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Steven Pinker, Enlightenment Now : On reading writers you might not like

Steven Pinker, a bone fide factual juggernaut On a random walk through London last year, I stopped at a lovely bookshop and splurged on a handful of random titles that piqued my interest. One was a little book. A transcript of a Canadian debate between Steven Pinker and Matt Ridley on one side and Alain […]

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Dissociation: Greying out the Mind

Since finishing my therapy degree 6 years ago, dissociation has haunted me…   The image I often use to describe dissociation is the ‘greyed out’ options you see on your computer when you click on a tab. You really want to press it but, for some reason,  the system has greyed it out. For humans, […]

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Dancing directly with the holy terror of death

Ever since teaching a course on the Buddhist four reminders in February this year, I’ve been dancing with the holy terror around death. I chant the Four Reminders every morning as part of my practice and those earthy Tibetan phrases push my nose into the terrific aspects of being alive. (Terrific being the adjective from terror […]

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What is somatic meditation?

somatic-meditation

What does this word somatic mean and how does it relate to meditation? Somatic meditation means ‘of the body’ in contrast to ‘of the mind’ or the psyche. The soma points us to the raw material of the human body rather than the mind. For several years now I’ve been moving towards a style of […]

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FROM RETREAT#7: Candles and food

It’s been two weeks since my retreat ended in Sussex – and yesterday it snowed. All across the garden, the hellebores, crocuses and snowdrops I’d uncovered with careful weeding were covered again with delicate white. A lace of fine snow. The clarity of the retreat hasn’t dimmed too much. Perhaps also covered by a lace […]

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FROM RETREAT #6: Light Over Tidemills

Tidemills is a former 19th C. workers village on the shingle beach between Seaford and Newhaven where I live. It was built to harness the movement of the tide up and down a salt-water creek and was a thriving community in the mid 1800s. When the mill was closed it became a slum and people […]

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FROM RETREAT #5: Sitting with the Jellyfish Within

It’s amazing over the course of a retreat day how many different Alistairs show up on the cushion. I was practising around 8 hours a day within 4 session and each time I padded across the garden to the Shrine room and sat down on my zafu, I was astonished how completely varied the constellation […]

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FROM RETREAT #4: Daylight and the Fourth Time

About half way through the retreat – after the fireworks of NYE were a distant memories and I’d got used to the regular routine of my day – something happened to time. I would get up at 5 o’clock each morning and meditate till 7 and have a nice, nourishing breakfast, sitting on the little […]

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FROM RETREAT #3: Field becomes Figure, Background becomes Foreground

Bimbling around the wintery garden in my ‘chores’ window each afternoon, I was very aware of that inner soundtrack of my thoughts – often irritated or obsessive – cycling round just as, days before, strains of “Jesus Christ Superstar” had cycled round. Sometimes as I yanked at resistant clumps of grass or grappled dandelion roots […]

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