“On the fifth day, which was a Sunday, it rained very hard. I like it when it rains hard. It sounds like white noise everywhere, which is like silence but not empty.” 
~ Mark HaddonThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

It’s windy and raining here at retreat. During the night we had wild weather and this morning the air is charged and vibrant. There is a tang of salt on the breeze, and below us at the shore we can see the waves whipped up into a white-capped frenzy.

Every leaf is dripping water. There is a carpet of fresh leaves and bark on the ground. There’s still a hard coastal breeze this morning and an occasional gust of rain.

It’s the perfect kind of weather for meditating, journalling, doing inner work. It’s perfect for sitting in small circles with friends, drinking mugs of tea all cosy while the trees dance and bend in the breeze outside.

These kinds of days support us to feel into the spaces deep within us. And as nature goes from a backdrop to a force demanding attention we are reminded viscerally of the world we walk.

We made a large crystal grid here in the hall yesterday. You’re represented in it, and you’re in my thoughts, meditations and prayers.

I hope you find some time for a little reconnection to your inner landscape and to the world outside your door today.

Sending so much love your way, Nicole  xx

How to do Tonglen Meditation – a Beginner’s Guide

Heart Chakra image from Juicy*S

Heart Chakra image from Juicy*S

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” 
~ Charles Dickens

At times it is easy to feel small and insignificant – unable to help when all we feel in our hearts is an urge to try. When those we know are suffering, or when there is a catastrophe in another part of the world we might wonder what can be done.

There is something we can do. Meditate!

I first started practicing this meditation as a small girl – maybe three or four years of age.  No one taught me.  I just seemed to know what to do.  My baby sister was fidgeting and restless one night, tossing and turning in the bed beside mine as her teeth came through. I breathed in her fever and distress with every in-breath, and with every out-breath I imagined my breath covering her like a soft blanket, helping her to settle and be calm again.

My ‘magical breathing’ (as I thought of it) worked, and I’ve been doing it ever since, as part of my daily meditation practice.

Child meditating - image from www.vk.com

Child meditating – image from www.vk.com

It was not until I reached my thirties that I found out Tibetan Buddhists have a name for this type of meditation – they call it Tonglen. Tonglen is Tibetan for ‘giving and receiving’ and it is a beautiful and simple practice than anyone can do, with no experience.  What matters is your intent.

Sit or lie quietly, and close your eyes. I like to sit with my spine straight, and my hands together in my lap, thumb tips pressed lightly together. (Use the image of the Dalai Lama at the bottom of this page as a guide.)  If I’m lying in bed, I lie on my back with my hands crossed together over my heart. Try to sit if you can, but for those of you unwell or unable to do so, a prone meditation practice will still work.

Start by imagining someone that you want to help. It might be a friend with depression.  You breathe in the heaviness of their energy and suffering and breathe out joy and peace, or whatever other energy you feel would bring them comfort.

All you ever have to do is ‘breathe in’ the condition, emotion or suffering of another, making room for healing and comfort within them.  Then ‘breathe out’ positive energy, love and light to fill the space you have created.

The suffering of others is also our own suffering, so this meditation can help us as we endeavour to help others.  If you are in pain, breathe in your own pain and also the pain of everyone who is suffering from your affliction.  Breathe out relief to everyone, in whatever form feels most right to you.

Do not worry that the things you breathe in will become a part of you, further weighing you down. As you breathe in suffering it is transmuted back into light, and it dissipates harmlessly.

Sometimes you may not even have a word for what you are breathing it – it will simply be a feeling, a weightiness, a blackness or even a void.  Breathe out hope, lightness, joy and well-being.  Breathe out ease.

At times when we don’t know what else to do, this suffices. As you bring peace to others, you bring it also to yourself.  It is a very soothing and calming practice.  You don’t need to belong to any particular religion, or follow any particular spiritual philosophy.  This simple practice merely acknowledges that we are all human, all connected, and all the same – no matter who we are, or where we come from.

His Holiness, the Dalai Lama says of Tonglen:

“Whether this meditation really helps others or not, it gives me peace of mind. Then I can be more effective, and the benefit is immense.”

Image of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in meditation from www.wisdombooks.com

Image of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in meditation from www.wisdombooks.com

4am Meditations and what they mean to me…

Radiant Heart by Daniel B Holeman

Each morning I wake up just before 4am.  I stretch, yawn, and most times slip quietly out of bed to go meditate. My exceptions – if it’s freezing cold out or howling a gale I might sit up in bed to meditate instead.

At 4am the world is quiet. At 4am the world is so peaceful I can hear her breathing in and out. It’s as if time has been suspended in this space between sleeping and dawn.

I have come to love this time each day. Although I use many forms and methods of meditation, I always cover the same areas: I send Love and Light to friends, family and clients.  I meditate for my students – for their spiritual growth and connection, I send Peace, Love and Light into the World, and I work with a specific area of healing each day, for myself and for you.

I always conclude with gratitude and then sit open a while, waiting for any specific messages or energies.  This often leads to writing…

It’s no hardship to do this.  In fact, it fills me up.  Sometimes I’ve thought that it’s my daily meditation practices that keep me going, and keep me alive.

At 4am my heart is connected to the heart of the world. I feel the Oneness of everything, the largeness of our Spirits, and the true smallness of our worries.

Image from melodocinta.wordpress.com

If I could tell you one thing, it would be this.  You are Loved. And it’s not just me loving you.  At 4am, when I am meditating, I FEEL the love being sent around the world by others just like me.

So today, know that you are not alone.  You are in someone’s thoughts and prayers, someone is intending the best for you, someone has faith in you, and holds a vision of your best self, knowing that you are more than capable of being that dream you hold in your own heart.

♥♥♥

And if you feel so inclined, why not join me and add your energy to my own? You can do this any time – not just at 4am.  Don’t know how? The simplest way is this: all you have to do is sit quietly, fill your heart with love on every in-breath, and then breathe that love out into the world on every exhale.  It will make you feel good. It will fill you with peace and love, and it will overflow from you, and into the world around you.  It really is as easy as that.

♥♥♥

Some of you will doubt right now.  Some of you will be in a space where you think you need to feel better first, or more loving first, before you can add any energy at all.  I’ve come to understand that this is not the case. You were born to shine your Light. It’s natural. It will all come back to you.

When you are worried, when you feel small, when you feel that you can’t contribute and that life or circumstance is overwhelming, then meditating like this is the best way to make a difference.  For yourself.  For others. It works…  After twenty years of doing this, I KNOW it works.

If you are at the end of your rope, just close your eyes and breathe in love.  No need to breathe any out.  You go right ahead and fill yourself up.  When you’re brimful and overflowing again, then give back if it feels right.

This love is always here for you.  All you ever have to do is connect in, and it’s yours.  In fact, it’s been wrapped around you the whole time.

Image from fabiovisentin.com

Each of us is a Light in this world and although our individual Light may seem small, when we shine our Light – radiating positive energy and intent – we make a difference. When we join together as Lightworkers, the energy is magnified.  And this energy is magnificent.  Our Light makes a difference.  All ways. Always.

Bless.  Much love to you ♥ xx

The view of dawn when I open my eyes after a beach meditation at beautiful Byron Bay…