Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Blushing apples in afternoon sunshine
back garden's promise for tea.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011


To be still inside and listen, waiting patiently, quietly
until action comes spontaneously from there.

Monday, 29 August 2011

The other day while I was browsing in the Library I passed the business section and thought to myself "open your mind don't dismiss this section and think that's not for me" so I stopped and walked along and sure enough a book jumped out at me. Heart by Gail Godwin . I wondered has business got a heart ? (here I'm noticing my beliefs about business) anyway the book was really about the heart and absorbed me so I left the business section and came home with a book about heart. My family laughed at my story.
Then today I came across this dialogue with Peter Synge ( The The Journal of Business Strategy named Senge one of the greatest influences on business strategy over the last 100 years. ) and found him to be full of heart !

Here below is his response to Prasad Kaipa's Question: When did you come alive in your own life and get to know yourself better ?

" I vividly remember one particular exercise known as the ‘choice exercise’ that we participated in that got etched in my mind. One of those choices – “being an observer”- just made me think and ponder for a while. It just crystallized in my mind as a choice from that time on.
It became an interesting observer process. After so many years, I don’t really think about it, but I really observe myself when I talk. There is this Peter who is talking and one who is observing. It is kind of a binocular vision. You have to be in yourself talking, and also have that awareness of standing to the side of yourself.

I think part of it is not being attached to your self. We all started to kind of disassociate ourselves from our mind strategies -- like if I do this, this will happen as opposed to just being present and saying whatever happens is fine. It is about really supporting our intentions and supporting people who are there.

I learned during that time that whenever I get really confused or sad or discouraged, I would just make the choice to be of service to other people and forget about everything else.
So I kind of developed this trust that it was all coming back to paying attention to what was going on and be clear about my choice to be of service, and I think it takes care of itself. "

Senge talks about how his own internal development helped him develop a perspective on systems theory: "I think the terminology I would use is 'a continuous process of reflection'. I've always thought of only two questions that have mattered to me personally. One is what is really needed in the world and the second is what's really important to me and how these two intersect. It's always been a reflective process -- spiraling around these two poles.Dr. Senge is the author of The Fifth Discipline: the Art and Practice of the Learning Organization.. It may well become the first book about business on my bookshelf.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

" Well, I think it makes a huge difference when you wake in the morning and come out of your house. Whether you believe you are walking into dead geographical location, which is used to get to a destination, or whether you are emerging out into a landscape that is just as much, if not more, alive as you but in a totally different form. And if you go towards it with an open heart and a real watchful reverence, that you will be absolutely amazed at what it will reveal to you. And I think that was one of the recognitions of the Celtic imagination: that landscape wasn't just matter, but that it was actually alive. What amazes me about landscape, landscape recalls you into a mindful mode of stillness, solitude, and silence where you can truly receive time. "
John O Donoghue (from an interview with Ms. Krista Tippett, ).

The landscape of west Kerry always awakens the stillness in me , my trip there a few weeks ago has rekindled my love for that landscape and in some strange way awoken me to the magic of all the space around me here at home too. I took lots of photographs and the beauty and nobility of that landscape enriches me each time I look at them.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

What makes a place special is the way it buries itself inside the heart, not whether it's flat or rugged, rich or austere, wet or arid, gentle or harsh, warm or cold, wild or tame. Every place, like every person, is elevated by the love & respect shown toward it, & by the way in which it's bounty is received.
- Richard Nelson
Above the west coast of Kerry viewed from ' An Blasket Mor ' largest of the Islands and the last one to be inhabited. Although now uninhabited, the Blasket Islands were once home to a thriving community, cut off from the rest of Ireland by the two miles of sea forming the Blasket Sound.

All supplies had to be carried by boat, and in the days when the only means of transport was a canvas covered curragh or naomhóg, the islanders were sometimes marooned for weeks at a time, especially in the stormy winter months.
Numbers dwindled over the years as emigration took its toll, but the final decision to evacuate the island came when the turf supply (the only source of fuel on the island) became scarce, and the last remaining islanders left the Great Blasket in 1953.

