Kirtan – what’s it all about?

Music and songs have a strong emotive effect on us. To comfort or facilitate tears to flow; to uplift and re-energise; to calm and soothe. We need only bring to mind images of thousands of sports fans chanting their team’s ‘mantra’ during a game, or concert goers singing along with their favourite band, in order to recognise the euphoric effect that chanting can have on the human psyche. But Kirtan is on a whole other level!

Continue reading

Misty mornings

I was trying to sleep one afternoon, but the beginning of this piece kept repeating itself in my mind, a sure sign that I should get up and write the words down lest I lose them as quickly as they had arrived. I am entranced by early morning, the quiet time just before all the chaotic ‘human’ action begins. Here are today’s musings:

    “The mist hangs low across the field this early morn: an ethereal backdrop to the grand play of life; a silken web of silence spun by Nature’s thread. All the supporting characters are already in place. The trees stand stock still, a verdant frame if you will to the enfolding picture, with their delicate branches trailing to touch those of their neighbors, as if wishing to hold hands. A couple of roe deer graze in their usual spot in the far corner of the field, ears, head and tail popping up at the slightest sound. And the birds—both garden and woodland―are rousing, taking their roll call, yet still too drowsy to venture out for food.

    There linger a few man-made traces in the pink-smeared sky – evidence of recent holidays abroad and business trips. Life in the fast lane. If only it were as easy for us to fly as it is for our avian friends! The swallows who dart and swoon so gracefully and in perfect unison, or the woodpecker with his comical bounce, seeming as if he will tumble out of the sky at any moment, or finally the great majestic buzzard who languidly circles in the blue. His eerie call echoes through the treetops, attracting families of crows to rise in ambush of this dangerous intruder.

    My neighbor, (some 20 years my senior and hardier than a lifelong North Sea fisherman) is walking his dogs. Rico, the soppy Rottweiler, who sits on your feet and leans into your legs for a cuddle, and little tiny Rosie, a fawn-colored terrier, barrel-round and waddling, with the cutest face to bring a smile to the gloomiest of hearts. I wave to them through the glass. “Well now,” I turn and say to my own two dogs, “let’s take our places girls. Today’s play has begun!”

    TODAY: Try not to let the drama of life’s ups and downs get to you. Just treat them like scenes in a play or movie. Keep yourself a little more detached from the action. This helps to balance your mood and steady your emotions, leading to a calmer, happier you! □

The above was an excerpt from my new book, Soul Murmurs, out July 26th.

What if…?

This wee poem came to me last night as I lay in bed. The first for ages! I am feeling so inspired and creative at the moment, so I will take full advantage while it strikes. Click on the image of Paris below to access the poem and do let me know what you think! Much love, Anita. 🙏😊

The duality of life

Just as the quote below says, we need oppposites in life. We need challenges which, although painful at the time perhaps, will help us to grow emotionally and spiritually. If life were just one series of material and bodily pleasures, what impetus would we have to improve ourselves, or to seek the pleasure found in spiritual endeavours such as meditation, helping others and finding our way back to the Divine? The duality of life is one of the ways that God throws in his fishing line in the hope that we will take the bait and return to Him.

Here’s another beautiful quote that I came across this week:

“God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us

to give ourselves the gift of living well.”

– VOLTAIRE

In order to grow from life’s challenges, below are outlined just a couple of examples of how to change learned habits of behaviour and react in different, more positive, ways:

  • when someone is angry with you, don’t retaliate because you will simply be fanning the flames of their ire. (I had to learn this skill pretty quickly as a high school teacher. At the start of my career, I took part in a couple of quite ridiculous in retrospect shouting matches with pupils. My goodness, the flames of anger must have been reaching out of the top of the building! But I was presented with this opportunity many times to change my ways of reacting to pupil challenges. And each time I learned how to behave more positively, more lovingly. Teaching isn’t all lovely children and fun, although it is that too. To really appreciate the good times, we need to learn through the challenging ones. So, to get back to the issue of anger, quite often if you are quiet and say nothing, this can extinguish the flames! It is really difficult to do this at first, but you eventually reach the stage where you immediately see this challenge as a test. How will you react? If you can do this, it is a major spiritual step forward in my view. If you have a mantra, repeat it over and over inwardly. When the person’s ire has burnt out sufficiently, then you can talk to them quietly, reassuringly. They don’t need to hear harsh words; they don’t need to hear how stupid they’ve been; any kind words and acts you can offer them at this stage will sow a seed in their consciousness. Hopefully, they will think twice about igniting their rage in the future!
  • when you feel rushed for time and feel as if you don’t have enough minutes in a day, do an activities audit. I PROMISE YOU THIS WORKS! Write down all the activities you do in a day/week such as taking the kids to dance class or play dates 3 times a week, doing the weekly cryptic crossword in the weekend newspaper for 2 hours, watching 4 hours of tv a night. Which of these activities are really essential to your life and which can you simply let go? Learn to let them go and you will feel more at peace, more relaxed. The challenge of time pressure was created by you and you can change it.
“The only reason for time is that everything doesn’t happen at once.”
– Albert Einstein

Summer heat rising

Well, we are being blessed in Scotland with summer heat for a few days and it made me think back on childhood summers which seemed to go on FOREVER. School had finished and now it was time to explore the natural world around us and play games with our friends.

We loved to make daisy chain necklaces, play “Six white horses in a stable, pick one out and call it Mabel” with two balls up against a wall- if anyone remembers this please let me know as I have forgotten the rest- or hopscotch on the pavement outside. Then of course we had farmland and meadows to run through, and two seaside beaches to visit only after the heat of the day had burnt away. My goodness, how blessed and lucky were we to grow up in such an environment. And didn’t I take it for granted!

"Summer heat rising:  
shimmering nebula
of movement and sound
a symphonic concerto
playing in my mind
."

So what does my idealised home town look like now? Here are a few images. I no longer live there but it still stirs the emotions when I see photos or visit:

Have a great day everyone whatever you are doing. Much love, Anita.😏🌻