Earth Day

“In nature, nothing exists alone.”
— Rachel Carson, 1962

honeycomb close up detail honey bee

Photo by Pixabay on

The Silent Spring, her book, was an early warning we didn’t heed. Maybe mindfulness helps us to see the links between everything, and maybe we can pledge to make some significant changes in our lives

Mindful Singing

I did wonder what they would make of it when I recently offered to lead/facilitate some mindful singing at the Mindfulness Association Joyful Club weekend. I am not a great singer, but there is something about the connection to other people and the sense of being more than just me, the small “I”, at least some of the time, until I get caught up with “Am I doing this right?” and I wanted to share this and see if others got it in the way that I do.

I had the good fortune to go to Plum village a couple of years ago. In the Community of Interbeing, singing is an important part of the expression / practice of mindfulness. I realised how sharing and singing together allowed and even helped me to open and soften, very close to the experience I have of connecting with compassion, and it also  supported  being in, and aware of, the present moment . The daily singing allowed or helped me to drop the internal  yadda-yadda dialogue, and  the daily practice and silence allowed my throat and heart and chest to open so that singing came from a deeper gut, more relaxed place. If you do any singing you will maybe notice how at the end of a session your speaking voice can sound/feel deeper and richer.

So there is a loop, singing gets me into the place and gives me a small echo of resting in awareness, being in the “is-ness” of the present moment. You don’t hang on to the notes, once you sing a note it is out there and you bring the next one. Once there is some familiarity with the song,  I think it is possible to get the feeling of being in the song while singing, even though I guess I am still doing something.

And from the other perspective, formal practice has an effect on my groundedness and openness in singing. And in the feeling of being with and being in harmony with others, allows or enables a softening and opening up in me. It also helps to get me out of that small “I”, really demonstrating the connection to others and the sense of being more than, being a part of something outside myself.

And all of this perhaps allows me to glimpse what Tsoknyi Rinpoche is talking about when he talks about experiencing the freedom within ourselves, and awakening the heart.

It was such a pleasure to play with some of this in the group. I am so grateful; that the joyful club were up for giving it a go and experimenting, so that even though I was leading, I could still get glimpses: of being here in this body; breathing and singing in the simple and rather lovely mix of it all.

Thanks to all those who were there.

Sharon Salzberg

I had the good fortune to hear Sharon Salzberg at the Mindfulness Association Summer Conference. she is such an experienced teacher and practitioner, but holds it very lightly and offers a real view of practicing kindness in the world we live in.




Please Call Me by My True Names

Don’t say that I will depart tomorrow—
even today I am still arriving.

Look deeply: every second I am arriving
to be a bud on a Spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death
of all that is alive.
I am a mayfly metamorphosing
on the surface of the river.
And I am the bird
that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.

I am a frog swimming happily
in the clear water of a pond.
And I am the grass-snake
that silently feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin a bamboo sticks.
And I am the arms merchant,
selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl,
refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean
after being raped by a sea pirate.
And I am the pirate,
my heart not yet capable
of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo,
with plenty of power in my hands.
And I am the man who has to pay
his “debt of blood” to, my people,
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like Spring, so warm
it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.
My pain is like a river of tears,
so vast it fills the four oceans.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up
and the door of my heart
could be left open,
the door of compassion.

Thich Nhat Hanh