| May Journal |

Here we are
All of us searching
Seeking fulfilment
Seeking a role
Seeking transcendence.

Paddling upriver
A tense frown beaded in sweat.
To stop would mean to fall down stream
To be taken by the current
And this is what we fear most.

When will we learn?
When will we allow ourselves to see?
That the answers lie not upstream
But in the current itself.

When we stop fighting and take the ride in our stride
We are finally at liberty to connect.
We can grasp the things that are calling us
The things we couldn’t hear through the upstream battle.

The going shall be no less difficult,
When we turn our paddle with the tide,
In fact sometimes it will be harder,
But it will always feel more rewarding.
Because it is True.
Because it is You. 

Connection to Soul Purpose: Hun

The Soul Purpose, known as Hun in Chinese, is that which guides us to follow a particular path or share our unique qualities with the world. When we experience a disconnection from our Hun, we may feel alienated or at a loss as to what our role is. A lack of purpose. It is the Hun that helps us to find our authentic sense of self so that we can be at harmony with ourselves and the world around us. Developing and nurturing this relationship with our unique soul purpose is not the work of a month, but the work of a life time. Most of us are walking through life in search of a path that is the truest expression of the Self. It can be a journey of deep frustration, wrought with emotional baggage, uncomfortable truths and de-conditioning.

We are in the midst of an exciting time. Where for a long time I was fearful for my generation - that we had lost connection to what really mattered; that we were somehow diluting our sense of personal identity; that we were resigning ourselves to lives of mediocrity - I now feel more hopeful. Not without some hesitation it must be said. More and more people are questioning the system. Becoming passionate. Demanding action. This is breathing life into an area of stagnancy, yes, but are we at risk of replacing one form of “group think” with another? Perspectives are certainly shifting rapidly, but are they becoming any more open, or have we become just as rigid in our new beliefs and preferences? Our actions still appear to require a social validation. Much of our behaviour is dictated by societal programming, even if the horizon has changed hue for better or worse. We still choose to absorb wisdom from without rather than within. And the result is that all circumstances will be somehow flawed. Our mutual desire to be “right” leads to all sorts of hidden intolerances. But as the sacred teaching goes, do you want to be right or do you want to be free? Why do we become so inflamed? Why do we allow resentments to consume us? Why does every desire for an ultimate good deed first require a fight? Is it because we live in an inherently flawed world? Partially. Or is it because, whether consciously or unconsciously, we are all still harbouring a deep desire to be right? Most likely. For it is a natural characteristic of the human condition. And like many other impulses that we must curb in order to progress spiritually or materially, our rigid desire to be right and to be seen to be right, must also be controlled. For as a great Chinese sage once pointed out, ‘death is rigid, life is flexible’.

We are in the middle of the season of growth and movement. Dreams and plans are beginning to be played out. Momentum is gaining, but we must be careful to stay connected. Not to allow ourselves to be swept up in the general hustle of the season. But to commit to the search. To the journey of finding what our soul purpose looks like. To make sure that the goal we are chasing is really worth the fight. We cannot seek this outside of ourselves. It is unique and deeply personal. We must not be afraid of false starts. Of changing course. For every wrong turn and accidental backtrack we make, the more we learn about who we really are and where we are truly trying to get to. Finding your dharma doesn’t necessarily mean finding your profession. It doesn’t mean waking up and knowing that you must become a lawyer, although it might. Most of us are on a treasure hunt. We pick up clues here and there. Little hints to guide us on our path. But we must open our eyes to these signals. Not sweep by them but take note, feel intuitively into any direction that fully lights you up, and not settle for anything less. This process requires patience, trust, and a healthy sense of self worth. Follow the things you love; be true to the philosophy that fills you up; do not be afraid of falling and standing back up again - all is coming.

