A Park Bench Meditation

Every day we are part of a miracle, the little things that are so easy to overlook, yet so awe inspiring when we take a moment to notice them with the wisdom of a child.

A Park Bench Meditation

On the way to somewhere today I paused and this is where I found myself…sit with me awhile in the colours of an English Autumn and let us just be.

There is a little phenomenon I happened upon this week, called Park Bench Meditation. A bench is a place where you can expect to sit for a moment, catching your breath.

The idea is that you find a bench on any given day, take a seat and, well, meditate; but, this is an ordinary and realistic meditation, almost in parenthesis. The most important thing is to decide to sit awhile and let go; put aside the phone, take no book or newspaper, no sandwich and a bag of crisps, have nothing to distract you, settle and simply let your body become heavy. Then breathe, and allow the surroundings to carry your attention without much focus; if something takes your attention notice it, and then let it go.

Every day we are part of a miracle, the little things that are so easy to overlook, yet so awe inspiring when we take a moment to notice them with the wisdom of a child.

It doesn’t have to be in a park, it will work just as well on a street and it doesn’t have to be a bench, it can be a handy rock or a stairway, just take a seat, put away the distractions, breath and let go; ten minutes will change your day.

Walking With Angels Photobook

A beautiful 94 page, full-colour coffee table book, illustrated throughout with photographs woven together by the story. It is a return to the luxury experience of opening a book and immersing yourself.

Walking With Angels, by Melanie Gow, Cover

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A beautiful 94 page, full-colour coffee table book, illustrated throughout with photographs woven together by the story. The book is bound in a high-quality cotton-based hardcover, around reams of silk paper printed with real pigment ink and sewn together. With elegantly coloured end papers and wrapped in a perfect-fitting dust jacket, it is a beautiful return to the luxury experience of opening a book and immersing yourself.

“Through her eyes, we learn to appreciate the sublime in the undistinguished, the divine in the benign.  In short, we learn to see the world differently…

Walking With Angels is more than just a photobook, however. In this gorgeous volume, words are deployed to equal, if not greater, effect than pictures. Her distinctive, fluid prose frames every shot, harmoniously elevating the whole to an altogether different level.” Book Batter Review

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A Tedx Talk About An Extraordinary Journey

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. An extraordinary journey undertaken by a mother and her two sons which transformed each of them. Pilgrimage in action.

I tuned into Twitter at about 1 o’clock in the morning to find a Tweet from a professor at the University of Nevada who said he was showing my TEDx Talk to his students studying leadership that day, and that’s how I found out it was online.

I thought it was the most wonderful way to discover it was out there, and now I can tell you more about the event; I was utterly privileged to take part on a TEDx run by a school, that was only the second one to gain a TED license worldwide.

Sir William Perkins School run the event with the full inclusion of their students; the girls work on the event, presentation and technical side, recording all the video and audio and then editing every talk. I am so proud school children put my TEDx Talk video together, I hope you agree they are amazing.

For me to give my first TED Talk about the walk I led as a parent, with my sons, to an audience of parents and children was just fitting. To know the students were gaining so much experience directly involved in the production was so pertinent.

I am also incredibly proud it was first seen in a classroom all the way across the world from me, in Reno, Nevada. A class led by Bret Simmons, Nevada Management Professor, to his MBA class as an example of the book they’re working on, “Building the Bridge As You Walk On It: A Guide for Leading Change”, by Robert E. Quinn, the Margaret Elliot Tracey Collegiate Professorship at the University of Michigan.

This talk was given at a TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. An extraordinary journey undertaken by a mother and her two sons which transformed each of them. Pilgrimage in action.

What Are The People In The Next Town Like?

A stranger walking into a new town stopped a farmer working in the fields on the outskirts and asked: “Tell me, what are the people of the next town like?”

I have been asked a question this week, it’s one I get asked often:

“I have heard quite a lot of bad things about the walk! That a lot of it is along main roads, and it’s very crowded etc? So I just wanted to get a first hand view, is that true?”

I have thought of many answers to your question, ranging from practical advice to detailed descriptions, but really there is only one answer.

It’s a simple one; I am reminded of a parable I heard a while ago, of a stranger walking into a new town who stopped a local farmer working in the fields on the outskirts and asked: “Tell me, what are the people of the next town like?”

The farmer asked in return, “What are the people like in your home town?” The stranger replied they were lovely, as good and kind a people as any man could wish for. The farmer told the stranger he would find the people of his town were like that too.

A few hours later another stranger passed on the road into the town for the first time and stopped the farmer in his toil to ask the same question, “What are the people of the next town like?”

Again, the farmer asked him how he found the people in his home town, and the second stranger said, “Oh they are mean spirited and unfriendly, as big a bunch of crooks and moaners as you can imagine.”

The farmer replied: “You will find the people of this town to be much the same.”

What I am trying to say is that you take yourself on the walk, it’s about you and how you handle any challenges. The Camino does go along main roads, and train tracks and under pylons, and past cement factories and industrial outskirts; a lot of it isn’t pretty, or even inspiring.

One day we were on a particularly stony and endless path on the way to Nájera, it runs along a busy road for much of the day and that can wear you down. We decided to reach out to the passing cars and trucks, and began the game of waving at them. The amount of bright smiles, and surprised and enthusiastic waves, we got back made the road lighter on our feet, and the hooting horns made us giddy with a silly joy. 

A lot of the way is short on comfort and it can get very crowded. Isn’t life like that? Life asks us to walk tough roads at times, it’s very crowded, it is not comfortable all the time. It isn’t how the road is that matters, it’s how we respond that counts.

It is precisely the ability to keep going when its tough and uncomfortable that makes the difference.

A pilgrimage is not about rest and recuperation it is about throwing a challenge down to your life and yourself; it will show you what kind of person are, or give you the space to be the person you want to be.

Maybe this encourages you to make an opportunity like this for yourself.