Walking Meditation & Banana Loaf

Summer 2015 - 1 (2)

Today I walked to the library and then to the wee Co-op in the village and then I walked back. It isn’t far, but since I fell ill nearly 5 years ago, this is the first time I’ve managed to do this by myself. Once I got back home, I felt fantastic.

My method was inspired by Thich Nhat Hahn, the Vietnamese monk who lives at Plum Village community in France. I took one step at a time, counting the steps 10 at a time (I got sidetracked here by stopping to greet people and crossing the road a couple of times), concentrating on each step. I was very aware of my breathing and realised from reading his work, that one of the problems I faced was fear. Fear of falling, fear of failure. So I breathed in courage and healing and breathed out illness and fear.

I could feel my body relaxing instead of protesting. I realised that my muscles were as happy as my mind to be on the go, instead of languishing in a hospital bed. And now that I’m sitting in my chair, the feel good factor is evident and I am SO glad I went on that walk.

I am so grateful to the care team that looked after me during my illness. When I was at my most despondent and thought that I was never going to get a transplant, they would remind me that I’d be walking to that village some day soon. The seed they planted grew as I recovered and today was the proof of mind over matter. My legs and the rest of my body gradually accepted what my mind knew all along.

I could do this thing.

And then there was the banana loaf. I realised that I had three very ripe bananas in my fruit bowl and suddenly remembered one of the family favourites when the kids were growing up. So for the first time since I got ill, I got out the mixing bowl, found my old “Joy of Cooking” recipe which I’ve been using successfully for 50 years (half a century) and set to work. The result lived up to my expectations (even though I didn’t have any walnuts) and I am still marvelling that I can do such a simple thing again with delicious results. Oatmeal and Raisin cookies next, methinks.

I’m so grateful for these achievements in my recovery and blessed with a spirit that is supported by my higher power. The lavender in the photo is from my garden, one of the survivors of this cold, wet summer.

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Thich Nhat Hahn & Walking Meditation

Banana Bread Recipe

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Tracks

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These last few days I’ve been surfing Netflix and watching films as I work on my knitting. I watched a lovely one called “Maidentrip” which is about the 16 year old girl from Holland who sailed solo round the world. It was a beautiful film and a lovely story of bravery and determination.

Today I watched “Tracks”, on a similar theme, though this time it was a young Australian girl who managed to train a team of three camels and a baby camel and trekked 1000 miles in Australia from Alice Springs to the ocean. Little did I realise that this would inspire my own ‘trek.’

This afternoon I walked from home to the local hotel up the road, ordered a cappuchino (of course) and then walked back down. On my own. For the first time since my transplant operation last November.

What a feeling of achievement I had when I got home.

Both these films made me think of myself at that age and how I would have loved to do something similar. But at that age my emotions were in turmoil and I was not free enough or confident enough to slough off convention and go for it. The closest I got was sending off for a Peace Corps application, but I never sent it in.

But never mind, there’s no use regretting the past as all of it is a learning curve and we are the sum total of these past experiences at whatever age we acknowledge them. The more I learn about myself now, especially after the gift of my illness and new liver, the more I realise that it is where we are at the present moment  that is the most important. I’ve been given a new lease of life and as I slowly recover I don’t know what the future will bring, but I do know that I can do what I am able to right now and make the most of it.

OK, so there’s lots that I have to accept that I can’t do, like climb Goat Fell or sail the Atlantic single-handedly in this life time, but I can walk slowly to the Auchrannie and order a cappuchino and with God’s grace, I’ll be able to walk a little further tomorrow (if it isn’t pouring with rain). And if it is pouring with rain, I’ll be pleased that the garden is getting a watering and I can watch another lovely film and knit some more.

I don’t remember who’s quote it was that we can always make the ‘mostest with the leastest’ and if learned anything from my illness that has to be it, along with the fact that my life is in God’s hands, not mine. I’m not in control, but by relinquishing control as I did when I first came out of intensive care 4 1/2 years ago, I have gained control of my spirit and my willingness to go for it. As long as it doesn’t involve camels.

Reflections and Ground Glass

Oyster Shells from Loire Atlantique with Arran Beach Stones

Oyster Shells from Loire Atlantique with Arran Beach Stones

I read today that we are faced with dealing with the ‘ground glass’, leftover feelings from the hurts in your past and the denials in our present that continue to hurt and cause us pain.

The remedy for these hurts is to square up and identify what has hurt you and still hurts, remember them and bring them out of darkness into light. This can be done through prayer and meditation, counselling or talking to friends or in my case attending AA meetings, listening and talking to other people who like me have used alcohol in the past to try to block that pain, only succeeding in making it worse.

To me, now, I know that these remedies work and facing up to the ground glass turns it back into sand, like the sand that causes the oyster to produce pearls. My pearls enrich my life with wisdom from experience, gratitude for my many blessings, and a sense of contentment when the pain is gone and the fear is no longer there which encouraged that pain.

One recent blessing has been a visit from my youngest son as he sorts out his thoughts and belongings to prepare for a new phase of his journey. I’m reminded of my gratitude that I can relate to all three of my offspring as adults, all of us survivors of the years when I was growing up as much as they were as I tried to lay a foundation of love, loyalty and aspiration in each of them and make sure that the pain that I inherited in my childhood by people who were doing there best, didn’t carry on into another generation. My granddaughters are proof that it hasn’t.

I’m writing this in my big comfy chair, listening to a fly buzz (reminding me of Emily Dickinson’s poem) and trying to be grateful for the grey skies when I’m craving sunshine, sparing a thought for my friend in Texas, where the temperature is 106 degrees Fahrenheit – too hot in Celsius. There’s a lot to be thankful for.

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I was taught that the meaning of Emily Dickinson’s poem “I heard a fly buzz when I died” was a reference to a phase in life where one persona sloughs off like a snakeskin, dying off and leaving a brand new person.

I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air –
Between the Heaves of Storm –
The Eyes around – had wrung them dry –
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset – when the King
Be witnessed – in the Room –
I willed my Keepsakes – Signed away
What portion of me be
Assignable – and then it was
There interposed a Fly –
With Blue – uncertain – stumbling Buzz –
Between the light – and me –
And then the Windows failed – and then
I could not see to see –
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