Sangha Evening


Usually Sangha evenings are led by Order Members – those people with the Kesa around their neck with special spiritual names who have spent years in training.  I am in training to be one of those ordained members but am nowhere near there yet.   But this evening was led by a group of us Mitras.  A Mitra is a term meaning “Friend”.  Not all of us are planning to be ordained but we have all gone through a ceremony in which we say that we see ourselves as Buddhists in the Triratna tradition and pledge to follow the five precepts as well as we can.

I arrived at the Deerfold Centre tonight not in the best of moods.  I wasn’t feeling well and I was having doubts about what I am doing (not in terms of Buddhism but in terms of work etc).  There are a few things that are worrying me.  If I wasn’t involved in the leading of the meeting, I might well have not gone this evening.  I am so pleased that I did.

So this evening started as always with the Sangha Night Team which includes Order Members and Mitras setting up the shrine, meditation mats and chairs.  We all do a check in before the rest arrive.    So we checked in,  I shared some of my worries and doubts – and was met with such love and kindness.  By the time the evening started I was already feeling more balanced and at peace.

The two guys leading the first half were fantastic.  One led the salutation of the Shrine and the Refuges and Precepts.  These are difficult because they have to be timed just right and are in Pali!  One led the Mindfulness of Breathing meditation – he had a difficult job because there were a couple of new people there this evening so it needed a proper introduction and commentary.  Both did so well!  A female Mitra led the second half giving a fabulous talk on Puja.  Puja means worship.  I have had difficulty connecting to Puja in the past – it is going beyond the intellectual and the emotional to the spiritual.  We split into groups to discuss it further before I led the Worship and Salutation in call and response.  One Mitra had the job of leading the mantra – he had been practising it all week.  It has a rhythm and tune to it which has to be done precisely – he did it perfectly.  I ended the evening leading the Transference of Merits.  It was a first for us all but we had such great support from the Order Members and the rest of the Sangha.

It was a truly inspirational and beautiful evening which demonstrated perfectly the benefits of practising together.  I left the evening feeling much more relaxed and less stressed about the decisions I have made and those which I will have to make.  I left feeling supported and held.  I feel so grateful that I was introduced to Buddhism and the Dharma (just over a year ago).

This life is a thing of beauty


I have been thinking more about mindfulness.  Mindfulness in the Buddhist context – what it means for me, for my life.  The part that mindfulness plays in my Dharma Life, in my journey.  I wrote about it a few days ago ( but last night’s Sangha Evening led by the newly ordained Akāśhanandi on the Four Reminders (see below) inspired me to explore further.

The Four Reminders
This human birth is precious,
An opportunity to awaken,
But this body is impermanent,
Ready or not, one day I shall die.

So this life I must know
As the tiny splash of a raindrop,
A thing of beauty that disappears
Even as it comes into being.

The karma I create
Shapes the course of my life,
But however I act
Life always has difficulties;
No-one can control it all.
Only the Dharma
Can free me and others
From suffering forever.

Therefore I recall
My hearts’s longing for freedom,
And I resolve to make use
Of every night and day
To realise it.

The first noble truth is that to be human is to suffer.  Suffering (Dukkha) is inevitable.  We all know that – Buddhist or not.  Every human being experiences pain, suffering and loss.  A lot of our time and energy is spent trying to relieve, cover or forget this suffering.  Sometimes we choose good ways of relieving suffering – talking with friends, meditation, going for a walk etc.  But some of the time we choose less skilful methods.  Addiction is often seen as a way of coping with suffering – Russell Brand has written and spoken a lot about this.  We can become addicted to anything – food, Box sets, exercise, online shopping. Addictions are unhealthy habits and attachments.  Many activities which we do for long periods of time may not be addictions as such, but we do them to fill time, because we are bored, because we feel tired and lethargic – Eating a packet of biscuits, watching endless box sets, flicking through FaceBook …

So there is suffering which we all try to deal with or avoid in many ways.  But human life is precious as is shown by the first line of the Four Reminders.  It is an opportunity which should not be missed.  Life does have difficulties, there is always suffering but it is also a thing of beauty.  We must make the most of it as this life is fleeting like the tiny splash of a raindrop.  We never know when it might end.  So – in comes mindfulness!  Am I being mindful about how I am living my life or am I just drifting along with no purpose?  Am I wasting precious moments?  Am I engaged in looking for true freedom from suffering for myself and others or am I just covering it up with mindless, possibly harmful activity?

