My friend Will Gethin has a great series of podcasts exploring the theme of The hero’s Journey. Ironically and realistically he has named his podcasts ‘Follow Your Blissters’.
In bi-weekly episodes, Will interviews people about their experience of living out The Hero’s Journey in their lives. His first interviews include Thomas Moore and Tim Freke. And he has just uploaded his interview with me. His burb includes this text: ‘In this interview, we uncover William’s intriguing journey from novelist, propagator of Sixties counterculture, honorary Hells Angel and academic to trailblazing pioneer of the modern UK holistic movement.’
Glastonbury Abbey is a place of Christian hospitality. In that spirit, we welcome people of all faiths and of no faith. And we invite you to enjoy our Prayer and Meditation Moments.
For hundreds of years this beautiful abbey was a place of worship, of learning and of sanctuary. As you enter its grounds, you may want to contemplate that your life is a spiritual journey.
Wherever you approach one of the areas indicated on the map, slow down and pause. Take the opportunity to breathe calmly and find peace within yourself. Then, if it feels right, follow the brief instructions.
You can do as many or as few of these Prayer and Meditation Moments as you choose. There is no particular sequence to them so you can do them in any order that works for you. We have however mapped two walks – a short one and a long one – which you might want to explore.
ST PATRICK’S CHAPEL
Many people came to Glastonbury Abbey for healing. Sit quietly in this chapel. As best you can, breathe calmly and allow your body to sink and be at ease. Quietly say this prayer:
I am open to receive the gift of healing. May all people and creatures be blessed with good health.
This Glastonbury Thorn tree flowers twice a year in Winter and in Spring, like a Middle Eastern thorn. Legend suggests that it is a cutting from an ancient line of trees that dates back to the visits of Joseph of Arimathea, the uncle of Jesus. Quietly contemplate:
How wonderful that the cells of this tree carry its history and its future. May I always see the connections and wonder of all life.
LADY CHAPEL Upper Level
This chapel is dedicated to the worship and celebration of Mary the mother of Christ. The divine female can be found in many spiritual traditions. Quietly say this prayer:
Mother of the world, help me to love and care for all beings.
ST JOSEPH’S CHAPEL Lower Level
There are legends that Joseph, the uncle of Jesus, came to this very spot bringing the chalice from the Last Supper. Walk slowly and mindfully towards the altar. Quietly say this prayer:
I am grateful that I am safe and have a home. May all people have a safe home.
Legend states that King Arthur and Queen Guinevere are buried here. Their court was home to the Round Table of chivalrous and brave knights. Quietly say this prayer:
In a world of injustice may I have the strength, courage and wisdom to support and champion the weak and vulnerable.
Here in the cloister the monks walked slowly, praying and contemplating life. See how slowly you can walk around the cloister and at the same time calm your breathing.
May I be slow and calm. May I be wiser and more loving. Help me understand life’s difficulties and guide me into clarity.
In this kitchen food was prepared daily for the Abbot’s visitors. Quietly say this prayer:
The food I eat comes from nature, plants, animals, farmers, transporters, traders and cooks. I give thanks to all of them. May everyone be fed and well.
A monastic Herb garden would have supplied medicines, aromas and flavours. Quietly say this prayer:
I give thanks for the beautiful diversity and healing power of nature; and I give thanks too for the gardeners and their care.
Every year this beautiful orchard gives an abundant harvest of apples. Quietly say this prayer:
Thank you mother nature for your beauty and your abundance. May I always remember and care for you.
FISH POND (Lower)
Water is one of the four ancient elements. Earth. Water. Air. Fire. This beautiful pond is cradled by earth. It is filled with water.Airand wind play on it. Light from the fireof the sun reflects from its surface. Quietly say this ancient prayer:
Earth my body. Water my blood. Air my breath. And Fire my spirit. I am one with All That Is.
WILDLIFE POND (Upper)
‘Ask the animals,’ said St Francis, ‘and they will teach you the beauty of this earth.’ At this pond we find fish and fowl. Pause. Calm your breath and be at ease. Notice the fish, the birds, and the insects. Be aware too of the sky and the hills around you. Feel the air against your skin. Quietly say this prayer:
I give thanks for the blessings and gifts of all animals. May all creatures be treated with care and respect.
PARK AREA – BODY PRAYER
There is a beautiful tradition of moving your body in tune with a prayer.
Slowly raise your arms above your head and stretch upwards:
The universe is filled with mystery and love.
Slowly bring your hands down and place them over your heart:
I too am filled with mystery and love.
Lower your hands so that your palms face the earth – or kneel down and touch the earth:
I bless the Earth and all living beings.
Repeat the action as many times as you like.
In this area we celebrate untamed nature – God’s garden. Be quiet. Imagine our whole planet and humanity living in complete harmony with the natural world. Quietly say this prayer:
From the tiniest insect and wild flower, out to the greatest ocean and mountain, may I celebrate the beauty of all creation.
Choose any tree that you like. In many spiritual traditions, trees are a symbol of strength and wisdom. Pause and imagine that you are a tree. Imagine and sense that you have roots growing deep into the ground. Feel the strength of your trunk. Feel the flexibility and movement of your branches.Quietly say this prayer:
In a world of endless change and noise, may I be like this tree – strong, flexible and wise.
Physical Reduces stress. Relaxes tissue. Integrates heart and breath. Calms stomach and gut. Reduces pain.
Psychological Improves self-management. Stabilises mood. Develops compassion to self and others.
Let your body drop down into being at ease. Let your abdomen and stomach sink. Like relaxing on a sun-lounger, contented after a good meal or sitting in your favourite place watching the world go by.
Switch on the caring attitude that you would give to a hurt and vulnerable infant or animal. Your eyes soften. Your breath calms. Your heart opens. Your vibe is kind and reassuring.
Gently give attention to your own body.
Move your toes.
Feel your clothes against your skin.
Experiment with focusing on the subtle sensations in different areas of your body.
Soft eyes • Calm breath • Abdomen at ease • Open heart
Kind, caring and accepting attitude
Focus on whatever is giving you distress. It might be physical. It might be emotional or psychological. Just be with it. Calm breath.
For ongoing health spend time every day scanning your body and greeting all parts of yourself.
METAPHORS FOR YOUR BODY
Tree or landscape – give it good weather.
Pot, chalice or cauldron – fill it with good things.
Planet or cosmos – be a kind deity. Inner child – care for it.
Embedded into our DNA are the core skills of giving care and compassion.
This video explores the universal body language of care.
You can see exactly the same body language in all people, regardless of age or culture. We turn directly towards our vulnerable companion. Our face softens and our body language drops into being at ease. We give the person full attention.