Journalling: Soul Purpose

When we find ourselves confronted with existential questions such as, where am I going? What am I here for?, we are being pointed to the spiritual issue of the Wood element. Wood is the energy of finding a path through life that is the most authentic expression of your unfolding unique soul. The issue of Wood is concerned with the most fundamental orientation of our life. There are several stage of life where we are called upon to clarify the direction we wish to pursue. It can be very challenging to find and maintain a steady course, particularly to a society that is very closed off to intuitive guidance. Most of us lack the clear vision necessary to pick a steadfast path, and the fear of uncertainty leads many of us to become entrenched in a lifestyle that brings us no room for growth and no fulfillment. To avoid this, we must build up Trust and not be afraid to change course when we are pulled in a different direction. We all have an inner compass and guiding principles that steer us at any given moment, the problem is that we haven’t learnt to feel for them.

Practice... Every day when you sit to journal, begin by making a list of things that you are attracted to in the present moment. Don’t give it any thought, just quickly note down whatever comes immediately. It might look something like this: ‘the beech tree in the park, my new scented candle, the quiet after I meditate, the ripe avocado in the kitchen, the sound of Hannah’s laughter, the colour blue...’ Just the first things that come to mind when you think of attraction or healthy craving. Once you have made your list, read through it and see how these things make you feel in your body. Any physical sensations, subtle or not. After you have established these feelings, you can begin relating these sensations to your answers to bigger questions. If you have any big changes happening or decisions that need making, sit with all the potential answers and see how they feel in the body. Start to become familiar with the workings of your inner compass. Be very open to the possibility that your path may alter considerably from where you had projected it. Try to write freely, with a clear head and open heart. You can even practice by giving yourself small questions to answer on a daily basis and become meditative in the way you choose to answer. 

Hirota Hyakuho, Painting of the Sun Rising

Seasonal Rhythms: Rising Early

Spring is the season of growth, creativity and the active pursuit of our soul purpose. In order to be effective in these endeavours it is important that you manage your time and energy as efficiently as possible and act from a place of clarity and balance. My aim is to convince you to try as hard as you can this month to get into a habit of rising early (and I mean early) and witness the effects it has on your productivity, health, and general outlook. If you really aren’t a morning person, I really urge you to commit even just to a week of early rising. I hope to convince you why...

Brahma Muhurta. Lord Brahma is the Hindu god of creation, so Brahma Muhurta literally means “the creator’s hour”. This period begins an hour and thirty-six minutes before the sun rises, which at the moment, in Yorkshire, is approximately 4am. Now this may seem extreme to many of you, so don’t worry, I’m not trying to convince you to wake this early, however I do feel it’s important to understand the philosophy and science behind this hour.

In āyurveda the three doshas, whilst always present in some quantity, each have periods where they are predominant in our environment. Kapha dosha, for example, is prdominant during Spring, and we can witness it’s earthy qualities of coolness and muddiness in nature. Kapha is also the main dosha responsible for growth and development, which is very much in evidence during Spring. Pitta dosha is predominant in the summer, as evidenced by the heat and intensity. Vāta is most present during the winter months, when the environment becomes cold, brittle and dry.

Just as the seasons can be broken up by dosha, so can the hours within the day:  

2am - 6am
2pm - 6pm
6am - 10am
6pm - 10pm
10am - 2pm
10pm - 2am

With these times in mind, we can structure our day in a manner that can optimise our health, productivity and spiritual advancement. For example we know that pitta dosha is linked closely to our digestive fire, and therefore we would do best to eat our largest meal of the day during the pitta hours of 10am - 2pm. We also know that kapha dosha is heavy and slow - more condusive to sleep and we should therefore aim to be winding down for sleep between the kapha hours of 6pm - 10pm.

