Smart heart

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I took part in a conference on spirituality of the heart in Luxembourg last week. I was asked to represent the Irish Jesuit Communications team (the Jesuits are a Christian organisation who believe that God can be found in all things). I flew over on Luxair with the editor of a publishing company. He was older than me with plenty of experience in helping thousands of people deepen their faith over many years. We journeyed together, led meditation one morning, met international colleagues, talked about a number of initiatives and laughed a lot.

We were continuously reminded that the heart works in slow ways and that we need great inner freedom to make real change. Continue reading

The need for stillness

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“Too many of us learn to ‘love’ distress and anxiety: we say it is the way of work and the world. Just five minutes of silence seems pointless. But we get in touch with the ‘inner teacher’ when we find times to be still in our day, connecting us with deep peace and balance. It is available to be tapped into as we live in the moment: talking to people, working on tasks, walking with a fresh breeze on our faces, even running.” – An extract from my book in The Furrow journal

Wising up

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“When we are calm and steady, we see things more clearly. When we are calm and steady, we see things just as they are” My saying.

We have all been in a fight at some point in our lives. We may have cursed, shouted or lashed out physically. Afterwards, we may have noticed that it took some time for our thoughts and feelings to settle down. Our judgement may have been clouded. Or we have pushed too hard at work. We may have stayed on too long in the office, gone way beyond our quota or done too much editing on a paper. But when balanced, we are able to communicate our needs while listening to the needs of the other. We see the importance of rest, hobbies, and friendships in order to be productive. “When we are calm and steady, we see things more clearly.” Continue reading

Zenfulness

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‘True emptiness is marvellous existence’ – Zen saying.

In order for us to understand to some degree the above saying, it is good to look at the practice of Zen meditation. Zazen, as I’ve mentioned before, is “the act of straight-backed sitting and rhythmic breathing which help unify and control the mind through sustained concentration” (Zen Spirit, Christian Spirit). It is simple in theory but hard to do, especially if we are to do it on a regular basis. I continue to practise zazen every morning – sitting strongly and breathing gently – and my thoughts, feelings and images slowly fade away. I experience peace and consolation… Continue reading

My first book!

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I am thrilled to share with you the publication of my small book Bursting Out in Praise: Spirituality and Mental Health with Messenger Publications. At €5, it draws on my experience living with bipolar and aims to reach out to the general public and those with an openness to faith. It is divided into 20 reflections covering six steps to better mental health – upsides, downsides, recovery, balance, loving life and spirituality. Continue reading

Meditative joy

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Acclaimed clinical psychologist Jordan B Peterson draws from biblical stories in his book 12 Rules for Life, claiming that they are sources of greatest wisdom in the West. I also draw from the Bible in this reflection to highlight the importance of what I call ‘meditative joy’.

The story goes that two Mary’s – Mary Magdalen and Mary the mother of James – see an angel at the tomb of Jesus. They are told that Jesus is risen and to go and tell the disciples where to go so that he will see them soon. On their way Jesus meets the women. They are humbled by his presence and bow down before him. In my imagination, he helps them up from the ground, comforts them, is affectionate with them, walks with them and then repeats what the angel has said. They go forth filled with ‘fire of heart’. 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