Emotional health

Suffering and joy

“Mourning calls forth dancing. Dancing calls forth mourning. And it is this mysterious duel that has become a duet.” – Henri Nouwen

Dynamism

Firstly, there is a clear dynamism in this saying: a movement between mourning and dancing, crying and laughing, suffering and joy. One experience invites the realisation of the other experience in a free-flowing manner. It respects the cycle of life like the formation of rain, the photosynthesis of plants, the death and growth of the universe. It is a balanced perspective that can appear in a conversation between colleagues at tea break. We can talk about the ups and downs, we can laugh out loud and sigh in empathy, we can move from one affective experience to another. Continue reading

Prescribing words

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A few years ago, my psychiatrist recommended a list of books that may help me to develop some necessary tools for mental well-being. This is known as bibliotherapy and can be very helpful for people, especially with mild and moderate anxiety and depressive symptoms.

Although my symptoms of bipolar were more pronounced, I thought it would be a good idea to follow the doc’s advice and to see what happens.

It got me thinking on the importance of spiritual guidance in my life. It struck me that a parallel can be drawn between my psychiatrist prescribing medication for balancing moods and my spiritual guide ‘prescribing’ inspirational reading to promote fullness of life. Continue reading

Rambunctious

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“If you want a strong body, you go. If you want a strong mind, you stop.”

I learned something about rambunctious behaviour recently from my ‘happy’ Irish-Canadian cousin Conor and how it can negatively influence my moods. Upon my request, he reflected that I dipped in mood after I stayed out too long partying with his friends. Later, I noticed a similar pattern when I hung out with some people in Dublin City. I think it is good for people with bipolar (and others) to acknowledge when they have reached their limit, e.g., amid a rowdy atmosphere at a pub or nightclub and to walk home and walk tall. It is the way of a balanced life. Continue reading

A transcendent model of reality

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The Bursting out in Praise Triangle, based on research and reflection, is an easy to understand model of spirituality and mental health. As displayed, the development of the external triangles – Interdependence, Universal Good and Balanced Mood – lead to the realisation of the internal triangle – ‘Bursting out in Praise’, which is short for ‘Bursting out in Praise in the midst of Pain or Suffering’.

We develop interdependence with one another and the world: by meditating on a regular basis, spending time with people and being immersed in nature. The universal good is about working for one another and the world: giving thanks for the many blessings in our lives, using our talents for the benefit of others and helping to build up our communities. We experience balanced mood in ourselves: by humbly accepting our lives’ circumstances, embracing the life-giving power of hope and mindfully returning to the present moment. Continue reading

Enlightenment 101

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A blogpost on the inner critic continues this week as I look to its connection with the placater or pleaser role that many of us fulfill at some point in our lives. What is it like, for example, when we say “Thanks” to someone when we want to say “Goodbye”? Or what does it mean when we butter up a crowd to make them love us? Has saying the ‘right’ thing become an epidemic today? Perhaps it has somehow served me in my life up until now, but it is no longer something I am happy to continue with. Continue reading

Real beauty, real presence

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I experienced an unexpected dip in mood since last week’s Camino journey. As indicated, I released myself from much pain of my critical mind while walking in Spain and the experience of ‘full absorption’ brought great inner freedom. But, I returned to impulsive judgements as I settled into my routine in Dublin. A bad habit distorted my peaceful state and I had to execute a recovery plan to get me back on track. At the same time, I had a desire to let non-judgemental presence become part of my ordinary life, not just confined to a moment or two. I wanted something more. Continue reading

Full absorption

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The bright moon does not shine to guide the night traveller” – Zen saying.

I joined my two brothers for the last leg of the Camino de Santiago, the ancient pilgrimage in Northern Spain. They had started a few weeks before me and by the time I arrived they had already been named ‘the express train’ for their fast pace along the way. At an intuitive level, I became aware of an invitation to enter into a deeper way of being on the flight over to Spain. That was to let go of the inner voice of judgement, turning instead to a pure observing mind, one with gentleness and simplicity. Continue reading