“Once wandering thoughts are totally abandoned, magical displays are no other than that.” – Machig Labdron (1055-1149)
Sometimes we find that a nagging thought or heavy feeling overwhelms us. We see the thought or feeling as our only experience, as if nothing else exists, and it makes life very difficult. Using the image of a cube with its different faces or sides, this is a chance to take a step back and look at our inner experience from multiple perspectives.
I share three lessons from a recent Zen retreat (25 to 30 August 2022) with Roshi Robert Kennedy SJ at the Dominican Retreat Centre in Dublin. They include looking at our inner experience from a three-dimensional (3D) perspective and tuning into the primary elements of fire, air, water and earth. Click on the link below to watch the video ».
I was probed by an aggressive man while on holiday in the Irish countryside. I didn’t expect it coming during a time of peace and consolation. Like a trained interrogator, he asked question after question on the subject of my personal life. He laid into me about not doing enough paid work in my career. I gave him the benefit of the doubt – thinking it would be good to give him a half hour of my time. But I shouldn’t have given him a minute!
“For it is not so much knowledge that fills and satisfies the soul, but the intimate understanding and relishing of the truth” – I explain a nugget of wisdom from Ignatius Loyola, a 16th century master of psychology and spirituality. I give examples in the context of contemplative practice and my own life, and I invite you to reflect on “what you were put on this planet to do”.
A meditation on tuning into the rhythm of the summer breeze and our gentle inner experience. It involves imagining a peaceful scene with the wind moving the curtain of a quiet room. An invitation of love and compassion.
Compassion begins with the soothing look, the disarming stare and the gaze of wonder.
I threw myself into one of the best stories ever told by contemplating its significance with my senses, feelings and easing of the body. The Story of the Good Samaritan gripped me once again as I imagined being the bruised and battered man on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. Robbers did their job most effectively by emptying me of my pockets and they attempted to take away my dignity. The priest and priest’s assistant passed me by, but the Good Samaritan stopped, looked me in the eyes and was totally present to my painful condition. His eyes seemed to say it all and I felt redeemed, worthy and loved.
Seeing beauty is not always like the way a lover meets his beloved for the first time. Sometimes it means seeing black as white and white as black.
Do you ever wonder what goes on when you pray or meditate? Perhaps you maintain an upright posture, breathe rhythmically, and behold an image in your mind’s eye. But what exactly is going on? I invite you to accompany me as I meditate on two of Jack B Yeats’ paintings: The Singing Horseman (1949) » and For the Road (1951) ». Each work contains an animal and human figure offering a profound insight on how we see reality today.
I was given privileged access to the Ards Friary Walled Garden in Ards, County Donegal during a one-week stay with the Capuchin contemplative community. Brother Ade brought another man and me through the five-acre land one day and it was a sheer delight in discovering its secrets. After the initial visit, Ade gave me a loan of the keys letting me wander around on my own. I felt like I was given permission to a secret paradise.
A mental health professional recently told me that while most people have their ups and downs in life, they don’t normally have to worry about being unbalanced. It got me thinking… if people don’t really worry about being unbalanced, do they care enough to be deeply balanced?
I had good reason to explore deep peace and balance in my own life as I participated in an 8-week wellness course organised by Aware, the Irish mental health organisation. Here are eight tips I learned from the course. I believe they may help us all live well this holiday season: