Saturday, 17 June 2017

Increasing the dose

I have blogged before about meditation, several times, in fact: the theory and my own developing practice. I have recently returned from my annual pilgrimage walking from Notre Dame de Paris to Notre Dame de Chartres (about which I have also blogged previously: here for example.)

It is a serious walk, as the miles recorded on my phone reveal, and gives plenty of time for both meditation and reflection.  And of course one of the things about a pilgrimage is what one brings home with one: the insights, the resolutions...

This year one of the resolutions that I made was to increase the dose, as it were, of my meditations.  My practice for the last few years (since September 2014, in fact) has been to set aside 14 minutes a day for this. And as I have recorded (here for example), I have found the practice very beneficial. So as of this Pentecost, I have increased the time allocated to 20 minutes a day.

That does not sound a big increase: a mere 5 minutes extra, but the impact so far has been significant. Somehow 20 minutes feels a much more expansive stretch of time than 15; on the one hand it is slightly harder to find 20 minutes of uninterrupted time during the day. But on the other hand, it is a much more valuable practice.  It is hard to explain why, but it feels qualitatively different.  

I will keep reflecting on this (see here for the difference between reflecting and meditating...) and report further thoughts in due course. But in the meantime, I will just reflect on my running shoes, which carry the legend ASICS - anima sana in corpore sano (a healthy soul in a healthy body) -and remind me why I both run and meditate on a regular basis.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Memento mori

I was shocked to learn, on Sunday, of the sudden death of Patrick Johnston, VC at Queens University, Belfast. I met Paddy for the first time last year, when I ran an event for him and his senior team. Since then, we have met a number of times, as we discussed and then planned a further significant piece of work, which was just due to start next week.

He struck me as a leader of vision and integrity, and his humanity was always very much in evidence, as was his courage. 

His sudden death has clearly impacted others, family, friends and colleagues, far more than me; yet I have been struck by how distressed I have been. I had come to regard him as a friend as well as a colleague, and feel that the friendship ended just as it was beginning.

I feel privileged to have known him, and will long remember him.

His death feels particularly poignant as he was only a couple of years older than I am, and like me had four children and a new grandchild.

I found the homily preached at his funeral Mass, by a priest who was a family friend, very moving.

May he rest in peace.