As I ponder this month’s topic on Balanced Lifestyle, I recall something important from my time learning how to drive on the roads of Dublin. Whenever I came to a STOP sign on the road, I put my foot on the brakes and repeated to myself: “S…T…O…P.” Then I continued driving on my merry way. In the same vein, this is what I need to do when I come to the STOP signs of my life. I need to respect myself enough to pause at junctures and to move forward with energy and vitality.
These past few weeks have been challenging on my lifestyle as requests for more work have steadily increased. In fact, I was in demand for the first time in my life: to write a booklet on mental health for parishes and to write an article for the British Jesuits. I tried to make the most of a series of reflections on Ireland’s national radio which I had the privilege to present, and I kept to a rigorous 6-day schedule. Eventually, I found myself becoming fatigued and a slave to life – surely not a good sign. I came to a point where I felt like giving everything up. Continue reading “Balanced lifestyle”
Lei Xue, a certified acupuncturist and herbalist, led a Chinese tea ceremony at Chester Beatty Library in Dublin yesterday, and I was one of the lucky ones to go along to it. She told us that when she invites her friends over for a tea ceremony, a space is created so it becomes like a meditation. The colourful clay pot and cups make for a lovely display along with flowers, and sugary foods accompany a sweet oolong tea.
Lei also said that in order to discover the right tea, we first need to be aware of some things about ourselves such as the temperature of our hands and feet which can differ from person to person. When we are more aware of ourselves, we can figure out if it’s a green tea, pu’er tea or black tea that suits us. It is fascinating to ponder that you can seek harmony and balance through your tea. Indeed, it is also fascinating to ponder that you can seek harmony and balance through your thoughts. Continue reading “Balanced thinking”
My summer holiday was unique this year as I didn’t travel across Ireland or go abroad. Instead, I turned off the internet and began to focus on simple things such as going to church, tidying my bedroom, running, and being with my family. I became determined to say “goodbye” to fantasy and the unreal, and to welcome the promptings of an ordinary life. And one day something miraculous happened… I remembered the exact day and date for the first time in ages!
For me, being ordinary means that I don’t intend to be a star in any way. And what is wrong with that?! While eating dinner with my family in the evenings, I began to nurture this desire. As the conversation developed, I used the ‘granny test’: if my granny Una could understand what I was saying, then everyone else could too. I enjoyed talking about the news and craic of the world more than usual, as I wasn’t looking to be the smartest person in the room. Not wanting to stand out in any way relieved me of the usual social pressures I put on myself. I wasn’t pretending to be small; I was just more aware of my place. Continue reading “The wonderful ordinary”
I was intrigued to find out this week that the word desire may well derive from a sense of being cut off from the stars (sidus – star in Latin), from remote things that are simply not attainable. In my own experience, my deepest desires have certainly seemed remote at times and I have plunged into despair. Now, by looking at my concrete realities, I’m realising that what I really want is actually within my reach. I am learning that I need to place my feet firmly on the ground in order to wish, long, and yearn.
What the heart wants
Blogger Michele Campbell reminded me that my deepest desires were put deep within my heart so I wouldn’t lose them. What a wonderful thought and how grateful I feel when pondering it. Beautiful desires are actually accessible and ready to be found if I only look to my heart. Once again, I stop gazing at the stars and instead listen to what I really want in life. I want to promote the psycho-spiritual needs of the general public through blogging, journalism, and doing a masters in applied spirituality. I want to work towards the more universal good and make a contribution. Continue reading “Heat of desire”
The spiritual path is one of many twists and turns. Much of our journeys involve going through unknown territory and we learn to be okay with this. One characteristic that defines spiritual maturity is gratitude for the many gifts that we have been given in our ordinary realities and relationships. And this brings us to an important concept.
“Thankful in all things” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
To be thankful in all things, we really must begin with the basics – thankful for a tea and chat with a friend, for a unique sunset, and for a gentle breeze. I am thankful for my faith, interest in psychology and spirituality, my girlfriend, accommodation, and career. But I am well aware that I am far from being thankful in all things. In my low mood, for example, I find it hard to be thankful for anything in my life. It all just seems too much and there is a pull towards an overly-internalised world which stretches away from reality. I need to look elsewhere for inspiration. Continue reading “Gratitude”
There is an energy throughout my body and I can feel it as the tips of my fingers from both hands join together. I can feel a strong pulse in this small region of my body. I am surprised how drum-like it is, and I separate my fingers for a moment because it is almost too strong, too much to handle. But I join them again. Essentially, I am connecting with the pump of my heart, a most powerful source of life within me.
Human energy is an amazing thing. Just this week, I wrote 11 pages of notes thinking about it: the energy we need for sports, for house chores, for couples coming together, for performing the most complicated of tasks at work, and so on. Our various spiritualities try to ‘pick up’ on these energies, to understand their dynamics, and to channel them in the right ways. For example, we respond to subtle forms of communication quite differently than direct forms; we may adjust our speeches and facial expressions; and seek harmony in that effort. We know that there are energies of light and darkness in the world, so we need training to share our gifts and talents and to reach our full potentials. Continue reading “Becoming saints”
“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”