The Islanders

As a Gaelic-speaking community, away from the influence of the rest of the country, the islands had gained a reputation for refinement of language that attracted scholars to their shores in the summer months.

From this small island Tomás Ó Criomhtháin's book, The Islandman (An tOileánach), and Péig Sayers autobiography, (Péig, A Scéal Féin), became classics of Irish literature. Muirís Ó Súilleabháin's book entitled Twenty Years A-Growing (Fiche Bliain ag Fás) became a best-seller, translated into several different languages.

I spent the Spring -Summer school term of 1966 in the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) part of the mainland , on my mile and a half walk to and from school I would see the Islands (on clear days) and they found a home in my heart.

Friday, 26 August 2011

The utterances of the heart - unlike those of the discriminating intellect - always relate to the whole. The heartstrings sing like an Aeolian harp only to the gentle breath of a premonitory moo which does not drown the song but listens. What the heart hears are the great things that span our whole lives, the experiences which we do nothing to arrange but which we ourselves suffer.
- C G Jung

Thursday, 25 August 2011

               Always we hope someone else has the answer.

Some other place will be better,
some other time it will all turn out well,
This is it.
No one else has the answer.
No other place will be better,
and it has already turned out.
At the center of your being
you have the answer;
you know who you are
and you know what you want.
Lao Tzu

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Another one of John Kells soft figure 8 exercises.

Sink, sink, sink, relax, relax, relax.
Just keep relaxing into this moment, soften the muscles of your face, notice how
that feels.
Now soften the eyes, just for this minute give yourself the time to relax.
Feel your body breathe, give yourself the time to do this.
Slow down and feel this room, notice how it feels to you to be in this space
right now.
And again watch your body breathe. Relax, everything will get done , it can all
happen in a soft relaxed way.
Lets practice relaxing for today, relaxing into our work, relaxing as we eat,
relaxing as we talk and listen.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Connecting in a soft natural way is real tai chi for me.
Becoming more aware and sensitive to one's own body and the other person's body
so that the connection nourishes and renews both people.
In some magical way tai chi does this, it connects us deeply to our true kind nature.
Daily practice gives us the opportunity to get to know ourselves from the inside.
This developing awareness shines a light in the body and mind helping to heal
old wounds and open us up to life anew.

Monday, 22 August 2011

I'm really appreciating my camera at the moment. Being able to record or photograph events like Saturday's Tai Chi gathering is such a blessing. It allows me to look back on the session and reflect on the journey. Or at least that is what happens in me as I look at the videos and photos.
Learning and practicing Tai Chi has been such an amazing journey. Seeing everyone practicing together gives me a great sense of connection, and wonder. Gratefulness at having others in my life who also love and feel the benefits of this ancient wise practice, that teaches us patience, serenity, strength, wisdom, lightheartedness,and much more.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Tai Chi in Fitzgerald's Park yesterday such Fun !

Pushing Hands, Michael and Ray in the foreground.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Deep in the soul, below pain,
below all the distraction of life,
is a silence vast and grand-
an infinite ocean of calm,
which nothing can disturb;
nature's own exceeding peace,
which passes understanding.
That which we seek
with passionate longing,
here and there,
upward and outward;
we find at last within ourselves.
R.M Bucke

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Tai Chi in Fitzgerald's Patk next Saturday 20'th 11-12.30


Here is one of John Kells figure8 exercises from our last session in Fitzgerald's Park.

I am really looking forward to our session this Saturday and it is great to get such positive feedback from people who came last time and are looking forward to this one.

The park is such a wonderful venue with beautiful views in every direction. The trees are old and so well rooted that they inspire one to sink deeply into the ground too.

Monday, 15 August 2011

For as long as I can remember the countryside, especially quiet woodland walks have been a refuge for me. Now my refuges include tai chi, meditation, time at home with John, and my girls.
A quiet cup of coffee in the garden.
I also take refuge in memories, times spent in Uncle Seamus's company. We didn't speak much but I would follow him around his garden as he showed me his latest additions and the peace surrounding him would nourish and renew me. Now when I recall positive memories they renew and refresh me once again.
Acknowledging my refuges seems to have given them more power. They are a great resource when I'm a little upset and need my batteries recharged. Also being aware and consciously using a refuge enhances its effects.

