Archive | anecdote

Cherry blossom in New York

I often describe Queens, New York as a concrete jungle, but since I first visited there in 2000, the city has planted quite a few trees and in April, many are in full blossom. It creates moments of beauty and a welcome contrast to some of the cities less scenic areas.

Pink apple blossom. A profusion of colour. Continue Reading →

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Young seedlings left to fend for themselves

I have enjoyed sowing and planting seeds in the house this year. But, rather inconveniently for my seedlings, I am away for ten days. So I have planted them out a little earlier than I would like, and left the tender seedlings in the house with water and water retaining crystals – hoping for the best. They could dry out, rot-off from standing in water – or they could survive. I will find out in ten days time.

seedlings1

The lettuce and spinach are vulnerable to slugs, so I left a ‘beer trap’ we shall see who wins.

lettuce-vs-slugs

Other photos from the garden. 

Pink tulips

Yellow is dominant; there are some purple primulas in distance

Fritillaries need a damp spring

More seedlings on the windowsill.

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Secret lives of colour – Ultramarine blue

Increasingly I shop online. I never particularly enjoy shopping – especially for things like clothes. Amazon is very convenient – especially for things like electronics. But, while I like the convenience of Amazon, I don’t like its growing dominance and the more ‘soulless’ nature of this form of shopping. There are not many shops I feel an attachment to. The one exception is bookshops, which are somehow important for towns. I went to one town in South Yorkshire and it was all second-hand clothes shops, gambling shops and Pound shops – it was very dispiriting!

inside-bookshop

Where possible, I like to visit bookshops and buy something that takes my interest. I was browsing in this bookshop in Ilkley, where I saw a book called “Secret Lives of Colour” – it turned out to be a good book – something I would never have bought by an online search.

It had easy to read chapters on colour-dyes used by painters. It was really fascinating to learn the trouble artists had to go to – in order to get different colours. For example, there was one colour which came from a secret source in India. It was apparently made from cow urine, in which the poor cows had been fed only mango leaves!

Natural ultramarine pigment

Continue Reading →

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Good use of time

Last summer we had the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run visit Oxford. A runner from Australia said they had been reading their journal recently, and came across an entry when Sri Chinmoy was speaking to me on a Christmas Trip in Malaysia. She said she wrote down, that Sri Chinmoy had said: “I made good use of time.”

lake

Lake in Montenegro, last Christmas Trip

I don’t remember this. When you were in close proximity to Sri Chinmoy, it was easy to concentrate on the consciousness of the moment. The mind wasn’t working; it was more like being in the heart, absorbing the glimpse into another word. So I didn’t really remember much of the conversation. It would have been very nice to remember, but the words always felt less important than the inner experience. Continue Reading →

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Sirshasana yoga posture

Recently, I have been learning how to do Sirshasana yoga (headstand).

It is known as the ‘King of asanas’ A yoga expert I.K.S Iyengar says if you only have time for one or two yoga postures – do this and other ‘inversions’ – where you put yourself upside down.

On Sri Chinmoy’s path, hatha yoga is not an important component – I did no yoga for the first 18 years on the path, but without being to cycle I have been seeking other ways to keep the body moving. This yoga also is a challenge, so you get a feeling of progress – self-transcendence.

As far as I know, the headstand is one of the posture Sri Chinmoy has specifically recommended.

“It is very good to do headstands or two or three minutes of asanas, Hatha Yoga exercises; only don’t do them for two or three hours. A few minutes will be enough.” Sri Chinmoy – The hour of meditation

headstandIt was quite difficult to do it at first.

It is best to build up slowly, not trying to get a full headstand but build up strength and control by slowly raising legs. For the first few weeks, I can only get up 70-90% of the way – I have long legs so maybe harder to balance!

It feels quite rewarding when you gain control and can hold the headstand. It is important to be able to come down with control.

I do it near a wall, but I don’t use the wall for control.

If I start growing back hair, you will know that headstands have a great benefit!

The other inversion yoga posture highly recommended is Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) I found this relatively easier to do. Continue Reading →

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I love coffee

Sri Chinmoy has written a book “My Tea and Coffee Experiences” However, a good friend who used to work as an attendant for Sri Chinmoy told an amusing story, which was not published in that book. He said Sri Chinmoy once felt the need to give up drinking coffee. So with a childlike enthusiasm, one evening he said to this attendant. “I have given up coffee.”