The way to freedom is the Dharma – “only the Dharma can free me and others from suffering forever”.  The Dharma is the teaching of the Buddha – but it is not a set of laws and commandments which are written down and must be followed to the letter.  It is a teaching which has to be internalised and lived by each individual Buddhist.  The Buddha just said, “I am a human being, and I’ve had a certain experience.  Listen to what I have to say, by all means, but listen to it critically, test it in your own experience” (Sangharakshita – the founder of Triratna Buddhism) –   There is a story of the Buddha’s aunt / foster mother coming to him very hurt and upset because the Buddha’s disciples were giving out different versions of the Dharma.  The Buddha was unperturbed – and said (in a much longer and more poetic way), whatever you find conducive in practice to finding the goal of Enlightenment – do that.  The Dharma is a raft, a means to the other side of the river, it is a finger pointing to the moon.  The Dharma is not an end in itself.  As one of the Order members said to me – I have to discover what the Dharma means to me and live it.

I am still in the midst of exploration and discovery – but I do know that mindfulness is and will continue to be central to my practice, to my life.  One of the five precepts which I follow as a Mitra concerns mindfulness – not being clouded by intoxicants (which, to me, can be anything which stops me from being fully present), “With mindfulness pure and radiant I purify my mind”.

Human life is precious and fleeting – so we must appreciate every precious moment.  There has been much written about living in the present moment.  One of the first books I read on it was Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now”.  The present moment is all that we have – it is not a stepping stone to another moment.  The Now is the most precious thing there is.  To be present in the Now is to be extremely mindful of what I am doing and not to be distracted by regrets from the past or dreams of the future.  I also need to take advantage of every given moment – is what I am doing at this very moment serviceable / beneficial to myself and / or to others.  I need to take heed of the last lines of the Four Reminders – recall my heart’s longing for freedom and resolve to make use of every day and night to realise it.  Now that does not mean that I have to be busy every moment of the day and night!  It does not mean that I can never sit down and watch television. Rest and relaxation are important physically, mentally and emotionally.  For me, being mindful and being in the present means that I need to know why I am doing what I am doing in a given moment and to be fully committed to that activity.  Am I watching NCIS Season 3 because I am actively interested in the story and the characters or just because I cannot be bothered to get up and do anything else?  Am I actually watching it or am I flicking through my phone looking at Instagram, responding to messages etc at the same time?  Have I sat here watching it all day (not very likely at the moment to be honest as my mobile WIFI is a bit unreliable)?  Am I taking time in the day to develop myself?  Am I reading, learning about the Dharma?  I want to hone my writing skills which were a little rusty but are coming back slowly – have I done anything to achieve that today?  I lost the creative side of me for a while so what am I doing to get that back (another blog post coming in a couple of weeks).  Have I been in contact with my friends and family?  Have I done my daily meditation?  And what have I done today to be of service to others – and how can I do more?  I am intensely aware that, as I am not working at the moment, I could easily waste my days doing nothing in particular – which would be a great shame as I am so fortunate to have this time.

Before I end this post – I do need to make it clear that I am a work in progress!  I am trying my hardest to practise mindfulness in the way that I have described.  It’s hard!  Even writing this, I have found myself distracted by the bleep of a text message which I answered…  and, having picked up my phone I saw that I had a FaceBook notification…  well you can probably see where I am going with this!   I would say, however, that being more mindful does make me feel happier, more fulfilled and calmer.

Thank you for reading!


