Magnolia gets a bad press: its off-white hue is the flying duck of decorative paint finishes. Available over the counter at all good hardware stores as BS 08B15, its 5-litre cans are beloved of property developers and interior designers (the bland leading the blonde). As inoffensive as a limp handshake, yet equally infuriating, magnolia’s wishy-washy, wall-to-wall pallor occupies a realm beyond cliché.
Well, I’m here to intervene and restore some balance. So, first, I’m going to ask you to wash away the emulsion of negativity under a waterfall of relaxing music. So here is JJ Cale’s slow-hand serenade to his own Magnolia. Let the music play, cascading into your mind. Allow it to pool there – and then seep down through your body.
Now, with your roots refreshed, let us visualise the magnolia as an agent of transformation. You are standing under the magnolia tree, perfectly balanced, its petals standing as upright as a choir. You grow, sap rising through your toes, infinitesimally, irresistibly, as you stretch upwards, kith and kin with the dappled boughs of the tree.
And now contemplate more closely: This magnolia. It stands in St James’s Churchyard, just off Piccadilly (“down the ‘Dilly” to the initiated) and is one of my favourites. Sheltered from high winds by an unlikely alliance of Wren’s Church, its Rectory and BAFTA, its scooped goblets are brimful of early pollen for bees. And its poise is serene, resplendent and luxurious.
You are here – growing in the middle of this magnificent springtime sight.
Take a deep breath. Deeper yet, and hold for a heartbeat. Now breathe out the word “Magnolia“. Exhale slowly, and hold onto the “-aaaaaaa” all the way, voiding to the very pit of your stomach. And relax…
Great! Well done, everyone….nice session. Next week we will be meditating on why people who wear trainers always take the lift to go from the ground floor to the first, rather than employ their athletic footwear to walk up a single floor. Bring your yoga mats.