Peace in our Land

May our Land shine with the light of peace

Having explored peace within ourselves and our communities, the time is now ripe to broaden our focus and consider how we can help cultivate Peace in our Land.

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Please scroll down to find the following items:

Part A: Living in peace means living in harmony with the whole of nature
1. We and the environment are one
2. Let us treat nature as a lover
3. Some suggestions as to where and when to go
4. Being still can help us enjoy nature much more
5. Let us feel free to be creative

Part B: What we can do to help preserve the environment
6. Composting: a wonderful form of recycling
7. Gardening organically
8. Using alternative forms of transport to the car
9. Buying local produce
10. Making full use of the things we buy
11. Helping to keep the environment clean
12. Supporting local and national environmental projects

Part C: Let our nation be at peace with itself
Q1: What enables a nation to be at peace with itself?
Q2: What do you think needs to be changed to bring about peace in our nation?
Q3: What can each of us do to help our nation find its peace?

Part D: Six Meditations
Meditation 1: The Elemental Breath
Meditation 2: Peace in our Land using the breath (in three stages)
Meditation 3: Chanting Peace in our Land as a mantra
Meditation 4: Walking Peace in our Land
Meditation 5: Radiating the Inner Smile out into the Land
Meditation 6: Using our senses to deepen our experience of nature

bullet point Introduction
Peace in our Land
is all about healing our relationship with nature, and with each other at a national level. The word 'our' is carefully chosen: it reinforces the fact that each one of us is an integral part of the whole.

A temple, mosque or church is not just a building, it is the people who come together to worship within it. So it is with nature, the greatest temple of all. All of us belong to it, and it dwells within each one of us. A healthy nation needs a healthy environment, but an environment can only flourish if the people within it are living in harmony.

Part A: Living in peace means living in harmony with the whole of nature

bullet point 1. We and the environment are one

'I, the sculptor, am the landscape. I am the form and I am the hollow, the thrust and the contour.' - Barbara Hepworth (sculptor)

'There is one Holy Book, the sacred manuscript of nature, the only scripture which can enlighten the reader.' - Hazrat Inayat Khan

Whether we are aware of it or not, each of us is an integral part of nature. Let us begin by considering our physical make-up. Human beings have similar types of cells not only to other animals, but also to many trees and plants. Like other living beings, our bodies contain minerals, water, heat and air.

We are also inextricably linked to nature at an emotional level. Many studies have shown that the environment in which we live can play a large part in shaping our mental health and sense of well-being. Enjoying regular access to trees, plants, flowers, meadows, mountains, the sea, rivers, streams, animals and birds can often reduce our level of stress. Even imagining these can help.

For many centuries nature in all its moods and guises has inspired countless writers, musicians, poets and visual artists, as Barbara Hepworth's words above amply demonstrate.

Plenty of people believe that every aspect of nature, no matter how small, is infused with and connected by a quality which can perhaps best be described as 'spiritual'. Through constant evolution this invisible energy or life force creates ecosystems which are amazingly complex and diverse.

Yet over the past two centuries or so, much of the human race seems to have been bent upon destroying these life-sustaining ecosystems. So many of us - individually and collectively - seem to have lost, forgotten or ignored our connection with nature. We tend to regard it as something separate, alien, threatening, or just unimportant, except as a resource to be controlled and exploited for food, fuel and economic gain.

Over this period a vast amount of nature has been wiped out in the name of progress; a large part of this destruction is irreversible as many species have been driven to extinction.

It has become increasingly clear to me (and to many others) that to survive we all need to change our course quickly and radically. But this approach has to begin from the inside.

bullet point 2. Let us treat nature as a lover

If we wish to re-establish harmony with the environment, let each of us fall in love with it. The more in love we become, the more we will want to live in harmony with our lover, and the less we will want to inflict pain.

This may sound outrageously simplistic, but the longer I live the more beneficial I find this approach to be. To me it makes complete sense to base everything we do upon what we truly love and care about. These inner feelings will provide us with the strength, enthusiasm and imagination to follow through and develop our actions.

So how do we fall in love with the environment?