Decisions… Decisions… Decisions


I started this blog to look at and document my journey to “becoming more Tee”.  I wanted to change myself, change my life, change my path.  I had seen that that was possible.  That was back in November.  Since then a lot of my life has changed.  Much that has changed has been caused by the decisions that I have made; other changes have been caused by other people’s decisions or to the undeniable fact of impermanence.   And I have changed – hopefully for the better.  I have walked further down the path, moved forward in my journey and now I am at a crossroad not exactly sure of the best way to go.  Actually “crossroad” may not be the best analogy – that sounds too clear cut!  Choose whether to go right, left or straight on (never backwards).  I think that it is more as if I am in a campsite at the edge of a wood with several entrances.  I can stay here for a while.  I can enjoy it here for a while, living in the present, seeing the joy in the present.  But, at some point my resources will run out and I have to choose an entrance and a path.

Making a decision about how to live is hard!  How is it best to make these decisions?  Agonise over them?  Write endless pros and cons lists?  Talk with friends – risking boring them to death?  Jump in quickly without too much thought trusting ones instincts?  Procrastinate until a decision is made for you by circumstances or other people?  Follow the common, normal, accepted path (e.g. get a job, house, partner, have children, retire….).   Have an end goal to which everything is directed?  Looking back I have made decisions by all of these methods at one time or another!

Last year I thought outside of the box, ditched the route that I was on and made a somewhat (to me) radical plan.  I made the plan quite quickly but thought about it from as many angles as I could.  Now I have achieved the plan as far as it went – I have sold my house, bought and moved into a caravan, resigned from my job and taken my youngest daughter out of school.  The boxes are ticked.  I have done what I set out to do.  But what now?  What do I do now?

There are some certainties.  I will be home schooling my daughter from when term would start for her in September.  And I am so determined to do that to the best of my abilities.  Get her out and about, help her with studying for GCSEs, involve everyone I need to in order to make her schooling as interesting and beneficial as possible.  . I also want to be available for my oldest daughter who will be starting college studying for her A levels – a wonderfully exciting time for her as she approaches adulthood.  So any work I do will need to be part time.

Another certainty is my training for ordination.  Practising the Dharma, immersing myself within it, following it – that helps to shape my life.  The Dharma is my raft towards Enlightenment.  So my way of living my life is clear to me in a broad sense – I want to live a life of service to others, following the precepts as best I can and deepen my practice as best I can, however I can including through meditation, spiritual friendship, reading and retreats.

So there is a lot of certainty.  But so much is still unclear to me.  When do I start to look for part time work?  What do I look for?  What do I want to do?  And – I have no idea!!  None at all.  I have decided to take July and August off completely, but July is nearly over….

I was messaging an old friend today.  And this made me think how decisions I have made have affected my life – including those times when I let circumstances and other people make those decisions for me. 35 years ago I was madly in love with this friend.  But I was a very timid teenager with very low self-esteem.  He was funny, good looking and extremely popular – there was no way that he could be interested in me!  So I never let him know  (well until years later) – and eventually he started going out with some one else and I got together with the guy who would become my first husband.   Yes – some of my decisions were not (in hindsight) the best I could have made – including choosing marriage over the opportunity to do a PhD….

But all of the decisions (good or bad, skilful or unskilful) I  have made (or have not made) have led me to now, to the person that I am today.  And that is okay.  I also know that I am extremely fortunate to be in a position where I have choices – so many people are trapped.  So I know that I am lucky.  I am enjoying my life at the moment.  I have just got to decide where to go from here!

Tonight I saw more of the beauty of the Sangha


I have been thinking about this evening’s Sangha meeting all of the way home and then when I took Pretzel out for her evening walk.  Trying to process it all – trying to push through the confusion, sense of shock and deep sadness that I felt, feel.  I have no real understanding of how many of the people at the Sangha night were and are feeling.  The shock, confusion and sorrow were plain to see on their faces and in their words but I cannot comprehend the depth.

An Order Member had taken her own life at the weekend.  I had met her only briefly, once and not really to say more than “Hello”.  For some of the people there tonight, she was a beloved friend of many years.  They had been together in study groups,  Going for Refuge groups and in Kula groups.  They had shared so much.

