from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Friday, 19 August 2011


First whisper of autumn, just a breath, faintly discernible, carried on air. The Man says it's always like this in Devon late August; and it surprises me every time. I don't expect the first whiff of autumn till around my birthday on the equinox in September.

Having seen hardly any swallows this year (except one lone one, singing every morning on my neighbour's chimney aerial), I'm delighted to have spotted about 15 young with 3 or 4 parents on the wires nearby today (delighted that they exist; not so delighted that lining up on wires presages departure). So someone somewhere close must have enough open barn space still, thank goodness, for them to nest; that'll be the Pateys, one of the few local farming families left in the area. And since last night I heard a barn owl very close, there must be an owl-shaped space somewhere nearby to nest. This makes me absurdly happy. And so – this might sound odd – does the fact that the wasps have nearly completed their new and beautiful home, after something (my friend Michael says a badger) destroyed their last one (though if that's the case, rather counter-intuitively they've built immediately adjacent to a badger track). (Why would a badger destroy a wasps' nest? They don't make honey – do they?) And the other bit of good nature-news is a flock of about a dozen young greenfinches.

Going to France was quite cathartic for me. It's been a hard hard few years, and I'm exhausted. Nothing's changed in my life; but my attitude to it has changed. I'm not fighting it so much, or struggling all the time. That makes all the difference! I mentioned before in another blog Jon Kabat-Zinn's great quote: 'You can't stop the waves but you can learn to surf'. I've known that quote since I was 17 – quite a long time. It's one thing to know it, quite another to practise it. Oh yes I know I've also been practising meditation a similarly long time. You expect to get sorted, be sussed – but actually it's always 'beginner's mind' – same lessons over and over till finally you recognise them coming, see the way the mind plays tricks, notice its default grooves. It's simply about showing up and doing the work, really. Yes, over and over. And not being attached to what happens (or doesn't).

Breathing. It's still a struggle to keep my attention entirely on my breath for 10 counts up and 10 counts down, which is a good starting point for meditation. Sounds easy? Try it!

We've got to deal with the internal chatter that passes for thought; engage with monkey-mind and say 'not now, ok?' sometimes if we want to get into the deep places of the still small voices... the ones we really need to hear, beyond negativity, fear, grudges.


  1. Great blog. Here is a link to badgers and wasps.
    Surfing the waves is so true. Chase less. And you are so right about 10 breaths.

  2. Thank you M - for the link (will check) and for the compliment. You tried the 10 breaths, hey? Glad re the hedgehog. Enjoy your time with Jo and Vanessa. Rx

  3. Meditation has always made me restless, and even cross. I just want to DO. Then I discovered breastfeeding. Ah, an infusion of hormones designed to help you sit still, unstimulated, for hours. Recommended to any would-be mediators who get the chance. Makes it so much easier it feels like cheating :o).
    And I thought you might like to know that when I was at uni, paper wasps made their huge nest from all the scraps of coloured paper the students made posters from. The result was one of the most exquisite works of art I've ever seen.
    Plenty swallows in our bit of Devon, so they still have some strongholds, and owls too. We are many times blessed.

  4. Lovely to hear this, Lunar - great comment! Delighted re wasps and your swallows. Like the bit about breastfeeding - but sadly it excludes 50% of the population as a meditation method... ;-)

  5. Yup....can't do the 10 breaths, and now excluded from this breastfeeding malarkey ......swallows still in Leicestershire as well. X

  6. :-) Keep practising... the breathing, not the breastfeeding... x


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