Here is a little exercise to explore your own refuges.

Call to mind some of your refuges. Then apply this exploration to as many of them as you like.

I take refuge in . . . . . .

I go for refuge to . . . . .

I come from . . . . .

. . . . .flows through me.

Now bring to mind one refuge. Get a feeling or an idea of it, and sense it in your body.

Get a sense of how it is wholesome for you to take refuge there. To have its influence in your life.

To come from that place to have its shelter and protection.

Say softly in your mind : I find refuge in . . . Or wordlessly feel yourself entering refuge there.

Notice how it feels to have entered this refuge Let the feeling sink in and become part of you.

When you like move to another refuge and explore that one too.

If you like you can build a 'bank' of refuges where you will find peace and nourishment when your spirits need renewal.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Tai Chi in Fitzgerald's Patk

We are having another open , free , T'ai Chi morning in Fitzgerald's Park next Saturday (August 20'th) from 11am to 12.30pm.

The session will include warm ups, form, some pushing hands , lots of fun and connecting.

All welcome - feel free to let your friends know or bring someone along.

Hope to see you there,

* We will be easy to find - near the lily pond. Call me on 087 6616800 if you have any queries
" Our feelings and our bodies are like water flowing into water. We learn to swim within the energies of the (body) senses.
-Tarthang Tulku

Sensing a disturbance in the surrounding space, their bodies become aroused, tense, ready to flee. As soon as the deer realize it was a false alarm they relax back into their mornings grazing, but if you observe closely a transitional phase is seen, when their bodies ripple or shake. It is as thought to be caused by the releasing of the tension or energy that had been summoned for the aborted flight.

I remember reading (many years ago) that when you get a bad bump or fall, that you should jump up and down tapping the injured spot or shake your whole body for a few minutes. Doing this would help the wounded or traumatised area to recover and ensure less bruising. Reading about the deer's behaviour in Peter Levine's book Waking the Tiger I got a sense of where the Taoist's advise had come from.

According to Levine when we have a physical or emotional trauma large amounts of energy are summoned in the body in order to flee or fight. If we don't actually flee or fight back this energy can become trapped in our bodies and can lead to trauma. In his practice he works with trauma victims to help them release this trapped energy. If we can learn to become more like the deer and release the excess energy it will not become trapped or frozen in our bodies. To do this we need to be listening with our feelings, tuned into our bodies so we will feel tension as it arises, then we can shake it off and let go.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Across the summer stream
With such joy
My sandals in my hand.

Clouds come
Clouds go
Above the maple leaves
At the waterfall
Oh butterfly
What are you dreaming of
When you move your wings ?

Beautiful Zen Haiku for Summer

Listening to the silent sound
Of the moss-covered stream
I feel myself grow as calm and transparent
As the soundless sound of the covered current!

To learn to listen deeply, more practice, more silence,
within and without, how lucky to have this life.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Ultimately, happiness comes down to choosing between the discomfort of becoming aware of your mental afflictions and the discomfort of being ruled by them.
- Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

Monday, 8 August 2011

in turning around
you may open a space
in everything you know
and if you have the grace
and tenacity it may
be somewhere you might go
Thomas A Cook

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Here is the third part of Rick Hanson's recipe.

Hug the monkey.


Your brain evolved in three stages (to simplify a complex process):
· Reptile - Brainstem, focused on avoiding harm
· Mammal - Limbic system, focused on approaching rewards
· Primate - Cortex, focused on attaching to "us"

The first in this series - pet the lizard - was about how to soothe the most ancient structures of the brain, the ones that manage the first emotion of all: fear. The next one - feed the mouse - addressed how to help early mammalian neural systems feel rewarded and fulfilled. This one is about weaving the sense of being included and loved into the primate cerebral cortex.