The evening was devoted to her.  A recent picture of her with her beloved dog was placed on the shrine.  Many spoke of their memories of her. She seems to have been a remarkable woman – energetic, determined, so committed to the Dharma.  She appears to have been very creative, imaginative.  A woman with ideas flowing from her, a woman who saw things differently from others.  Apparently she could be outspoken and forthright.  One Order Member described how everyone always knew when she was in the room.  I wish that I had known her – she seems to have been such an inspirational woman.

Those who knew her well looked after each other this evening, as they will continue to do for as long as is needed.  They mostly sat together, sometimes touching each other, holding hands, sharing their memories of her.  As one spoke, others nodded in agreement and, often, they smiled.  One memory would lead to another.

Throughout the evening there was a distinct air of sadness, shock and confusion, as I have already said.  Tears ran down the faces of many. This lovely woman had seemed to be excited about new projects; she had given no indication that this would happen.  If anyone had noticed anything, she would have had their love and support to help her and cherish her.  I know the process of becoming an Order Member is long and intensive.  The would-be Order Member has to look deeply within her or himself; undergo counselling if needed.  I am just at the start of this journey and know that I will have to go through a lot of soul-searching, delve deeply into my own story and resolve issues that I may have once preferred to keep buried.  And those in the Sangha are so caring and supportive of each other.  There are always opportunities to “check in” and say how things are feeling today, at this moment.  It is so rare for an Order Member to take her / his own life – so rare.  Which makes this so much more tragic, so much more confusing and so very sad.

The Sangha evening was filled with Metta.  I could tell that even those people who had never met her were so touched by the memories of her.  The love that  these women and men have for each other shone through this evening.

As I sat this evening, joining in with the meditation, the chanting of the refuges and precepts, the threefold puja, the mantra, I realised a new love for this Sangha, for those people who are in the Sangha with me.  I am in the Sangha.  I feel its warmth and affection.  The Sangha is one of the Three Jewels – one of the three refuges – one of the three “things” that I can trust to be there for me along with the Buddha and the Dharma.  I feel so honoured, so fortunate to be part of this group of men and women.

A very sad yet beautiful evening.  One that has touched me so deeply.  I know that I will remember those couple of hours for a very long time, probably forever.  I hope that, in time, this remarkable woman’s friends and family come to terms with what has happened to her and manage to achieve some peace.

To Karunabala – with metta

Garden Part Three

So last year I took a long hard look at my garden / my life. People I love were suffering and I felt quite powerless to help in any real way. I was in a job that I used to love but now felt wrong. I had to carry on working to pay the mortgage on a house that had served its purpose. I fell in love only for that relationship to break down in a way that I still cannot comprehend. I took a long look at the good aspects of my life – my girls who were / are turning into beautiful young women both inside and out; some wonderful friends. Some parts of my garden were lovely. But I had no sense of direction. I had no real sense of what I wanted my garden to look like. I could just see the years stretching out – I couldn’t see a goal. I couldn’t see a path. I had no plan of any sort.

But then I was introduced to Buddhism, the three jewels. Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. And a purpose, a direction for my life became clearer. I knew that I wanted my garden to be a place where others could rest, could find comfort, could relax and rebuild their lives. I wanted to live a life in service to others – to my family, my friends, to all beings. In order to do this I had to make big changes. I had to find a way to rebuild my garden. To establish firm foundations.

So I have a general idea of how I want my garden to look. What I want to achieve with it. Some things can be started immediately ( have been started) whilst others will take some time. In his talk Subhadassi discussed the importance of not rushing things. He gave an example of wanting to lay a path. But if you just jumped in and laid it without looking at the conditions and observing the area in different seasons, an ill sited path may flood in heavy rain. The importance of observing, taking time. But there has to be a balance – taking time cannot mean procrastination. It is the delicate balance between kshanti and virya – patience and energy.

