“Men and women for others” – Pedro Arrupe SJ
I was educated by the Jesuits who taught me to be a man for others. At school, I reached out through charity work, welcoming the new student, and sacrificing myself on the running field. At university abroad, I cared for the Irish students, worked for the church, and helped friends to run better. Afterwards, I volunteered at an orphanage and a hospital, before becoming ill and returning to Ireland. When I got better, I worked with asylum seeking children and school children. However, my health continued to suffer and I slowly learned to take care of myself. Now, I manage to integrate this value through my commitment to this blog and maintaining a balanced mood for a balanced life. Continue reading “Passing on our values”
My late father comes to mind as I ponder fragility (from frangere ‘to break’). I imagine him looking at me and wanting me to live a life of complete love. He knows that I am fragile. I admitted this at his grave. I called out: “Dad, I have a problem and I need your help”. And this problem was a human one. The beauty of the moment was simply sharing this with my Dad. I felt exposed in a good way. I went home and my load became a little lighter. I haven’t been back to the grave because my sharing enabled me to carry him in my heart. He remains close and he knows the fragility of our family too: how apparent unity at one moment can turn into division at another. Continue reading “Calling from the grave”
I was drawn to the shelter of a Copper Beech tree this week. It was a calling of my being, not my intellect. I felt connected to a life energy within.
The intuitive kiss
On a bus journey home, I pondered my blog post for the week. I gathered all my thoughts and feelings on what I listened to and noticed. Then, a gentle kiss filled my consciousness and I felt a wave of calm overcome me. I remembered a recent kiss: how we came together without reasoning and lingered in each other’s company. I “knew” it was right. We just did it. And I wonder how many other kisses in this world are the result of something instinctive, something centred in the core of our beings. Do we need to think about our kisses or can we just be content in doing so? I also used my intuition in another way. Continue reading “The Copper Beech”
Each week, my aim is to present a psychological and/or spiritual concept that helps me love my life, and I hope this will be helpful for the general public.
Surprised by joy
I noticed that I was in a cheerful mood this week. Perhaps I was becoming more joyful. Alleluia! Perhaps I could bring it into my life as a whole. I found an opportunity to practise this out when I smiled even though the other person wasn’t smiling. I didn’t wait for her to smile first. I was not dependent on her affect to feel good or bad. “Joy starts with me,” I thought.
With my granny
I had a colourful moment with my granny (grandmother) when I said to her: “Granny, isn’t it beautiful when you let go of your own importance? To let go of your thoughts and feelings!” “Sure this is it,” she said. I chirped up, “Because when you do, you become more alive and free. You become more spontaneous and joyful.” “Sure I’m just the same way all the time. I don’t take things too seriously.” I rejoiced, “Sure that’s why you are so well; you have all the answers.” And we laughed. Continue reading “A man on a mission”
I came across the concept of the Nowscape recently from mindfulness teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn. He refers to it as the practice of choiceless awareness in which we let go of selecting specific objects of attention to feature in the field of awareness and to be mindful of, and instead, invite our awareness to be so spacious that it includes anything and everything that might arise in any present moment, just as a mirror does not choose what to reflect but reflects whatever comes before it.
When I walked through the streets of Dublin, I let go of zooming in on particular persons, places, and things. I began to realise that my perception of the world can be quite narrow when I do this, missing out on the wonderful array of colours, shapes, and sizes. I started to experience great freedom as my senses expanded to include my whole environment and I felt a greater connection with the heart of the world. For example, there were evenings this week when I felt like giving into my cravings for fast food and chocolate, but practising the Nowscape broadened my perspective, bringing calm, connection, and self-control. Continue reading “Connecting with the heart of the world”
I don’t want to reach for your heart like the way Donald Trump reaches for your hand – he clasps you and aggressively pulls you towards him, like a bully who wants to dominate. No, I want to reach for your heart gently, kindly, warmly and lovingly.
Why do people reach out so generously to others? What compels them to act in such a way? The following words connected to St. Ignatius Loyola come to mind: “To give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labour and not to ask for reward”.
Spreading good news
I reached out to those with mental illness through my radio interview on Dublin City FM, where I spoke of getting through the downsides of bipolar. I told the interviewer: “When I started to love bipolar, I started to love my life. And there’s great hope for people with mental illness because you can be even stronger than you ever were before”. My family said: “the interview was real, the mindfulness tips were great, and it was helpful for everyone”. And I was delighted to hear that my friend got a lot of tips from it too. I guess these responses show that I reached out to the heart of others. It’s great to spread good news on the journey of recovery! Continue reading “Reaching for your heart”
A few things stirred my heart this week. First, it was the week of the awful Manchester (England) bombing when many concert goers were killed as a result of a suicide bomber. I remember reading the story on the bus to work and I was compelled to find out more. For this moment in time, I felt like a brother to these people. I wished I could have been there: to hold their hands, to pay my respects, to do whatever was needed. The world was watching. Life went on, but with a heavy heart.
Second, I listened to American Greg Boyle, founder of the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry programme in the world. He spoke to the University of Notre Dame’s 2017 graduating class: “You go from here to dismantle the barriers that exclude, and there’s only one way to do that, and that is to go where the joy is, which is at the margins. For if you stand at the margins, that’s the only way they’ll get erased”. Yes, joy is to be found at the margins: with the homeless, refugees, our marginalised friends. I saw this message as an invitation to fully experience the interconnectedness of our human family in our ordinary lives. Continue reading “Expanding my heart”