From Retreat 2019: Winter on the Island

Friends whispered that Winter on the Island was the most magical  I’ve been going to Holy Island for almost two decades – sometimes twice or three times a year. But until this January I had never been there in the Winter.  Most of the Mindsprings retreats take place in the Summer and Autumn when vivid-green […]

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Happy Year of the Earth Sow!

Sitting in the winter garden with a head cold I am planning to write a set of blog posts about my 2 week retreat on Holy Island this winter, but I thought I’d ease myself back into writing and using my left-brain with something more embodied and immediate. My husband and I both have terrific […]

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Leaving the Toddler Mind at the Porch of the Church

An art historian with a spooky and potentially kinky relationship I was just reading a lovely article by the New York composer Nico Muhly in the London Review of Books. He was describing his method of composition – which seems to involve a dizzying array of folders and layers and copies and projects which he […]

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My Teacher Reggie

Some basic facts about my teacher Reggie Ray I’m about to head off across the Atlantic and spend three weeks in the Rockies with my teacher Reggie.  So I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts and feelings about him – since I’m constantly referring, at least obliquely, to him in so many of my […]

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“Are you sitting uncomfortably…?” – The perils of being comfortable

A failure to empty the dishwasher correctly amounts to a War Crime There’s a great Milan Kundera quote: “The longing for order is at the same time a longing for death, because life is an incessant disruption of order.” This is something that I have – in a slightly more buoyant fashion – been contemplating […]

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Uncomfortable Quotes #4: angel Kyodo Williams on the whiteness of Buddhist meditation

“Buddhism was brought to the West mostly by young Jewish people and some Christians, who were white, mostly. […] White culture affected — for example, the focus on meditation, which is, again, what the 21st-century West knows as a headline about Buddhism. This, in fact, is not the primary practice for most of the world’s […]

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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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