Brahma Muhurta falls during the vāta period of 2am - 6am and therefore this is when we should be waking according to āyurveda. Vāta dosha, composed of air and ether elements, is the most condusive to spiritual practice - prayer, meditation, yoga, study etc. Although vāta dosha can be associated with a jittery mind that bounces from one place to another, during the early hour of the day the mind is in a place of inherent stillness, most conducive to finding a deep meditative state. When I was living as a brahmacharini (Hindu nun), everyday started at 3.30am and we would be in the temple in prayer and meditation until after the sun had risen.  This practice of dedicating the earliest hours of the day to spiritual practice meant that we could connect to prayer from a mystical space of silence. These early hours of sadhana didn’t seem to belong to the previous night, nor the day that was to follow. Like a capsule of sacred space in it’s own time, these hours didn’t belong to us. We felt we were on God’s time.  

Sri Thirumalai Krishnamacharya, known by many as the “father of modern yoga” and an advanced āyurvedic healer and scholar, was vehement that yoga should practiced at Brahma Muhurta and was adamant that the modern yogi must show reverance to the sun. This meant greeting the sun as it rose. To practice suryanamaskar (sun salutation) early in the morning is not only a deeply cleansing process for the physical body but it awakens divine qualities of mind that stills internal chatter and makes meditative state more easily accessible to the practitioner. 

It is important for us to feel purposeful and productive during the Spring season. We are taking on the qualities of the Wood element - strong yet flexible, overcoming the obstacles that may lie in our path, and pursuing our Soul Purpose. Rising early is closely linked to powerful manifestation. By giving ourselves space to set our intentions, clearing our minds of the things that cause only distraction or distress, we can have single pointed attention towards manifesting our goals. Carving out time early in your day to dedicate to quiet contemplation or an exploration of you creativity, whatever form that takes, without the distraction or stresses of your phone (keep it switched off!!) means you can start your working day from a centred space, having your needs already taken care of. This in turn leads to increased productivity, especially if you use some of your quiet morning time to make a list of chores for the day (I even like to do this the night before so I can hit the ground running after my morning Sadhana). Rising early also means you gift yourself the time to prepare a truly nourishing breakfast - soaking some grains for porridge; steeping a herbal infusion; juicing green vegetables etc. Also, by waking several hours before taking breakfast we help clear the body of toxins that have accumulated over the night and fire up the digestive system for the day ahead, helping with weight management and digestive health.

I know that waking at 4am is not realistic or sustainable for many people, but we can all try a little harder to give ourself some extra time in the morning to set ourselves up. I highly recommend waking before the sun rises, even if its just ten minutes before- roll out of bed, brush your teeth, wash your face, and drink some hot water outside or by the window as the light comes up. As well as being a beautiful and calming way to enter your day, watching the sunrise is highly beneficial to your hormonal health. At sunrise the light receptors on our skin and in our eyes are stimulated and the central nervous system alerts the brain that the day has begun. The brain in turn will release the hormone cortisol, which gives us the get-up-and-go drive. The light from the sun will balance our circadian rhythm leading to healthier hormone production throughout the day and into the night, therefore also supporting better sleep.

In the modern world of blue light, our bodies are constantly being told that its high noon. In a state of confusion the hormones become unbalanced resulting in a whole catalogue of different symptoms. By commiting to watching the sunrise and allowing the natural light to inform our internal systems, we at least establish a healthy starting point for our day. For this reason, when waking early try to avoid turning on any lights or looking at any screens until you have first seen the sunrise. Maybe this means lighting a candle or just moving slowly in the half-light of the dawn. Your body will thank you for allowing it to ease into the day like this. 

Pacification: The Inner Critic

I talk a lot in the journal about how we should work to shift our perspectives in order to optimise our spiritual development and the healthy, graceful functioning of body and mind. Wood element is an element of flexibility, and one of the most fundamental places to cultivate flexibility is in our points of view. When we become rigid in perspective, we create disharmony and often-times this results in dis-ease. To be rigid is a sickness and therefore we must cultivate the grace to be soft in our outlook on life, willing to shift perspective. 