One way is to get to know it better. This means spending more time with nature, and using this time to listen and to observe. If we do this regularly, our understanding and appreciation of the environment will increase, while at the same time we will begin to love it, and do what we can to look after it.

bullet point 3. Some suggestions as to where and when to go

There are any number of places in the UK (and of course in other countries) where we can go to immerse ourselves in nature. Here are a few ideas:-
a town or city park
common land in the centre or at the edge of town
a waterway such as a stream, canal or river
a quiet country lane
scrubland - there is a surprising amount of this left in many towns
a wood or copse of trees
an urban or rural nature reserve
a quiet beach - on the fringe of town, or in a more remote area

As this list suggests, nature can be observed and enjoyed in urban areas as well as in deep countryside.

We can benefit from visiting these places at almost any time of the day or night. My favourite times are around dawn and sunset, as that is when the night-shift of animals, birds and insects gives way to the day-shift, and vice versa.

As for how often to visit, this of course depends upon what we want. Many people say they would like to spend more time outdoors, but they are too busy. My experience is that if we really want to do something, we will create the time to do it. I find regular visits of 20 or 30 minutes are ideal: we can always top these up at weekends or during holidays.

bullet point 4. Being still can help us enjoy nature much more

'What is this life if, full of care
We have no time to stand and stare ...'

These words by William Henry Dawes seem very wise to me. They invite and encourage us to devote our full attention to what is going on around us. In this fast and frenetic world many of us seem not to know how to stand and stare. To enjoy nature to the full, we need to
come alone, or in a small, silent group
leave our technological gadgetry at home
learn to slow ourselves right down
listen, watch, taste, smell, feel

We can appreciate what is going on around us if we pay attention. This cannot be done by chatting with others, whether in person or over the phone. It cannot be achieved either if we are listening to music on our headphones. Therefore, I strongly suggest leaving mobile phones and other gadgetry at home. Cameras can also be a distraction; unless I am returning to a place to take a series of photos of a particular tree or view, I find it best to leave the camera behind. I believe seeing with the eyes is far more rewarding than squinting through a viewfinder.

Walking in groups can be very frustrating. People want to chat, often about things which bear no relation to the landscape in which they are walking. I prefer to spend time alone in the environment, or with one or two others who are also committed to silent enjoyment of nature.

Slowing down, both physically and mentally, is essential for our appreciation of nature. This at first may be much harder to achieve than we may think. Rather than stop abruptly, I find it most helpful to begin by walking at my usual speed, and then toreduce the pace gradually. The slower we walk the more wildlife we can observe in the hedgerows, or along the riverbank. Once we are walking at a very gentle pace, our minds as well as our bodies become much calmer. This enables us to tune into nature much more easily and effectively.

Once I'm in a calm, receptive state I like to stop walking altogether, and either stand, sit, or lie down. I've experienced countless magical moments through remaining still. These include watching a water vole busying itself along a riverbank, listening to a blackcap singing on a branch directly over my head, and watching a croaking frog sit on a lily pad a mere twelve inches in front of my nose. I would have missed all of these experiences had I even been walking slowly: the creatures would have been scared off by the sight and sound of my movement.

William Henry Dawes' poem concentrates upon the sense of sight. I like to include all of the senses when outdoors in nature, such as listening to the birdsong or to the drone of a bee, tasting a blackberry or the salt in the air, inhaling the scent of a colony of bluebells first thing in the morning, and feeling the contrasting textures of a rock and the feathery heads of flowering grasses. What is life if we deny ourselves the chance to experience sensations like these?

Some people see nature primarily as a physical challenge. They revel in pursuits such as hill jogging, rock climbing, wind surfing, or horse riding. I do not for one moment denigrate these activities. They can be enormously beneficial to health. But the fact remains that when we do them we are focusing mainly upon the glories of physical exercise, rather than engaging with the beauty and diversity of nature.

Gardening is a wonderful 'lead-in' to enjoying nature. I love gardening with my bare hands, as I like to feel the warm, moist earth and the textures of the plants. However, I still need to take time out from the physical activities of digging, hoeing, planting and weeding to focus all my attention upon the worms burrowing into the soil, the droning of bees as they loop from flower to flower, the silent dance of gnats under a tree, the intoxicating scent of a rugosa rose, or the piercing, trilling song of a wren.

bullet point 5. Let us feel free to be creative

All life contains a creative impulse or energy. Once we begin to immerse ourselves in nature we may well feel inspired to create something. This can take any number of forms:

I believe it is important to allow this creative urge full rein. The more we let the creativity in us flow freely, the more at peace we become, not just with ourselves, but with those around us and with the entire world.

