March 3, 2023

I have had a hard week. Not a ‘my cat died’ week, a ‘dealing with a serious illness’ week or a ‘falling apart’ week. Still, I have suffered. I have felt the burden of my responsibilities to the people and projects I am in relationship with. I have been crushed under the weight of a too-full schedule, despite decades of practising ‘doing less’. I have felt melancholy about both the new arthritis in the finger joint I rest my pen... Read more

February 15, 2023

(or, does gentleness lead to indulgence?) Last night I had a big pasta dinner followed by one of my home-made brownies. After another hour or so I wanted chocolate chip cookies, and so I ate one – and then another. It had been a long and difficult day, and I was being ‘gentle with myself’. It led me to wonder, if I was even more gentle with myself, would I eat another two cookies? And then two more? Is being... Read more

February 7, 2023

One of the things I really love is when an improbably random trail of breadcrumbs leads me to some treasure. This happened yesterday, when my partner sent me an essay they thought I might enjoy. Usually I don’t have time in the middle of the day to read essays, but a client had cancelled and so I looked at it straight away. I was intrigued enough to look up the author, Nobuo Haneda – putting his name into a search... Read more

January 31, 2023

I have been working as a psychotherapist for twenty five years, and for the first decade or so I was aware of a voice inside my head that spoke up whenever I felt out of my depth. ‘You’re not a real therapist,’ it said. ‘Other therapists have had better training than you. They know about things you don’t know about. They would do a much better job with this client.’ As I reflect on this voice I’m pleased to realise... Read more

January 24, 2023

Sometimes I worry that ‘Gentle Buddhism’ is an oxymoron. When I think of the Pali sutras, the closest thing we have to the Buddha’s actual words, what I remember is their endless lists of good qualities – concentration, wisdom, patience, pure speech… and how the Buddha exhorts us to perfect these qualities in order to become enlightened. When I think of the Buddhist teachings in this way – as a self-development programme – it feels almost impossible. It also feels... Read more

January 19, 2023

My dream last night was vivid and spooky. I was walking around a pond with my elderly parents. The edges were steep and muddy. All at once, my mum slipped and fell into the pond – I still have an image of her, completely immersed in the murky water. My dad moved towards her and I had the thought, ‘Wait! You’re not strong. Be careful or you’ll slip in and go under too…’ I have been reading Kenneth Tanaka’s book,... Read more

January 17, 2023

One hundred and fifty four days in a row. This was how long I had maintained my daily meditation practice, sitting cross-legged for half an hour of silence every morning. On the hundred and fifty fifth day, I woke up and had the thought, ‘I’m not going to do my practice today’. So I didn’t. And it felt okay. For me, this is progress. Much of my life has been characterised by strong ‘manager’ parts of me that drive me... Read more

January 10, 2023

As my first day of work in 2023 approached, I got myself into a painful tangle. I’d previously done lots of writing in my journal about my goals for the year, and they felt clear. As I looked at the list, however, I felt panicky and trapped. There was a lot on there! In my urgency to describe the WHAT of 2023, I had neglected to think about the HOW. I had chosen myself a word to guide me during... Read more

December 22, 2022

She was curled into a furry ball on the green chair, her tail pumping weakly as she greeted me through her morning sleepiness. I tickled her ears a little, and scratched her neck. As I gently stroked her she lifted her head and leaned back, exposing first her chest and then her soft belly. Soon she was all stretched out, happy, and utterly relaxed. Yesterday I listened to a podcast on the colonisation of Buddhism with Dr. Wendy Dossett. In... Read more

December 20, 2022

I couldn’t remember my Word of the Year for 2022. ‘This is not a good sign’, I thought to myself. ‘How can my special word have an influence on my year if I can’t even remember what it is?’ When I remembered it, I was happily surprised. The word I chose for 2022 was ‘enough’. I chose it because I was a little bit sick of excess, and of always wanting more and never being satisfied. I chose it because... Read more

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