The inner critic can also be known as the judge or the super ego. The inner critic is a normal and necessary part of the development of the psychic structure, and whilst the notion of the inner critic seems unattractive, it would not serve us to remove it entirely. The inner critic acts as the ‘civilising’ part of our interal dialogue. It helps us to become a functioning member of society by acting as a guide to what is deemed appropriate social action and behaviour. Without the inner critic it would be impossible to have a organised society or family structure, as we would all behave eratically and the result would be chaos. It acts as our conscience, restraining us when we feel natural impulses arise. We create an internal list of dos and don’ts, rights and wrongs, which we develop and modify on our journey to adulthood.

For an increasing number of people, however, the inner critic has taken on a disproportionate role. This is partially a result of increased societal programming and pressures that not only encourage group-think - preventing us from having independent thought - but establish an internal landscape of guilt, blameology and self-judgement. We, particularly the younger generations, continually attack ourselves and beat ourselves up on account of our socially programmed dos and don’ts. We self-depricate and have a difficult time stepping into our self-worth on account of the voice in our heads, or the shadow leaning over us. We speak to ourselves with a vocabulary we would never dream of extending to another. And the inner critic doesn’t only punish us with verbal criticism, but can attack in the form of feeling small, unworthy, heavy, weighed down. It is as if the resurgent, up-rising and dynamic energy of the internal Wood element is being suffocated.

What we are doing in these instances is taking the Wood energy, that would healthily be fuelling action and assertion of our place in the world and turning it on ourselves. By doing so we are limiting our ability to step into our authentic role and find our place in the world. We reflect judgement and criticisms onto ourselves, sometimes convincing ourselves that the world is out to get us, or that we are not worthy of respect, love, success, kindness, etc. But in reality we are succombing to the berating restraints of the disproportionate inner critic. So during the Spring time season of the Wood element, we find the perfect time to find a way of living with our inner critic in a way that takes note of the advice it has to offer, without taking it as a personal attack or somehow limiting our individuality and creative impulses. 

There is a Zen practice known as ‘Zero Doctrine’, which means approaching each and every situation life puts us into without any prefrabricated answers. By entering a situation with a very narrow lense, considering we already know the outcome, we are greatly narrowing our experience, and potentially sacrificing expansion.

Zero Doctrine means that you are not interested in what you, or anyone else, feels or thinks about the situation. You are interested in the Truth. And Truth is Nature.; it is Reality. And Truth is what was left after you breathed deeply, and entered into the meditative mind. Everything that vanishes when you are clear is either fantasy or partial, relative truth (with a small “t”).
Tea Medicine, Wu De

The Sanskrit word for Wisdom is “prajna”. This can be literally translated at “pre-knowledge”, which relates very closely to the Zen theory of the “beginner’s mind”. The beginners mind is sharp, open, objective and is entirely detached from preconceptions as each new situation is not viewed through the lens of prior knowledge but with an eagerness to learn, explore, and expand.

Most of all of our dis-ease and frustration with life comes from resistance to reality as it is. We have a vision of the world - a picture that we base our lifestyle upon. But when this doesn’t come to fruition, which it rarely does because such is the nature of the universe, we are discontented. But this discontentment is really a nudge from the higher Self, because in our truth, we are craving harmony with the universe. It is only from this space of harmony that we can achieve mastery: finding the place within us that connects with the world, and acting from there. We know when we have reached this place because we stop struggling. We stop trying to swim upstream and finally surrender to being washed into our destiny with trust and acceptance. However, do not confuse ‘travelling down stream’ with simply waiting for things to come to you without putting any effort in. It takes a great deal of effort to remain connected and true to yourself and the world around you. The practice should consume you, moment to moment. The work is never done. There are many curves in the path. But we persevere, because we are being called to do so. 

Virtue of Wood: Benevolence

The classical Taoist texts say that benevolence is the virtue of Wood. Bai Hu Dong describes benevolence as ‘that which empowers the unconstrained evolutionary journey of all things from earth towards heaven’. When considering Wood’s position in the generational cycle, we can view it as a means for the transformation of the potential of Water into the realised fruition of Fire. All the internal work and rigorous spiritual training of the winter (Water) months are thrown into action by the upward moving, and future planning spring time (Wood) which will result in eventually arriving in a realised state of abundance and culmination in the summer months (Fire).