Many people find it helpful to carry a pocket sketch or notebook with them when they go on a nature ramble. This enables then to jot down ideas as soon as they come to mind. Others prefer to wait until they return home, leaving a gap of a few hours or even days before putting pen to paper, so as to allow their ideas to gestate and solidify.

All of us have a voice, all of us have an ability to create anew, or to record in some form what we have observed with our senses. We do not need to worry about creating great works of art. Whatever we produce is of great value, because in creating we are being true to ourselves.

Part B: What we can do to help preserve the environment

The more we immerse ourselves in nature, the more we grow to cherish it, and the more we will want to protect it from harm.

This section outlines a few practical steps we can take to help preserve the environment. My motive for offering them is to encourage people to think about their actions, and to make any adjustments they feel are right. It is not my intention either to preach, or to try to make people feel guilty for the choices they make. No one likesbeing told what to do; when this happens many of us tend to dig our heels in further.

The practical steps include:

All of these steps are positive ones. I've avoided saying 'cut this out' or 'reduce that' because this helps to create a vacuum of negativity.

bullet point 6. Composting: a wonderful form of recycling

We take so much from the earth: food, minerals, raw materials and fuel. Composting is a wonderful way of putting something back. There are many types of composters available. Many local authorities provide bins at a subsidised rate to encourage people to compost. They will provide detailed information as how best to get started.

bullet point 7. Gardening organically

Many of us believe in working with rather than against nature. For this reason we choose to garden organically. Problems can be overcome without resorting to weedkillers and pesticides.

For instance, instead of killing pests such as slugs and snails, why not collect then in a bucket and transfer them to a suitable site elsewhere (not into someone's garden!)? The 'new' site needs to be at least 100 yards away from your garden, otherwise the predators may return. We don't agree with putting down slug pellets because these cause death or harm not only to the slugs and snails, but to creatures like song thrushes and toads who eat them. Likewise we also avoid putting down saucers of beer as this also causes suffering.

When an invasive plant threatens to overrun the garden, the best solution I have found is simply to keep on pulling it up. I was once able to rid a garden of Japanese Knotweed by doing just that; I dug up every new shoot as soon as it appeared, and in the end the plant simply gave up. Many weedkillers are at best ineffective, or else they kill or harm other creatures in the spraying area. They also poison the soil.

bullet point 8. Using alternative forms of transport to the car

An increasing number of us care so deeply about air and noise pollution that we are deciding to use other means of transport as much as we can. Unfortuantely, as things stand, not everyone can make this choice. we may live too far away to cycle, or there might not be a bus route or train station close enough to our homes. We may find that public transport simply does not take us to the place where we need to go, or the journey times may be too long, or infrequent, and the fares (especially at peak commuting time) may be too high.

Some worthwhile schemes are already in place, such as a variety of community transport projects, dial-a-bus, and bicycle hire. Many of these are local council initiatives, but unfortunately many have already succumbed to the latest cuts in public spending. As a result, there are an increasing number of people without transport who feel isolated, neglected and powerless.

I believe if we care enough we can do a lot to help change this situation. We can lobby our local and national politicians, and offer our votes only to those who show they are fully committed to creating and sustaining an extensive, efficient and realistically priced public transport system. Just sitting back and complaining helps nobody.

bullet point 9. Buying local produce

When buying local produce, we not only support local farmers and businesses, but we help keep haulage distances to a minimum. Local produce also tends to be fresher. However, there may be times when we need to choose between buying something grown organically a long way off, or the equivalent product grown non-organically nearby.

Many people think of local produce only in terms of food and drink. I believe the same 'buy-local' principle can hold for other goods, from plants and cut flowers to more durable items such as kitchenware and furniture.

bullet point 10. Making full use of the things we buy

Everything we buy is produced at some cost to the environment, whether it be the basic materials, manufacturing process, packaging or transportation.

One of the ways we can reduce our carbon footprint is to make full use of everything we buy, and do all we can to make things last. If we do this, we won't need to replace products so often. This means choosing things which are well made, and likely to last; repairing things when they develop a fault or a hole; buying things we think we will enjoy over a longer period of time rather than as part of a whim or passing fancy.

I believe the word 'enjoy' is key: if we enjoy the look, sound, taste, feel or smell of something we are more likely to appreciate and savour it: we feel content with what we have chosen and therefore do not need to acquire more.

