Hidden Pathways / Hola Weg

Hollow Way 2In life we are presented with many pathways, some are already set out before us, some we discover with guidance from others and some are presented to us, signposted along the path we are already traveling.  In the past I have had information presented to me from family and friends, books, videos and self-help seminars/courses that I’ve taken an interest in and signed up for. All of this information has been of value to me in taking my chosen path, some of greater value than others but all giving me the priceless gift of choice, a choice to either follow a new pathway or remain along my existing route. Possibly like me you too have made some good and bad choices throughout your life, I know that I’ve made some bloody awful ones so don’t feel bad about. Those bad choices can be turned into lessons with the help of ‘Hidden Pathways’.

So what is a hidden pathway? ~ It’s the route to those answers we alone can answer, those books and videos have to be put aside and no one else’s answers will do. We need to sit this exam by our-selves. Sometimes we accidentally stumble across these pathways like an unexpected gift or we learn to read the signs, the signs that lead us to the information laying dormant deep inside of us which has been waiting quietly and patiently to be reawakened to harmonise our mind, body and soul. Our emotions and feelings, those tingles that run up and down our spines, the butterflies in our stomachs, those things we call gut feelings are all signs we sadly so often ignore; until it’s too late!  Ignoring those signs can and eventually will lead to failure appearing again and again in our lives. Failures, broken relationships, depression, reoccuring illnesses, hatred and anger. These are all the results of not heeding the inner signposts and maintaining our struggle along an ill chosen path.

hollowway 1There are hidden pathways in the physical world, in Nature, which themselves are signposts which guide us towards that all important connection with our own inner-pathways. Here in Dorset where I am fortunate to live, the land itself is a Gateway into a world of hidden paths. Its foundation was laid down in the early Jurassic period and moulded over the millennia by both man and nature. Here you will discover the Hollow Ways (harrowed land, sunken roads and lanes derived from the old English word ‘hola weg’), a series of paths created from ancient tracks spreading across the landscape, developed as the traffic of time increased from primitive hunter gatherer tribes simply trying to exist followed later perhaps by a single lonely pilgrim making his way from one ancient sacred site to the next, herdsmen leading their stock to new grazing grounds or on to market. Progress changed these small informal paths into busy highways with wagons, carriages and coaches traveling along them to bring people and resources together across the countryside. Slowly but surely over the centuries these former tracks were being widened and worn lower and lower into the landscape whilst the vegetation on each side took over to create an ethereal canopy by day and a sinister pit of darkness by night.

Unfortunately in these modern times soul- less major roads, motorways and railways have taken their place, their purpose remain the same and they provide us with the benefits we all demand today. But the heart has been ripped out of them leaving the traveller so disconnected from the environment as they move far too quickly from place to place to be able to read the signs of their ancestors creation. Those signs that lead to the hidden pathways of your soul which save you from the madness of society that surrounds and devours us all eventually. However all is not lost my friends, if you leave your car behind and walk away from modernity for a time and enter that Gateway, take time to soak up the landscape, look beyond the surface image in front of you and the signs will emerge, the ‘hola weg’ will take you within your-self, to a land where questions are answered.

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Garden of Learning

1 Garden of LearningI’ve often said (and I’m not alone in thinking this) that nature and gardening in particular teaches us about life, if only we will let it, and this past Spring and the early Summer has been a particularly special lesson.

With a March filled with unseasonal sunshine and lack of rain, I like many a keen, or should that be impatient, gardeners I thought this was a signal to get a head start with sowing and propagating seeds.  Things went well and I had a batch of healthy looking plants which I was rightly proud of.  But of course Mother Nature had other ideas and instead of whispering to me that I had jumped the gun She decided to send weeks of heavy rain, strong winds and temperatures that made my flip flops curl.  So no planting out happened or rather those that were plunged into the earth too soon were quickly sent to the big compost bin in the sky.

So what were the lessons learned ….

  • Be patient, there is a right time for everything, a natural sequence of events needs to fall into place.
  • Beware the false dawn, just because things look right doesn’t mean the moment you have desired has arrived or if it has you may not be ready for it in that time and place.
  • Be respectful, don’t expect too much from others they will support you in their own way in their own time.
  • Be prepared to admit your mistakes and don’t lay the blame for them at other peoples doorsteps.
  • Last but not least …. read the instructions on the seed packet!

I’m not saying, don’t take chances or risks and of course use your entrepreneurial talents to the full … go for it and sow your seeds.   But always be prepared to change or endure a period of standing still and never be afraid of failure.   Every now and then take some self- time to consider what effect your actions have and will make on your life and that of others around you and if and when all the signals are on green, your time has come, enjoy it with enthusiasm and joy.  Have a happy garden and you’ll live a happy life!