When we lose sight of the virtue of our benevolent nature, we become disconnected from our greater soul purpose. We limit our vision to see only to hurdles and ditches scarring the path of our own life, our own small, rigid plan. We feel our forward movement has been thwarted by obstacles, and blinkered from seeking other possible routes, we respond in anger and frustration. This response can manifest either externally as rage, or can be inwardly directed as collapse. Both are indications of a fall from our true path.

Finding and then aligning to our true path is what brings us closer to the virtue of benevolence. As we engage with our Truth, our vision becomes clearer and we are freed from the turbulent effects of anger. When anger, frustration, or feelings of collapse do arise, we recognise them as indications that our vision has become rigid or distorted and we must take time to consider, to enquire into the ways in which we may have lost our way somewhere along the path. We must not consider these ‘slumps’ as set backs but recongise the value they carry for our spiritual growth on our personal journey.

Tea Ceremony: Shedding Toxins of the Mind

As a result of our social or familial conditioning and the workings of our inner critic, we are quick to develop tastes and preferences. Whilst attraction to some things over others is an integral part of exploring our authentic nature, it is also important that we do not become too heavily reliant upon our comforts and pleasures in life. Most of us are fortunate to be in a position that we wake up each day in an environment that has been constructed to suit us and fulfil our needs and wants. We become partial to those things that we build our day, or even our life, around. But the more partial we are, the more disharmony we will find in our life. This is a disharmony with Nature, as the world will rarely work in response to your partiality.

By freeing ourselves from fixed points of view and dropping preference and opinion, we can be in harmony with what really is and be present with each moment as it fluctates from state to state. Tea is our teacher. A guide to impartiality, acceptance, and humility. By sitting in stillness under the careful guidance of Tea, we can begin to flush out our delusory views to make space for what really is. To reside in a space of one pointed focus. To become very still, calm and clear.

To learn from Tea requires a willingness to give and a willingness to recieve. Both of which are a challenge to those of us with strong attachments and opinions. To be in a position of service is ultimately the highest goal as we are freed from material entanglement, and can engage with the world from a spiritual level. It is from this place that we must humbly enter into ceremony with Tea. 

Practice... Find a clean and quiet, preferably secluded space, and prepare a comfortable seat on the ground. Take some time to build your meditation area, finding a small, unobtrusive decorative object, ideally something natural such as a flower, feather, or stone. Light a candle or burn some incense. Make the space beautiful yet modest, bringing care and attention to the ceremony without forming distraction. You may like to play some soothing music, or prefer the silence. Set out your bowl and tea pot (if you are using a tea pot) in front of your seat. Select your Leaves and with great care, place them inside the tea pot, or directly into the bowl if you are not using a pot. Remember that preparing for Tea is part of the ceremony, so move slowly and with grace. The meditation starts as soon as the intention to sit with Tea has been set.
Next, collect the highest quality water you have access to and bring it to a boil. If you can avoid using an electric kettle the frequency of the water will be of a much higher quality. Once the water has been prepared, bring the kettle to your seat and set it on a suitable surface. Take your seat and spend a few minutes in silence, drawing your attention inwards, perhaps sending some focus to the breath. Allow the mind to slow and settle, trying to exhale reoccuring thought patterns. As the Zen proverb goes, ‘Let thoughts come and go but do not serve them Tea’.
When you have found a place of meditative stillness, pour the water over the leaves. For the minutes while you wait for the Tea to brew, sit tall and breath fully. Become deeply focussed on the liquor steeping in bowl or pot. If you are drinking leaves directly from the bowl, you can even watch as the leaves unfurl and delicately colour the water. If you are using a tea pot, the feeling is more subtle and energetic, as you do not have the benefit of being about to see the leaves as they dance, you must harness other sensory means of relating to the leaves as they brew.
Once the Tea has brewed, lift the bowl with respect and quietly take note of It’s qualities. The heat, the fragrence, the colour. Do not form judgments based on your findings, but simply witness and be in a space of acceptance as to what the Tea is bringing. Allow your preferences and any clouded vision to melt away when you finally lift the bowl to your lips. In drinking, experience the liquor infusing every cell of your body. Become totally present with the Tea, allowing any toxic thoughts to get washed from the surface of the mind. If you are sensitive to It, you will feel the liquor penetrate your very core, bringing heightened awareness and a grounded clarity. Reside here in gratitude and humility, without expectation. Perhaps profound realisations will come through, or perhaps simply stillness. Whatever the Tea has to teach, accept with folded hands and reverence. 