In ancient times, membership in a band was critical to survival: exile was a death sentence in the Serengeti. Today, feeling understood, valued, and cherished - whether as a child or an adult, and with regard to another person or to a group - may not be a life and death matter (though studies do show that survival rates for cancer and other major illnesses are improved with social support), but it certainly affects one's happiness and effectiveness.

Unfortunately, many of us have encountered significant shortfalls of incoming empathy, recognition, and nurturance - or experienced wounds of abandonment, rejection, abuse, dismissal, or shaming.

Therefore, both to satisfy an innate human need for connection and to remedy old pain, it's important to "hug the monkey" (an admittedly goofy phrase) inside yourself and thus absorb in one form or another that most fundamental human sustenance: love.

How ?

Try to routinely get a basic sense of feeling cared about. Basically, imagine being in the presence of someone you know wishes you well; it could be a human, pet, or spiritual being, and in your life today or from your past; the relationship doesn't need to be perfect as long as you matter to this person in some way, such as liking, appreciating, or loving you. Then, based on the fact that this person does care about you, open to feeling cared about in your body, heart, and mind. Savor this experience and really take it in. Help it sink down into you, all the way down into young, tender layers of your psyche . . . and really far down into those ancient primate parts in you and everyone else that desperately need to feel bonded with others, included in the band, recognized, and valued.

Next, get a sense of your own caring nature. Think of someone you naturally care for, and explore what caring feels like in your body, emotions, thoughts, and inclinations toward action. In the same way, explore related experiences, such as being warm, friendly, affectionate, nurturing, encouraging, protective, acknowledging, or loving. Here too, really know and take in the sense of what it is like for you to "hug the monkey" in other people.

Now imagine a "caring committee" inside yourself that is involved with caring both for others - and for yourself. My own committee includes the plump fairy godmother in Sleeping Beauty, an internalized sense of my parents and others who've loved me, spiritual teachers, Gandalf, and tough-but-kind coaches on my journey through life.

Who (or what?!) is on your own committee? And how powerful is this committee in terms of caring for you compared to other forces inside your own mind? Since the brain is a giant network with many nodes, the psyche has many parts. These parts often coalesce into three well-known clusters: inner child, critical parent, nurturing parent. (Another way of describing these three clusters is: vulnerable self, attacker, protector.)

In most people, the inner nurturer-protector-encourager is much weaker than the inner critic-pusher-attacker. So we need to build up the caring committee by frequently taking in [link] experiences of feeling cared about - and then to call on and listen to this committee!

So - get a sense of parts within you that want to feel seen, included, appreciated, wanted, respected, liked, cherished, and loved. Everyone has these parts. They often feel young, soft, or vulnerable. As you open to hearing from them, notice any dismissal of them, or minimizing of their needs, or even disdain or shaming. Ask your caring committee to stick up for these parts, and to tell them their longings are normal and healthy.

Imagine your caring committee soothing very young parts of yourself . . . praising and delighting in older parts of you . . . offering perspective and wisdom about tough experiences you've had . . . reminding you of your truly good qualities . . . pulling for the expression of the best in you . . . hugging you, hugging those soft longing parts inside you, giving them what they need . . . and feeling down to the soft furry little sweet monkey inside you and every human being, holding and loving and hugging it.

And meanwhile, your young, yearning, vulnerable, or bruised parts - and even your inner monkey - can feel that they are receiving what they've always needed, what everyone needs: recognition, inclusion, respect, and love.

I love his idea of a caring committee, my inner critic definitely shouts the loudest, now I'm promising myself to develop and LISTEN to the caring committee. Having grown up in a family where praise and self value were feared. Pride in ones work or achievements was considered narcissistic . It is great to be encouraged (even given permission ) to pay attention to and feed ,the lizard, the mouse and the monkey.

Monday, 1 August 2011

The second of Rick Hanson's recipes :

Feed the Mouse

As the nervous system evolved, your brain developed in three stages:

Reptile – Brainstem, focused on avoiding harm
Mammal – Limbic system, focused on approaching rewards
Primate – Cortex, focused on attaching to “us”

Since the brain is integrated, avoiding, approaching, and attaching are accomplished by its parts working together. Nonetheless, each of these functions is particularly served and shaped by the region of the brain that first evolved to handle it.

