An Empty Bowl

I have a metal bowl.

It was made by the latest in a lineage of such bowl makers.

It is empty, though the Ocean is in it.

If I strike it, it rings and that is useful.

I can put flowers in it, that is beautiful and that is useful but it wont ring.

My grand-son could pee in it and probably would and that would be useful but it wouldn’t ring.

If I approach it from stillness and get into joint practice with it, it sings beautifully

And the sound goes all round the Universe

And that is very useful

And the bowl is empty.

I have a mind.

It was made in eternity.

And if thoughts are in it, that is useful.

And if lesions are in it and edges of resistance, that is useful.

And sometimes it is full of roses and sometimes full of piss

and I can work with that and that is useful.

But if it is empty and I can approach another in stillness,

There is room for the whole story and she remembers who she really is

and the universe remembers who it is

and that is really useful.

And the mind is empty.

Mike Boxhall. May 2000

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Meditation For Totally Enlightened Human Beings

Intermezzo 10: As it is

Here is my Intermezzo 10; As it is! Do also read the comments after Intermezzo 1; What’s it all about?

“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. Life is a beauty, admire it. Life is a dream, realize it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a duty, complete it. Life is a game, play it. Life is a promise, fulfill it. Life is sorrow, overcome it. Life is a song, sing it. Life is a struggle, accept it. Life is a tragedy, confront it. Life is an adventure, dare it. Life is luck, make it. Life is life, fight for it!”
Mother Teresa

The work is about working WITH Insecurity, not trying to get rid of it. For my Intermezzo this month I am posting a little correspondence I have had on the subject of how I and you do this in our various ways. We are just ordinary people, leading ordinary lives and trying to be true to that. Not to become something else. The Bliss of Being Ordinary!

Please enjoy the conversations and if some of them resonate for you, please share that with others.

This is a letter from Val Jones, in Wales…

My first retreat

This time last year, at the age of 66, I went on my first “retreat”. The very idea had never actually occurred to me and certainly not appealed; so it came as quite a surprise to my family when I announced that I would like to attend one near Chichester in the South Downs.
My daughter, as ever, was most supportive. My two sons were in agreement. My husband looked up at the ceiling, as he tends to do when he thinks I am going rather “strange”!

I had made my decision very much on an impulse, after seeing my Craniosacral therapist return from a refresher course, positively “glowing” and not for the first time.
Now, I thought, it was time to try out the remedy for myself.

With little time to reconsider and having paid my deposit, I was up and away. The very fact that I knew none of the others held tremendous appeal for me.

On arrival at Pulborough, I met the first of our group, as we shared a taxi up to Duncton Mill. An attractive confident person with a lively mind showing an intelligent interest in all around her.

On arrival, I was instantly charmed by Duncton Mill. The setting in the South Downs was breathtakingly beautiful. Inside was welcoming, tastefully furnished, but comfortable. I immediately loved the large open fireplaces with logs set aside for burning and longed to see them all alight

Having been shown our rooms, mine being in the Cider House, I began to wonder who my room mate would be and in a short time she arrived, another Welsh speaker, like myself. Needless to say we hit it off immediately.

Having washed and changed we went downstairs to meet the other members of our group for a pre dinner drink before entering the dining room where we helped ourselves to the most tasty of vegetarian meals prepared by our young and talented chef.

After dinner we assembled in the Apple Loft (Sounds good, but no apples and no cider). Here we introduced ourselves and explained why we were there.

Now this is where my problems began…

It seemed to me that every person in the room was there for some purpose and had suffered in some way. Bearing in mind that the title of the course was “The Blessings of Insecurity”, I began to feel totally inadequate, frivolous and could well have come over as a spoilt, rather arrogant person, for I could give no reason for being there other than wanting to taste what my therapist had. The very thought of talking about my troubles and insecurities seemed impossible to me at the time and I began to wonder what in the world I was doing there. Furthermore, as usual, I felt a “misfit”. I seriously considered having a word with our leader, Mike, to explain that I was there under false pretences and could I be excused from the course right there and then.

