The veg garden is now nearly fully planted – Gail just has some peas and basil and some kale that she is bringing on up in the barn cloakroom where it gets nice and warm throughout the day. Mel planted out the courgette, squash and pumpkin plants in the gap between Manda leaving us and Burgs arriving, and Steve did some major weeding of poppy plants out of the cut flower bed to make room for dahlias and sweet peas. We began making the wigwams for the sweet peas today and will be planting them out with the dahlias over the next few days if the weather isn’t too wet! We’ve had some very nice days all out in the garden together in the short space between courses, joined by robins and blackbirds looking for worms and masses of bees enjoying the pollen on Gail’s green manure (called phacelia – it attracts bees like almost nothing else and is extremely pretty too!).
It was like high summer here last week for Burgs’ seven day silent Healing Meditation Retreat . We were lucky to be able to join this retreat and it was gorgeous between sessions to lie out and doze on the lawn in the sunshine or sit quietly enjoying the hum of the bees in the flower beds or the birds nest-building and catching insects on the wing. Even the first applications of suncream occurred!
Friends who don’t meditate often ask us why we might want to be silent and “just sit there” all week! There is often so little space in most people’s lives, with so much pulling on us, that the very idea of being quiet and having that much space for so long seems wierd. The only break that people get is when they’re asleep! Nearly everyone has felt the urge to have more peace and serenity in their life and so we often answer with something to this effect.
However, the truth is that when we do sit still with ourselves – without a drink or a snack, without a book or the radio, or the TV or daydreaming about the past or planning for the future, (or in many people’s cases these days, without checking their phone!) – it isn’t very peaceful or serene at all! In fact, what we see immediately is how restless we are, how unable to settle, how the mind is constantly hankering after something to keep it amused and distracted from the moment it’s in. This is not a comfortable revelation!! Taming the restless mind is not easy and it doesn’t happen over night, but with skilful instruction and by patient repetition in our attempts to concentrate, it begins to happen. We start to access a different reference point, glimpses of peace, of just being able to rest quietly with ourselves and for that to feel enough, to feel complete. When we have access to this feeling of completeness within, then the need for external distraction becomes less, we are less likely to feel bored or need things to be a particular way to feel happy. Gradually a feeling of contentment arises out of this simplicity where we experience the world more spaciously and as a felt experience rather than a collection of ideas. It’s a lifetime’s work, of course, but we start to get the feeling of the freedom that lies ahead.
Because freedom lies not in having to have what we want in order to be happy, but being content regardless of what we have. And without the ability to sit quietly at peace with ourselves, this is often just an idea rather than something that actually starts to happen to us.
Mel & Steve
Poulstone Court Retreat Centre