Afternoons with Flo

At the beginning of this year, my next door neighbour asked me if I would be able to work with her mother who was in her 90s and suffering from anxiety and finding it hard to relax.  Having known my neighbour for many years and wanting to see if I could help, I said yes. Flo began coming to see me every Monday afternoon. We would meet in my living room, light some incense and have a brief chat about how she was doing. Then I would lead her through a long body-scan meditation, where by bringing awareness to various parts of her body, she would see if she could relax into a sense of spaciousness and openness in her experience. I encouraged Flo to continue her practice of the body-scan at home, by buying a CD of the practice, as I felt she would get more from it if done daily. The following week I met with Flo and she told me that she had been practising at home every day, sometimes even twice a day if she had time.

After a number of weeks of practising the body-scan meditation, Flo shared with me that she never thought that she would experience such peace in her lifetime. I felt very moved to hear this and was happy to see her commitment, and that her practice was bearing fruit. The following Monday Flo arrived once again and settled into her armchair ready for her body-scan. We spoke briefly about her week and she shared her struggles as well as her enjoyment of having found practices that could help her in her life. I lit some incense and we sat together as I led her through another body-scan meditation.  After the meditation I was aware of a deep stillness in the room and we sat together in silence for several minutes. Flo then spoke to me and said that she had been reflecting on the word ‘acceptance’ that I used while leading the meditation and she felt that if she could accept things more in her life, allowingfor things to be as they are, then things would be less of a struggle. We then spoke together for a few minutes exploring the theme of acceptance and how that may apply to Flo’s life, being a woman in her 90s, a much loved mother and grandmother and friend to many. Flo then told me that she was eager to learn other meditation practices and build on her practice. I said that we could begin introducing a new practice focusing on a awareness of the breath the following week.

That was the last time I saw Flo. The following Sunday, while being driven home, the car she was in crashed and she died several days later from her injuries. I miss Flo and our times together; she was a delight to work with: bright, energetic and enthusiastic. Even though I only knew Flo for a short time, her death has touched me deeply. I feel at times she may have been teaching me more than I was teaching her – to accept life in all its delights, disappointments and its complexities, to surrender more deeply to the mystery we call being alive.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
― Lao Tzu