Practice... serving Tea to a friend or loved one. To be in position of service is the highest goal in spiritual life, as we can drop the ego and become a tool for wisdom to flow through. Serving Tea is not a bid to demonstrate generosity or skill in your brewing technique. In fact, serving Tea has nothing to do with you at all but everything to do with the Tea itself.
When serving Tea, the practice should be the same as when you are in ceremony alone. Silence and one-pointed focus must be maintained. The difference now is that you have become a vessel through which the Tea can become teacher not only to you, but to your friend. Dwell in the beauty that you are both experiencing something deeply personal in eachother’s company. You are more connected than ever, as now your bond isn’t made by some transitory activity or shared opinion, but by something infinitely higher and True.

Meditation: Adopting a Clear Mind

Clearing the mind is a practice in letting go of our preferences and preconceptions. It is a means of unblocking the parts of the mind that we keep closed off our of fear of ostricisation or because we are afraid we may fall out of line with the vision of ourselves that we hold so dear. Clearing the mind is also pacifying the inner critic. Brushing aside negative commentary and opening ourselves up to experience of the world in it’s Reality, not our blinkered version that always falls short of our ideals. When we learn to accept Reality and find the comfort and beauty of it, all of our relationships will benefit, be they with ourselves, our environment, or the people around us. Because no matter how amenable you are, ultimately very few people will behave in the way that you prefer. Our patiality is a significant source of our suffering, and by clearing the mind of views about the way things should or shouldn’t be, we are free to reside in a place of harmony, and stop taking offence when the world doesn’t look the way we “expect” it to. For expectation is the recipe for disappointment. Remember that you are a soul with a body, not a body with a soul. Therefore the needs of our soul exceed our material needs. All outcomes, gains and losses, ultimately are irrelevant to our spiritual progression. Some of our best work for building a future happens during minutes of stillness in meditation, not hours slaving in the office or gym. 

Practice... sitting in stillness every single day, morning and evening. Perhaps you have a committed meditation practice, or perhaps that seems inaccessible to you. But whether you are hovering in a lotus pose for 45minutes or watching the sunset with a bowl of tea, you are gaining the stillness of mind that is essential for maintaining healthy perspective.
During this month, as you are making the commitment to rise a little earlier, make a pledge to practice meditative stillness of mind in the morning and evening, before and after taking rest. This can be 5 minutes or half an hour depending on your practice and/or schedule. And allow the timings to be flexible and to work with your changing needs.
Simply find a comfortable seat somewhere quiet. Take several rounds of deep breath, replacing old stagnant air with fresh, rejuvenating prāna. Closing down the eyes, witness the thoughts as the come and go. Watching them float by like leaves on a steady stream. Maintain a focus on the breath as you begin to scan the body from head to base. Feeling in to each corner of the physical body and perhaps extending energetically beyond the skin. Take your time to explore with a detatched inquisitiveness. Once you reach the ground, feel your body melting into the earth. Feel heavy yet uplifted as the ground cradles you. Know that you are safe in these arms. That all fears, anxieties, pleasures and pains are both transitory and illusory. Reality is what you feel when you inhale up from the earth, and exhale to sink back down. Listen for your heart beat. For the steady thump of the blood nourishing your system. Make the mind very quiet and revel in this space that is only available to you. That can be broken by no one. Stay here for as long as is comfortable, in the knowledge that you can reside here throughout your day. When you are ready to release the practice, slowly allow your senses to reawaken to the world around you. Inviting in smells and sounds before gently reintroducing sight. Sit still for a few more minutes, allowing your senses to absorb everything in your immediate enviroment. Do not analyse, simply experience. Carry this stillness and clarity of mind with you are you go about your day.  

