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Mirror, mirror Sanna, sea and sky
Sanna beach, Ardnamurchan peninsula, stunningly beautiful in January. We were lucky enough to listen to crashing waves and investigate glass-topped rock pools

As with my last instalment, I had started on an entirely different subject some time ago.

Now it’s the end of October and this subject feels right to look at. Autumn often feels like the clean up after a party, especially in the garden when dismantling sweet pea frames, pruning roses back, lifting dahlia tubers. As with every season, the shift in energy feels something like a relief: spring because of the emergence of green; autumn with its shades of brown heralding dormancy . The magic of natural processes in endless cycle. I feel comfort as the nights draw in, like wrapping up in a heavy duvet on a cold morning. It feels like a time to breath and to take stock; it’s a time for reflection.

“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart” proverb

A calm body of water on a windless day will perfectly mirror its surroundings, a natural symmetry that can stop you in your tracks. Science says that symmetrical faces show us good health and beauty. But if I say that Life is a mirror of the mind, do you agree?

We each have our own, unique perspective of our world. One can view ‘a glass half empty’ or ‘a glass half full’. The glass is as it is: our viewpoint stems from our belief system. Our beliefs are formed from thought and held in our heart centre. Our thoughts are shaped from life experience, our early upbringing, our social milieu and the media that we choose to engage with.

“You do not see the world as it is. You see it as you are”

– Anais Nin

As we head into the longer nights, I’m enjoying calming the inner storms of my heart. It’s felt like another tumultuous year, fighting off a few personal challenges. So I chose to read my way through it and the result is here in front of you. To challenge dogmatic thinking and to undertake self-reflection can seem overwhelming, yet the following exercises I’m practising are enjoyable and have been recommended by many other people:

1. Morning pages

(3 sides of A4, first thing, every morning)

First suggested to me by Becky, our Creative Director, I half-heartedly gave it a go mid-summer but then I started reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. She explains the importance of letting words trip on to the page, uncensored and undiluted. These present opportunities to rid your mind of irritants emerging from, say, work or a passing comment that seems to fester. “This stuff eddies through our subconscious and muddies our days. Get it on the page.” Not all of it will be negative, practice daily and you’ll find that solutions to problems will bubble up, particularly if you allow yourself to wait for eight weeks or so before revisiting your writing. I’ve found sitting in meditation afterwards far easier and these practices combined are allowing me space to investigate further.

2. Positive affirmations and mantras

Direct action. I’ve flirted with positive affirmations yet never managed to keep them up. To begin with they feel like statements unrelated to oneself, yet starting off with simple, short phrases is easy. I’ve found with repetition, feelings of joy can be conjured up with positive changes to my outlook.

3. Swimming

Alongside the morning pages, Cameron prescribes taking your ‘inner artist’ on a date each week. Due to an injury earlier in the year, I’ve been forced to stop rowing, a fantastically meditative sport undertaken on a beautiful stretch of river. This was my weekly date so, instead, I go lane swimming which is repetitive and therefore meditative. It also triggers the all-important endorphins for that instant 'feel-good'. Any repetitive activity that you enjoy will work wonders.

These tools are helping me find an inner millpond of calm, the space where I think true self-reflection happens. As in nature, these moments are often fleeting and the understanding that it’s not a permanent state of being, actually makes practicing a whole lot easier. It’s also worth remembering Henry Ford’s line:

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”

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