Clothes are things which can easily be made to last. A smart shirt, for instance, can be used for work or special occasions when new. As it gets older, it can be switched to casual wear, and then nearer the end of its life, when the collar and cuffs are becoming frayed, it can be downgraded to night duty or gardening wear. I often make shirts last for a good fifteen to twenty years or more by following this process. When the garment really is beyond repair, the buttons can be stripped for spares, and the fabric cut up for rags.

There will of course be times when we find we have no further use for an item; if it is in working order, let's give it another home rather than throwing it into the bin. This will give someone else the chance to make good use of the item, and will save them from buying a new product.

Making full use of things means to value them, and to value the earth from which ultimately they come.

bullet point 11. Helping to keep the environment clean: some tips

I am often dismayed to see the amount of rubbish we deposit in the countryside and towns alike. As well as making places look unsightly, litter can do great harm to creatures who get entangled or trapped in it. Here are three tips:-

a) Rather than complaining to ourselves, or to the local council, the most effective way of dealing with litter is to pick it up ourselves. We need not make any show about doing this. It helps if we take a bag with us when we go out. If each able-bodied person were to pick up just one or two items each day, the problem of litter would diminish dramatically.

b) If we wish to leave a bouquet of flowers at the scene of a fatal accident, let us make sure we remove beforehand all artificial wrapping materials. The problem with cellophane and other packaging materials is that they are non-biodegradable, and often blow around in the wind, adding to the litter problem. Surely a far better solution would be to cut some flowers from your garden or window balcony, and tie the stalks together with garden string. Messages attached to the flowers also cause litter problems unless they are removed within a few days.

c) If we wish to tie a clootie to a tree next to a holy well, let's again make sure that the material we use is biodegradable. These days some people leave objects which are plastic or metal, which besides creating litter can cause the tree harm. The tradition is that the clootie should be a strip torn from clothing covering the part of the body which is diseased or in distress; as the strip rots, so the disease fades. The clootie is best tied loosely; trees are organic beings and like to grow without constriction.

bullet point 12. Supporting local and national environmental projects

There are numerous environmental organisations and projects in Britain, and in many other countries of the world. We can support any of these by simply joining as a member, or by volunteering our time.

We can help safeguard and protect sites which are threatened by development by signing petitions and writing letters to the appropriate people. I believe the way we write a letter is extremely important. If we express ourselves clearly, positively and politely we are more likely to receive a fair hearing than if we write in a spirit of anger and confrontation. (The next page Peace in the World will include further guidance on this point.)

Below is a list of some of the national environmental organisations:-

Campaign for Better Transport:
Campaign to Protect Rural England:
Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT):
Groundwork UK:
Marine Conservation Society:
John Muir Trust:
National Trust:
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB):
The Wildlife Trusts:
Woodland Trust:

Part C: Let our nation be at peace with itself

In the Introduction near the top of this page I wrote: 'A healthy nation needs a healthy environment, but an environment can only flourish if the people within it are living in harmony.' Living in harmony means being at peace not just with the natural environment, but also with ourselves individually, as a community, and as a nation.

We have already looked at peace within ourselves and our community (see the Peace in my Heart and Peace in this Place pages). In this section we will concentrate upon being at peace as a nation. We can begin by asking two questions:-

Q1: What enables a nation to be at peace with itself?

Q2: What do you think needs to be changed to bring about peace in our nation?

I invite you to spend some time thinking about how you would answer these questions. (I do not believe there are any definitive answers to these questions, otherwise I would share my own.) When you are ready, highlight the change you would most like to see made, and move on to consider a third question:-

Q3: What can each of us do to help our nation find its peace?

Gandhi said: 'be the change you want to see in the world'. So let us be the change we most wish to see in our nations (see Question 2 above). For instance, if we want a more democratic political system, first let us make sure we allow everyone with whom we live and work to express their points of view and participate in decision-making. If we wish our society to be more open and welcoming to people from diverse cultures and faiths, let us make sure we mix with, welcome and respect all those living in our community whose beliefs differ from our own.

Once we have committed ourselves to 'live out' the change we wish to take place, we can begin to speak up. There are a number of mediums we can use. We can join with others who share a similar aim (this may mean joining an existing organisation, or helping to form a new one). We can write to local or national newspapers, or we can contact leaders of organisations in the sectors relevant to our cause, such as commerce, industry, or the environment.

