Nature Awareness Update 29th June & Mental Discipline Week 10

29 06 2013

swans29thjuneI went out at 5.20pm. It was sunny and warm, with a small amount of wind. The sky started off with big white fluffy clouds but they gradually cleared leaving a beautiful blue sky. There were lots of insects around, especially bees and butterflies. I also saw three of the dragonflies in the bigger pond. There were also many birds – sea gulls, one moorhen (but no chick), some blackbirds, a pied wagtail, a wood pigeon and a swallow. The swans were on the lake with their seven cygnets who are very big now. The coots had their two chicks with them and I also saw three female mallard ducks which is the first time i’ve seen them this year. There was also a duckling :).  There was a heron again and some different ducks which were mostly black but with white chests. The plants were growing strongly still and there were a few new plants I hadn’t noticed before.

Mental Discipline

22nd June – 28th June

I decided to try something different and do some meditation outside in nature. I did 15 minutes with my eyes closed. I’ve decided to do it as part of my time in nature in future by adding some time on to the end of the normal hour I spend out there. I was sat on a flat surface again so I found my back had some pain but when I sat on the edge of the bench it seemed to get better. It was still hard to concentrate and focus though, especially when other people were nearby. The time did go fast though and I felt very calm after. It was a good first attempt.





Nature Awareness Update 23rd June & Mental Discipline Week 9

23 06 2013

dragonflyI went to the nature reserve at 2.30 on Friday. It was June 21st, the summer solstice. The sky was blue but there were lots of threatening white-grey clouds. It did get hot and sunny for a short time before the clouds came over again. I didn’t see any swans today but the baby coots and the baby moorhen are all well grown and walking on their own. There were two magpies screeching a lot and some seagulls flew by but I didn’t see many other birds.

The big highlight was seeing four dragonflies/ damselflies, two of whom were mating on a leaf. It was great to see the dragonflies as they only live outside the water a few weeks. I also saw a spider, two pond skaters, a water boatman, two butterflies (including a speckled wood one) and hundreds of bees collecting nectar, especially from the iris’.

The horse chestnut trees have lost all their flowers now and red/ brown patches are appearing on their leaves. Many plants have reached 6 ft tall and the yellow iris’ include purple and white ones too now.

Mental Discipline

15th June – 21st June

21st June – I didn’t do devotions this week as I did the meditation as part of my high day solstice ritual. I did the ritual and then did the two powers meditation and the metta meditations at the time the solstice occurred. The visualisations were slightly easier but I was distracted by noises outside. My back seemed ok most of the time. It went well and I felt refreshed during the two powers meditation.





Nature Awareness Update 16th June & Mental Discipline Week 8

17 06 2013

I went out on Sunday at 5.30. I only stayed half and hour this time because I didn’t have enough time to do a full hour. It was warm but the wind picked up after a while making it feel quite chilly. It was mostly dry but the sky was cloudy with clunky white and grey clouds that blanketed most of the sky (maybe alto-stratus clouds).

There were seagulls being very noisy and there were a few birds singing. The blue tits have definitely left the nest box now and I didn’t walk to the lake to see the swans or moor hens so cant update on them. There was a duck, a wren an a wood-pigeon around.

CAM00019I saw lots of bees and insects so I’m sure there is a hive in the conservation area somewhere. The trees are looking very green and alive and many of the plants are getting very tall. There is a lot of one type of plant – its a large green plant with thin stalks and hundreds of tiny white flowers on its head. I can’t work out what it is but I’ve posted this photo in case you know.

The conservation area is a marshy area, which means its not quite land and not quite water – it is a liminal place where earth and water mix. Of course liminal places are sacred to the Celts which is interesting.

Mental Discipline

Week 8 – 8th June – 14th June

I did my normal devotions on Wednesday 12th  and then meditated using the two powers meditation and the metta meditation. Visualisations are still difficult and my back hurt again so I don’t think I was sitting properly. It went ok.





