Once you’re up

I’m interested in the links between our inner and outer lives – they form the subject matter of a lot of my poetry. Here, after experiencing a wonderful walk in the Lakes with some friends (thanks to Clive and Sue for being great guides…), I explore the parallels with meditation. Meditation, despite its appearance of peacefulness, is actually for me a strenuous inner/mental/spiritual activity involving continual practice, intention, training and skilfulness.

Sometimes (by no means always!), as with walking in the hills, meditation can lead to a place of  advantage, where the views are unusual, and the insights memorable. If that happens, it seems worth hanging around, at least for a while – though I know the traditions recommend not getting attached to any results…

I still ‘slide off the ridge’ sometimes, and then, remembering this experience, slide back on again… Thanks, Lake District fells.


Once you’re up

In the Lakes, once you’ve made the effort of getting high
you might as well stay up there and enjoy it:
take advantage of the views, the transcendent perspectives.
They say ridge walking is the best kind of Lakes walking.

Once you’ve done the hard work of sitting
and concentrating on your breathing, and body, and awareness,
and entered into a meditative state
you may as well stay there, and enjoy it.

Your hard work and effort and training over months
have got you up the zigzag path to St Sunday Crag;
you can now look down into Deepdale on one side
and Grisedale on the other, green patchworks far below.

You can stride along the ridge, shifting the perspective;
you can look across to ridge after ridge of fells fading into the distance.
You can see the rain clouds roiling up the dale from Troutbeck
and spilling over the ridge into Grisedale Tarn beneath you.

You can stay with your breathing, riding the thoughts that come
sometimes sliding off the ridge of awareness, but swooping back.
You can feel the freshness of new perspectives wash through you
insights emerging from a place beyond the everyday.

Once you’re up, it’s not much effort to stay longer:
the ridge to Fairfield beckons, and then on to Hart Crag.
You can return home at the end of the day
and share tea and travellers’ tales with your friends.

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