Yesterday morning began with a three-hour meditation at the Buddhist Centre in Bristol and I also got to see one of my closest friends, who I don’t get to see very often. I won’t dwell on that experience too much because although it started well, I decided to alter my seating position for the final stage of meditation and I was anything but comfortable for those agonising minutes… All twenty of them!
I usually kneel astride a stack of rectangular cushions but that sometimes leaves me with pain in my lower back but usually, only on my right side. Minor adjustments to raise the height of my seat and more haven’t quite sorted this, which is why I decided to try and sit cross-legged, with bolster cushions to rest my legs on either side. I took my friend’s advice and used a stack of cushions to raise my seating position so that my legs could rest but still, I was struggling and, well, I didn’t really get anything other than a sense of frustration before lunchtime came and we went out for a coffee (tea, actually).
That’s all I’m going to say on that. Now, I’d like to focus on my most recent visit to Ashton Court, last Saturday…
This was my fourth visit to the estate in less than one year and only one of those (less than six-months ago) was with the walking group. So, I’d seen most of it before. My desire to get out on this occasion was boosted by the sunshine we haven’t quite had this weekend and a feeling of necessity to get out of the house and away from the confines of my workshop. That weekend also marked the six-month date since I visited the same site with another very special friend and I wanted to do something to try and remember and appreciate that.
I started off with my usual walk-around, while knowing that, sometime after stopping to eat my lunch, I would just want to find somewhere to lie in the sun and to try to distance myself from my thoughts for a bit (hence the photo at the top of this post).
If you were following my activity on Keek that weekend, you’ll have seen that I was video-blogging short extracts live from my day there (well, until my 3G signal dropped). I managed to capture the fallow deer almost perfectly on my phone. They’re not quite as spectacular as the red deer found in another park but, each and every time I’ve walked past this area, they’ve been far and away from the fences at a distance that is hard for even my digital camera to reach. I did wish that my friend was with me on this occasion but she hasn’t even responded to the link I sent her to my Keek.
I was a little bit adventurous before settling down to eat just after 1pm. There was some kind of mountain biking challenge occupying paths along the woodland walk, which meant that pedestrians had to tread a little carefully and to stick to their (our) side of the tape-fence. Instead of plodding along the usual route, I chose to head off on one of the two permissive paths through the fallow deer park, which I’d never been brave enough to follow before. You don’t get any closer to the deer but there are some other views of the estate (as illustrated above).
In my search for solitude, I had to trek further than expected, as there were shirtless Brits on almost every hill that I had distantly earmarked for my own time and space. I eventually settled in an area full of long grass, not too far from the gardens that border the mansion. Lying down, I could turn my head to either side and see nothing but grass surrounding me.
Directly above, the sun was burning on to my unprotected skin. It felt ‘hot’ from the moment I finished my sandwiches and lay down. I could feel the direct heat of the sun but, it wasn’t until I got home that I began to realise just how well ‘lobstered‘ the insides of my legs were!!
My face was pretty bad, too and, as I went to collect my Chinese take-away that evening, the boy behind the counter as if I’d been drinking…!!! I was struggled in pain for the next few days; unable to sleep for those first two nights – the weight of my duvet was enough to keep the alarms ringing! I endured a painful Monday at work, as well. Not only did I hit my head, squash my fingers and bash my knee but, when one ‘balanced’ sheet of plywood toppled over, it wedged itself against my knees… As I reached down to rescue it, it slipped and scraped all the way down my freshly rouged shins!! I can’t remember the exact words I used but I’m sure you could make an educated guess!
Meditation in the sun didn’t really work out that day. Honesty, the heat was far more intense that I had anticipated. I’ve since stocked up with a bottle of sun cream but now, look outside and it’s raining. Not only was the sun too strong but I was distracted by the loud sounds of a group of teenagers playing rounders in the distance. Not the kind of disturbance you’d expect further out in to the countryside, which is why I may wait to meditate again until I’m further from the city.
I spent a long time wondering around the Red Deer Park but I couldn’t find even one of them to photograph, let alone to capture in video. As I drove out of the main gate, I spotted them to my left, in a sanctuary area that is off-limits to the general public (no permissive paths; nothing).
There are some other photos taken from the day, which you can find in this Flickr set. Some are images I’ve enhanced using Instagram but the only one taken with my phone is the one the see above; the rest were captured with my Nikon S8200 camera.
I have plenty of other things going on that I need to update you on and there are lots of little wood-related pieces that I intend to share very soon.
Thank you for reading.
- Ashton Court in the sunshine (bristol-culture.com)
- The Postures of Meditation: The Daily Guide to Success (pathwaytoenlightenment.com)
- Meditation without Purpose (kenshihan.wordpress.com)