Twilight practice

I used to worry.

What will the neighbours think

if I do tai chi in the garden?

This summer I tried it.

What a gift,

being present outdoors

at the end of the day.

Robins, blackbirds,

the wind in the trees,

flowers, bats, hedgehogs, owls,

the moon, clouds, rain,

the setting sun,

a scattering of stars,

mars, even saturn

have been part of my practice this summer.

Who cares what the neighbours think!

The geography of anxiety

We think we know the ‘why’ of anxiety,

Spiralling up from all those things we fear;

pressure; external and internal,

death, deadlines, illness, perfectionism,

unemployment, failure.

So many ‘whys’

But what about the ‘where’?

Where is it?

The geography of anxiety is within the body.

Our bodies become shaped for anxious feeling,

the hunch of a shoulder,

the jutting forward of a chin,

the clenching of a jaw,

the tightness of a belly,

the holding of a ribcage,

like contours on a map.

Anxiety roams this bodyscape,

energy in a landscape of tension.

It lives below awareness,

coming to the surface occasionally

like a fish, silently swimming, unobserved,

leaping suddenly to catch a mayfly.

We hold our bodies in preparation for an unwelcome guest,

trapping it’s energy within.

Not allowing the natural progression of emotion and energy

to ebb and flow and dissipate.

We hold ourselves tight within our armoured castles

in the mistaken belief that we are protecting ourselves,

until the anxiety spills out without a reason

in quiet moments and times that should be happy,

and we feel out of control,

scared of being scared.

Next time the storm arrives, let’s watch it, feel it

let it be the map.

Let it guide us to our tensions,

sherpa-like.

Focus on those sensations and they will pass.

Not easy, when caught in a whirlwind of worries,

and dread.

But worth it.

And eventually, over a lifetime maybe,

relax so the inner landscapes are so calm,

that anxiety can flow straight through

like a river of energy,

leaving us unperturbed.

Peace is always waiting

A rushing kind of a day

Deep within the demands of work

Deadlines loom

So I concentrate

Focus

Get things done

And forget myself

Now it’s evening and

I peel myself away from the TV

Put on some music

Slow down into

Familiar movements

An hour later

I re-emerge

Relaxed

Refreshed

Calm

Reawoken to the truth

That if I slow down

Underneath the rush

Below the fear, the fuss, the resistance

Peace is always waiting

Monkey Mind

‘I think’

said the monkey mind

‘that I think too much’.

And he scampers off busily

up thought trees tangled

with stories.

Narratives twisting towards the light

thrusting up strange blooms,

every shade of the emotional rainbow.

Curious to know more,

the monkey scampers on.

Always restless,

the voice chattering away

in the jungle of my mind.

Does that monkey ever sleep!