Rest the weary mind…

Rest the weary mind…

An old favourite…(press the sound clip 01 below)



01 Rest in Natural Great Peace

Rest in Natural Great Peace


Rest in natural great peace
This exhausted mind
Beaten helpless by karma and neurotic thought
Like the relentless fury of the pounding waves
In the infinite ocean of samsara.

Rest in natural great peace.
Nyoshul Khenpo Rinpoche


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Before I die…

I’ve been thinking a lot about what is important, about my priorities, or lack thereof. The following article is from the Guardian (July 2012), it did its internet rounds and disappeared a couple of months ago. I stumbled upon it after watching the TED talk on a similar subject and thought it was worth resurrecting (apologies for the pun)…
A palliative nurse has recorded the top five regrets of the dying.

There was no mention of more sex or bungee jumps. A palliative nurse who has counselled the dying in their last days has revealed the most common regrets we have at the end of our lives. And among the top, from men in particular, is ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard’.

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,” she says, “common themes surfaced again and again.”

Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

“Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”

What’s your greatest regret so far, and what will you set out to achieve or change before you die?

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Learning to fall

Learning to fall

I had a rather unexpected depressive episode during my annual leave. I am certainly no acolyte when it comes to the freemasonry of melancholy, but this depressive storm came from previously unchartered psychic space. When the first flickers appeared on the distant horizon, I groaned internally, much like a grizzled sea captain who tastes ozone in the air prior to bad weather. I have navigated deep water many times and was confident in my abilities to remain; at the very least; afloat, but these straits felt different, unknown. In the past, my depressive spaces have been filled with crushing inertia, or a grey gravity which could suck me through a keyhole, but this was saturated with something far more existential…my own mortality.

During mid-December I was in the mountains alone. I had been hiking for a couple of hours and was getting ready to climb up a pretty sheer rock face, I was a bit weary and my mind was wandering ahead of me. My concentration slipped two thirds of the way up and my body followed. What exactly happened on the way down is unclear besides the fact that I was flooded with the most intense fear I have ever felt, followed by something deep inside of me preparing to die. What is also extremely clear is that I used one of my few remaining lives…I may actually be in overdraft. My physical injuries were minor but the ego sustained ugly lacerations and multiple mustard coloured bruises.

After the fall, I limped home and thought nothing more of it once I immersed myself into the quasi-chaotic life of my household. But, in the spaces between the shouting kids, the blazing heat and the barking dogs, something took hold of my hope and began to squeeze it, hard. I began to look at myself in the mirror more often, noticing a slackening jowl here, a few more grey hairs there. My mood stuttered, I growled at my perplexed loved ones. I measured the distance between 25, strapping, agile…and the wilted spinach of middle age.  I began to slip like I had on the rock-face. The chasm yawned languidly with razor sharp teeth, but just before I tumbled spectacularly downwards headfirst , I caught a look of abject terror in my wife’s eyes. I recognized that fear, it belongs to us both, when that look arrives, I know that I’m not in Kansas anymore…

So, I caught myself, it took a couple of days, to come to terms with my feeling of being fundamentally diminished in some way, to grieve for my youth and to pull my shit together. Mid-life may not be for the faint hearted but I’ve never seen myself as someone who gives up either. So those depressive, self indulgent spirals of my younger years are now being carefully labeled and consigned to storage next to the other skins I have shed along the way.

I have found that a good fall accelerates growth.

Warmth and blessings for the New Year.



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