However I decided to stay overnight and was comforted by the fact that my room mate was experiencing similar feelings. This was helpful up to a point but on learning that for ten years she had nursed her terminally ill husband my deep feelings of inadequacy prevented me from sleeping and as I tend to do when nervous, began to talk incessantly. A bond however had been formed and possibly in the next few days, we were to benefit from each other in many ways, not least in the laughter which we shared.

Next morning, things just got better. I began to fear Mike less and warmed to him more. If he regarded me as a rather silly woman, then soon I would be far away again and it need not matter.

By the third day people had bonded and some were visibly benefiting from this whole experience. Even I began to understand the message which had come through; for although I still could not bring myself to talk of my insecurities, I began to recognize that those had been buried, no, concreted down inside me in the hope that they would never re-surface. There had been some stirring there. The realization that things need not be hidden away but instead, gently recognized, handled and even embraced, in order to face life with a newly acquired and quiet confidence.

I believe we all left having felt a new awareness, a love for each other, our surroundings and most of all; we had learned to love ourselves a little more.

Difficult for others to understand therefore I attempt no explanation.
It had all been rather lovely.

In two weeks time I shall be off again to Duncton Mill. I am eagerly looking forward to it. I know that there will be some familiar faces as well as some new ones.

This is a meditation course during which time we are expected to take a vow of silence for two days.

Again I am challenged and again my husband is raising his eyes to the ceiling. Could there be a little trace of envy there or is it just that he would like to be present when I am not uttering a word! Who knows. One thing is certain. I will enjoy this experience and hopefully benefit once more.

Love to all who take the time to read this,

We have moved out of Duncton Mill now, as most of you will know but have established ourselves in a very beautiful venue in Normandy, northern France. People who have been there so far rate it even more beautiful than Duncton Mill. Its website is Please check it out or, better still, come on over and join in.

Mike ( I had to get in a commercial! ).

From Wendy Bridgewater, after a course in North Carolina…

I got asked if I would consider doing a session at a Massage practice downtown. I have always maintained that I wanted clients to come to my office out of town, so people had time to just be before doing errands etc. Also I have a set of large crystal bowls I use and moving them around could easily result in breakage. I also felt that energy had built up in my office and that it had become sacred space. I was reluctant to work in someone else’s space, without all my “stuff”, but noticing all my insecurities — decided I would give it a try.

Everything was strange, the table, the room, the CD player, the choices of CD’s etc. I had fortunately given myself enough time to sort things out and sit for a bit to get present.

That session, my brain did it’s rabbiting, though more so because of the situation. I was just full of insecurity though did the best I could to just witness. At one point feeling almost knocked off my chair by waves of intense grief. My brain told me I was just imagining it.

From the reaction of the client after the session, I understood way more work had gone on than my rabbiting brain noticed. The client asked if I might be available the next week. Some insecurity eased, and I said yes.

The Work had kept up the whole week for the client, tons of tensions had eased. I was in awe. The second session went even better than the first, as there were fewer insecure rabbits to witness. This session left me with no doubt as to the meaning of joint practice. I was totally aware that the intelligence in her system was guiding the work. I feel like I finally believe The Work does the Work, I Trust the Tide—because there is no way I could KNOW what this client needed. I have felt like I knew this before, but this feels somehow more, like I finally embodied the Trust. Again awe, gratitude. The client asked for a third session the following week, before a month long trip, and also expressed interest in coming in again on her return.

The third session–again the stories, body sensations & revelations that she expressed from the last session blew my mind. Listening to her, it seemed clear to me that she (or the universe?) had found me so she could do this work.

During this session, as in the previous two, as I “widened my field” I was aware of the fact that I was working in a different geographic location than at home, call it hemmed in tighter by different mountains, down lower in the river valley floor. I felt I had to get wider, float up higher toward the tops of the higher mountains to get present and start noticing any cranial rhythms in the client. (This made me realize how routine has set in to “where I go” when working at home) All this had been the same each session, but this time it was raining on the verge of snow, and where I had gone to before was not enough space—I needed to go up into the sunshine above the clouds. Then the silly brain rabbits showed up and said “yeah right, sure you can just take your awareness above the? clouds—just who do you think you are anyway?” So to shut the rabbits up (I was desperate to get rid of them at that point), I thought of the silent power of those Brown Pelicans and the porpoises down in? N. Carolina. I asked to become the space that powered them, connected them and us, the spaces in between the rain/snow outside. I
felt it, was it. I was also aware of my hands though physically holding her head, were holding kidneys and other organs.

