Breathing in
I go back to the island within my heart
There are beautiful trees
Upon the island
There are clear streams of water
There are birds, sunshine, and fresh air
Breathing out I feel safe
I enjoy going back to my island.

This beautiful song is one of my favourites from Plum Village. 

I sing it, and other songs of practice, to my toddler each night at bedtime. Some days, this is the extent of my “formal dharma practice”!

A lecture I heard around the idea of our island, talked about the need to nourish and maintain our island, so that when we really need it, it is a beautiful sanctuary for us.

That we can choose what trees to plant and nourish there. We wouldn’t expect a mango tree to grow from the seed of a lemon, and similarly, if we want our island to be calm, we can mindfully practise feeling calm; so that if there is a tempest in our external world, those trees we have planted on our island are there to shelter us.

In my own life, I really notice the difference between the times that I look after my island, and when I let it slide, and weeds of fear, and anger spring up there. Then, if I am shaken by circumstances, it is harder to find the peace I need within me when I haven’t been looking after my island.

In the same way that we can’t wait til we need our car to learn how to drive it, we cannot expect our island to feel like a safe place without our careful maintenance.

Last night as I sang this song to my 19 month old daughter, she cuddled me and said “Mummy I like this song”. And it was a wonderful motivation for me to do what I can to nurture my island within.

I hope you can find time to plant some lovely trees on your island this week.

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