Thursday, 28 February 2013

If we surrendered to earth's intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees. --Rainer Maria Rilke

I know that this is a super long article but I think it is also Super Inspiring so I'm posting the full piece.

Designing From Nature Could Solve Our Biggest Challenges
--by Sven Eberlein,

Imagine this assignment, says Bill McDonough in a recent TED talk: Design something that makes oxygen, sequesters carbon, converts nitrogen into ammonia, distills water, stores solar energy as fuel, builds complex sugars, creates microclimates, changes color with the seasons, and self-replicates. Sound impossible? Well, nature’s already completed this one. It’s called 
a plant. And the fact that it does these things safely and efficiently is inspiring engineers and designers to reconceive the ways we manufacture such basics as soap bottles, raincoats, and wall-to-wall carpeting.

The trio wrote two pivotal books—Benyus’ Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature and McDonough and Braungart’s Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things—which laid out their beliefs and touched a nerve.Biomimicry and Cradle to Cradle, the two fields of inquiry that frame this emerging discipline, stem from the work of biologist Janine Benyus, architect William McDonough, and chemist Michael Braungart, who realized that the very models they considered key to making safer, more environmentally friendly products were sitting right before us, in the natural world.

"What would nature do to design lasting and regenerative materials?” asks Benyus. “How does a river filter fresh water and a spider manufacture resilient fiber?”

Braungart, picking up on the theme, wonders: “Why aren’t we designing buildings like trees and cities like forests?”

Their questions reminded readers that life is a vast web of networks, that working with, rather than dominating, nature might unleash greater possibilities. Indeed, Benyus, McDonough, and Braungart invited us to reconceive basic principles of manufacturing in ways that seemed at once radical and rudimentary.

The public embraced these concepts, and today, a decade after publication, Cradle to Cradle still sells
 20,000 copies annually. But when early adopters actually tried to put these principles into practice and design new products accordingly, they quickly confronted the depth and complexity of the problem: manufacturing processes shrouded in secrecy, rooted in unsustainable sourcing, and driven only by the bottom line.

Their answer: establish quality stan- dards for those manufacturers who did want to make safe, healthy products. In the last two years, propelled by a rapid shift in public consciousness and a growing network of practitioners, both movements have made significant strides toward their goals. In 2010, McDonough and Braungart founded the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, a nonprofit that evaluates and certifies products as safe and sustainable. In 2011, Benyus and her team launched Biomimicry 3.8, a consortium of scientists and businesspeople dedicated to collecting research and training designers and engineers around the world as certified biomimicry specialists.

What Nature Does
While it’s possible to mimic an owl’s feather by creating a fabric that opens anywhere along its surface, it might be even better to emulate the process by which owl feathers self-assemble at body temperature without using toxins or high pressure.
Viewing nature as a source of ideas—rather than merely a source of goods—has a lengthy history among indigenous people. But Western industrial culture had mostly relegated such inquiry to the realm of obscure academic research. After Benyus’s book came out in 1997, however, corporations began to call, looking for ways they might practice what she called “the conscious emulation of life’s genius.”

“‘We’re trying to create a more sustainable product line,’ they’d say. ‘We want to save energy and reduce the toxins and materials we use. Could you come over and tell us what nature does?’”

As Benyus and her long-time partner Dayna Baumeister began consulting with designers and engineers, they found that single organisms—as well as entire natural systems—could be
an inspiration. For instance, while it’s possible to mimic an owl’s feather by creating a fabric that opens anywhere along its surface, Benyus and Baumeister realized it might be even better to emulate the process by which owl feathers self-assemble at body temperature without using toxins or high pressure. The implications for human use—in everything from textiles to quieter airplanes—were staggering.

“We sat together and asked, ‘Is there a best practice of how to be an Earthling?’” Benyus recalls, “A carbon-based life-form on this planet, that enhances rather than degrades?”

In direct contrast to our conventional cradle-to-grave mentality, which assigns no value to a product beyond its first use, Cradle to Cradle envisioned materials flowing through cycles that would maintain or even increase their value over time.
Their deepening observations led to a set of biomimetic guidelines aimed at isolating what works and replicating it. They dubbed these “Life’s Principles,” and all of them stem from the concept of cooperation as a driving force in evolution.

