Who knew that just beyond the concrete and cars, the roars and the horns, the smog and the dust of Canada Water station, lay a little pocket of green space called Russia Dock Woodland?
On Tuesday, James and I went on a mindfulness walk organised by the Museum of Walking called ‘Picking up the pieces’ – part of Creativity and Wellbeing Week. It was organised by a very nice couple Mel Sutton and Andrew Stuck who showed us mindfulness, meditation and yoga techniques over the hour and half walk that took us from Canada Water station, round Russia Dock Woodland and back again.
On the way we saw a swan family: five grey signets crowding round mum as she showed them how to dip for scrumptious treats in the water as dad looked on. Coots and moorhens, with their own chirping, fuzzy chicks, paddled round the yellow flag water irises in the channel of water running between expensive modern flats.
We reached the open parkland, framed by beautiful trees with bright yellow leaves and others glimmering silver, and paused for a moment. Andrew said that he’d like each of us to walk on our own for five minutes and meet him and Mel at the waterfall – and in that time to think about an obstacle that was stopping us from being who we really wanted to be, and achieving what we really wanted to do.
Sometimes people say something so profound, something that I connect with so strongly, that it feels like a sudden ache in my heart and tears immediately rise to my eyes and that moment was one of those. When we reached the waterfall we were to draw what that obstacle looked liked.
So we set off, each of us, walking over the grass as the wind sailed in the trees. As always, I find it soft and easy to move into mindfulness in nature. The soothing rhythms of the wind, the heart-soaring songs of the birds, the gurgling water – such beauty, impossible, incredible, but here, in my ears, at my fingertips, rolling around and over me. I feel thankful and glorious and calm.
And my obstacle forms itself in my mind: The Past. That I feel keeps pulling me back and clouding my thoughts. Why can’t I overcome it? What’s stopping me from being my authentic self?
Fear. Fear stops me from taking that leap, from writing that novel, from painting that picture. Always. How do I solve this problem? Be brave.
At the waterfall (a sweet little splash no higher than a toddlers knee) I draw and write what I have always known, but through pausing and reflecting, now truly know.
Under the first picture I write: The past is holding me back. I am not my past. It is making me afraid of the future and stopping me from being my authentic self.
Under the second: If I can be brave I can free myself from the past and hold my future in my hands and be my true self and be my potential.
Of course I couldn’t simply draw this revelation: I think in words, and these are the lines through which I can express my hopes and desires, my dreams, the whirligigs and waterfalls and beams of light my mind creates, curls, bends, believes…
What a lucky few moments to have, I thought, a chance to be at peace in nature and focus my mind. It was a precious, quiet and enlightening experience and if you ever get the chance – I recommend you go on a mindfulness walk yourself. You don’t need anything but your two feet, a space to walk in and an open mind.
Russia Dock Woodland
Following the closure of the Rotherhithe docks in the 1970s, the Rotherhithe Peninsula was redeveloped by the London Docklands Development Corporation In 1980 Russia Dock, originally a dock used for importing timber from Norway, Russia and Sweden, was in filled and planted as native grass areas for recreational activities, and a series of water channels and ponds providing habitats for kingfishers and herons.