Nature Awareness Update 1st June and Mental Discipline Week 6

2 06 2013

I went out a bit later than normal. It was almost 7pm on Saturday evening. It was warm and sunny, although it was a bit windy and I felt colder as time went on. The sky was blue with some high up wispy, cirrus clouds streaking in many directions, and a few low fluffy cumulus clouds. This suggests a change in weather.

Cirrus

Cirrus (Photo credit: ComputerHotline)

There was notable absence of blue bells or dandelions in the area (although I have still seen them in other places). The swans and their cygnets have now moved to the lake nearby so I didn’t see them, and I also didn’t see any baby moorhens – just one adult on the pond. I fear they have all been killed. I saw a great tit on the grass and reeds and the two blue tits are still going back and forth to their nest box bringing caterpillars to their young. I think I saw the beak of one of their chicks. There was a duck, some sea gulls, dunnocks, wood pigeons, a robin and some house sparrows. I realised that I haven’t seen any female ducks in the pond at all this year.

There are several insects around including a bee and one small insect that landed on the bench I was sat on – it looked like a small daddy longlegs.

The plants are growing strongly now and many are 3-4ft tall. There is one plant in particular that has small green flowers on top of it, thin stems and small leaves. I wish I could identify it.

Mental Discipline

25th May – 31st May

I did my normal devotions along with the two powers meditation and a 10 minute mindfulness meditation. I felt very tense and couldn’t visualise well (although it was slightly easier that last time.) The period of meditation went badly because I was fidgety and couldn’t stay focused or calm. I only did one session again this week :(.





Nature Awareness Update 25th May and Mental Discipline Week 5

25 05 2013

Today was nice and sunny again. It was warm enough to wear only a T shirt. There were a few white clouds in the sky and there was a slight breeze. I arrived at the conservation area about 4.45pm. There were a couple of magpies around as well as a wood pigeon. The two swans were busy eating, swimming and cleaning themselves along with their seven cygnets. I saw a moorhen alone and later saw a second moorhen but they only had one chick with them. I really hope this doesn’t mean the other ones died :(. I saw a great tit on the reeds and it was pulling bits off. Meanwhile the blue tits were busy going back and forth to their nest box. I could hear four or five distinct bird songs.

White Poplar leaves; underside left, upper sid...

White Poplar leaves; underside left, upper side right (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There were three swifts and lots of sea gulls. I’m not sure what species of gull as I didn’t see the colour of their legs but they had white bodies, grey wings and black tips of their wings. I saw a few insects including some spiders. There are lots of yellow iris’ out now and I worked out that the other species of tree in the conservation zone is a white poplar. That means the main trees are white poplars, willows and horse chestnut.

Later I went for a walk through some woods and saw a hawthorn in flower. I also so hundreds of wild garlic plants. I have also worked out that the plant I thought originally was a white blue bell is also related to garlic and is part of the same family.

Mental Discipline

Week 5 (18th May – 24th May)

This week was week nine and focused on the Two Powers so I included that in my meditations. I was very bad again this week and only managed to do one meditation session on 19th May. I did devotions in front of the altar followed by the two powers meditation sitting down. It certainly made the time go faster. I only did 10 minutes of the two powers one so will do 10 minutes normal meditation and 10 minutes two powers meditation from now on. I’m not good at visualisations so I definitely think I need some practice with it. I felt calm and had no pain. I will try better next week to do more meditations.





Nature Awareness Update 18th May and Mental Discipline Week 4

19 05 2013

SAMSUNGThis week was something really special. It was a nice sunny warm Saturday evening. I arrived at 4.30pm and the sun was still hot, there was a slight breeze and the sky was completely blue. There was a half moon out. I saw a coal tit on the way there and when I arrived I noticed a big change – the swan was gone! There were a few ducks in the pond, the birds were singing in the trees and sea gulls and wood pigeons were flying around. Every tree has leaves on it now and the area is looking very very green. I saw several insects including a white butterfly and a small spider.