“It really changes the way you design things,” says Benyus. “For instance, if we design a water treatment facility, we start with Life’s Principles. First, it can’t be a chemical treatment—chlorine is out. Second, it should be decentralized. So, suddenly, as you’re looking at that, you begin to say, well, maybe there should be neighborhood-level water treatment, and maybe the water treatment should be constructed wetlands. Since life is always multifunctional, you think that perhaps there should also be an education or recreational facility, or maybe a park. So when you use Life’s Principles as a scoping tool, you’re looking to the natural world and asking, how do organisms filter, how do they recover fresh water? That’s when you’re emulating, doing biomimicry.”

As their own understanding of biomimicry expanded, so did the movement. In 2006, after educators and professionals around the world had clamored for workshops and certification courses, Benyus and Baumeister founded the nonprofit Biomimicry Institute. There, they trained a new generation of biomimicry profes
sionals, progressing from three-hour online sessions to a rigorous two-year course they hope to have certified for a master’s degree. “After about a year people would call us and say, ‘Actually, what we need is a community, a place to share information, to be connected to all the other biomimicry nodes around the world,’” Benyus laughs. “So we said, okay, time to change again, time to evolve.”

Biomimicry 3.8 was the result. With 30 staffers and 31 regional networks, it aims to be the LexisNexis of biomimcry, a repository for all the research from the last 14 years. “You don’t get gigantic; you get networked,” says Benyus. “That’s what happened to us.”

From End to Beginning
A similar impulse to reimagine conventions in design led William McDonough and Michael Braungart to lay out their own sustainability principles: create safe objects of long-term value, eliminate waste, and recognize the interdependence of humans and nature as well as the right of each to co-exist. McDonough and Braungart first presented the ideas in 1992 in The Hannover Principles. Ten years later, they published Cradle to Cradle, a manifesto calling for the wholesale transformation of human industry by shifting toward ecologically intelligent design. In direct contrast to our conventional cradle-to-grave mentality, which assigns no value to a product beyond its first use, Cradle to Cradleenvisioned materials flowing through cycles that would maintain or even increase their value over time.

The newly launched Cradle 3.0 challenges companies not only to redesign their products, but to incorporate social justice and renewable energy in the manufacturing process.
This went far beyond “reduce, reuse, recycle.” McDonough and Braungart wrote about the regenerative powers that exist in nature, positing that humans could have a restorative impact on the environment. Consider, for example, death: Since we emit carbon even when our lives are over, Braungart suggests we focus on making our ecological footprint beneficial, rather than merely trying to shrink it. At heart, this approach underscores the limits of standard environmental thinking aimed at making products “less bad.” Too reductive, says Braungart, who scoffs: “Think about falling in love efficiently.”

As the concept of Cradle to Cradle spread, McDonough and Braungart began developing certification protocols, and calls grew for a universal certification process. California’s Green Chemistry Initiative, signed in 2008 by then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, provided the impetus to take their work to the next level: In 2010, the team, with support from Schwarzenegger, launched the independent Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, making their certification system and methodology more widely available.

Similar to Biomimicry 3.8, the newly launched Cradle 3.0 challenges companies not only to redesign their products, but to incorporate social justice and renewable energy in the manufacturing process. McDonough acknowledges some of the immense barriers, particularly around secrecy agreements and proprietary information, allowing that it’s taken years to build trust.

"At the end of its life you could put your product in a bath of enzymes to disassemble it, and then you'd be able to use it again."
But Bridgett Luther, former head of the California Department of Conservation, who now directs the Institute, is optimistic. “You start incrementally redesigning, reducing carbon footprint, slowly moving to more renewables as they become more affordable.” she says. “What I love about Cradle to Cradle Certified is that we work with companies as a team, and over time you get better."

Just in time for Greenbuild 2012, San Francisco’s November expo on sustainable building, the Institute rolled out a training module for a new generation of scientists, guiding companies toward basic, silver, gold, or platinum certification of their products.