Image via Wessex Flower Company

Medicine: Jasmine Flowers

Jasmine flowers define spring time blossoming for many. The delicate, tender blossoms demand attention with their heady aroma. To me, this combination of vulnerability, strength, beauty and bounty is reflective of Spring, and the Wood element, as a whole. Jasmine is also one of my favourite choices for Tea ceremony during this month because of it’s manifold layers and unparralleled ability to be simultaneously light and feminine, and rich and intoxicating. 

The flowers are highly cooling and calming for the blood, gifting them powerful effects including being antibacterial, antiviral, and they have an antitumor action, through which they can also aid in stemming bleeding. They strengthen the lymphatic system, making them helpful for various types of cancer, such as breast cancer. Their cooling nature also makes the flowers very soothing for fevers and hot-flashes in menopausal women.

Jasmine is cleansing for the female reproductive system and is said to increase feelings of love and compassion due to it’s Sattvic nature. The flowers are also traditionally said to carry psychic qualities, making the mind more receptive, and aiding the absorbance and radiation of sacred vibrations through mantra recitation. They are feminine in nature, which is balancing during this period of Yang, masculine energy. Allow the wisdom of the Jasmine flower to aid in the hushing of the inner critic and the cultivation of a balanced and receptive mind.

Book: The Beauty of Everyday Things

A study of simplicity, humility and service, The Beauty of Everyday Things is a series of essays from philosopher, art historian and poet, Soetsu Yanagi. These eloquently constructed and gracefully flowing essays are like a seamless meditation on Truth, beauty and respect. Yanagi was the founding father of the Japanese folk crafts movement, and evolved an articulate theory of why certain everyday objects by unknown craftsmen contain a beauty and depth beyond any highly work artistic ‘masterpiece’. Humility and utility come out of the work as being highly admirable qualities not only in our material objects, but in our character. If read with care and respect, this text could be taken as a guide to clearing the mind and accepting reality in all it’s flawed glory.

“It is truly amazing that such beauty should permeate these humble objects - objects that devote their existence to service, which sacrifice their lives to the needs of the daily round, which work in the harsh real world without complaint, which carry out their duties with a sense of wholesome satisfaction, and which aim to bring a little happiness into every life. Moreover, the heavens have ordained that these objects should attain an even greater beauty as they become worn by the handling of human hands. The religious life is also built on sacrifice and service to others. This selfless, devout service to God and one’s fellow beings has its equivalent in the service of miscellaneous objects to their users. What an amazing thing it is that objects made for use in real life should possess a beauty that transcends reality.”
- One of my favourite extracts from The Beauty of Miscellaneous Things, Soetsu Yanagi (1929)

Artist unknown

For me, the month of May is about being pushed out of my comfort zone. It is a time of questioning and validating or reworking old beliefs and opening up to new possibilities and opinions. During this season of growth and upward movement towards our goals, let us not fall into the trap of becoming rigid in our views and preferences. It is time to push ourselves out of our comfort zones and try to view the world through a clear lens, un-tinted by our in-built bias. It is a time to be grateful for the simple things in life. To travel with the tide and stop trying to fight against nature.

This month I commit to spending my time wisely and with care. Acting from a space of Truth and detachment from my own preconceptions. By rising early and adopting a clear mind, I aim to execute my services with humilty and gratitude.

I’d love for you to join me in these efforts.