Category Archives: Information

For subscribers

I just published the Guest Post ‘Realizing body/mind Together’ prematurely! I’d not added ‘Guest Post’ to the title so you might be wondering if I am, or was, training to climb mountains. Not. Absolutely not. That’s John, he recounts his efforts to get fit to climb mountains, which he did quite a few years ago.

I’ve known John since 2006 and have enjoyed many a phone call and received much help and encouragement and advice around my blog and online presence.

And for those of you who are not subscribers…you can do that by filling in your email address in a box, top left of the website. I don’t do anything with subscriber emails. They are private and only I see them.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Did I sign up for This?

I have been thinking about the relationship of developing dependence, over time, between ‘carer’ and cared for. Mother and ‘child’, husband and wife, professional carer and client (live in carer especially.) Not to mention all the other multiple relationships that grow when an individual needs help.

I’ve also been thinking about people I have worked with who developed some form of Autoimmune Disease MS (Multiple sclerosis) for one and Parkinson’s Disease for another.

Back in 1972, I worked for a voluntary organization coordinating young volunteers. Calls would come in for help needed for the elderly and infirm: gardening, decoration, shopping, cleaning.  These requests would be matched to the volunteers. Peter, who had just been named ‘Man of the Year’, was the coordinator of the organization. Bound to his chair and not able to move his limbs, only one finger worked to switch on his speakerphone and his speech was weak.  He had MS, was totally dependent on his mother for EVERYTHING, disarmingly handsome and ready for a laugh. When we met we would talk about his life in particular difficulties around dependence and his relationship with his mother. Months after I’d left I learnt he had got married! Imagine? While his mother was devastated, he had found love and perhaps some level of liberation.

Then there is a whole raft of people I know who developed Parkinson’s Disease. Mr Cook my employer, Alexander my colleague, Brian the ebullient one. My heart goes out, at times the outlook appears grim and hopeless both for the individuals concerned and for those who support them. Dancing for Parkinson’s people and in an interesting turn of events, my former Alexander Technique teacher is working wonders in Edmonton Canada to support those with compromised mobility.There are other AT Teachers working in this field all around the world.

Returning now to my original thought. To the relationship, human, emotional, practical between those in need and those who can and do meet that. I’ve been that person. I assisted Rev. Master Jiyu towards the end of her life, in the mid-1990s. I was never her ‘carer’, she was always my teacher. That was the basis, teacher/disciple, heart to heart along with all that goes with assisting, Testing times for sure. So looking past the dependence relationships talked about in this post, there is the unseen heart to heart level. Which sometimes gets lost sight of.

Let Candace have the last word, Parkinson’s has become interestingly and unexpectedly, my passion’.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Happy Buddhas Enlightenment

The altar at Throssel for the Buddhas Enlightenment Festival Ceremony.

We celebrated the Festival of the Buddha’s Enlightenment on the 6th December which came at the end of a weekend retreat with many guests here. Always a real pleasure to see people and to catch up during lunch. Rev. Jishin, one of the senior monks resident at Throssel, gave a talk titled “True Heart”. I love to listen to her, hope you get a chance to do that too.

On a personal note: Thanks to those of you who have sent emails asking if I’m OK since I’ve been consistently absent from Jade for nearly eight months! There’s a multitude of good reasons for not writing however when I look at them honestly, they amount to, mostly, excuses! Sorry. I got out of the habit of writing however habits can be changed. This TV interview with James Clear is a helpful ‘how-to’.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Training hand, heart and mind

This letter, first published in 2006, is reproduced now in slightly edited form.

Dear Rev. Mugo,
I thought I would write to let you know what I have discovered about Trinity College of Music at the time Rev. Master (Jiyu-Kennett) would have been in contact with it, in case it is of interest.

Trinity was started in 1872 by Bonavia Hunt who was deeply concerned by the quality of church music which was becoming poorer and poorer. Trinity was first known as the Church Choral Society and College of Church music. It was open to members of the Anglican Church, and men only! The college started with a view to teaching so that quality could be restored and the long tradition of church music continued. As it developed, the college trained teachers and offered exams throughout the world so that standards could be maintained. I’m not sure of the date, but women were also welcomed in to study before the war.

By 1939 the numbers at the college grew and the college ethos was one of welcome and the doors were opened on Sundays as well as all other days, “to keep the lamp of music burning during these dark days.” The choir was open to those who’s choral societies had had to disband for war reasons. Trinity hosted concerts throughout the war and two concerts in 1942 were given by the children of London county council and Middlesex who studied on Saturday mornings with Gladys Puttick, a pioneer who arrived at Trinity in 1934 and was one of the first to teach musicianship beyond the instrument. She was also the founder of the Saturday School and Trinity was the first music college to have a Saturday junior department. Distance Learning also started to help those unable to get into college to study, in fact Prisoners of War were able to do distance learning with help from the British Red Cross offices.

Gladys Puttick arrived in 1934 and stayed until the 1970s. Three other notable people were at Trinity from the 1930s – mid 1960s. Charles Kennedy Scott was keen on the study of Plainsong and the chanting of Psalms and gave regular lectures and led rehearsals. Dr Lowery was passionate about organs, organ music and is noted as giving superb lectures. The Principal of Trinity from 1944 -1965, Dr Wilfred Greehouse Allt was also an organist who was the President of the Incorporated Association of Organists from 1956-1958 and then of the Royal College of Organists from 1962-1964. Rev Master would almost certainly have come into contact with Gladys Puttick and Charles Kennedy Scott, whether based at Trinity or as a distant learner.

Gladys Puttick gave a lecture in the 1940s and it reveals an approach to learning that often goes unnoticed. She said that music was, “essentially a pivotal subject of education, since it could be the means of training, at once, the hand, the heart and the mind.”

It would appear that Rev Master was in good hands.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Near Death

There isn’t a day goes by when I am not in touch with somebody who is dealing with a life close to ending. Or a death approaching, soon or predictably – quite a bit later. The usual measure of time doesn’t seem to come into it – a moment can seem like a life time. Hours slip by in a blink of an eye. My own father died January 29th 2000, quite suddenly and without warning, although he was elderly he was fit and well by all appearance. Nineteen year ago. He is long gone…and yet… Still close.


I see friends and family struggle with the loss of a loved one…and I’ve stayed silent about my experience. While nothing but time can alleviate the pain of loss, I can’t help but feel that as a card-carrying member of this exclusive club ( near death survivor), I have inside knowledge that might alleviate a different kind of pain — the pain of imagining the final moments, what might have been going through their minds, and whether they made it to the other side in peace.


Christen O’Brien – Medium

The above quote is from a piece by a person who experienced near death, and survived. This is not rare.

This post is for all those who grieve a loss and specifically for Norman and for Rachel. And for Kate S too. And so many more.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email