A Measure of Light

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Over the past weeks, for a number of reasons that are too tedious to get into, I have been grounded. And by grounded, I don’t mean in the ideal state of being grounded and stable. No, I mean that I have not been travelling very much and have been ‘stuck’ close to home.

At first this caused me much distress. The travel that has accompanied my life has balanced out the ‘working from home’ element of my job. However, slowly and in their own time, there have been some juicy nuggets of revelation that have burst through the clouds of ‘stuck’.

This past weekend, I found myself without kids AND without work. So, I decided to take advantage and do a bit of local sightseeing with my friend and our first port of call was a small Quaker village located about 15 minutes away. I had always heard that Ballitore was a Quaker village but I had no idea what that meant. I knew that the Quakers met in ‘meetings’, where they sat in silence and waited for inspiration and for God to speak through them. However, once in the museum in Ballitore I learned a bit more. I learned that the Quakers believe in equality, admonishing hierarchy. And I learned that their founder, George Fox, spoke about how no matter who you are, everyone has a measure of light within. And it is through this measure of light that inspiration is born.

I love this idea of a measure of light. It reminds me of the Buddhist theory of Buddha nature or the belief that all of us have a fundamental nature that is capable of enlightenment. Or as my colleague Choden has explained it to me when I was studying the MSc Studies in Mindfulness: “Buddha nature, is the fact that each one of us is intrinsically whole and well and free, and nothing that happens in life can damage or destroy this”.

For me, the idea that there is light inside of me or a life force that spurs my inspiration, that is ‘intrinsically whole and well and free’ had gotten lost along the way. Oh sure, I knew the theory and loved the sentiment; however, I had misplaced the felt sense of being whole and well and free. I had been searching for inspiration-  well actually, I had been searching for time to find inspiration.

And now it has come. It has come in this quiet of ‘stuck’. It has come with the stillness of slowing down, with sitting with my breath, with the space to allow things to just be.

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My curiosity has taken centre stage and I find myself exploring my town, the land around me, the neighbouring villages and the people who inhabit them with beginner’s eyes and a deep appreciation for all that is around me. John Darwin, who is teaching our Mindful Ageing weekend, speaks about the importance of cultivating this sense of awe, this child-like wonder, as part of the healthy ageing process and as a path to well-being.

So, with this space and time of my being ‘stuck’, I’ve re-found my inspiration and I’ve reconnected with a sense of being ‘whole and well and free’. Moreover, I’ve been exploring. I’ve been listening and I’ve been observing. To my body, to my neighbours, to the land, to the wonder of it all. I’ve tapped into my measure of light and I wouldn’t have been able to notice all of this without my mindfulness practice!

After our visit to the Quaker village, my friend and I took a long ramble through the mountains that make up the landscape in which I live. On that ramble, we ate beside rivers, we shared space with deer, we felt the sun on our faces: we savoured. And it was in this savouring that we felt even more inspiration to make plans for further exploration, we shared ideas for our work, for our homes, for a life well-lived.

This got me thinking- wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could all take a slice of time to put on our beginner’s eyes and walk our streets, our fields and to listen and observe and to cultivate some awe? To see if we can notice the workings of inspiration and how this inspiration might lead to a further and more enriched engagement with our life and maybe even a healthy ageing process.

This week’s challenge is to take what John Darwin calls a gratitude walk. Seeing if we can take a walk with the intention to use our mindfulness practice to notice all of the beauty and wonder around us and maybe even savour some of that light and inspiration that we might find and see where it can take us.

This being stuck ain’t so bad after all 😉

-Jane

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