Clinging and pushing away

There’s an exercise that can help us reflect on the knee-jerk tendency to cling to what makes us feel good and push away what makes us feel bad:  

Sit quietly for a few minutes and become mindful of your breath as it goes in and out. Then contemplate what you do when you’re unhappy or dissatisfied and want to feel better. Even make a list if you want to. Then ask yourself: Does it work? Has it ever worked? Does it soothe the pain? Does it escalate the pain? If you’re really honest, you’ll come up with some pretty interesting observations.

Pema Chödrön, Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change

Not hardening the heart

Anytime I go to the West of Ireland I am always struck by the vastness of the horizons and the wildness of the ocean.  This photo comes from Valentia Island, a beautiful,  enchanted, place off the South West coast, with peaceful walks and windy beaches, seals, puffins and seabirds. But it is from the movement of the ocean that we can learn most, how to remain spacious and keep the heart soft, open and fluid. 

May there come across the waters 
A path of yellow moonlight 
To bring you safely home. 
May the nourishment of the earth be yours, 
May the clarity of light be yours, 
May the fluency of the ocean be yours, 
May the protection of the ancestors be yours. 
And so may a slow 
Wind work these words 
Of love around you, 
An invisible cloak 
To mind your life. 

John O’Donoghue, Beannacht

(If you are ever tempted to visit this beautiful place, I would highly recommend this airbnb, run by Tom, a deeply thoughtful man and the perfect host. He runs a lovely house  with well-stocked bookshelves, ideal for a reflective break.)

His house can be found at https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/32330925