The walk along the coastal path from St Ives to River Cove is three and half miles long and the area is described as ‘a very remote part of the west Cornwall coast’ suggesting an area of natural beauty. The path is assigned a level three difficulty. The craggy cliffs mean ensuring correct placement of boot on rock and keeping the eyes engaged on feet whilst walking up and down the steep paths. Fortunately there is some let up from the highs and lows as the path widens out and plateaus now and again. The decreasing need for eye-foot attachment means we can gaze around us.
In one of those moments when the eye could wander we caught a glimpse of a shy bather on one of the rocks below. The being was unmoving; its face and back turned away from the path. Deceased perhaps? We scrambled down the rocks to get a better view. Alas, we had disturbed the shy bather. The head lifted and a doleful face stared at us for an instant (just in time for the photo) unhappy at being revealed as something other than a rock. Camouflage having failed the shy bather flipped up its tail and disappeared into the sea. The highlight of our walk – a rare and close up glimpse of a seal sunbathing.
Over the weekend we were out walking on the isle of Portland in Dorset. We kept coming across long-eared furry beings set on stone with cryptic messages such as ‘WE ARE HERE’. Non-plussed we walked on with the intention of discovering the answer to the mystery.
It turns out that on the isle a limestone called Portland stone is quarried. This stone hails from the Jurassic period and is used in such public buildings as St Pauls Cathedral and Buckingham Palace in the UK and the United Nations headquarters in New York City. Apparently, in the past when the stone was being quarried there was danger from rockfalls and stone avalanches. The quarrymen would notice that furry long haired beings would emerge from their underground dwellings just at the point that a rockfall or avalanche of stones was about to occur. Over time a superstition emerged on Portland that you should never mention the six-letter word beginning with ‘r’ because it brings bad luck. Hence images of furry beings with cryptic messages are to be found along the coastal path particularly at points where rockfalls are more likely.
The rest of the day we spent imagining alternate names. Hare’s cousin. Long-eared furry beings. Coneys. Bunnies. And we don’t wish you were here!
I have always been a writer but the audience has mainly been myself. Journalling and scribbling notes in a notebook has been a joy over the years. Yet there have also been years of drought. It is in the years of drought when I should have been writing because they were probably the most significant years and moments of my life.
Time passes. I wonder what legacy I can leave to give a flavour to what my unique life has been about. It is with this intention that I have turned to writing a blog. Somehow the idea of sharing thoughts with others appeals. I can’t say I have some great message to share. Just simple observations about topics that interest me.
I am not just a journal scribbler but also a secret creative writer. I have written poems and short stories and I started a novel some years ago. Alas, many of these creative endeavours never saw the light of day. Many ideas clamour in my head but I know the only way I am ever going to let them out of the head space is to start writing about anything and everything and keep on writing until one day the urgency of a novel spills out upon the page.
Until that day I continue scribbling away to myself and also blogging about things I enjoy such as nature, yoga and dance. Who knows what inspiration the writing will unlock.
Blogging on … there is a whole exciting bloggers’ world out there.
A pigeon with a deformed right leg has taken to visiting our garden. It looks as though when it was a squab it fought off a predator in the nest and as a result of the ensuing fight its leg was injured. We call the pigeon Percy. He coos for a mate daily and occasionally a female joins him on a branch but the relationship never takes off. Poor Percy cannot gain purchase on the female because of his deformed limb. So much of the time he is disappointed in love. He sits calling for ages but the female is off with another male. Percy often sits bedraggled and scruffy on the balcony railing – the only place where he can rest his belly and let his deformed limb rest over the edge. I don’t know what is going to become of Percy. Pigeons are very sociable birds and are usually seen in pairs. There must be someone out there for him! A blackbird with one white feather on its tail has befriended him recently. They are often seen together.
What do I have in my yoga repertoire to restore my energy? In the past I would probably have practised several rounds of sun salutations to give me a buzz. Nowadays I know that tends to be counterproductive when the body systems are weary. They don’t need more sympathetic nervous system stimulation which is what the sun salutation sequences are good at providing. Instead I head towards restorative yoga practice which works on the parasympathetic nervous system.
So what is restorative yoga? Is this some new-fangled yoga fad? Well, it might be more popular these days because of the rising tide of stress and anxiety sweeping through the population however the actual postures have been around for years. They are simply resting yoga postures held for longer and that can mean minutes at a time. The body is placed in a restful position conducive to relaxation allowing the parasympathetic nervous system to kick in.
Take this morning. I went into the yoga hut having not slept much over night. I could feel the weariness as I prepared to do my usual practice which usually includes a few sun salutations. Tuning into my body I knew that a restorative practice would be much more beneficial even if that meant falling asleep (very tempting when so comfortable in a pose though best to keep awake).
So, first of all I simply lay down in the corpse pose and tuned in to how the body felt. Just a few minutes. Enough to scan through each body part and sense what state it was in. Next I put my legs up the wall and stayed still. Must have stayed there for a good ten minutes. A gentle pulse became palpable in my lower back. The body urged me to move on.
For the next pose I lay back on a bolster with a meditation cushion under my head. Buttocks on the floor my legs were stretched out straight and my arms rested by my sides palms facing up. Yummy! Another ten minutes until I felt a slight discomfort in my lower back. Time to move on. Having practiced a chest opening pose it was time to close down in a forward bend. Using the bolster and meditation cushion again I knelt in front of the poster and lay my stomach across the bolster resting my head on one side on the meditation cushion (changing head to the other side to balance the body when the urge to do so arose). Another ten minutes passed. This pose I could have held longer but I decided to keep the practice balanced in terms of timings in backbend/forward bend counterpose stakes. Better for the body.
Finally I relaxed back into the corpse pose – legs outstretched, arms outstretched by my side with palms face up. Head in neutral and not using a pillow and I stayed there for as long as I felt I could. When I next looked at my watch it had been twenty minutes! Might have been shorter if the sun hadn’t been shining in and warming hut and body!
You can do the maths. The whole restorative yoga session took about 50 minutes and I only practised five poses – one of those twice! And wow did I feel good as a result.
What did I do afterwards? Well, that’s for another blogpost! Whatever I did, I floated around in a state of calm and rest. Carry on restorative yoga!
Thanks for joining me on this adventure into the whisperings of the mind …
This blog has finally got off the ground six years after my partner and fellow walker Alan died suddenly in 2013. In 2014 I set off on a long pilgrimage across Northern Spain to celebrate his life and to move on with my own. I undertook the journey with an old friend. We took two weeks off each year to complete the 500 mile pilgrimage called the Camino Francés to Santiago de Compostela. In 2017 we finally reached Santiago. Much has happened since.
I still haven’t published the novel that Alan kept urging me to do but I have started a blog instead to inspire me to write more often and to get back the motivation to get the novel written and out there. Thing is … I want to change everything now … .
Not only did I go on a long walk but I gave up my corporate job and went and lived and worked in an ashram for a while learning yet more about yoga and witnessing my ego self and its reactions to the world. It was both a sublime and disturbing experience as you can imagine. The ashram experience taught me a lot but particularly how to witness what is going on inside me and around me. When I left the ashram it was such a shock to be back in the so-called real world. The noise and the level of stress overwhelmed me and it took me about a year to readjust. I may still be readjusting now. Daily yoga practice witnessing the ego has certainly been my constant companion. Two golden birds in a tree – one busily pecking around (the ego) and the other witnessing (the higher self).