I write these words in the ancient lands of southwest Wales, Britain. Yesterday, I ventured to the west coast. Nothing could have fully prepared me for what I saw as we walked over the brow of the hill on the only, apparently arbitrarily selected, Pembrokeshire Coastal Path we took on these few days away. A herd of white mares, which had gathered in the small valley leading to the sea, crossed our way. These horses are free to roam the rugged land that is hugged by St. George’s channel. We sat as close as we dared to the horses, who meandered ever closer, eventually surrounding us. One dark-dappled mare saw me and made a beeline, approaching with intent and sniffing at my hair. Once she was satisfied, she continued to graze just behind me. I felt that I had received their blessing.
Soon after, I decided to walk down into the bottom of this shallow valley, where I suspected there may be running water. I was right. To my delight, I found small pools within a stream of fresh water. I had been hoping to find a magical waterfall, then realized I had: a tiny one—one of fresh water gently flowing and gurgling to the roaring sea. I realized that I’d found everything in reality that had until that moment only been imagined during certain guided meditations. I sat as close as I could to the stream without being in it. I placed my fingers into one of the cold pools, closed my eyes, and listened—the gurgling of the fresh water in one ear and the crashing waves of the Atlantic in the other. All the while, white mares grazed around me. I could hear that too.
The sun was warm. The breeze was calm. I drank some freshwater from my cupped hand and raised my face to the sun, letting the entire experience permeate my being. With my fingers still caressing the cold freshwater, I gazed toward the sea. Wave upon wave of Chantilly cream topped the transparent teal as the diamond-jeweled cerulean rolled into the enclosed pebbled cove. Huge smooth pebbles of slate grey rumbled as the ocean tried to pull them back into its belly. Rumbling as deeply as only ancient stones know how. It was time to move closer to the sea; so close that the ocean spray refreshed my face each time the encroaching water lapped the land. I sat upon a large pebble, one of innumerable stones that have been pounded and caressed smooth by eons of saltwater. I sat and felt the deep reverberation of these fundamental elements like a lullaby sung by the Earth herself.
My introduction to spirituality and meditation came knocking at the front door of my childhood home in the early 1980s. I was about nine or ten years old when we hosted Tibetan lamas in exile. The Most Venerable Geshe Namgyal Wangchen La* (now passed away) lived with us and taught from our London home for a number of years before teaching at the Jamyang Buddhist Centre in London, and then eventually moving to Drepung Loseling Monastery in southern India.
He was decidedly pragmatic, with a scientific approach to Buddhism, spirituality, and life in general. All the while, exuding that most magnificent sense of humor that many enlightened folk have. Wednesday evenings were public meditation evenings. Of course, it was a school night, but these were conducted from our front room and I had expressed an interest in participating. I’m not sure if it was the meditation practice or the past-my-bedtime, late-night tea and biscuits they offered that really tempted me, but during what felt like hours of chanting I know that I rarely made it to the end without curling up in a corner and drifting off to sleep. But the seeds had been sown.
Light-body meditations are beautiful. Simple (especially compared with some of the more complex Buddhist meditation practices), but, as is so often the case, simple is effective. For me, there is a feeling of dissolving and merging with the photons all around, as well as radiating my own unique sense of physical self. It reminds me that it is good to glow and to not feel ashamed. A tree is connected with all the other trees through the mycelium threads of the mycorrhizal network, yet it stands proud in and of itself, giving a home to all manner of life. The tree analogy is used within the Jungian practice I studied, particularly when discussing cycles. Nothing progresses without each stage realizing itself. And it’s tempting to give a little time to the value of winter. Yet here is where the magic happens: where the horizons are vast thanks to the lack of foliage; when all the energy goes deep into the darkness, into the womb of the earth; knowing that without this Plutonic stage, the alchemy of new birth can never be.
I’ve never yet lived in a place where the seasons didn’t have a significant influence. I’ve long maintained a love of warm climates, but at my core I don’t know that I wouldn’t miss the turning of the year. All the funny little rituals that humans have created over the years to celebrate marked moments as the days slide by. Being hot all year round may leave me feeling like someone switched off the clock. That lack of rhythm and climate-related tradition marking changes and differing energies may feel like watching a beautiful painting. That said, a recent survey I read about actually suggests the opposite of my supposition. So I don’t know—maybe I shall find out for myself one day? There is always the rhythm of the Moon though, wherever we go.
Spring speaks for itself, although one day I’m sure I shall elucidate and wax lyrical. I’m writing this segment on 21 June 2021, the day of the summer solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere—the day of the year with the most light. It’s a time which leads some to feel a tipping over into the drawing in of shorter days already and therefore they don’t much like it. But for others, this is the time when the blossoms of spring give way to the growing fruit, and the promise of abundance is just around the corner. It’s a time when we can allow our own fruit to swell with goodness, ready to share with the world. Maybe your fruit is the culmination of lots of hard work, the upcoming promise of revised or new relationships (romantic or otherwise), an idea, a new business, a new life path, a new you. Autumn sees these fruits shared. And we gather together, stoke the fires, and prepare to take the seeds of the fruit into the dark earth ready for rebirth.
If there is one religious practice in this world, it should be compassionate wisdom.
There is no one meditation, though. There can never be. However, if I can recommend any one practice in particular, I would urge you to find nature and melt with her. Feel alive with her and in her. Feel her rhythm. Become the wind and dance through the treetops. Become the tree, tall and present, and feel your roots, deep and connected to the whole. Bathe in her song and breathe with the cycles. Let her embrace you. Embrace her.
Dissolve yourself into the light and become luminous.
* “. . . of lights I am the radiant Sun, of the Maruts I am Marici, and among the stars, I am the Moon.” — Bhagavad-Gītā As It Is.10:21
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