When I finished the third session, so very, very slowly removing my hands, sitting with her quietly for a time, all I could say to her was WOW! She said the same back. After some time of just sitting/being together, she told me that she had noticed she was above the clouds in the sun, she was dancing, then dancing with me, and that we were connected to the whole universe.

What can I say—words do not even come close to expressing this experience—but the words embodiment and joint practice took on a whole new meaning for me from that session yesterday.

Now I realize not all sessions have such outcomes, or sensations— but having that experience reassured me that this is the way I am drawn to work. I think I “caught more of yesterday”. Thank you Mike! Thank you for what and how you teach.

–would love to hear from the Pod–
Love to you all,


The following from Ann Ealy, who was there too…

Dear all,
Now for my ramblings… It’s so nice to reconnect and hear from you again. Nora… you are always doing something wonderful. Carol… so full of love and compassion and I haven’t read anyone else’s response yet, but I am looking forward to it. :)


I just held my 1st “Getting in Touch” workshop and Mike, I often felt you were right there in the room. Especially when I introduced a little information about the structure of the class, somehow “this is a joint practice” leaped right out of my mouth and I had had no previous thought about that before. It was a brief (1 day), small and wonderful class. You were right Mike about trusting that the right people would show up. They were the perfect people for the class. So open and ready to explore the present moment. Offering this has been a real growth experience for me. Not just in the terms of getting the chutzpah up to offer it and facing my little gremlins that said I wouldn’t know what to do… I learned you really have to stay in the present just to organize something like this. It helped to think about just putting it out there to see if there was an interest. I quickly had to let go of the idea of a 5 or 6 day course. People were shocked at the idea somehow… then I went to the 3 day idea…. that wouldn’t fly either, so when a friend offered up the suggestion of a 1 day workshop I said….what only 1 day? But then I thought… well… maybe 1 day is the way to start. If it builds from there great and if it doesn’t… great, there must be something else. Lo and behold I got enough for a 1 day workshop. Believe it or not there were folks that thought a whole day was a lot! Ah, Nebraska, the conservative life… it has it’s moments… So much for my idea’s on what a class should look like. I have so much to learn! This and yoga have changed my whole perspective on what teaching/leading is about. Gosh, this really show’s me how far I’ve come and how far I have yet to go. I often feel like such an infant (in a good way), and I’ve been so blessed to be taught and surrounded by such wonderful people, classmates, teachers and students. Thank you all for being in my life.
Peace, xxoo


So was Carol Burbank…

What a wonderful group of messages, as the pod swims together for a moment. And it came at a perfect time for me, as my practice is growing and my meditation work is bringing me to a different place in my life as well as the work. It’s a time full of joy and insecurity — I’ve just cut ties with the “security/cash cow” that was sapping my focus while feeding my bank account, and while I love the extra space it’s given me to write and teach healing work and meet new clients, it often feels like a big step. So to be reminded about presence is really important right now.

Wendy, such a wonderful experience! In common sense new-agey language, we often say, “I just have to get out of the way,” and certainly that’s part of it. But you did so much more than that — you rose into the now, you chose to be present, and with.
Mike, I love the reminder that the shift comes when we move into felt sense rather than concept. All my years of academic training certainly didn’t prepare me for that! So much to unlearn, ravel out, release, open up to.

Much love to everyone,

Carol B

I replied to all this and got into the conversation…
Dear all,

Thank you so much for this correspondence, initiated by Wendy.? It is hard to describe what a joy this has been to me!?

What I get is that a very clear understanding is developing of what it means when a few very short phrases become a felt sense rather than a concept.

The whole work probably boils down to, in no particular order;

1. Presence, which includes Awake and Now and Stillness.

2. Trust, in whatever we call it, either Tide or whatever else but that which is not just Me and Mine. Letting the work do the work.

3. Joint practice, implying not someone doing something to someone, which is necessarily limited.

4. Not knowing, which includes, possibly never knowing.

These things are the hardest that any of us born to a Cartesian world, can possibly undertake. They do mean letting go of the small shrub at the edge of the cliff.

