I usually try to come up with a topic for these tea sessions on Monday morning. I take a walk or go for a swim, and at some point a topic emerges which feels right for our exploration later in the day. I was out walking this morning amongst the autumn trees and I had a moment of panic. Everything was so beautiful, the sunlight on the golden leaves, my mind was clear, empty in fact, and nothing came to me. There’s nothing to talk about! Or so I thought! But straight away another thought came, and it was one which has been so helpful to me over the years, I knew I had to share it with you. It is deceptively simple: “Start with where you are.” And you can see, of course, that that is what I have done now.
I first came across this idea in Psychotherapy training, but quickly realised it could be applied in many contexts. It works in the spiritual life, and from a meditative or Mindfulness perspective it is spot on. Your awareness doesn’t need to go anywhere – all it needs to do is just come back to itself – the Here and Now. From a Druidic perspective it is calling us to appreciate and be present to the world, our life, as it is now, freed from the hungry consuming heart that always wants more.
Working with this idea helps in social situations too. You know that pressure to be interesting or entertaining? Our mind is often strategising – trying to make an impression or conquer feelings of inadequacy. Calmly telling yourself just to start from where you are, can really help.
Of course we need to plan, have intentions, and work towards goals, but all that needs to be balanced with just Being, with just opening to the magic of the moment, and this idea can help us foster our trust in our ability to be spontaneous.
The reason I find it so powerful is it strikes at the heart of a problem I’ve had for years. It’s a common one, I think: that the grass is greener somewhere else. So I’ve spent much of my life striving to be other than where I am. Not just geographically, but I think perhaps in every sense. Curiosity and ambition have been powerful drivers. Only spiritual practice, or those moments of grace when all feels just right with our world, or intensely emotional times, like when my children were born, have succeeded in keeping my mind still. Otherwise the lure of new horizons has always been so strong. But now that feeling of not wanting to be elsewhere, which was only cured through meditation, seems to have left me. I want to start – and finish – from where I am, rather than from where I wish I was.
In the conversation today we look at how this thought can be helpful when giving a talk or workshop, and when playing with children. (More on that principle applied to being with children here).