Remember to breathe!

This is the first of a series of blogs intended to be a ‘packed lunch’ for a filling mental break in your busy day. It offers a snack of sky, sea and beach to keep you in touch with nature while you navigate the human world of work. Each blog will show you what the beach is like today, share with you some reflections that inspired me from my walk on the beach and will finish with a one minute treat of the sound of the waves to calm you.

The beach today

Join me for a few moments of waves, sand and weather to balm your ruffled feathers and massage your stressed shoulders. The main source of our natural relief will be Westward Ho! beach in North Devon, England, an East facing two-mile sandy beach, backed by dunes that are part of the world UNESCO biosphere. I am lucky enough to live here. It is my back garden, my salvation. And I wish to share it in the hope it brings you some peace too.

Welcome! Step into the picture. The feel of the sea on sand is always cold as first touch, even if it warms to you after a few steps. Imagine the sudden chill as you enter into the sea-sky sandwich: Be the filling as the sky wraps its arms arounds you and hugs you with beauty and light.

Did you know?

This beach is trimmed with a pebble bank or ridge. At high tide the waves are held back by this barrier (although in winter months storm waves will breach it and flood the burrows behind). The height of the ridge interrupts the slamming power of the breaking wave. The pebbles absorb the force of the tide, fracturing the energy. Walls of water splinter against the multi-facetted cobbles, and the water percolates downwards between the nooks and crevasses of the loose pebbles. Long after the tide has receded water still trickles back from the ‘pebble pile’, down across the sand towards the sea. It has a magical effect – the sand often stays wet between tides and acts as a mirror to the sky. Walking along the beach, you can feel that you are suspended between the sky above, and the sky mirrored below you: The soul can really fly!

Reflective moment

The people along the sand
All turn and look one way.
They turn their back on the land.
They look at the sea all day.

As long as it takes to pass
A ship keeps raising its hull;
The wetter ground like glass
Reflects a standing gull

The land may vary more;
But wherever the truth may be-
The water comes ashore,
And the people look at the sea.

They cannot look out far.
They cannot look in deep.
But when was that ever a bar
To any watch they keep?

Robert Frost (1874-1963)

(Robert Frost was an American poet who wrote mainly about nature – I know Robert never came to Westward Ho, but this is what people do here – we all look out to sea, catching any glimpse of it we can….I also recommend his ‘The Road not Taken where a natural divergence of two paths echo our inner turmoil over decision making: which way should I go?!)

The voice of the sea

Sound is also important and increases the sense of contact and being able to reach out and touch, so here is a short recording of the rustle, murmur, roar or chatter of the sea – every day is different, with a different story.

Watch, but mainly listen. Breathe slowly, deepening your breath as you tune into the sound of the waves. The waves ripple back and forth whatever happens to you during each day. It is a consistency that can help us tap into the deeper pulse of nature, and our own breath. Let the waves wash away your morning and prepare you for the afternoon.

But wherever the truth may be-
The water comes ashore,
And the people look at the sea.

Robert Frost

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