Nature Awareness Update 18th August

18 08 2013
Red Dragon Fly

Red Dragon Fly (Photo credit: philip1120)

I went out at 1pm on Sunday. It was warm, windy and sunny although there were lots of clouds in the sky, some white and others grey.

There were lots of butterflies out this week, they appear to increase in number each week. I also saw a blue one which is new as previously there had only been white or brown ones. There were quite a few bees collecting nectar. On the pond were two pond skaters, a water boatman and a blue dragon fly. Amazingly, there were also three massive red dragon flies, two of which were mating.

There were very few birds around today. I saw one medium size moorhen chick but not the rest of its family. The swans were in the lake with their seven cygnets and there were many sea gulls overhead. I heard what might have been a woodpecker but I couldn’t see it in the trees.

The horse chestnuts have massive fruits on them now and one has dropped a lot of its leaves, with the other leaves have changed over half their colour to red-brown. Earlier in the week I walked past an Oak tree and there were lots of acorns on it which was lovely to see.





Nature Awareness Update 11th August & Mental Discipline Week 14-16

11 08 2013
English: Blackberries

English: Blackberries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I haven’t managed to get out to the nature reserve for a few weeks but did manage it this week. I went out on Thursday at 5pm. It was sunny but also windy and quite a few clouds were in the sky. I saw five little ducklings as well as the swans and all seven cygnets which are almost as big as their parents now. I also saw what I think were black headed gulls but they had white heads at the moment.

There were many insects out including lots of bees and wasps, some butterflies and three dragonflies which surprised me because I thought they only lived a few weeks out of water…although it may have been new ones. I could also hear crickets.

There were lots of new plants I didn’t recognise, and almost every plant in the area is now over 5 ft tall. Blackberries and raspberries have been ripe for the last few weeks.

Seagulls were flying over head and I saw a moorhen with two of her chicks. I don’t think the others have survived :(. The chicks are twice their original size now so I’m feeling optimistic about their survival. A female blackbird came close to the moorhen nest and the adult moorhen chased it away.

I was surprised when I got there to see that one of the benches was broken. A man came during the time I was sat there and mended it. I helped him.

Mental Discipline

Week 14, 15 & 16

This is going to be a long bit to cover the last three weeks.

The good news is that having an app on my phone is working and reminding me to meditate, not every day but more than usual.

28th July – I did a meditation inside. I began by saying the Druids Prayer and then meditated for 20 minutes in front of my altar. I have changed it slightly to make the Buddha statue a more central part. My mind kept wandering and was a little fidgety. I was an ok session and I felt peaceful afterwards.

29th July – I have started using a “learn meditation” app on my phone and it begins with three minutes. I did three minutes of meditation today and it went well.

30th July – I did a three minute meditation this afternoon and it went well. I slouched a little but managed to focus for most of the time.

31st July – I did a three minute meditation as part of my lughnasadh ritual. It went well.

4th August – I did a three minute meditation. I found it very hard to focus for more than a few seconds. I think its because I hadn’t done it for a few days.

7th August – I did a four minute meditation. It was hard to focus but I felt calm afterwards,

8th August – I did a 20 minute meditation outside although I was interrupted after the first 10 minutes so it became two 10 minute meditations. It seemed easier that normal but towards the end I kept losing focus. I did feel some changes in consciousness towards the end of the first 10 minutes though. Overall I felt it was a good session.





Nature Awareness Update 19th July & Mental Discipline Week 13

19 07 2013
English: Raspberries (Rubus Idaeus). Français ...

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I went out at 4.15 on Friday. It was very hot as we are enjoying a long heatwave in Britain this year. There were a few cirrus clouds high in the sky but little wind. When I first got there, I noticed that there were raspberries already ripe. I tried one and it was lovely and sweet. There was a mixture of ripe and unripe ones which is a huge contrast to last year when nothing was ripening at this point.

There were lots of insects around including quite a few white, brown and even blue butterflies, there were also bees, two dragonflies, pondskaters, water boatmen and a spider. The brown bits of the horse chestnut leaves have got bigger and its clear that they are starting to change colour.

