Have you ever sat and watched time pass? Not worrying about going somewhere or doing something, not conscious of any clock? Have you ever sat and watched the landscape change as the light builds and then fades? The sun sweeping overhead the only record of the hours slipping by? It is a luxury we can rarely afford these days, and one I rarely get to indulge in, but to do so in the beauty of Pyrenees mountains at the Chateau du Gudanes was truly a gift.
No social media except in the kitchen and the bedroom, No TV, not even newspapers (by choice). Few people, and all of these voids were filled with space, so much space. There were times when I sat and watched the light enter the room from the windows and splay across the wall, watched the shadows it cast, and allowed my mind to roam. There were times I watched the sun dance across the park, watching the grass grow greener as the last remnants of snow melted before my eyes. I would get lost standing on the terraced garden at the front of the Chateau facing Chateau Verdun and Aston, feeling the wind as it raced through the valley and blew against my face, accepting the challenge of trying to breath it all in as it hit me.
It was in fact two weeks of meditation. Being able to switch off and get lost in the moment. I often do this at home, staring out to the garden watching the birds pecking for worms, or the way the leaves blow in the wind, or just being lost in the contrasting colours, the varying shades of green, the black/brown fence, the herb garden against the window. It wasn’t until just now that I realised thats what it was. I always felt a little guilty about it - like I was zoning out, but it has just occurred to me that this is my meditation. Sometimes, when I’m walking in the city I will just watch, not in a voyeuristic way, just watching life occur around me and being lost in the moment. I’ve missed some of my best photos this way, but have gained so much more by being deep in the moment.
So, two weeks of meditation, two weeks of not thinking (well except for a few days of work and travels) two weeks of bliss. What did I learn during this two weeks? I learned about the smell of the wind as it travels up the valley, I learned to love the bite of the wind as it hit my face. I learned about the beauty of the moss growing on the north side of the trees and the stone of the chateau. I have always been a fan of moss. I was reacquainted with it’s softness and vibrance and the delight of walking on patches of it, the cushioning of which can only be compared to that of a cloud. I learned the sounds of the river Aston, as the levels increased with the melting snow.
There are many more examples, but the lesson, the switching off and watching the world pass by, the being lost in the intensity of life without the busyness and connectedness of modern day living. That will be my great takeaway from my time at the Chateau. Watching the passing of time. That and the amazing people of Les Cabannes, Chateau Verdun and Aston, but that’s a story for another time.