Above all, we can make contact with politicians. Instead of blaming them for the state of the country, or for waging war against other nations, let us engage with politicians by using the democratic channels open to us. If we believe a government policy is creating disharmony, let us voice our concern by writing to our MP, or to an appropriate government minister.

I have already stated that the way in which we make contact is crucial. Violence can never be resolved through further violence, whether in act, word or thought. Our point of view is much more likely to be given a sympathetic hearing if we

If the response we receive is not what we are hoping for, it is still a good idea to express our gratitude to the person for the time they have taken to consider our request. If we don't seem to have made any progress the first time, we can try other channels, and/or make another attempt later on, especially if the situation we are concerned about gets worse. At the very least, we have brought our concern out into the open; doing this may have positive consequences we may not be able to see.

The next page Peace in our World will contain more detailed guidance about writing to politicians or leaders of organisations.

Part D: Meditations

Do feel free to print out these practices. If you use them in your group, please
acknowledge they have come from this website:

When practising these meditations, keep in mind the link between the peace generated within each person (the Heart), radiating out into the community (the Place), and then into the whole of our Land.

bullet point Meditation 1: The Elemental Breath
This meditation looks at each element in turn.

I recommend taking at least five cycles of breath per element, but take longer if you wish. I suggest you breathe naturally, although some people prefer to regulate the breath according to a set number of heartbeats or seconds.

Some people like doing this meditation sitting down, others prefer to stand.

a) Connecting with the element of Earth
- inhale and exhale through the nose
As you do this, feel a strong connection with the earth beneath your feet. It may help to imagine your feet are firmly planted within the earth.

Be aware of how your body is made up of earth elements such as minerals.

Dwell upon what the earth means to you, and give thanks for the nourishment, support, solidity, diversity and beauty it provides.

Think about what you can do to help enrich the soil, and to keep it free of pollution.

b) Connecting with the element of Water
- inhale through the nose; exhale through the mouth
Imagine you are being cleansed by a pure, mountain stream or waterfall.

Think about the life-giving qualities of water, how we need it even more than food to survive.

Be aware of how your body is made up of about 60% water.

Focus upon whatever means to you, and give thanks for its reviving, cleansing, purifying, refreshing and flowing properties.

Consider what you can do to help others access clean drinking water.

c) Connecting with the element of Fire
- inhale through the mouth; exhale through the nose
While you do this, become aware of the vital heat and light of the sun.

Be aware also of how your body is a power-house of heat.

Dwell upon what fire means to you, and offer thanks for all the physical benefits of fire.

Be mindful of how fire can be used in positive as well as destructive ways, and how it has non-physical senses of meaning, such as to fire with enthusiasm, the flame within, and the fire of the Holy Spirit.

Recall how incense is often used to purify the air, and to accompany a prayer or offering.

Think about what you can do to help people have access to warmth and shelter.

d) Connecting with the element of Air
- inhale and exhale through the mouth
Imagine you are lighter than a feather, and floating freely above the world.

Reflect upon the fact that air is instrumental to our being, that the cells which make up our body can only survive if they receive sufficient oxygen.

Consider what air means to you, and be grateful for its life-giving and freeing qualities.

Focus upon how wind can change a landscape and influence our emotions.

Be mindful of every breath you take, how each in-breath is a birth, and each out-breath is a release of old, used energy.

Think about what part you can play in helping keep the air and atmosphere clean.

e) Connecting with the element of Spirit
- inhale and exhale lightly through the nose
As you breathe, focus upon that which lies beyond our comprehension, which unites all, which flows within all, which creates all.

Reflect upon what this quality means to you. Some people call it the Holy Spirit, others call it the Life Force or Life Energy, the One Being, prana, qi (chi) ... but whatever name or method of description you choose just be grateful that it is here, within and without.

After a while, allow your thoughts to subside into deep stillness.

When you are ready, return the way you came, through the elements of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth.

bullet point Meditation 2: 'Peace in our Land' using the breath
This meditation is a continuation of Meditation 2 on the Peace in my Heart and Peace in this Place pages.

Stage 1: Tuning into your heartbeat
(This is the same as shown on the Peace in my Heart and Peace in this Place pages.)

Become aware of the pulse of your heartbeat.
Breathe in, counting four heartbeats.
Hold the breath, counting another four heartbeats.
Breathe out, counting four more heartbeats.
Repeat the cycle until you get used to the pattern.

