. It’s becoming critical. We don’t need to add more depression, more discouragement, or more anger to what’s already here. It’s becoming essential that we learn how to relate sanely with difficult times. The earth seems to be beseeching us to connect with joy and discover our innermost essence. This is the best way that we can benefit others.

 

Pema Chodron-when things fall apart (1997)

Though written a decade back this advice has only become more poignant. The book was a good read going beyond the premise of the book with how to enlarge your own loving kindness and many interesting meditation techniques. It will be a book I’ll return too.

There has been some excellent advice on dealing with events of the last year from a Buddhist perspective but I hadn’t quite worked out my own way of moving on.

Jack Cornfield article

Buddhist responses to Trump

For me sitting back isn’t an option. I will continue trying to be a positive force within this world, pushing back against negativity and trying to do what I can to make a difference. Through loving kindness to myself and others around me, through my efforts to help the environment, through my work as a teacher.

I will finish with a favourite quote:

Be the change you wish to see in the world

Mahatma Gandhi.