Day 12 - Friday
I woke up early again so I got out of my sleeping bag and went outside to sit in the garden with my deerskin on. It's nippy at 5am but refreshing - the dawn chorus is immense with all the birds trying to outdo each other with their songs! The beautiful dawn chorus is a tightly orchestrated melody with each species of bird given its own moment in the spotlight. Here in Devon it seems that the robins and dunnocks open the show, singing about an hour before sunrise, and then the blackbirds and song thrushes take over. Finally as the song builds to crescendo, the wrens, tits and warblers join in along with the tiny call of the goldcrest. It is such a beautiful thing to hear at the start your day, beauty, sound, energy all combining in this wonderful melody.
I appear to have a runny nose and sore throat – I hope that's not the signs of a cold coming on. Even though the bothy is a haven to put all my gear in and have a relatively dry space to sleep, it most certainly is cold and a little damp. I also have only the basics of medical kit with me (mainly homeopathic remedies) so any illness is definitely not welcomed. If the weather is half decent, I will camp out tonight under my little shelter which is close by to the bothy, to see if night fresh air will help.
I have begun to ponder the question of ego. How ego controls much of what we do and act, and how to get towards being 'egoless'. Much of our 'worse' side is controlled by how we want to appear to others. In place of ego, jockeying for right of position, is humility - an acceptance for who we truly are. This little struggle exists in many of us - ego versus humility. In order to turn the balance in favour of humility is not (well, at least for me) a simple act to put into place, as ego has been there as the 'inner talk' from a very early age, indeed from when we were children.
I believe we can make that shift through conscious effort through mediation and reflection. An opening of the compassionate heart through these methods will gently push ego into the background and allow humility and compassion to step forward as the default 'reaction' to how we walk our path. It is something I am working towards during this time, so that I can move forward with more humility in the future.
Note to self: my large gas canister gave up tonight, so I am now onto the smaller canisters of which I only have 3 of, so I will have to monitor closely how long the small ones last. Presently, I am only using the cooker for hot drinks, and the fire outside for main meals on the wok – if its not raining!
Day 13 - Saturday
Another grey start, but with the birds chirping away, it made for a happy start. Last night I went up into the woods to camp out. Sadly, the cloud cover meant no star gazing, but all the same it was nice to be outside with the sound of animals (badgers or foxes) rustling through the fallen leaves and twigs. I woke very early and just lay there hoping the clouds would clear to watch the sun rising. They did not so just after 5am I walked back to the bothy and a welcome hot cup of tea.
I sat outside with my deerskin and attempted to meditate. It turned out to be more reflection on the question of ego. It occurred to me that whereas we cannot completely let go of ego, there must be effective ways of 'side lining' it so the effects are lessened. Ego is the absence of true knowledge of who we really are. We allow ego to co-habit by ourselves clutching onto it at all costs - to provide us with a cobbled together and makeshift image of ourselves - one that we continually feed.
It's a bit like a patchwork quilt, a garment of many different sizes and colours, each holding a reaction to an experience. Then like a computer, we follow the advice of ego by pressing a piece of that patchwork to deliver the output - press the red patch for anger, press the striped patch for indignant behaviour, and so on. But it is not who we truly are! How can we truly get to know ourselves without abandoning ego's grasp on us?
It is a wonderful wake up call for me - someone who teaches 'know thyself' on leadership courses and yet, being honest I do not know myself! A quandary indeed and one I am enjoying getting to the bottom of.
Today I eat simple food with no meat yet, although I know I have bacon lurking in the food bag!
Day 14 - Sunday
A grey start to the day but by lunchtime the sun came beaming through. Buffy delivered the food box and what a magnificent collection it was too! There was all manner of goodies in it, so tonight I am going to have hake fillets! I think I ate too much when I had it, but it was truly delicious. Before she arrived as the sun was out I did a bit of clothes washing. Not sure how clean they get though as I only have washing up liquid to use.
I saw Buffy arriving from my 'hide' and she brought Harsha (the beautiful chocolate Labrador) too! After delivering the goods they went off for a walk – I hope they enjoyed the beach, although I think Harsha would have found difficulty with the pebbles and boulders.
I am a third of the way through my time here and can say I am well relaxed now, although I cannot help but think of home and also of Harry's (youngest son) return from his ski season. Solitude definitely makes you think about loved ones, which I miss enormously. I am blest to have my family and realise with all my being how lucky I am. I have also started to use the time to meditate. In the past I have found it difficult to ‘clear’ my mind and would often get easily distracted by external events and thoughts.
Preparation for Meditation
I therefore started to work on a small preparation ritual for meditation. Of course, this may not work for you as we are all different (thankfully) but it helps me ready myself for meditation. Although I describe this for the outdoors, it can easily be adapted for indoors as well:
1. Wait for the sun to shine or at least know the direction it is if hiding behind clouds.
2. Expose your heart to the sun (chest out towards the sun).
3. Take off your shoes and socks so that your feet feel the earth below.
4. By doing this you are grounded with Mother Earth through the soles of your feet and open to the heavens above through your heart.
5. Sit (or stand whichever you prefer) in a comfortable pose, back straight, legs apart, arms on your knees or to the side and look forward.
6. Now breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
7. Be aware of your breathe in and hold it when your lungs are comfortably full. Count to 3 then exhale slowly. Imagine with each breath you are filling every cell in your body with life giving oxygen and the light from the heavens.
8. Listen to your heart gradually slow to the tempo of your breath.
9. After 5 minutes or so of gentle breathing you have now prepared yourself for the next stage - meditation.
In the next post I will re-discover the beauty of truly connecting to the earth and all around me with a simple but often neglected method. Thank you for reading!