Sri Chinmoy paused and then added.

“Now I just need to give up cappuccino!”

Sometimes spiritual Masters like to show they have a sense of humour.

herbal-tea Continue Reading →

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Star Wars and a blast from the past

These days I rarely watch films. Unless I’m a captive audience on trans-atlantic flights, I tend to get bored half-way through or annoyed at some predictable storyline. To sound like an old codger – a lot of the modern stuff isn’t my cup of tea.

The other thing is that when I revisit things from childhood – the magic is usually gone. When I was a kid, nothing was greater than the prospect of Christmas. I loved Lord of the Rings to the point of religious devotion and I thought playing ‘Howzat’ Cricket with rolling dice and noting imaginary scores in beautifully kept scorebooks (plus working out all the batting and bowling averages of course!) – was the greatest way to spend hours and hours of time.

I spent literally whole summers playing ‘Owzthat’ against myself.

(In retrospect, I’m glad I had Howzat rather than the modern video games/screens. We did see computers come in but I was never that taken with them. I remember the family getting a BBC 32k computer. You loaded games on a cassette and it took three minutes to load ‘Chuckie Egg.’

But, sometimes it’s best to leave the past in the past. Your idea of perfection can’t stay the same as when you are seven years old. My rare foray into social activities as a young child was when we used to play teddy bear cricket with a wooden peg snapped in half for a bat and a small red ball. But, that’s another story!)


Anyway, the one exception to getting bored by films was watching ‘Star Wars’ I watched the film at the weekend and I surprised myself by really enjoying it. I haven’t seen the film for years and years. But, I think I enjoyed it more now than I did as a child. Maybe it helped that I heard my teacher Sri Chinmoy say it was a good film with a spiritual theme  (don’t know the exact words) Anyway it was great. A good film and I was suitably inspired to try and clear the mind and follow the way of the Jedi Master’s in their battle against darkness and ignorance!

May the force be with you!

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Picture of tree and thought for the day

autumn-iffley-tree

This is a tree in Iffley Village – part of my extended commute into town. It’s a beautiful time of the year.

I am currently reading a book on the “Alexander Technique” I like it because it encourages a moment of reflection before doing anything – trying to avoid bad habits we get into. In terms, of my understanding, it reminds me of Sri Chinmoy’s encouragement to meditate before doing anything. Continue Reading →

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The benefits of joining the back of the queue

cafe-nero-heathrow

The thing about Heathrow Terminal 3 is that – like any airport – all people want to do is be somewhere else.

Cafe Nero is one of the better options for passing some time. It has six tills split between two halves, which gives you a split second to choose the queue of shortest wait. I choose right, but am soon disconcerted by the lack of clarity. Is it just one queue for three tills or is it three separate queues? There is a corridor of uncertainty, with a long queue on the right, but a tempting shorter queue on the left.

The only choice is to join the longest queue. But that creates a subtle fear that someone could come from behind and join the half-formed queues in front. If I deny myself a shortcut, I need to deny others too!

So I perform an act of self-interest and civic duty all at once. I queue at a diagonal to move the queue away from the right flank – right into the middle where it should be by the natural law of things. Then I nervously wait, using my psychic energy to secretly discourage people from sneaking through on the flanks.

The tension is palpable, heightened by the fact all the queues in front seem to grind to a halt. As Murphy’s Law would have it, the queue on the other side of the cafe is speeding through. For a split second, I contemplate jumping ship and moving to the other side. I would probably get served quicker, but I’m too invested in my own queue  – which, if not moving very quickly, is at least bringing a little order into the chaos of Heathrow.  Even the people in front seem to be shifting a little to the centre, as if there is an unconscious recognition for the proper, invisible line of our queue. The centre ground is holding. A very small victory in life’s battleground.

Continue Reading →

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Peace Run in Oxford 2018

The Peace Run at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University- where I studied 1995-99.

Recently the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run came to Oxford. I helped as a local co-ordinator to arrange a few meetings. I also cycled with the runners around Oxford.

One of the great things about the Peace Run is that you have to expect the unexpected. Even the best-laid plans need to be flexible. When you are on the run, you soon realise you are very much living in the moment. Continue Reading →

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