Starbathing

A glimpse, from the window, of stars.

The great bear, or saucepan,

Tracing a line to the north.

After that, I had to go out.

Grabbed my coat,

Turned my face upwards,

Greeted familiar landmarks in the sky.

It’s so easy in winter 

To come home from work in the dark,

Spend the evening indoors,

Miss the simple wonder outside

Of a ceiling of stars.

The owls were quiet tonight

As I stood

Starbathing.

Tension and relaxation

Tension is who you think you should be,

Relaxation is who you are.

So they say, and I would agree

And I have practiced being relaxed, and gone deep in that practice.

And yet….

And yet….

Despite knowing, in my body, in my mind

How good relaxation feels,

In my daily life tension still wins.

At work, behind a computer,

Trying to get things done, getting irritated by the little things,

Or worrying, or wondering why it’s just not all done better, or quicker.

My muscles tighten as my mind tightens.

This is the real me in so many moments of my life,

The me with tension.

And to relax requires an effort of will, a decision, a choice.

It’s a choice I fail to make, over and over again.

I’ve just come back from tai chi class

And I feel great

The feeling will carry over into tomorrow

Then it will gradually dissolve back into tension and forgetfulness

Using too much effort, and trying too hard.

One of these days I’ll make a different choice. 

Until then, tension is who I am, relaxation is who I am not allowing myself to be.

Sometimes I wonder, as I practice tai chi, 

Just why I keep going,

What I’m achieving

It is me, coming back to the choice between tension and relaxation.

Learning to choose relaxation in each moment,

So that one day I will truly be able to say

That relaxation is who I am.

Dreaming of flying

Running along the ground

Then uphill, through the air, 

As if climbing an invisible flight of steps,

And then I am flying.

Soaring above buildings, trees,

Free.

Feeling the sensation in my whole body.

I wake, exhilarated.

I’ve had this dream only a handful of times in my life,

Always vivid,

Always when I’m on the brink of an adventure.

I think it’s time

To have it again.

Waiting for inspiration

I have been wondering where my next painting will come from,

When I’ll feel like picking up my brushes again.

I don’t force it,

Inspiration can come in waves, or drops,

It trickled through this weekend,

First, a glimpse of a dusty canvas,

A feeling that I’d like to play with paint on it,

But not knowing what the subject would be.

Then, brightening up breakfast, goldfinches on the bird feeder.

Later, out birding,  I glimpsed a tawny owl, roosting in a tree.

I watched a kingfisher, blue and orange among ochre reeds,

It caught three silvery fish while I watched.

And then, through my binoculars, a close up of branches and yellow lichen,

Mossy greens, rich browns and an idea takes shape,

The perfect background on which to paint

Goldfinches.

A message to my younger self

Driving to work

Past fields and hedges and trees without leaves,

The distant fells of the Lake District,

A milky opalescent dawn sky,

And I feel so happy

And I think, if I could send a message

To my younger self

I would say

‘Relax

I know things don’t feel easy.

But it will all work out in the end.

Take it one step at a time, don’t worry so much.

Life still has its ups and downs,

But the view from here is worth it.’

A walk on Blawith Common

Weather and circumstance have conspired recently to keep my walks short

but today I was out for hours.

And now I am weary, that lovely tiredness of the body;

heavy limbs and aching muscles

thankful for a day outside

in the sun and frost.

Mind relaxed, soul nourished

by the long views of the fells and the sea,

clear blue skies and the orange glow of bracken.

Lungs full of fresh air,

I’ll sleep well tonight.

Air like water

Doing tai chi while imagining the air is like water, as if you are doing tai chi under water, is a way of deepening relaxation.  

Imagining, as I move, that the air feels like water.

My arms float, 

My body is supported.

If I concentrate, I can feel the air like water against my back.

My legs; heavy.

Movement becomes more deliberate,

The sense of the air like water surrounding me

Filling in behind me as I move forward.

I become aware of all of the surfaces of my arm as it moves into posture,

The movement of my arm through space.

I try to expand my awareness to my whole body,

To feel the air like water touching every part of me,

Don’t quite get there,

Still sensing my body as individual parts; hand, arm, leg, back.

This is my practice today;

Air like water.