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Everything Is As It Should Be

1 Everything Is As It Should BeWatching Mother Nature at work right here in my own back yard over the past few weeks has been a stark reminder that there are certain things in life I cannot change, they are simply meant to be and there is no point at all in trying to change them.  It is far more important to accept these events, move forward and to work on those things that can and need to be changed.  The weather here has been the most un-springlike I can remember for a long time and if I’m honest I have been more than a little frustrated with it all.  Seeds have been washed away in the constant downpours whilst healthy young plants have been battered into submission by the howling winds, and I have blamed and cussed at nature for her seemingly destructive ways.

In a moments respite, with the sun trying its best to brighten up the last day of April, I walked around the garden expecting the worst, dreading the carnage I would see.  But of course I didn’t see any such thing!  Apart from the seeds I had sown and the plants I had transplanted, much too early I must now hasten to add, being no more, everything was as it should be.  Nature was still at work busily sending out new growth towards the light, buds breaking into bloom and insects busy doing what they do.  It made me understand or rather reminded me, that I cannot change the rhythm of nature nor of life, far better to relax, feel at one with what is and change what only needs to be changed.

Lessons from nature can be hard to grasp at times and not always easy to carry out in everyday situations, but by looking inside of ourselves and dealing with the frustration and anger that is there is the only cure.  Laying blame at others feet is merely a temporary release, the hurt will be felt over and over again, escalating each time like a top spinning out of control.  So now I sit and watch the rain, listen to the wind and feel at peace, simply knowing that it is I that has changed and everything in the garden is rosy again … it is as it should be!

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Living In Simplicity

“If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable.”

Rainer Maria Rilke ~ ‘Letters to a Young Poet’

1 Living In SimplicityMaybe it’s a part of the ageing process, perhaps it’s having worked with people suffering from brain disorders, possibly it’s a combination of both, all I know is that recently my views on life have become simplified.  I get as much pleasure and inspiration from merely ‘seeing’ (as opposed to merely ‘looking at’) a handful of sand; contemplating the unseen wonders that it contains.  The more I sit, walk and connect with Nature the feeling of living in simplicity grows, it becomes a way of putting things I used to worry or get angry about into perspective; life, the world, the universe goes on whether I’m happy or sad, compassionate or frustrated; life, the world, the universe goes on.

Living in simplicity doesn’t mean (to me) giving things up, becoming a lonely pilgrim on an untrodden path to somewhere unknown.  It means appreciating the simple beauty of nature, finding time to allow it to enter my soul, enjoying the song of the wind, the rhythm of the rain, the warmth of the day and the secretive chill and darkness of the night.  Doing all this simply, not trying to work out all the why’s and why not’s, simply appreciating each grain of sand, each different, yet all the same, millions of grains held in my hand, billions making up the beach I walk along, separate but one.

Why complicate the world we live in,  why miss out on the amazingness that is all around us, that we are all an  integral part of, when we could be living in simplicity, in completeness and harmony.  When I see that handful of sand I see myself, a grain of humanity, tiny in size but vital to the bigger picture that is life itself.  Remove a grain of sand from a dune and it enters a state of change, it shifts and alters shape yet remains a dune. We’re no different, we can shift our beliefs, we can alter our appearance, move homes, change our friends but we remain the physical beings we were before.  Of course we can become better individuals, more compassionate and loving but unless we start living in simplicity we will still mistake who and what we are for who and what we believe should be.

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Nature Isn’t Perfect!

1 Nature Isn't PerfectIt may surprise you to hear me say that ‘Nature Isn’t Perfect.’  That’s right, me the person who is always preaching about the beauty and harmony of nature saying that it’s not perfect!  The thing is that nature remains beautiful despite it’s imperfection, unlike many of us it accepts that perfection is unattainable and continues to grow and evolve with its focus on survival and being the best it can at any given moment.  If perfection were possible what would there be after it, nothing!  There would be no space to expand into and life as we know it would come to an end.

When we too accept that we are not perfect and concentrate on simply doing and being our best in each moment then we put ourselves in a position to learn from our errors and grow, instead of putting up barriers of unworthiness, inability and a myriad of other excuses.  These barriers are the demons of those who seek the unattainable and become their doubts and fears because they failed to reach what wasn’t there. They believe those dark emotions to be true and take on their false identity of inadequacy, self loathing and blame whilst their true selves get locked away in the darkness.  The most painful thing of living amongst these fears is that we can create our own state of perfection (always being right even when we know we are wrong, ridiculing those with differing beliefs without understanding and hearing without listening) and unless we recognise it and do something about it our compassion and spirituality will wither and die.