Once you are used to the cycle, move on to the next stage if you wish:-

Stage 2: Energy breathing

(This is the same as shown on the Peace in my Heart and Peace in this Place pages.)

Continue the breathing pattern described above in Stage 1.
Imagine you are breathing in new, fresh energy.
Hold the breath.
Imagine you are breathing out old, stale energy.
Repeat the cycle as often as you wish.

Either bring to a close by watching the natural rhythm of your breath, or go on to Stage 3:-

Stage 3: Breathing 'Peace in this Land', 'Our Landis at Peace'

To begin with, you may wish to focus upon:
'Peace in my Heart' on the in-breath, hold the breath, and 'My Heart is at Peace' on the out-breath. After a few cycles change to:
'Peace in this Place' on the in-breath, hold the breath, and 'This Place is at Peace' on the out-breath
. When you are ready, move on to:

Think the words 'Peace in our Land' on the in-breath.
Hold the breath.
Think 'Our Land is at Peace' on the out-breath.

When focusing upon Peace in our Land on the in-breath, be aware of the current of peace entering your lungs, your heart, the place where you are, and the land in which you live.

Each time you breathe in, imagine that this peace energy reaches further and further into the environment, radiating throughout the whole land.

When holding the breath, imagine that the peace current goes even further, encompassing every village, town, city, rock, tree, plant, river, and lake.

When focusing upon Our Land is at Peace on the out-breath, imagine that the whole of our land is radiating, glowing, and shining with this ever-expanding energy of peace.

Bring the meditation to a close by watching the natural rhythm of your breath, or continue using the words Peace in the World- this extension can be found on the next webpage.

Allow plenty of silent rest at the end of the meditation.

bullet point Meditation 3: Chanting 'Peace in our Land' as a mantra

This can be a sitting or standing meditation. It uses the third line of the Peace Mantra as a mantra in its own right, and is very similar to Meditation 3 on the previous two pages.

The four syllables of this mantra can be chanted slowly on a single note, or using a very simple four-note melody.

While chanting this short mantra, focus upon peace gradually spreading into the land in which you live.

Allow plenty of time at the end of the meditation for silent contemplation. This allows the vibrations to go on working at a deep level.

bullet point Meditation 4: Walking 'Peace in our Land'
This is very similar to Meditation 4 on the previous two pages. Although it can be done indoors, the best place to walk is outdoors.

Find a quiet spot where you are unlikely to be disturbed.

Begin to walk very slowly.

Breathe in as you walk three steps, breathe out as you walk another three, and continue in the same way.

Once you are used to this cycle, introduce the following words:-

As you breathe in, think the words 'Peace in our Land'.
As you breathe out, think the words'Our Land is at Peace'.

Repeat this cycle continuously until you wish to bring the walking meditation to a close.

There are many possible ways to adapt and vary this meditation. Sometimes, when breathing out, I prefer just to think 'Peace', and imagine this energy fills every part of the land to which I belong.

bullet point Meditation 5: Radiating the Inner Smile out into the Land

This is an extension of Meditation 5 on the previous two pages.

Sitting or standing, quietly watch your breath.

Allow yourself to break into a gentle smile, or imagine you are smiling.

Smile with every aspect of your being: your physical body, ego, imagination, thoughts, feelings, the higher self.

Imagine that this sunny, golden smile is filling your room and community with light.

Now imagine this light is reaching beyond the community into every corner of the land, until everyone and everything within it is embraced by the smile.

When you are ready, just return to watching your breath, while imagining the smile carries on glowing within you, within your community, and within every part of the land.

bullet point Meditation 6: Using our senses to deepen our experience of nature

These meditations may help us slow down, enabling us to experience and appreciate nature at a deeper level. This can lead to a lasting sense of peace and 'interconnection'.

In each meditation I suggest you end up by focusing upon the very essence of the object, and to consider what lies behind or beyond it. This is a subtle process, one which is impossible to describe adequately. Some people may wish to concentrate upon the absolute beauty of each object, others may find they are contemplating the source from which the senses arise: the possibilities are endless.

I also encourage you to express - whether silently, or in a more tangible form - your feelings of love, appreciation, gratitude, awe, delight, enjoyment, and to reflect them back to the object you are contemplating, or to all creation, or to the Creator (if you believe in one). Doing this helps to strengthen the link between 'Peace in my Heart' and 'Peace in our Land'.

a) Looking into a flower

While walking slowly in the country, or in a town park, choose a flower which appeals to you, and stand or sit in front of it.