So yes the foundations of my garden are in progress. I have made use of the good things that were already in place – as I have said, some parts of my garden were pleasing to the eye. And some things in my garden cannot be eradicated – the two firmly established blossom trees that have taken time and effort but provide such pleasure. Smaller bushes. Some of my garden brought and still brings great pleasure.

With deeds of loving kindness, I purify my body


This precept was the subject for my Dharma Study Group this week.  For me, this precept is the foundation of Buddhism.  Everything else stems from this.

The five precepts, training principles of Buddhism are given in their negative.  The first is “I undertake to refrain from taking life”.  It talks of killing but is really about abstaining from harming any sentient being in any way.  Violence is wrong because it is based on an unskilful mental state – on the state of hatred.  But the precepts also have a stronger, more powerful positive counterpart.  When I think of the precepts, I always think of the positive – what can I do to become a better human being?  Rather than what I should not do.  The counterpart of abstention from violence is the practice of Metta – loving kindness.  It is a loving kindness that is expressed in deeds; it is not enough to feel goodwill and love.  Loving kindness must be expressed in ACTION.

When talking about this precept – the first precept – it is tempting to think about the big things – should I be vegetarian or even vegan? Should I be opposed to abortion in all circumstances however distressing to the woman? But is this what we should be thinking about ? Is this all we should be considering? I could be vegan and anti abortion and be a vengeful uncaring human being. I only need to look in some of the Facebook vegan groups to see the hatred and anger some vegans have for other human beings. The anger and hatred directed at those poor innocent newbies who are simply seeking answers and dare to ask if eating honey can ever be ok…

I believe this precept has to come directly from the heart. It is why the Metta Bhavana meditation is so very important. I can hold as many principles as I like but may not be a person who shows loving kindness to myself, my friend, a neutral person, the person with whom I am having difficulties (sometimes referred to as my enemy) and to all sentient beings – human and non-human. I can be vegan, anti abortion etc etc but may be incapable of feeling and expressing loving kindness to all sentient beings.  Deeds of loving kindness stem from the heart not from sternly held principles and views.

Living from a standpoint of loving kindness has got its dangers. Without self love this way of living can turn someone into a “push over”, a “doormat” … however you want to label a person who never thinks of her / him self. But the precept is about all beings including ourselves. It is not by chance that the first stage of the Metta Bhavana focuses on ourselves. In this stage I wish myself happiness, I want myself to be well and free from suffering. If we do not love and care for ourselves, we cannot truly love and care for others.

We also have to look at wisdom. The threefold path consists of Ethics (the precepts) and meditation – both of which I have already mentioned – but also Wisdom.  Wisdom is crucial.  Sometimes we have to sit back and think – what is the best way to help this person?  What is the most skilful way to show loving kindness in this circumstance?

So, this precept for me, is the backdrop – or more truthfully – should be the backdrop for my entire existence.  That person who pushed in front of me in the queue – I could get angry but do I know what he / she is dealing with at the moment?  That friend who doesn’t respond to messages or phone calls – how do I know what is going on for them?  It might not be about me.  That person who is still eating meat even though they profess to be vegan in public – how do I know what else is going on in their lives, the struggles they have?

Loving kindness /Metta is not a soppy emotion.  It is a strong, all powerful force in our lives.  It should be expressed in action not just feelings.  So we should be actively loving and caring to ourselves, our family and friends, all the people we know, all animals.  Not just the people we like.  Not just the animals we think are cute.  All people.  All animals.  All sentient beings.  We should strive not to do them harm – but more than that – we should strive to do them good.


Learning to live the Dharma

I learn from reading.  I have always learnt by reading.   Books have been my source of knowledge for as long as I can remember.  However, mixed into this has been those few, rare lucky times when I can discuss what I have been reading with others.  This happened a lot at university in tutorials or with a friend who was doing the same courses.  Also during my MA when I sent a few hours per week in tutorials.  These discussions have always started with the text, the question and then have expanded to our lives and ways of living.  Since then – until now – I have not had these opportunities.  I had not realised how much I had missed the discussion and the potential for deeper personal growth.

