I miss spending time in the forest during this coronavirus lockdown. Finding ways of replicating the sense of peace and wellbeing that the woodlands give me, really helps ease the longing to be back there.
Just after a light April shower is the perfect time for mindfulness in the garden. There is such calmness in water. I wait for the rain to stop falling and for that moment when the clouds part and the droplets amongst the leaves and branches suddenly illuminate with sunshine.
I watch through my camera lens as a miniature globe slowly edges to the very end of a petal. It takes every ounce of concentration. I feel my breathing slow – I am so close that a brisk exhale would cause all of these droplets to cascade.
The slightest breeze, now rustling through the garden, makes the raindrops precarious, reminding me that all things are precious and transient.
Inside each bubble of water are refracted images of the surrounding stems. Another gentle breeze and they all run down to the soil to nourish the plant.
When the unfurling leaves of the rhubarb are filled with rainfall, I am reminded of our hikes in wild Scotland, and the river valleys that flow through the purple, heather-topped mountains.
I encourage my children to find their own stillness in the garden.
For my toddler, this might be a flower on a stem, where I know she will be fascinated by the petals. For my young autistic sons, I might give them a ribbon to run with. Meditation does not always need to be motionless.
I ask my eldest sons to find a spot next to the stream and sit comfortably, and then we chime a brass singing bowl. I ask them to pinpoint the moment when the echoing ring of the bowl fades into the sound of the running water. It takes all of their concentration.
I tell them that if a thought pops into their head, then this is okay. Acknowledge it, and then imagine that it drifts away along the stream like fallen leaves.
I notice a profound difference in their self-belief, confidence and concentration, when we turn back to our schoolbooks, if they start the day with calmed minds.
I hope that wherever you are, you are able to find a little window of peace in your day.
—Keep safe and well everyone. With heartfelt thanks to all those who are working to keep us safe, especially those on the frontline in the NHS and hospitals around the world.—