“Well I work in international development training but I’m studying a Masters in teaching Mindfulness. Have you heard of Mindfulness?” Paula asked me enthusiastically.
“Ooo, yes!” I answered excitedly. I’d been reading about behavioural change and it was fantastic to meet someone knowledgeable. “I’ve got a friend who it’s really helped with a life illness, the NHS prescribed it. It’s similar to meditation isn’t it?”
“Yes it’s got many of the benefits of Buddhist meditation but it’s been developed as a secular version. Cultivating an awareness that allows you to see yourself without attaching. You could observe your pain for example, but not be your pain.”
“That’s so fantastic that you want to teach it! The inner transformation – it’s such a vital part of what we’ve got to do.” Within about a minute I felt strongly that Paula had a good heart, that she would be a force of good. I wanted to be her friend, to help her and learn from her.
Planning is one way to approach events, but it’s no way to approach life. Life will not be planned. It will listen patiently to your plans and then with a raised eyebrow at your human arrogance, it will do something entirely… else.
I knew that the approach I was choosing to take to the tour was by no means the only or best one and when researching other projects I was confronted with clear evidence of this. Attending People’s Sunday Assemblies in Oxford I would meet at least two wonderful people each time. This time I met Dave, a very active community organising environmentalist from Thame who I told about my plan to start the walk from Totnes because it was the home of Transition.
“Oh well you must know about Steph Bradley and her walk?!”
Always a little disappointed at the depth of my ignorance, I shook my head sadly.
“Goodness, you really aren’t connected in at all are you?” asked Dave with some concern.
Another sad little shake of the head.
“She walked for six months around England in flip flops and visited Transition projects. You should definitely contact her.” He advised.
The monthly Peoples Sunday Assemblies are like church services, but without any reference to god. There is community, singing (more likely Bon Jovi than traditional choir pieces), and a chance to contemplate on our lives and morals.
I wrote down Steph Bradley and looked her up when I got home. ‘Home’ at the time was a spare bed at Miranda’s house. Steph had indeed walked for six months, an amazing 2000 miles, hearing the stories of hundreds of people, as a result of a dream. According to the website she had awoken from the dream knowing what she had to do and with full knowledge of the places to go to. Ok, so far so strange, but it had clearly worked.
The reply to my email called me a fellow pilgrim, which I didn’t really understand, but it was full of warmth, kindness and offers of help. Advice on planning and contacts followed one after another.