with Marion Thornley

Marian Thornley

With the start of a new year, I always try to formulate a few resolutions to try something new in the coming year. This year I spent some time simply mulling over what a new year might bring for me personally.

One new thing for me is running a meditation class here at Mas Pallagourdi, and I have been reflecting on what the first class might have as its focus. I always try to go with my intuition and what came on this occasion was the theme of openness.

As I reflected on what being “open” can mean, this seemed to fit well with the welcoming in of a new year, a new beginning. I wonder how many opportunities in life we miss because we are not open to them.

By opportunities, I do not only mean in terms of careers and ways to make a living, but opportunities to grow personally, to develop ourselves, to make changes, or to meet new friends.

We often miss opportunities because we simply are not paying attention.

Our heads are so full of “stuff” – fears, insecurities, worries about the future or the past, what others think of us, memories, fantasies, and so on, that we do not pay attention to the here and now.

Sometimes, a solution to a problem is staring us in the face but we do not notice, or conveniently look aside.

We might also miss those opportunities because we are closed to them, and this is often due to fear or to a habit of being closed. We all experience these fears, which run very deep in us. We might be fearful of the unknown, but at the heart of it, we are fearful of being hurt.

How can we change all this, and become open and less fearful?

I believe the first step in this process is to develop mindfulness.

Although it’s a long word, its meaning is very simple – to be aware of yourself, your body and your mind, and your environment, every minute of the day.

To give an example, when you are driving to work, be aware of the trees alongside the road, the bright colours or the dark clouds.

Be aware of any thoughts going persistently around your head, both negative and positive, and notice that they are just thoughts and in time they will pass.

A meditation practice can help develop these skills of being mindful, and to change ourselves in a positive way. In our class this afternoon we will first spend some time focussing on some simple movements, trying to bring mindfulness to our body and how it reacts to moving in different ways.

Then we will focus on this concept of being open, perhaps using a visualisation of a flower opening. I hope that the mere act of reflecting on being open to a new year and all its possibilities, might make a difference, however small, to how we react to the events in our lives this year.

Marian teaches yoga, chanting and meditation at Mas Pallagourdi, Ceret, as well as in the UK (London and Cumbria). If you are interested in joining a class, please see her website or email for more information:

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