About 10 minutes after I sat down, the swan appeared, then another, and then seven baby swans. They were so cute with their grey fluffy fur, black beaks and white necks. I watched for 20 minutes as the proud parents directed them to a small stream area and they all ate plants there. It was an amazing sight.

After a while the swans left and I sat and watched the blue tits coming back and forth to their nest box. This time both parents were going in and out constantly. I assume that their young had been born in the past week too and so they were trying to feed them.

Then came the cutest thing I’ve ever seen – The Moorhens have also had their young this week and they look so so cute – like tiny black balls of fur. There are four baby moorhens and I noticed that rather than stay close to their young like the swans, the moorhen parents would go off and collect food to bring back and feed their young. It was a wonderful thing to watch.

There are a lot of flowers out, but the daffodils have gone and the dandelions are mostly going over now. The blackbirds were flying back and forth a lot too. If there is one word I would use to sum up this time it is – ALIVE.

Mental Discipline

Week 4 (11th May – 17th May)

I did meditation twice this week. Each time for 15 minutes and after previously doing my normal devotions. They were comfortable and I have worked out that sitting on two cushions together helps a lot. On 11th my hands felt hot for a while and then began to hurt, however my feet were better. The time dragged a bit and while I concentrated well for the first few minutes, I began to lose focus a lot by half way through. It was a reasonably good session though. On 12th I did another session and was comfortable, however I slouched many times and it hurt after a while. The time didn’t drag so much but I still lost focus a lot.





Nature Awareness Update 11th May and Mental Discipline Week 3

11 05 2013

Nature Awareness Update

Today was cloudy and there was a cold wind. I went out at 4.45. Although the sun came out a couple of times for a few minutes, it definitely wasn’t the warmest day. There were plenty of flowers out today, including some yellow iris’, often known as the “Queen of the Marshes” and many hundreds of small yellow flowers that looked like buttercups. However the daffodils are all gone now with just their stalks left. Surprisingly many of the bluebells were also beginning to look worn so I’m not sure how long they have left. There were lots of flowers on the horse chestnuts too. With all the tree buds now burst into leaf and plants getting larger, the place is looking very green and alive now. It is such a contrast to what it was six weeks ago.

Blue tit Français : Mésange bleue Deutsch: Bla...

Blue tit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I saw many birds again today – I saw a rook, crow or raven (still need to work out the differences), seagulls, ducks, wood-pigeons, blackbirds and moorhens. The Moot Swan was still on her nest and the other swan has returned today – I hadn’t seen him since the first week I went out. The second swan didn’t do very much – he just stayed in the same place on the pond as though he was guarding the other swan ready for the birth of its young. There were a couple of ducks trying to mate with one biting the others head and there were quite a few ducks flying around today. I saw a coal or marsh tit when I first arrived however there was a distinct lack of bird song for the first half hour or so. A blue tit came back to its nest four times during the hour, each time it landed on many branches nearby and cautiously looked around before going to the box. Each time another blue tit would pop its head out of the box and the first one would give it some food. It was so cute to watch. I’m also beginning to be able to pick out its call among the other bird songs. There was a moorhen making a noise in some undergrowth at one point and another time two moorhens were sharing some food together until the Moot Swan came over and ate it instead (cheeky thing!)

I saw a white butterfly but few other insects today.

While it was a relaxing time, it did seem to drag on after the first half an hour. I’m not sure why but I didn’t enjoy it as much as usual, perhaps because of the weather.

Mental Discipline Update

4th May to 10th May

This week I only managed to do meditation once. I really need to do better next time. I did my meditation on Tuesday 7th May. I did my normal devotions and meditated for 15 minutes. It was a reasonably good session however it was uncomfortable at times as my hands kept slipping and my feet felt tense on the ground. I kept slouching and am still having problems focusing. The time also seemed to drag on.





Mental Discipline Update – Week 2

7 05 2013

27th April to 3rd May.

