My dad tried our Stillness and Silence half-hour meditation once, he hated it.
I think he just found the sitting still too frustrating and pointless. 'Why sit, when you can be doing something useful? Others have steered clear, noting that it's when they stop, their brain goes into overdrive and overwhelm occurs. Meditation is not for everyone, but are there perhaps other ways to help us get away from it all, still our thoughts, or think more clearly?
In the last few weeks we have hosted various Pilgrims in our Shepherd’s Hut, walking the Cornish Celtic Way. They come along the Southwest Coastal Path to us, eat a simple soup meal and sleep on a ‘proper’ bed listening to the horses shuffling in the field around them. The rest of the way, they may be sleeping on church floors, WI huts or B&Bs, as they journey across Cornwall and down to St Michael’s Mount.
My guest this morning told me that instead of walking the 125 miles listening to a playlist, or podcast, she has chosen to do it in silence. The silence of nature, that is. She explained that she wanted to gift herself time to listen to her heart and the ‘still small voice’. Although we try to practice weekly Stillness and Silence at Treargel, some find that simple movement can be more helpful to meditation than being still. This may be yoga or tai chi, knitting or walking. Brother Lawrence in the 1660s, was known for doing his thinking and praying washing up the pots and pans for his fellow monks. The concentration and movement can help us to stop the mind from whirring thoughts and the body from busyness, enabling us to think more clearly or deeper or simply just to Be and abide.
Although doing the Cornish Celtic Way sounds idyllic, just walking along ancient paths and hearing the birdsong, it is challenging. A guest last week said she found it harder than climbing Snowdon and our previous guests have just finished 139 miles in 10 days. However, they do it because it gives them time to think. Walking often helps us think about our life's journey, the paths we are on, and any crossroads ahead. Perhaps because this is a liminal time, where we are not in our usual modes of thinking or doing. Or because the movement helps activate a more creative side of our brain. They say this is what happens when people walk or pray a labyrinth. Other life metaphors that come to mind when walking might include; taking the up with the down, (especially on the coastal path) not always knowing the way, and the joys of a good cuppa when you’re exhausted.
Susy Putnam, our guest this week, found that painting the Hermitage helped her to get away and take time for herself. While here she also listened to the coots in the pond, her podcasts and walked to the beach. We are so thankful to her for preserving the Hermitage for another few years, in exchange for free accommodation. If you would like to do some active meditation somewhere beautiful and peaceful, Treargel is the place for you. Look for our 'Monastic Gardening Fare' on the Accommodation page.
So, whether you do it in Stillness or in Motion, I hope you too can take some time to Think Clearly today.
While you are here, why not take a look at our updated website, with lots of new pictures and quotes? The cottages are fairly booked over the summer, but there are places available in September and October when the weather is usually kind and the roads are less busy.
Guests in the Byre recently told us;
We had such a peaceful and restorative stay - thank you so much for sharing such a beautiful slice of the world with us!
We have a few spaces left in the newly painted Hermitage this summer. It's a great place for Thinking Clearly, but don't just take my word for it.
“The time and space gave me much clarity, and being able to just explore Cornish country, beaches, islands etc was just what I needed.”