If a tree loses a bough in a storm it heals the wound and continues to grow, it doesn’t stop being what it was before the storm.  Seeds and bulbs accept they are not perfect, unable to sprout in all conditions, they flourish and bloom only when the time is right and until then are happy to simply remain being what they are, seeds and bulbs. To be as nature, to trust and believe in who you are and not to try and reach perfection in every moment, in everything you do and say,  you will be living authentically and in peace with yourself.  Eventually the darkness of doubt and fear will recede to be replaced by the light of your imperfection, the light of who you truly are and can be.  You will eventually be able to enjoy just being the best you can be and like nature you will have created the space to expand and grow into your next level of non-perfection; if nature isn’t perfect neither are you, don’t be afraid of it, just enjoy it!

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Natures Night School

1 Natures Night SchoolAs darkness begins to fall you can witness the changes that occur within your very being. Senses become more alert and there is a subtle difference in the feelings of the shadows of your mind. Sounds and images become muted and shapeless until  that is when that precious moment arrives and your soul connects with the spirits of place. This is when you are permitted to see a whole new world, a brand new perception of who and what you are, so different from the concepts found in the bright light of  day.

Sitting quietly in a garden lit only by the moons reflected light is a great way of re-finding the inner You, the soul that is so often hidden and/or ignored during busy modern daytime living.  The spirit of the garden changes to a welcoming sanctuary, bringing calm and harmony with it’s night time essence. Newly awakened scents draw in the creatures of the evening; moths drift slowly through the cooling air like tiny glowing orbs seeking out nature’s life giving nectar. The birds nightly twilight operetta is gradually being replaced by the repetitive rhythms of croaking frogs and toads calling to find a mate. Shrubs rustle in their sleep, disturbed perhaps by a hungry hedgehog, snuffling as it forages through the damp undergrowth seeking tasty grubs and slugs; a gardeners friend indeed.

The call of an owl  cracks the air, sounding like an ancestral bell tolling us to worship. Asking us to be still, to listen and learn the secrets of the past being gently revealed inside of ourselves.  Lessons that can only be learned in the stillness of the night, an ancient wisdom to be gleaned by those of us prepared to open up to the darkness and allow the light of nature past, present and future to enter deep into our hearts.  It’s there above us and below us, it’s external and internal, making us ‘one’ with no separation from all that has been, is and will be.  It’s there totally exposed for those who have eyes that see and for those that trust and believe in its love to become a part of.  Gloriously we can never lose the opportunity to have this knowledge, we are an everlasting part of it spiritually and physically, we should embrace it, enjoy it and share it.  Night school has a whole new different meaning, a place where exciting experiences full of creative forces await us when Mother Nature lets Her night time tutors take over.  Enrol in Her classes tonight, there will always be room for you, everyone is welcome and they’re Free!

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Look Through Time and Seize The Moment

History NatureLooking through time and seizing the moment is just one of the methods I use to meditate and connect with Nature and History and I recommend everyone do it whenever the opportunity arises. Any environment works but a natural landscape such as a beautiful countryside, coastal or mountainous panorama definitely has a much deeper, stronger bond for me; but you will find your own personal ‘home’.

When you look at a landscape remember that place is not just simply there, it has taken millennia to evolve into whatever it is you see at that moment in time.  The towering chalky and sandstone cliffs that form the present south coast of England that I love to roam were once the the seabed and maybe again at some time in the future.  The rolling rural fields that make up so much of the beautiful countryside were previously woodlands and forests where a totally different range of flora, fauna and wildlife thrived; where foresters once tended the land and the battles of our war torn history took place.

This exercise connects me not only to wherever I happen to be, it puts the whole living in the moment process easier to comprehend and use in other areas of my life; things have changed, things will continue to change but the only place to see, feel, hear and even smell these changes are there in that moment, that time and that place.  Enjoy it!

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Nature and Relationships

1 Nature & RelationshipsNature in Springtime in particular can be a harsh period for us in regards to relationships, choices have to be made and old friends reluctantly discarded and new ones embraced.  Whilst working in my garden these past few day these decisions met me head on but they had to be made to maintain a balance of harmony and future productivity.  There were shrubs and plants that had outlived their use, they had either withered and died during the long and unrelenting Winter months or had simply grown old and tired no longer able to continue their cyclic  journey.  They had to go, to be replaced so as to allow the garden to move on, to flourish and develop, bringing new life and a new beginning.

