Sunday, 25 August 2013

The Buddha of Salema

I like to use this writing space to stretch and challenge my (limited) writing capability. Thence a rather different write up of my recent family vacation sojourn to the south west corner of the Algarve, Portugal.

The real Muscle Beach ?
One of those unexpected moments just "happened" one day whilst I was on vacation in Portugal on my constitutional morning beach walk.  Just past muscle beach along the sandstone cliffs of Salema, I happened upon a vision in red, legs crossed in meditating stance on a enclosed, private space.  Serious, concentrated, dark flowing hair, deeply tanned skin, a svelte body, and really quite the opposite of the more usual image of Buddha. 
Recently I have been pondering inversions (inspired by the "think small" Bernbach VW Beetle revolutionary advertising approach) and looking for interesting examples to use in my teaching.  An example would be the Guinness beer brands stream of campaigns that have sought to differentiate and make a virtue out of what might be viewed as a competitive disadvantage of a very slow pouring service proposition. 

I was really rather captivated by the idea of sublime isolation surrounded by stunning natural beauty.  A picture to capture and store the moment would have been fantastic, but alas no camera was to hand, asking permission probably inappropriate and stealing an image, even if undiscovered, highly unethical.  

Thus, on my return leg, I sought to re- affirm the vision I had seen, which was starkly memorable because of the crossed legged sitting pose and the sense of peaceful, almost smug sense of self-indulgence.  I was jealous, because in my busy life I rarely get to spend time this way.  However, it was not to be, not even a clear trace on the sand was apparent.  In fact. I even doubted that the vision had happened at all. 
It got me thinking about meditation, as a form of inversion. One of my old BA team members, Rob Blake, had always been very outspoken in our office space about the benefits he obtained from regular, daily meditation.   (Rob was one of those uber colourful characters you never forget)  His ritual included focused clearing, emptying ones head of all thoughts, the pushing away of negative thoughts and developing a clear sense of prioritisation of what was important. 

For Success and Happiness: Be Clear, prioritise.

I am not a Buddhist, but this approach of focusing on the important and not getting distracted by the trivial urgent, setting achievable goals seems to have considerable merit.  Perhaps the technique of using a check list can provide a stress reducing framework for each day or week and provide a strong sense of progress and achievement.   I can fully believe that this sustained approach to life can have a material impact on important things like relationships and feelings of self-satisfaction. 
A metaphor for mental isolation and relaxation or a rock on Salema beach ?
I return from holidays, rejuvenated, tanned and relaxed to start a new academic cycle, carrying the hope that in the coming year I will be able to put these meditation ideas into practise more.