My first experiences of meditation

Last Sunday I had what I call a “grandfather” moment and became aware again what a wonderful source of inspiration he has been to me all my life. As the memories flooded back, I thought about the different ways we would “meditate” together especially as I have dedicated the Smell the Roses workbook to him as well as my grandchildren.

Bobo brought me up as my mother had died when I was very small. He came from an army family and became a soldier himself. He was a very young soldier in World War I and, the moment it was over, he left the army and trained to be an actor, which was where his true vocation lay. By the time I came along, he was a very established actor. He managed, as if by magic, to be home in time to read my night time story. His beautifully ever changing voice would transport me to wonderful places and invite me to become part of the story, rather than a spectator. These were my first experiences of guided meditations and, in ideal circumstances, as there were no distractions.

Although he had been brought up in the country and had a deep love for horses, he equally loved London where we lived. As soon as I could go for long walks, we would explore London together. This time, they were mutual meditations. We would often find a bench or flight of steps and sit in companionable silence connecting to the world around us. Sometimes he would take me to Lords or the Oval to watch cricket. I didn’t totally share his passion for cricket but at Lords I was allowed to wander off to the Rose Garden. This was where I learned to literally smell the roses fascinated by their different scents. At the Oval, I just immersed myself in the atmosphere particularly if the West Indies were playing – all the bright colours of people’s clothes, the music of drums and the general enthusiasm for the game. All these experiences taught me about being fully present in the moment. When I was bored at school, I would remember a day at the Oval and feel happy inside, no longer bored.

We lived near Kensington gardens and from an early age, I used to escape there. Like a homing pigeon, I would head for the Peter Pan statue. My greatest pleasure was to explore it with my hands until I knew every nook and cranny. If I close my eyes now, I can feel the little mouse hidden in one of the folds of the statue and for some reason smell freshly mown grass. A very soothing memory that I can breath in if I am feeling agitated. Just as my grandfather taught me when we went for our walks – “Just breath that atmosphere in” he would say.

Who has been your inspiration? We meditate more than we think …