Gratitude Balm


Further in I go, a feeling of falling and of desolation of hope – no less 😂 oh I do have a dramatising tendency don’t I. Well it does feel pretty drama filled this path of surrendering. Looking for something to hold onto and nothing comes to hand….the ego is disconcerted and extremely uncomfortable.

I awoke at 5am just feeling odd and not relaxed. It’s anxiety of an unfamiliar kind. I deduce that it must be, as it is not love or joy I’m experiencing. Though I notice the part of me that isn’t moved and is just watching and interested in what is going on with the process.

I approach the disturbed feelings in a way that has become my habit. I drop down into my body looking for the familiar anxiety sensation of a clenched fist feeling in my chest or tightened throat so that I can give it space and permission to be there and some open receptivity. But there isn’t anything at all, yet I see the way I keep fiddling with my nails, agitated and restless. I get up at 6am, not relaxed enough to linger in bed. I don’t know if ‘chakras’ exist, but I’ve noticed that disturbance when present prefers to be upright and not lying down. I need to move and that feels right.

I’m okay with this. It is part of the expected unfolding of the shedding of faulty narratives and beliefs. The unexpected constantly appearing. It is scary new ground and parts inside object to this what feels like complete groundlessness due to the unfamiliarity.

Yesterday I met my friend P for a walk and a berry tea, undemanding company. I feel at ease with her, I’ve known her since I was 5. There’s no deep talk ever though, and that’s okay.

Then to a massage which was like bathing in silk, also a little sore too at times as knots are smoothed out. I savoured the experience of feeling this body so physically, being naked, of being looked after, the touch, warmth of the air. Attention given to body areas that are not thought about much. I feel grateful to the Thai masseuse, a gentle Buddhist soul.

Next I visit my friend’s mum U who has dementia and lives on her own. She is not very far gone but far enough to make up nonsense at times and believe it. Like the Beatles are old friends of hers. She spends all day in bed, doesn’t go out or get dressed. The Covid lockdowns had a devastating effect on her life, wiping away confidence and instilling fear of ever going out. Much of what she loved was taken away from her, so harsh. I was shocked to see her looking so bedraggled and smelling a little. And no food in the house, so I go and get some in. We eat together at the table and chat for a while.

I return home to a exuberant welcome from the dog who has been alone for a few hours. We head back out for a second walk. I pull some very invasive Himalayan Balsam out as I go. I keep ‘my’ little stretch of the river clear, to allow our native species space. The bees adore the plant and it makes them neglect the native species so they don’t get fertilised when the balsam is around in numbers.

It’s now blazing sunshine and I find a spot in the dappled shade by the river to settle and just be for a while. That helps a lot to settle my nervous system. I’m happy there. Nobody comes, it is just us and nature. The river slowly drifts past with a coating of floating willow catkins. The wind catches the tops of the high poplars on the far bank accentuating the contrast with the still air where I sit. The mayflies dance in big swirls above the water surface. An hour passes, and we have a wander and find another spot. Another half hour of just being and noticing the magnificence of it all. And not feeling remotely alone, in fact quite the contrary. At one with it all in a seemless whole.

Okra and pilau rice

A periodic sadness is present about my friend M. So many little reflections arise on that friendship, and what spoils it, his temper that pushes me away. Will I allow myself to be pushed this time, and let go gracefully? Perhaps. Probably.

I’m already pretty lonely anyway. The wish of finding companions on a similar journey is ever present. A sangha, a community of friends giving mutual support on this sublime and so difficult a journey. These are really the only type of new friends I wish for now, consciously devoted to the realisation of the whole truth. I’m also very grateful to the friends I have too. Who are all on this journey whether they realise or not.

Meantime, aside from my wish life, I’m occupied with my path here of facing it all, and learning how to struggle properly through the trials and revelations.

I have such help all around me, surrounded by such immense comfort, wealth and privilege of this spot on the planet. Yes let me balance my pleadings for a sangha with an appreciation of what I have here.

  • A job that allows me to support my physical needs and also as much freedom and time for this intense internal process to take place. I work maybe probably two hours a day. I’d like to remember to appreciate this more often.
  • A safe environment to live alone as a female in. No war, a low crime rate. I walk around the most secluded spots of 300 acres of parkland across the road without ever considering myself unsafe. Having a large long haired German Shepherd adds to that feeling, a strong deterrent should any potentially harmful characters cross my path.
  • Talking of the dog, Elsa. She has a special essence, and is an extraordinary companion, gentle, cooperative, highly loving. Very lovable indeed. The joy of stroking her, how beautiful she looks, our fun together too. And with me almost all the time.
  • A warm safe large space to live in, one story up. Comfortable and beautiful enough inside with trees not buildings out of every window. It also faces in all 4 directions so sunshine at different parts of the day. And quiet. I know I complain about the floorboards above, but it’s literally less than 5% of the time, the other 95% it’s silence. Neighbours are very quiet and friendly too. The entrance hall has all been upgraded and painted and is now bright and clean and a pleasure. For a shared building, this is as good as it gets.
  • My friends, who I love. There’s, my sister J, there’s S and J, P, and E and N, and G and M and W. All precious lovely souls I treasure. And there’s my mum and uncle too. And son who is practically my closest friend in a sense.
  • My therapy clients. I get as much I think if not more from my interaction with them, in terms of giving me a sense of purpose and opportunity to be of use and give back to the world in a small way. As I have been undoing my faulty narratives and beliefs, I’m passing that to them too. And I get paid for it.
  • The paradise of nature across the road from me, 350 acres of woodlands, ponds, fields, a river. And a large stately home, which houses incredible items including several William Blake paintings, and has a fabulous Edwardian kitchen cafe outside where I eat most days. Plus a large modern museum full of antiquities from around the world.
  • A construction business that is successful enough to support me and 7 men. That has provided and continues to, multiple opportunities for reflection and learning and expansion.

That’s probably quite enough though I could go on and on. The abundance is clear all around.

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