Now I am fortunate enough to have found these opportunities for discussion again.  With people from my Sangha – either at Sangha evenings or at my Dharma Training Course.  And at retreats.  Every so often I meet up with Buddhist friends and we discuss the Dharma.  These discussions always deepen my understanding and lead me to thinking and acting more skillfully.

I am still reading – but I am finding that reading about learning to live the Dharma, learning to live more skillfully is not always as illuminating and inspirational as the discussions.  A while ago I read Vajragupta’s “Buddhism: Tools for living your life” and am now reading Maitreyabandhu’s “The Journey Guide”.  Both excellent books written by deeply spiritual knowledgable men.  Both books are full of practical advice on advancing my Buddhist life – on moving forwards on my journey to become more Tee.  But… (and this may just be me.  I know of at least one person who found “Tools for living your life” very helpful) I do not find inspiration from them.  I have read books on Buddhism which have been very inspirational – those by Sangharakshita, autobiographies and Vajragupta’s “Sailing the Worldly Winds”.  But these two books ( and others) which set out tools, exercises to follow etc do not “do it for me”.

Yesterday evening at my regular Sangha evening I realised why.  The evening was centred on speech – avoiding harsh, false, frivolous, slanderous speech.  After our usual meditation, tea and biscuits there was a short presentation from an order member with his friend, another order member, chipping in.  The presentation was informal but clear and incisive.  It was filled with personal experience and humour.  Afterwards we all started joining in with the discussion – there was a lot of deep thinking, practical examples, potential pitfalls and problems.  And there was humour and laughter.  This evening showed the joy that living the Dharma life can bring.  The contentment.  The sense of wonderment.  As well as the difficulty of living this life especially in the world as it is now.  This evening showed that my journey is not an easy one and will never be an easy one. That I will struggle, question why I am even trying to do it, fail – but it’s certainly not a miserable one.  How can it be with those friends? How an it be with the Sangha?  And I think that this is what can be missing from texts / books  – at least for me.

I have another “issue” with Maitreyabandhu’s book too. Again a personal thing. Throughout the book he keeps talking about the importance of having the same gender spiritual friends. He mentions it several times. I know that I have friends who strongly agree with him and it is important to the Triratna tradition. But I cannot agree wholeheartedly with this view. I am developing strong spiritual friendships with some amazing women but I am also doing the same with some amazing men. I find that I gain so much from my friendship with the men in my Sangha.

Doing my best


These two weeks are tough. Trying to come to terms with my Dad’s death, arranging his funeral with my brother, trying to support my mum. A few 200 mile trips to Hereford. And moving house at the same time. I must admit to being beyond tired.  In among all of that have been the days I have actually got to work – look at data, answer emails and go to meetings.   Sleep isn’t really happening – well not enough of it anyway. I just want some “normal”.

I am constantly reminding myself that my house sale is a good thing!  It may be stressful at the moment but it is the doorway to a different way of living.  So I must remember that this is a new positive beginning.

In many ways I am handling it all “ok” – much better than I would have done before I found Buddhism – the three jewels have helped me tremendously.  I have been able to feel the emotion of it all more than I would have done in the past whilst still handling it. I have been a better support to Mum I think.  And to my girls who loved their Grandad.

My friends – both Buddhist and otherwise have been amazingly supportive.  One looking after Pretzel even though she can be a bit of a pain (cute but still a pain!).  Another helping me with loads of tip runs.  This practical support has made it all possible.  Hugs / emails / texts / sympathy cards all help me to feel loved and cared about.  One lovely lovely friend cooked me dinner and we just talked.  Many friends have offered practical help which may well be taken up!

So yes I am handling it.  It shows me that I have moved at least a little way in my quest to become more Tee.   I know that I could help myself more – be more skillful in my actions.  More meditation would be better than the few glasses of wine to which I have succumbed.  I could be eating more healthily.   But I have to accept that I am not perfect – far from it!

These two weeks will pass.  They are just a moment in time.  I just have to take each moment as it comes and try to act as skillfully as possible.


