A Taste of Summer – Pesto Courgetti


Growing food is such a grounding experience.  I can easily see the appeal of allotments and why people devote endless hours to their gardens.  My little kitchen garden is taking shape this year.  I have trailing tomatoes, bags of potatoes, pots of herbs and a planter full of courgettes.  I find the process fascinating, watching a tiny seed grow into something so fresh and delicious.  Little Nieces D and P were as delighted as I was when we discovered the first tiny green tomato on the plants they helped to sow.  I don’t know what I’ll discover when we lift the potatoes as the leaves have been stripped bare by slugs.  But the courgettes are flourishing with huge leaves and vibrant yellow flowers. Read More

‘The Treasure of Pleasure’ – Rewiring the Brain for Happiness


I’m waiting for two hospital admissions.  I don’t know when they’ll be or how how much notice I’ll be given before I have to pack my bag, say goodbye to my kitties and face yet more inpatient treatment and sleepless nights on a plastic hospital mattress.  I have imminent meetings and assessments to review the care I receive, which, given government bureaucracy, can create huge amounts of stress.  Not to mention the day to day challenge of managing my condition, living with difficult symptoms and finding ways to enable me to complete basic tasks most people take for granted.  It could easily consume me.  My life could centre round illness and disability, and all the suffering that accompanies it.  That would be perfectly understandable.  It might even be expected.  It has happened in the past.  But I know if I broaden my awareness, there is always something pleasant to experience.Read More

The Joy and Heartache of Impermanence


I’m looking into my front garden.  The lawn and hedges are fresh and green.  Tall, delicate stems of verbena wave across my window.  Lavender is starting to release its aromatic scent.  There are roses in tight bud, others already opening to reveal layers of vibrant petals.  The beautiful colours capture my attention.  I feel happy and content as I take it all in.  But there’s something else; a weight of sadness and a sense of loss.  I know this moment won’t last.  Like everything else, it will pass.Read More

Widening the Lens – It’s All about Perspective


Have you ever been struck by how differently two people can view the same thing?  How about considering how one person can see two very different points of view?  It is so easy to get stuck in a particular mindset thinking there is only one way, but with an increase in psychological flexibility it’s possible to take a step back and consider alternative views.  You might just discover all sorts of possibilities if you do.

I was feeling anxious about something recently; future hospital treatment, so it was understandable that I might feel apprehensive.  I felt stuck.  I’d lost control and jumped into the unknown.  At least that’s what my thoughts were telling me.  Prompted by the words of a wise doctor, I was reminded how those thoughts weren’t necessarily true.  What might the alternative be?  Could I flip it?  Could I take charge and therefore feel in control?  Could I express my wishes and assert my needs, making it less of an unknown?  Yes, I could.  The result was immediate and empowering.  It felt like an entirely different situation.  I was no longer stuck.

Our thoughts have a direct impact on our feelings, so it’s no surprise that a shift in perspective can bring a shift in feelings and an increased sense of well-being.  The challenge is to see the alternative.  We become so familiar with a particular point of view that our brains literally get used to activating certain neural pathways.  The good news is that just like physical flexibility, psychological flexibility (being able to adapt to different situations and view alternative perspectives) can be increased.  Learning something new, doing something differently and getting out of your comfort zone all help.  You can read more about that here.  It really is worth the effort.

The Body Scan

Body of Laura Image

“This is going to take some time,” I thought, as I was asked to draw my attention to the big toe of my left foot at the start of my first body scan meditation.  I kept going though and was soon aware of tingling sensations in my feet I’d never noticed before.  When I reached my lower back, a surge of warmth spread up my spine.  By the end I was breathing with my entire body, from the top of my head to the tips of my toes.  I felt grounded, calm and peaceful, yet alert and awake.Read More