The easy part was to observe those plants that needed to be changed, to stand back and witness that they had once served me well. To see that they had done all they could to survive was clearly obvious. Harder to take was the physical action of pulling them from the earth, it seemed like an act of ingratitude inflicted on an old friend.  However, knowing that the gaps they left were filled with their natural energy, nourishing the soil and ready to accept the new life that was to replace them filled the emptiness within me with Natures light and love. I can now look forward to a garden filled with the promise of this new beginning, a new outlook to embrace and love, the same love and light that Nature gave to me I can return with gratitude to the earth … and so the cycle of Nature and Life goes on.

This relationship between Nature and Self also applies outside of the garden, it applies to our physical family, friends and lovers. The vibrational connection we have with the people we know changes. Sometimes it grows stronger or weaker than our own (it may be theirs, our own or both) and we grow apart, confused with misunderstandings and misgivings. These are the signs that we need to tend to our garden of relationships carefully. Not necessarily discarding everyone that we don’t resonate with on a physical level but it is vital if we are to move forward in harmony with Ourselves on our Spiritual journey that these vibrational changes be heeded and actioned accordingly. Like in the garden, the gaps old friends leave will be replaced by others who are more in harmony with Ourselves, allowing our Spirits to grow in the light and love of Nature.

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The Eternal Journey

1 Eternal JourneyBubbling like a spring, laughing like a brook, dancing like a stream, gliding like a river and roaring like an ocean all the while flowing with life.  Full of light, timeless energy and the pure essence of nature; wandering at one through the landscape not knowing its final destination but trusting and  knowing it will arrive.

Enduring the whirlpools and eddies, the dams, currents and tides it grows with age, gaining strength, leaving the past behind and embracing the new; always, always moving forward with an unknown determined purpose.  Transforming its elemental-self from water to air then back to air, returning once more to the land from whence it came to begin its eternal journey.

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Letting Go!

1 Letting GoYou know how it is sometimes, you have a niggle going on in your head but you can’t quite grasp what it is and why it’s there. Well, if you don’t I do and for the past couple of weeks there’s been something nagging away at me, making me uncomfortable not knowing what it is.  As is usual when I’m not feeling too great I went out for a walk, not heading anywhere in particular, just strolling along with my uneasiness for company.

Unsurprisingly after a while I found myself sitting in Nature, or rather perched on a rock on the local beach, in the rain.  The beach was deserted as is usual for this time of year apart from a few people walking their dogs who instinctively gave me a wide berth.  As I sat and watched the dogs scurrying in and out of the water and listened to the shallow hissing of the waves ebbing and flowing across the sand I felt engulfed in my surroundings, lost, my mind absent from any reality and my whole being swallowed by the sea.

I was disturbed by a soggy looking dog, brave enough to have an encounter with this stranger on his beach, he had a piece of driftwood hanging from his mouth and stood there shaking with excitement, his eyes pleading with me to join him in his world of fun and games. I reached for the stick, he backed away then teased me by creeping nearer. Eventually I managed to grasp one end and entered into a game of tug of war, both of us pulling and pushing, each giving way in turn.

“Let Go,” I kept telling my little friend, “Let Go,” and after tempting me for a while longer he did. He let go leaving me holding the prize.  Again he sat looking at me, this time in anticipation, his expression was telling me to throw the stick for him … to Let Go! Swinging my arm I flung the wood along the beach, the dog followed, barking as he went but now running towards his owner who had appeared further along the shore, ignoring the stick and heading home. Left by myself I got up and walked towards the stick, bent down, picked it up and studied it.

There was a message in that driftwood, not carved, not written, but a lesson was embedded in it somewhere, if only I could find it!  Holding it tightly I closed my eyes and breathed in the fresh sea air, taking it down deep inside of me then releasing it back to where it was born. As I exhaled I opened my eyes and instantly a smile spread across my face, my arm went back and I flung the piece of wood as far as I could into the foaming waters, crying out to the wind … “Let Go!”

Laughing to myself I wandered along the beach, the rain had stopped and a watery sun was beginning to warm the sand.  My mind was clear, the nagging voices had disappeared along with the dog who had given up his for me, and the stick which had revealed it’s lesson and was now drifting with the tide … and I had Let Go. I still don’t know what it was that I had let go of and it doesn’t really matter anymore. Whatever it was it’s gone, floating out to sea to be cleansed and then returned to another beach somewhere, perhaps to help someone else to Let Go.”

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