There were some birds singing in the trees, a few seagulls flew over and I saw a couple of wood pigeons. I also saw at least three of the baby moorhens and a parent but i’m not sure about the fourth. The older sibling was helping to feed one of them too. The baby coots are adult size now and the baby cygnets are doing well too.

Mental Discipline

13th July to 19th July

I was outside again for my meditation today. I did a meditation focused on my breath. It didn’t go particularly well although I think I was sitting better as I didn’t feel any pain. I did keep slouching and had a lot of trouble avoiding thinking. I still can’t keep my mind clear even for 10 seconds. I also didn’t manage to do even a single day of short meditation so I have now added an app to my phone with a daily reminder to try and help. Overall, I need to improve and do meditation more often.





Nature Awareness Update 12th June & Mental Discipline Week 11 + 12

12 07 2013

Last week I was on holiday so I’m having to do two weeks worth in one. I didn’t manage to get out to my place in nature last week but I was camping and spent a lot of time outside so I reckon that counts.

On Thursday this week I went out, it was very sunny and we’ve been enjoying a lovely heatwave. The sky was blue and there were a few wispy streaks of cirrus clouds. There was a little wind but not much.

There were many seagulls, a few wood pigeons, a swift and some crows. There were also a few house sparrows and dunnocks (I can finally identify these). The brilliant news is that the two moorhens were in the pond….and they have four new baby chicks! The chicks are so small and cuts but they and able to swim and for the most part feed themselves so they are doing better than the last lot. I did ask the spirits and the earth mother to look after them this time and help them all survive. There was another bird which I couldn’t identify (I’m pretty sure it was their previous chick that survived) and it kept coming close but being chased away by the adults.

There were lots of insects around including three pondskaters, a dragon fly, bees, butterflies and lots of spiders webs. The reeds have grown noticeably large and the meadowsweet and purple loose strife are both flowering now but the yellow iris’ have almost all gone over.

As usual, I greeted the earth mother, nature spirits and spirit of the place and thanked them when I left.

Mental Discipline

 

29th June – 5th July

I was on holiday this week so I decided to do a meditation at camp site. I kept getting distracted but did 20 minutes. It didn’t go that well as my back was in pain a little because I wasn’t sat right.

6th July – 12th July

11th July – I did 20 minutes meditation out in the conservation area. I got distracted a few times by the birds and my mind wandered a few times. However I felt very calm afterwards, and during the meditation I felt some feelings of going within or boundaries disappearing. It was a good session and I’m enjoying doing it out in nature. I do feel I should be further ahead at this point in being able to have a clear mind so have decided to try and make the meditations a daily habit by starting off doing just 3 mins a day and building up slowly, but doing longer on the day when I’m out in nature.





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 8th June and Mental Discipline Week 7

10 06 2013

I went out to the conservation area on Friday at 4. It was sunny, warm and there was a blue sky. There were a few cumulus clouds and alto-cumulus clouds around which means good weather (and it was beautiful all weekend).

Common Moorhen (young)

Common Moorhen (young) (Photo credit: Lukas Vermeer)

The flowers on the horse chestnuts are dying back now, the grass and nettles are 4-5ft tall and there are some beautiful flowers that look like the yellow iris’ but are purple around. I saw lots of bees, a ladybird and a white butterfly. There were house sparrows, sea gulls, wood pigeons, a robin, the swans and their seven cygnets and some coots with their two babies. The moorhens aren’t together any more but the good news is that one of their young did survive after all and is now able to walk and eat by itself. The blue tits have all gone quiet though and none were around their nest box this time. I don’t know whether that means something has happened to the chicks or that they no longer need their parents help.

Mental Discipline

1st June – 7th June

I did my normal devotions and the two powers meditation on 2nd June. I then did a loving kindness (metta) meditation which I’d been planning to do for a while since I found out that scientists have shown it can affect brain structure and make me more compassionate. The time didn’t drag this time and apart from a few itches I wasn’t fidgety at all. Unfortunately someone did phone in the middle of the metta meditation which distracted me. I felt very peaceful and calm and at one point in the metta meditation even felt quite emotional. Visualisations are still a problem but I’m getting a little better at it.





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.