It’s not often in our lifetime we get the chance to spend time in the company of an enlightened being. Amma, the hugging Indian spiritual master, came to London for three days in November. Spending time with her is quite literally the equivalent of being around Jesus or the Buddha.
You can read my article about Amma in Cygnus Review.
In preparation for seeing her, I took myself off on solitary retreat to a secluded hut in the woods the week before. The six nights I spent with the owls and the five days with the squirrels included 11.11.11.
Wood burning stove, compost loo and some food was all I needed. The hut has no running water or electricity. Its simplicity aptly supports the simplicity of Mindfulness practice. Virtually everything I ate and drank was out of one white china bowl. Secretly, I schemed to get rid of most of our crockery at home, such is my longing to be able to take this pared down living back to my every day with me.
I spent my time meditating, chanting and walking in the estuary landscape of Devon’s river Dart. The only book I took with me was ‘Messages from Amma in the Language of the Heart’. These are brief quotes and teachings for daily reflection and inspiration. On my last day, as I settled down to meditate, I opened it at random:
‘Spiritual practice is crucial.
As the seed of the plant
only bears fruit if rightly cultivated,
the truth of the human being
only shines brightly through spiritual practice.’
Here is some poetry I wrote. May it help you keep your practice and your life simple!
A Retreat in Five Days
Just this autumn rain falling
Just this leaf pirouetting
Just this moment
Just this breath
Just this puddled footpath
Just this sun warming my cheek
Just these white yachts
Moored in the distance
Swans, with their tall necks
Just this walking
Just these dried blackberry husks
Gift wrapped in cob webs and dew
Just this stream gently flowing
Just this breath gently flowing
Just this stove
Just this laying my nest of kindling
Just delighting in the flames
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