As you will know by now, I approach most things with an open mind, tempered with a liberal peppering of cynicism.
While, any religious dabblings ended in my teens, although I was confirmed, I think it had much more to do with living next door to the vicarage, than any strong sense of belief in any higher power. Then bereavement put paid to any semblance of faith that might have remained. Where for some, loss drives a deeper belief, and in a way I’m envious of that, my rationale became and still is, that if there is a god, he/she/it, is downright cruel.
All of this said, I am, I guess, a reasonably spiritual person. Not necessarily, in a crystals and auras kind of way, and certainly not in any religious way, but I do feel very connected to the natural world, especially here in France. The changing seasons, flora and fauna, the huge full moons, the sunsets, the chirping crickets. I pay attention, I look, I listen, I marvel, I take it in.
Even with all of these natural wonders keeping me enthralled, I still sometimes get the overthinking, brain churning tick of disquiet, like a fingernail picking at a scab. The ghosts of bad relationships past, that still like to tell me “I can’t” or “I’m not good enough”, that even now years later, still stop me being able to accept a compliment without suspicion. I’m of an age now where I know what sorts of things trigger these negative thoughts, and often, I will recognise them for the smoke and mirrors nonsense that they are. For each negative voice, lurking in that brain of mine, there is usually another telling me not to be so daft, and that voice is for the most part, a bit gobby.
I had always quite fancied trying meditation, as a means of blocking out some of the white noise, and to help me relax my anxious brain, when it’s having one of those days, but I didn’t really know where to start, or indeed, if it was really for me.
De Tout Coeur Limousin, run a range of retreats on the shores of beautiful Lake Vassiviere about an hour from us, but were holding a Meditation and Relaxation Workshop, in our local town Bourganeuf, in the peaceful setting of Jardin de la Maison Rose. Myself and Le Mama decided to book, if nothing else to try and use what we learned on our slightly stressy menfolk!
We met our lovely hosts Ema and Peter, and there were 6 of us booked on to the session this morning. We were seated in a circle, with cosy fleecy blankets because it was a little overcast , not that you’d know if you can see the colour of my forehead now! I made a conscious effort to park any cynicism, call it fear of the unknown if you will. I can’t help it, it’s just what I do. There is a part of me that has an inherent need to be convinced before I can give in to something entirely. I was a little concerned after the introductions, that as someone that had never meditated before, with others that were much more experienced, that I somehow wouldn’t do it right, or that it wouldn’t work for me. Voices again.
Under the guidance of Peter, we started our first session, really focusing on our breathing, being present, acknowledging what was going on around us, without feeling the need to have a little internal monologue about it. About how to gently admonish ourselves if our brain tried to pull us away onto other things, and guide ourself back to the present again. It is ascension day in France, a bank holiday, and there was the intermittent ringing of the church bells, the birds were singing, all rather lovely. I found myself quite deeply focused at times, so focused that when a chainsaw started in a neighbouring garden it was really quite jarring, but I did manage to re-centre myself again. When we ended that session, any cynicism I had was totally gone. I was truly amazed that I had gotten so much out of my first attempt. It really made me wonder what was possible with some regular practice.
We did some more sessions, I enjoyed the session where we connected with, and thanked our bodies from the soles of our feet, right to the tops of our head, where we let in a flowing stream of light.
The couple of hours just flew past! We had a delicious lunch courtesy of Jackie of Jardin de la Maison Rose, and had a great chat with a really lovely bunch of like-minded people. An excellent way to spend a morning, and I feel like it was time invested back into me, for me, and by me. It’s a good feeling.
I have been in the very best mood all day, I feel great, and I’ve had a ridiculous amount of energy. I can only attribute that to this morning, and if that’s a side-effect, then well, you can sign me up!
So, you can teach an old dog and all that, even one prone to a touch of cynicism.
My advice would be try it, you might like it!