( Yesterdays post ) Pet the lizard – was about how to soothe and calm the most ancient structures of the brain, the ones that manage the first emotion of all: fear. Today's post continues the series by focusing on how to help the early mammalian parts of your brain feel rewarded, satisfied, and fulfilled: in a word, fed.

This has many benefits. For starters, when you feel fed – physically, emotionally, conceptually, and even spiritually – you naturally let go of longing, disappointment, frustration, and craving. The hungry heart gets a full meal; goals are attained and the striving for them relaxes; one feels lifted by life as it is. What a relief!

Feeling fed also helps you enjoy positive emotions such as pleasure, contentment, accomplishment, ease, and worth. As Barbara Fredrickson and other researchers have shown, these good feelings reduce stress, help people bounce back from illness and loss, strengthen resilience, draw attention to the big picture, and build inner resources. And when your own cup runneth over, studies have found that you’re more inclined to give to others; feeling good helps you do good.

Last, consider this matter in a larger context. Many of us live in an economy that emphasizes endless consumer demand and in a culture that emphasizes endless striving for success and status. Sure, enjoy a nice new sweater and pursue healthy ambitions. But it’s also vitally important – both for ourselves and for the planet whose resources we’re devouring like kids gorging on cake – that we appreciate the many ways we already have so, SO much.


In everyday life, draw on opportunities to feel fed – and as you do, really take in these experiences, weaving them into the fabric of your brain and being. For example:

While eating, be aware of the food going into you, becoming a part of you. Take pleasure in eating, and know that you are getting enough.

While breathing, know that you are getting all the oxygen you need.

Absorb sights and sounds, smells and touches. Open to the sense of how these benefit you; for instance, recognize that the seeing of a green light, a passage in a book, or a flower is good for you.

Receive the warmth and help of other people, which comes in many ways, including compassion, kindness, humor, practical aid, and useful information.

Get a sense of being supported by the natural world: by the ground you walk on, by sunlight and water, by plants and animals, by the universe itself.

Feel protected, enabled, and delighted by human craft, ranging from the wheel to the Hubble telescope, with things like glass, paper, refrigerators, the internet, and painkillers in between.

Be aware of money coming to you, whether it’s what you’re earning hour by hour or project by project, or the financial support of others (probably in a frame in which you are supporting them in other ways).

Notice the accomplishment of goals, particularly little ones like washing a dish, making it to work, or pushing “send” on an email. Register the sense of an aim attained, and help yourself feel at least a little rewarded.

Appreciate how even difficult experiences are bringing good things to you. For example, even though exercise can be uncomfortable, it feeds your muscle fibers, immune system, and heart.

Right now – having read this list just above – let yourself be fed . . . by knowing that many many things can feed you!

Then, from time to time – such as at meals or just before sleep – take a moment to appreciate some of what you’ve already received. Consider the food you’ve taken in, the things you’ve gotten done, the material well-being you do have, the love that’s come your way. Sure, we’ve all sometimes had to slurp a thin soup; but to put these shortfalls in perspective, take a moment to consider how little so many people worldwide have, a billion of whom will go to bed hungry tonight.

As you register the sense of being fed, in one way or another, help it sink down into yourself. Imagine a little furry part of you that’s nibbling away at all this “food,” chewing and swallowing from a huge, abundant pile of goodies that’s greater than anyone – mouse or human – can ever consume. Take your time with the felt sense of absorbing, internalizing, digesting, There’s more than enough. Let knowing this sink in again and again.

Turn as well into the present – the only time we are ever truly fed. In the past there may not have been enough, in the future there may not be enough . . . but right now, in what the Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh calls the Pure Land of this moment, most of us most of the time are buoyed by so many blessings. Falling open and into the Now, being now, fed by simply being, by being itself.

Being fed

I feel more uplifted and appreciative for all the good in my life having read Rick's post again and hope you do too. Lets have a wonderful day as we are so lucky to be here.