I struggled at the Quakers yesterday. There was a man who was breathing so heavily, had he been on the end of a telephone, he would have been arrested. My mind wouldn’t stop whirring, hearing words from articles I had read online that morning, “thinking, thinking”, it wouldn’t shut off.

I concentrated on my breath, ‘I am’, I on the in breath, Am on the out breath. I did think I would have to give up and go outside, but had no clear exit route as someone had dragged a chair to where I could have ducked out through.

There was a little girl there, with her father she had brought some colouring pencils and books, but laid across his lap watching me write with huge alert brown eyes. It has been a bad week for loss, Helen, Jade Goody and Natasha Richardson, I feel sad for people I know, and for people I have never met. Empathy, horrible word.

I don’t normally take notes when I am sitting there in silence, but the last couple of times I have been there I have had such flashes of inspiration I thought I would get my pad and pen out ready, just in case. Yesterday, while I didn’t get what I normally get from the hour, it reminded me that while it has been easy to step sideways and centre myself, it will never always be easy. I tried again, I in, Am out. Just as I was getting myself sorted, someone stood up to talk, it always makes me jump at the best of times, yesterday I nearly fell off my chair.

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