06 February 2017

Contemplation at your leisure

From time to time I come across a quote that plunges me into deep contemplation. Something juicy where even on the surface the words cause one to puzzle – what is the immediate meaning?

But then, the words do not fall away; they linger. And deeper meaning emerges.
Sometimes, just sometimes, personal change follows.

So this week, words that came to me recently that are still resonating, but first

Thought for the day

Tomorrow is a new day; 
Let today go so you can begin tomorrow well and serenely, 
With too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. 

Each new day is too dear, 
With its hopes and invitations, 
To waste a moment on yesterdays.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

A sign of success is when you have more leisure.

A sign of success is when you have more leisure.

Does this refer to how many holidays we have? Is it to do with how many hours in the week we work? Is it to do with how fully we cram our day with every little thing??? How spaciously we approach the day? Our work, our friends, our family, our closest relationships?

Most people I meet these days tell me how busy they are.
For some, a significant some, there is the sense that
the busyness is necessary to cover the gaps.

When we finish one thing, and before we begin another;
there is a gap.

In the gap, there is a silence.

And there is us.

For those uncomfortable with, or unused to their selves; that gap, that brief moment with self,
can be tough. So, maybe it is easier, more expedient, just to keep busy. No leisure. No gaps.
No problem… Or so it may seem.

A sign of success is when you have more leisure.

What sort of success are we talking of here? Maybe more holidays, less working hours, more actual free time is being pointed to. Makes sense on the surface.

But if life gains meaning by being helpful, by being of service to others; just how much free time need there be? Now that is worth contemplating.

Then again, there is this question of spaciousness.

Back home in the last few days from attending the annual summer retreat with Sogyal Rinpoche – who shared these words and profound teachings on Open Awareness – there has been plenty of grass to mow and slash on our little farm.

This has the potential to be a very meditative activity, or a real bind – something that has to be done amidst all the busyness.

There is often a lot to catch up on when back from retreat.

So a wonderful opportunity to be aware.

Aware of the state of mind of the mower.

To be frank, these few words, and the deep contemplation they are prompting, has resulted in a more spacious, leisurely mower/slasher.

A sign of success is when you have more leisure.

And the job got done…

Happy contemplation!

COMING PROGRAMS - Retreats and Trainings

Both the meditation teacher training, and our next meditation retreat feature contemplation

March 27th -31st     Meditation Teacher Training – Module 2
Ruth and I train people aspiring to be meditation teachers, or who already are and are seeking to extend their skills. This program is allied to Module 1, presented by Paul and Maia Bedson who teach on Mindfulness Based Stillness Meditation. We teach Contemplation and Guided Imagery.

April 7 – 13th     Meditation in the Forest

This is our annual Pre-Easter 7 day retreat at the Yarra Valley Living Centre. Each year we learn a little more about relaxation, mindfulness and meditation, and we practice together. Then each year there is a specific theme; this year it is contemplation. There is not so much written on contemplation, and very few retreats on this specific topic, yet in my experience it is one of the most useful and profound elements to add to our practice. Ruth and I love presenting this retreat, and we love observing the benefits it brings to those who attend.


  1. Hi Ian,
    You may remember me from the Mana retreat last year. I haven't commented before but I do read all your blog posts. My mother gave my husband her old ride-on mower last year and my husband got it going recently. He decided to do away with the gardening service at the holiday house and mow the lawns himself. Of course, we don't get down there nearly as much as we would like and last time we went, right after Christmas, it was a huge job to cut the very high grass. Interestingly, I noticed that my husband was loving this task. In spite of all that there was to do in his life he was loving this 'space' in his life to be a bit of a farmer again. (He grew up on a farm.) I'm aware of that feeling of panic when feeling that there are so many things to do, but like you, slowing down a bit to just focus on one thing at a time seems to shortcut the panic and even transform it into something quite positive.

    I was tempted actually to comment on your last post too because the effects of my week-long retreat participation at Mana are far more long living than the loveliest of month-long European vacation has been. I remember you recommending at Mana Rinpoche's 'The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying' and this post today prompted me to send away for it instantly. First, I had to get through my reading of the several books of yours that I bought at Mana and soon thereafter!

    Thanks for all your continued work on behalf of us all. I don't know where I'd be without your CD with the muscle relaxation meditation that I play regularly! Some of my favourite words/phrases in the English language are now 'more and more' and 'quite effortlessly'!

    I hope to see you at Mana again this year. My best, Robyn.

  2. Dear Robyn, lovely to hear from you again and that last retreat at Mana has stayed with you; although a month in Europe sounds OK too :) !
    Experience confirms that the deep physical relaxation is wonderful for transforming the stresses and strains of this busy modern life - effortlessly!