"A Oes Heddwch?" "Heddwch!"

This last month and a half, roughly, have been unutterably stressful for me - this last week in particular. One traumatic event, in particular, awaits me tomorrow at half past twelve - and I am not looking forward to this event.

For nine years, I have fought my clinical depression and panic attacks. This last week has felt like a sustained assault on all the carefully built-up defences I have placed against such attacks. I hate having to go back to the basics and shore up the foundations of my defences, to keep my mind from going back into that darkness.

It is time for me to go back to the books that helped me out of the darkness last time. Books by Pema Chodron and Naomi Ozaniec.

Recently, I bought a new book for myself - the first new Naomi Ozaniec I have bought for a long time, ever since I first helped myself to the now out-of-print Elements of The Chakras, back in 1992 or thereabouts.

Naomi's book taught me much about the way my body and mind operate. They taught me much about the things that matter, and the things which have true value.

This new book, Beat Stress With Meditation, is another wonderful Naomi Ozaniec book. Already, from the first few pages, I've felt a release of the cold pains which build up in the centre of my chest when I know I'm in a fight. I've got the whole book to read through, but I am going to look forward to many of the meditation exercises contained within this book.

Two other books I am also reading, which I recommend, are When Things Fall Apart and The Places That Scare You, by Pema Chodron, a Buddhist. The Places That Scare You introduced the practice of Tonglen to me; a practice I frequently perform during quiet moments.

Just that video above reminds me that a few minutes of mindful compassion daily can alleviate the stresses of a whole week's worth of aggro.

Something the wounded souls of the aggressors in my life have no end of difficulty understanding.

In any case, after this meeting tomorrow, things should be quite clear on both sides - and, I hope, I will be needing these stress-busting meditation techniques a lot less than I have been of late.

Inasmuch as I am a big fan of the Stoic teachings of Lucius Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, I owe my peace of mind more to the more current Eastern teachings of the living Pema Chodron and Naomi Ozaniec. Dedicating this post to them.

May there be peace.

What's the Welsh title about, then? At this time, the Eisteddfod is taking place in Denbigh. By tradition, a ritual of the Eisteddfod involves holding a ceremonial sword above the head of a bard being chaired. The sword is partially unsheathed three times, and the Archdruid says a line each time:-

'Y Gwir yn erbyn y Byd, A oes Heddwch?
(The Truth against the World, Is there Peace?)

Calon wrth Galon, A oes Heddwch?
(Heart to Heart, Is there Peace?)

Gwaedd uwch Adwaedd, A oes Heddwch?
(Shout above responding Shout, Is there Peace?)'

Each time, the ritual cry from the assembled audience Heddwch! ("Peace!") sheathes the Grand Sword. After the third line is delivered and the response received, the Grand Sword is put away and the ceremony moves on to the official recognition of the Bard for this year, followed by the Floral Dance - another ritual, involving a dozen barely-dressed, barefoot, underage girls dancing in circles in front of the Bard - who, some years, has been seen to be barely able to hold in his laughter, and in other years, has simply looked bored, uncomfortable or vaguely embarrassed.

Still, to hear the audience ritually proclaim Peace! Peace! PEACE! is always, for me, a reminder of the things I used to practice meditate for, those times when the stresses were at their peak - those times when the world seemed full of douchebags. Much as it does today.

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"And if we have unearned luck, now to scape the serpent's tongue, we will make amends ere long. Else the Puck a liar call ..."

So speak.