All being well…


So many thoughts going on in my head today.  I have been realising this week  that there is so much going on in my life, so much that can cause stress and pain.  I know that there is always suffering; that no one’s life is perfect.  I know that there are many people who are suffering way more than me.  But, for me personally, I am becoming aware of just how much is going on with me and people I love and care for.    This means that there is an underlying sense of anxiety every day.  When the phone rings there is the real possibility that there is bad news.  Every day there is the possibility that there is even more suffering in store for the people I love most.  It means that I can never plan anything with certainty (as if anyone ever can!  But that just seems to be more true at the moment). For me it has led to a feeling that there is a lot to bear.  That the worldly winds are battering me and just won’t stop.  That there are different stresses, people, situations pulling at me for my attention, for my time, for my thoughts.

And there is guilt!  Because there are moments when I am happy / content / at peace.  Not everything is going wrong!  A lot seems to be going very well.  I (very selfishly?) went on the retreat I have had booked for months at the weekend.  A weekend of peace and inspiration which meant that I have come back to my world with more calmness and purpose.  I have moments in meditation when all just clears away and I am just me.  I laugh with friends.  I become immersed in a book.  I become utterly involved in the latest episode of “Call the Midwife”.

Her ears looked so funny this morning!

Walking Pretzel this morning was lovely.  I look at all of the stresses from a Buddhist perspective and feel calm – but, because I am not perfect, I feel guilt about not feeling more stressed and anxious about it all in that moment!  Yes – I am weird!  I am not even sure  I have explained that at all well.

I write a lot about what I am learning that is helping me through.  How I am learning to go to refuge to the Three Jewels – the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha.  This is becoming increasingly important to me.  I have also written a lot about changing what I can change.  Choosing a different path which may lead to a better, more fulfilled life.

This week I have been feeling particularly fragile.  But I am standing firm.  Staying calm.  Three “things” are helping.  The first is something that a dear friend said on retreat – when we plan things we cannot be sure that they will happen.  I might want to meet a friend for coffee on Saturday but I may have an emergency trip to Hereford or I might feel ill or a hundred and one other things.  The most we can say is “We will meet on Saturday all being well“.  I was reminded of that phrase again last night and it helps.  It helps keep things in perspective.

The second is individual friendship.  Last night I went to the Sangha night and was immediately enveloped in warmth and love.  It was a beautiful healing, calming atmosphere.  However, the one thing that helped me the most last night was the big hug that I got from a friend. I was leaving at the end of the meeting and he stopped what he was doing and just hugged me.  My friendships are becoming increasingly important to me.  Those people who just text or call me to see how I am.  Those people who never fail to check in with me.  Those hugs, those words of understanding.  These friends cannot change what is going on but I am so comforted by their presence.  Interacting with them, talking with them and listening to their stresses, their happy times, their adventures through life help me greatly.  They make me feel connected to the world.  I feel great love / metta.  There have been times this week where I feel that I have been helpful to others which makes me feel warm and useful – it gives me purpose.

And the third.  This came to me at the retreat.  I have to just let some things be.  I just have to accept what is sometimes.  A particular friendship which feels difficult – I can just let it lie for a while.  See what happens.  Just stop trying so hard.

I will stop here.  There is so much more to explore in everything I have said but enough for now.  If you are one of the people still reading this blog –  thank you xx

I have just had a lovely text from a friend which has warmed my heart and made me smile.

Dog walk thoughts …

Was thinking about my mitra ceremony on my Pretzel walk this morning. I was in a bit of pain from my back and joints (stress and cold,damp weather do not help them) so was trying to distract myself. I found myself smiling over the candle fiasco. I remembered the way in which everyone laughed with me and celebrated when I finally got my candle alight. It made me think about how things in my life often don’t go as I think they will. Something comes along to threaten the imagined perfection of the eagerly awaited event. But I always get through. Often I get through on my own but this time I had a whole community of friends with me supporting me.

Life does not always turn out as was expected / hoped / wished for. But with the example of the Buddha, his teachings and the Sangha I can make it through and become a better person in the process. I just have to keep remembering this.