I arrived in Glasgow, just over a week ago to learn that my mother was in hospital, the brand new Queen Elizabeth University Hospital aka Bizzie Lizzie. Quite a feat by the NHS to bring three hospitals previously scattered around the city into a single multi-purpose complex. The absence of wards had met with mixed reviews, personally I was impressed with my mother’s spacious room complete with en suite, digital TV, USB ports, personal temperature controls and more. M&S, Camden Foods, WH Smith and others in the entrance foyer all added to the experience.
A rare opportunity over Easter weekend to relieve my two brothers from ‘being there’ for my mother. I am grateful that they have never complained about my absence of some 30 years.
A few days later than originally planned then, I started off on the West Highland Way. My elder brother kindly accompanied me for the first hour. Turning the corner just as we had parted, a lone sheep and I made eye contact. I felt a connection. Both alone, free spirits on our own individual ways.
I undertook to remain mindful on the way. To practice what I preached. I soon found myself thinking about what I would say in my blog; chapter ideas for my new book also going round in my mind. I captured ideas in ‘notes’ but then chastised myself for having thoughts. I felt exonerated remembering Tim Parks’ rendering of his Vipassana experience in ‘Teach Us to Sit Still’. The thoughts were not mine, merely there for my observation.
And so… I wasn’t able to begin with my usual breath holding Buteyko breathing. I hadn’t gone before I had left, my mind observed, and this particular breathing is excellent for moving the bowels!
I observed a couple running passed me.
“Twenty five miles!” They cried, in answer to my question regarding how far they were going. I resolved to jog all downhill parts of the way from thereon. But that’s also good for a fast transition. Next mission, to find a hidden space. Thankful that I had taken some tissue, assumed biodegradable, from Costa as I had set out earlier.
The fresh air was beautiful in the open spaces. I determined not to pass judgement on the terrain. It was as it was.
I watched my breath. Felt my posture. Chin slightly tucked in. Tongue at rest in my mouth. A slight pelvic tilt. Using only the muscles required to propel me forward, my hands and fingers swung freely, and not too closely, by my sides. Continual reminders to let the abdomen go.
I was grateful to Cal for introducing me to YinYoga as I felt the lovely stretch of fascia on my shoulders as I let them go. The buxom lady with her two dalmatian dogs encountering my eye exercises was a little aghast as we met on a corner. Going cross-eyed is not something I usually teach my walking meditees.
The aptly named Conic Hill loomed ahead.
The view across Loch Lomond and the descent on the other side made the climb worthwhile. Take my word for the fact that I stopped after 20 miles in Balmaha with a suntan in March and in Scotland!
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