Buddha, Kamakura, Japan

Buddha, Kamakura, Japan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I did my devotions and meditation three times this week.  I had decided to increase the amount of time to 15 minutes which I did, however it definitely felt longer. On 27th I found it very hard to concentrate as my back was in pain. For the last few minutes I used some cushions to tilt my pelvis and that made the pain go away so I decided to continue with that.

On the 28th I had my best meditation yet. Using the cushions helped a lot and I experienced no pain or discomfort at all during the session. I found focusing for long periods was still difficult but it felt slightly easier. My breathing became shallower towards the end and I experienced a lack of awareness of some parts of my body and a hot feeling in my hands. When my breath became shallow, I used a mantra “calm” instead of focusing on breathing so that I didn’t accidently control it.

30th April – This session wasn’t so good. I kept getting distracted and felt a little uncomfortable again. I was slouching a lot too.





Dedicant Path Week 6 – Mental Discipline

26 04 2013
Meditation

Meditation (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)

The Dedicant Path requires 5 months of consistent mental discipline practices to pass the course, with practice at least once a week. I decided that I would try to do more than once a week if I could but I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t keep to a daily practice. I decided that I would combine the morning devotions of the Solitary Druid Fellowship with some meditation sat in front of my altar. I first light a candle and follow the morning devotions. Then I light some incense and do the Fire-Water focusing from the Dedicant Path manual. I say the Druids peace prayer and then do a 10 minute sitting meditation focusing on my breathing. I have been trying out the 4-2-4-2 sequence this week. I finish my time with the prayer “fire, well and sacred tree, flow and flame and grow in me.”

On Saturday (20th) and Sunday (21st) I did it. I also did it on Thursday (25th) Friday (26th) but was too busy to do it on the other days. All four days went Ok but I was losing focus often and I’m having a lot of tension and pain in my back. I also found it hard to keep the 4-2-4-2 rhythm going. I decided that as I am not able to do it in the morning very often, I will only use the second part of the SDF morning devotions rather than the whole lot. I also came to the conclusion that I need to do it for a slightly longer period because I take a few minutes up just relaxing so I’m going to start doing 15 minutes instead.

Nature Awareness Update – 25th April 2013

I went out a little later this week (6.45pm). It had been sunny all day however it was turning cloudy as I headed to the nature reserve area. The sun did continue to shine throughout my time there. There was very little wind today and it felt a lot warmer.

Bluebells

Bluebells (Photo credit: bestyphotoman)

As in previous weeks there were lots of small birds singing in the trees. There were sea gulls flying over head and many wood pigeons. Ducks and a moor hen came to the pond and went several times. I even saw the ducks taking off and landing today. The moot swan was still sat on the nest and added bits to it. There were a lot more insects today than I had seen previously and I think they were mosquito’s. I also saw a bumble bee – the first I’ve seen this year. It only ever goes to one flower on each plant and leaves the rest. The daffodils were still out and there were a lot of blue bells out on the way there – as well as some flowers that looked similar to blue bells but were pink or white. Having researched them it appears that blue bells can be white and pink too – the pink ones are probably Spanish! But they can be more aggressive then blue bells and take over the area which isn’t good.

There were lots of small birds tweeting to each other today – I think they were chatting lol! Many were too far away for me to identify. I saw a few blackbirds and a couple of Great Tits came back to their nest box again. I also noticed that there are quite a few trees that are only just bursting into bud now. I also noticed that there were a lot more willow trees than I’d previously realised – maybe 8 or 9 in the reserve. I can’t tell the exact species of willow but they have long yellow branches which dangle down, thin green leaves and catkins.

As time went on, dark clouds began to come over and the sun set as I was leaving. It was definitely warmer today than previously and there were lots more insects out. On the way home I noticed many of the dandelions are going over now and you can see the seeds on a few of them.

I didn’t remember to take an offering with me today, but the pond was looking very horrible and polluted and I think I need to bring the spirits an offering and do something to help next time.