This is true work of the Spirit which reveals itself in unlimited forms when the restrictions of separation (the personal) are out of the way, at least for the moment.

To work in this model is not better or worse, it is less common (see above0 and we are either drawn to it or not. If we are drawn, then there is no other.

Similar feedbacks are coming in from other groups/countries. There is some kind of morphic resonance at work. Someone reported that a client said, “I could wish death would be like this.” I say that it is, and rebirth, in the present and what dies is the separation.

Let us talk some more,

Love to you all, thank you for writing and thank you for listening. They are both valuable.


Wendy keeps things going…

Dear Mike and all,
Thank you for your responses, all of them. Mike you now have me curious about your comment “Similar feedbacks are coming in from other groups/countries. There is some kind of morphic resonance at work.” I would love to know more if that is possible—

I also loved this comment of your’s “To work in this model is not better or worse, it is less common and we are either drawn to it or not. If we are drawn, then there is no other.”
I would agree that I am drawn and really feel there is no other way for me to work.

I am also just starting the process of redoing my brochure, business card, and with luck figuring out a website—I hope to be able to write the words well enough so any of those potential clients out there, who are also born into that Cartesian world, might be drawn to the work. I would love any thoughts anyone wished to share on this.

Love to all, Wendy

Mike again,

Dear Wendy,

There are two pieces of your letters I have not responded to;

One is whether I am still writing? Yes, I am and it is painfully slow. I get in knots the whole time about who I am writing to and what to say and what not to say and how to “form” it. I think what I am trying to do is put down revelation of what comes up in the work with some commentary and avoiding too much structure. At least a structure that is pre-supposed or pre-formulated.

It is an attempt at living and experiencing something not just following a model of whatever antiquity. Something around being present. I have added a few more bits recently and shortly will add another largish wad. Then what do I do with it?. There will come a time very soon when I shall say that it is whatever it is. Most books have a beginning and a middle and an end so I don’t quite know how to get it out there or, I suppose, whether there is a place out there for it.

I also am quietly starting on something else to be called “The Teaching not the Teacher.” This has been pretty much to the forefront of my mind recently. I am symbolising it with an empty chair.

The other thing was about morphic resonance. This title was coined by a (current) English scientist who has formulated a proposition that as well as individual memory, there is a collective intelligence “out there” which receives all knowledge which is then available to anyone who hits the right wavelength. His name is Rupert Sheldrake and he has written books, including “Presence of the Past.” He deserves more than my one line synopsis!

This is not entirely new of course and there is an echo of Jung’s collective unconscious as well as many other theories on memory of the past, present and even future which have circulated over the centuries.

The Tibetan Buddhists talk about Torma, meaning treasures of wisdom which are “hidden;” to be revealed when the conditions are right for them to be useful. I take Sheldrake’s theory to be somewhat analogous.

I experience, and this has been voiced by other teachers in other fields, that a piece of wisdom may be revealed by students working at a deep level in a, say, Embodiment of Spirit course in Spain and then, a few weeks later, THE SAME THING comes up in a course for complete beginners in the UK. The same with the USA and Italy, for example. It seems to have something to do with the LEVEL of the awareness in the group. It makes it impossible (for the teacher) to be other than as completely present as one can be and quite impossible to know what you think you are going to teach before it reveals itself. Then you are not teaching anything, just holding the space for the teaching to happen. This lends a very powerful meaning to the Blessing of Insecurity. The “teacher” just does not know! That is not the same as teaching dogma, of any tradition. That is taught in the didactic model and has to be.

I have been playing with the thought that religion, any of them, can be taught but Spirituality can not. It, the latter, is always present and reveals itself when the conditions are appropriate.

I don’t know who follows what is going on here, I am trying to enact, or rather, speak out, my description of the book as I outlined it above and it is very frustrating as I never expand a theory far enough. Barbara is always telling me I am too dense. Opposed to that is part of me that says, don’t try to tie things up in neat bundles. It changes the whole time. Dense is less of a limitation, somehow, than a full description. I am not an authority, just a ripple on the surface. What matters is the level, not the data.

The Teacher is a mirror,
He washes his face,
Everything is clear
And he goes back to being an Idiot.

This came to me when I was teaching in Spain early this year.

Love to you all,


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