Gaze into its centre. Be aware of the darting movement of your eyes, allowing it to take place. Then imagine the flickering is slowing down.

Each time your gaze moves away from the centre of the flower, bring it back slowly and gently. Focus upon journeying into the very centre of the flower with your gaze.

You may find you want to breathe naturally, or you may wish to slow your breathing down by counting five heartbeats on both the in- and the out-breath.

When breathing in, imagine you are inhaling and enjoying the essence (not just the scent) of the flower. When breathing out, imagine you are offering your love and gratitude back to the flower, and to the environment.

You can of course use this meditation to contemplate other natural forms such as a leaf, a pond, a rock, a slow-moving cloud - anything which allows you to journey into the centre without damaging your eyes.

b) Listening to nature

This meditation is best done in a place where you will not be disturbed by people or by busy traffic, and where you will be likely to experience natural sounds. The place could be somewhere like inside a woodland on a breezy day, by the sea, a rushing stream or a waterfall, in your local park during a quiet time of day, or your garden.

Stand, sit or lie down in the spot which you have chosen.

Become aware of all the sounds you can hear.

Just be with the sounds, and enjoy them, without trying to make them do anything or go anywhere.

You may find yourself trying to pin down what is making each sound. (This is especially true when hearing birdsong, insect or animal sounds.) After a while, let go of this need to identify.

Notice where the sound is coming from - is it to the left, to the right, straight ahead, diagonally behind, above, below, or all around? Carry on doing this for a while, and then let this awareness go.

Observe how each sound begins, progresses and finishes, and whether the pitch, rhythm and volume change or remain the same. Then let this awareness go too.

Now imagine you are travelling into the heart of the soundscape. What lies behind it?

Breathe in the essence of the soundscape, and what lies in its centre, or behind or beyond it.

Breathe out your love and gratitude back to the sound, to the environment, and to that which lies beyond.

c) Touching the elements

One of the most obvious ways to experience nature is to make physical contact with it. Touching the elements contains just some of the many ways open to us.

Touching the strength, support and varying texture of the earth
walking barefoot
exploring the different textures of grasses, new leaves, petals, tree trunks, rocks
burying oneself in the sand
gardening without gloves

Touching the revitalising and refreshing nature of water

swimming or paddling in the sea
bathing in the morning dew
allowing the rain to caress the face
drinking from a pure mountain stream

Experiencing the life-giving warmth and light of fire

watching the growing light before sunrise, and the fading light after sunset
lying in the sun (without overdoing it)
dancing or sitting around a fire
filling a room with candlelight

Experiencing the freeing quality of air

turning the face towards the breeze
allowing oneself to be bowled along by a strong wind
enjoying the still clear air at night, or on a cold winter's morning

We can experience any of these ways at a physical, mental and emotional level. Then, if we wish, we can journey towards the essence of each element, and see what we find.

Breathing in, let us fill ourselves with the essence of what we are touching.
Breathing out, let us offer back our love and gratitude.

d) The taste of the countryside

During some months of the year, Britain's countryside provides us with a variety of fruit, nuts or herbs, such as:

blackberries elderberries damsons cherries apples pears
wild strawberries hazelnuts chestnuts mushrooms seaweed
fennel thyme mint three-cornered leek wild garlic borage

Eat any of these slowly, savouring the taste.

Allow yourself to focus upon the essence of the food and taste, and offer back your love and gratitude.

e) Nature's scent

The British countryside contains a number of flowers and herbs (wild, or naturalised) which are scented to some degree. Here are some of them:

bluebell cowslip sweet violet gorse broom elderflower hawthorn blossom
chamomile/mayweed honeysuckle rosa rugosa wild garlic thyme fennel

Close your eyes, and focus your attention purely upon the scent.

After a while, breathe in the essence of the flower and scent, and breathe out your love and gratitude.

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Thank you for trying these meditations; I hope you find them helpful. If you wish to receive further guidance in finding a meditation teacher, or discuss anything on this website, please contact me (Steve) at

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bullet point The significance of the Foundation's logo

Our logo has been created by Pharic. It reflects the twin aspects of the Mantra: the journey within (spiral) and the radiating outwards (like flower petals or sun-rays):-