Pampering my loneliness

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I was functional and productive this week as I went about attending to work, projects, sport, friends and loved ones. I was faithful to my new year’s resolutions, prioritising what I was most passionate about which included working behind the scenes for a new initiative on mindfulness and mysticism. However, I experienced a bout of loneliness on Friday night which left a drain in my energy and spirit. It was meant to be a celebration of my week, but I got caught up on a train of impulsivity.  Next time I commit to being more aware of my loneliness and to apply the ‘3 P’s’  Continue reading

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My heaven and hell

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In 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, acclaimed clinical psychologist Jordan B. Peterson states: “You could help direct the world, on its careening trajectory, a bit more toward Heaven and a bit more away from Hell. Once having understood Hell, researched it, so to speak—particularly your own individual Hell—you could decide against going there or creating that. You could aim elsewhere. You could, in fact, devote your life to this. That would give you a Meaning, with a capital M”.

Facing the reality

This advice nudged me to pause and reflect as I lay in bed dreaming of a better life. So, I closed my eyes and imagined what my Hell might look like. It went something like: “Despair, anguish, lack of peace, addictions, uncontrollable impulses, distractions that diminish my energy and direction… a deadness of head, heart and body, a feeling of dread for living”. I was only too familiar with this reality, a reality that I tended to turn to again and again whether aware of it or not.
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Managing mental health in work

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This article was published on celebrity Niall Breslin’s A Lust For Life website, a movement for mental health and well-being.

I dreamed of connecting with a wider community through writing for A Lust For Life on previous occasions, and this is my third article on the site! Why did I want to connect? Because my experience of bipolar disorder was a lonely existence for a long time. I was fed up with how restricting depression and low mood could be; I was intensely uneasy and agitated; I was troubled with how elation and overactivity lifted me from off the ground; and I absolutely had it with the total disconnect of mania. In short, I needed people and perhaps they needed me too. Continue reading

Bursts of loveliness

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I was comforted by the words of a Sensei (teacher) during a Zen retreat at the Dominican Retreat Centre in Tallaght, Dublin over the weekend. She invited us at the beginning of the retreat to ponder the “bursts” (or opportunities of ‘bursting’) in our lives. In Buddhism, we often hear about enlightenment and we are told that when a person becomes enlightened it is as if heaven and earth crumble before their eyes. There is a sudden burst of newness that can transform the person’s life for evermore.

But the Sensei was suggesting that we can experience many little moments of enlightenment too. I rejoiced at dinner, for example, when my perceived cold mince pie turned out to be crumbly hot! I was grateful when my sudden drop of blood pressure during meditation re-awakened me with what seemed like a mild electric boost. Even the potted ‘Christmas Cactus’ in the photo seemed to want to burst out in praise in the midst of winter. Continue reading

Loving my support network

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I wrote a reflection recently on how I live with others, which was essentially about navigating the many webs of relationships in my life for optimal mental health and well-being. Living with bipolar disorder means that I need to remain vigilant to the potentially severe changes and challenges of mood which are characteristic of the illness. However, I want to shift the focus to how others live with me for this blogpost. I include here a number of reflections from important people in my life and I respond to each while being mindful of their needs. I am sincerely grateful to them for agreeing to publish their comments which I hope will resonate with readers.

Friends

There was only one time when you were different than usual over the past year. You were talking very quickly and loudly, and we were both concerned. But you were still able to express yourself. We checked in with you on that occasion and you were fine the next day. As far as your low mood is concerned, we don’t notice anything unusual about it.” Continue reading

The intent and way of tea

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I met with a meditation group called Deeper Space on Sunday, 4 November in the town of Newbridge, County Kildare, just an hour from Dublin city. We, an intimate group of three, finally settled down for a cup of tea in a local café after a spot of lunch elsewhere and a walk along the river.

Over the last year or so we have tried to create a ‘deeper space’ at different places by reflecting on themes such as living in the now, sacredness and intuition. We paused for a few minutes of silence and shared our thoughts and feelings with each other. Recently, we thought it would be good to try something new. Tea or coffee drinking had always been part of our meetings, so why not simply meet for tea – a daily ritual – and make this our meditation? Continue reading

Cross-legged with Zen

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While my mind is often filled with noise in the form of thoughts and feelings, silence is no longer threatening to me. When my mind calms down, I experience a soft sound that draws me into greater depth and meaning. I no longer perceive the voice of ‘God’ as harsh, annoying and judgemental, but kind, peaceful and loving.

An inner hunger

On a whim of inspiration, I booked myself into a Zen Buddhist retreat last weekend in Dublin. I knew little to nothing about it, but my inner being was hungry for something ‘more’. It consisted of hours of silent, sitting meditation interspersed with silent, walking meditation. My legs and back ached as I tried to find the ‘sweet spot’ in sitting. I tried a sort of knee sitting, cross-legged sitting and chair sitting. Continue reading