I Have Always Been Here

Fabulous piece by John Tarrant, author of ‘Bring Me The Rhinoceros’ and other Zen works and the Director of the Pacific Zen Institute.

I Have Always Been Here is a really lovely  article about making friends with ourselves, and as a bonus it’s a very pleasant read just for the sake of reading 🙂


One of the (many) things I love about Greek life is that when you take something to get it fixed, the assumption is that you are not just getting to buy another one but that you will do everything you can to make this one (car, computer, printer etc) last for as long as possible. Yes, it’s part of the ongoing crisis but it’s also that they (on the island at least) never got into ‘oh I’ll just get another’ mentality of which, I realise, I have succumbed.
So I’m going to hold off buying a new printer and see what magic can be worked.
Recycling has many, many faces.
Thanks for the reminder.

Solo TravellersMeditationGreeceThis View (6)

What sort of magazine would this be without at least ONE ad 😉

Mind drivel

This is a great example of perceptions.

I arrived in Greece to the following comments – all made within three days.

  1.  You look well, have you put on a couple of kilos?
  2.  You look well – you’ve lost some weight!
  3.  Oh I like your hair, it was blonde last year?
  4.  You look younger this year!
  5.  There’s something different about you but I don’t know what it is
  6.   I keep looking at your hair, something’s changed but I don’t know what

Of all of these comments the truth is that I’ve had my hair cut by about 6 inches.  My weight is about the same.  My hair has been brown for a couple of years.

Taking any of these comments personally would be insane.  My reply has been to say – oh thank you!  apart from the hair colour when I answered that it was brown last year.  The comments are made by other people’s minds comparing their flawed memory of me from last year with what they see in front of them and then finding something doesn’t tally and then needing to organise it and know what it is.

I do it too – I look at people and think oh they’re fatter, thinner, older, younger, more tired, more energised etc, than they were last year – my mind comparing them against a flawed memory and wanting to categorise them and makes things neat.  It’s what we’re taught to do so that we feel in control of stuff (that’s another HUGE blog subject for another time).  But I don’t spend so much time taking any of those comments that pop up seriously.  I have realised that it’s just my commentator aspect wanting to fill space and feel as though it’s in control by working stuff out.  It’s up to me whether I engage with any of it.  And frankly, most of it’s drivel (like the above) so I am becoming much more adept at letting it waft by.

Some people may FEEL different to my memory of them, but that’s too much for my mind to handle it needs to have CATEGORIES.  The feeling thing is a very different kettle of fish and also for another day.

Without wanting to repeat myself too much, this is one of the things that meditation and mindfulness practice has taught me.  I don’t have to take any of the crap that enters my head seriously. It’s quite restful not having to get out the table and chairs and best china and most fancy Oolong tea for any old Tom, Dick and Harriet of a thought that comes along, and THEN have to spend hours entertaining them.  Instead I can acknowledge that something feels different without having to get my knickers in a twist about working it out.  After all, everything’s always different all of the time.

And the thoughts?  I can let them pass by (mostly, some are sticky little buggers) and continue with my feet up watching the sea 🙂



I make myself laugh. Sometimes just because I’m bloody funny and sometimes because I have an old pattern that wants other people to think a certain way about me.  And the thing is that the afore-mentioned ‘certain way’ changes all the flaming time.  If only I could be consistent!

This afternoon I stopped and filled the car up with petrol in Germany.  When I went in to pay, Pharrell Williams was on the radio singing ‘Happy’.   So I chirped along quite loudly when it suddenly dawned on me that I wanted the young men (and when I say young, they were young enough to be my grandchildren for God’s sake) to LIKE ME and to think that I was COOL.

I did this by doing my best to be a) obviously English b) know the words to Pharrell and c)  appear to have a jaunty gait.

I ask you – what does ‘obviously English’ even mean?  I don’t even know what it MEANS but I was trying to be it!  And why the chuff do I care about what two teenagers in a random petrol station in Germany think about me?!  But clearly in that moment – I did.  NOW do you see what I mean by funny?  Bloody bonkers, more like.

I catch myself at this quite a lot.  I was in the car park of my favourite hotel in Lucerne this afternoon, I pass through twice a year to and from Greece, when I caught sight of the manager.  We always have a bit of a chat and I could feel myself composing my ‘hey, remember me, I’m a nice person!’ face (what does that even LOOK LIKE?).

Waiting, waiting – ah!  There we go – recognition, phew.

And sometimes I can feel myself morphing into one of these guises and I catch myself in time and I relax and stop trying to force the situation.  Forcing myself, forcing a belief onto others, forcing my insecurity and my need to be liked onto the world.

Hakuin, an old Japanese Zen Master, is credited as saying  something like ‘the Buddha is like water and we are like ice.  The sunshine of our awareness melts the ice and turns us into Buddha’.  I share that A LOT because that’s what’s going on here.

An increased awareness of how I am, moment to moment.  This is totally one of the things I love about mindfulness practice.  Stick at it long enough and we may start to catch ourselves out in our own weird shittery.  And there’s nowhere to go with it other than to notice, smile and relax and THEN see what happens.  Sometimes the weird shit still happens, and other times we just flow, no stress, no forcing.

So, what story do you want the world to believe about you?  And why?!  You see, you’re bonkers too!  🙂


I wrote the following post some weeks ago.  Everything changes, all of the time 😉

Today I feel hopeless, low, sad, fed up, cross, irritated, bored.  And yet I just responded to an email enquiry and assumed a bright and breezy persona.  The challenge is acknowledging that both exist and that both exist at the same time.  It is completely within my power to morph into a bright and breezy person but it’s also a fact that there is an underlying heaviness going on.  I have a mad mixture of energy rushing round my body and I think the only kind thing to do is to not add to the heaviness by making it a thing.  ‘Oh look, I’m not being authentic’ – for example.

Of course I’m being authentic, but the reality is that I also have a business to run.  When I’m face to face with guests in Greece I will very happily tell people how I am when they ask me because that’s the point over there.  But equally there is another entirely valid world that requires me to play dress-up and so I do.

I am not being deceitful or devious, I am simply choosing the most appropriate response to a moment as and when it arises.

I can very easily make a stick out of ‘ought to’ and ‘should have’ and I realise that they are unnecessary, unkind and unhelpful.

I embrace my many-sided personality – it is merely decoration, it is nothing to do with who I truly am.  Who I truly am feels every aspect of every turn of personality and neither judges or commentates – it is the ultimate in allowing, forgiving and loving.  And when I relax into that, I can be in flow, regardless of whether my ‘personality’ is describing the current situation I find myself in as good or bad.

It is neither.  It just is 🙂


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