But for Luther, certification is merely a vehicle for more profound societal transformation. “The whole design exercise is very empowering, because when companies go through this process they get really excited and their products get amazing,” she says. “Cradle to Cradle people are happy, because they can see that the product they’re making is going to make the world a better place, and it leaks down into the whole company. Yes, we’re going to have to make do with less stuff because we’re not going to have enough minerals to go around, but we can invent stuff that’s so powerful that every time you use it there’s a bonus. I think there’s some real power in the vision.”

“Biomimicry isn’t an answer; it’s a way to find answers.”
Having grown out of different strands of scientific inquiry, Cradle 3.0 and Biomimicry 3.8 share a fundamental commitment to the process of reconnecting with the natural world. But rather than providing a rigid set of prescriptions, Benyus and Luther view their disciplines as living, breathing organisms that are constantly breaking new ground, like nature itself. “Biomimicry isn’t an answer; it’s a way to find answers,” says Benyus.

The goals are as much about detergent makers altering the chemistry of their soap to use smaller bottles as they are about discovering new processes. “A lot of products we need haven’t been invented yet,” Luther says. “You think about our lives, and they’re made of a bunch of molecules. Whether
 it’s going into a toy or a piece of toilet paper or the one that’s the new jet fuel, what we want to do is inspire a whole new generation of chemists to get the good molecules working for us. We want kids to say, ‘I can be the person who creates the molecule that makes the world better.’”

For Benyus, the next frontier is 3D printing, a mechanized version of nature’s more graceful, “as-needed” style of manufacturing. She envisions a world where, instead of shipping countless goods thousands of miles, we would have a Kinko’s for pots and pans and cups—using natural polymers or even beetle shells. “Our dream would be to have five vials of goop, then add structure to it to make it super strong or whatever you need it to be. At the end of its life you could put your product in a bath of enzymes to disassemble it, and then you'd be able to use it again,” she says. “Fewer materials, better recyclability. To me, this is really exciting.”

3D printing may also be where biomimicry and Cradle to Cradle finally intersect. “What we’re trying to do with our polymer idea is what I think Cradle to Cradle is trying to accomplish as well,” says Benyus. “Where green chemistry, biomimicry, and Cradle to Cradle meet, we start to talk about rewriting the story of stuff.”In McDonough’s view, both Cradle to Cradle and biomimicry take their cues from the natural world. But
 a shared philosophy may be their most important link. “The question comes down to not just ‘What is our technique?’ but ‘What am I doing?’” the architect says. “Notwithstanding engineering wizardry, ‘Are we doing the right thing?’ must always be the first and ultimate question.”

Currently, he is working to design offices, factories, and schools that are photosynthetic and make energy—buildings with admittedly “magical” characteristics.

But thanks to Benyus, Braungart, and McDonough, such ideas are no longer in the realm of science fiction. From oil-repellent coating inspired by water bugs, to using prairies as
 a model to grow food sustainably,
 to observing how chimps cope with illness, the possibilities of learning from our planet’s unexplored reservoirs of intelligence are vast. “What 
if there was a boat designed to clean the water? Or how about a phone that enhances your hearing?” asks Luther. “That’s the Cradle to Cradle way. You just change your thinking.”

Wednesday, 27 February 2013


As a child my mother chided me for  ' navel gazing '. She'd say   " Get out and do something , you will get nowhere sitting in your room ".  Her comments  haunted me for many years and would be especially upsetting when I was feeling anyway low or vulnerable .  I would question my life and practice , and constantly ask myself if I was indeed wasting my time.  It has taken a lot of inquiry and reflection to quieten her voice in my head ( and if I am completely honest it still speaks up at times ).
The difference is that I now can stand back from that voice and realize that it is just a thought in my head and I don't have to believe it. I can reflect on what ' sitting in my room " has done for me and confirm for myself  that it is my path and preference to spend much of my time quietly in one of my practices .
 My mother spoke from her truth she was definitely a ' Marta' very active in her life ,  daily  Mass which she truly loved and being of service was her prayer .
 I am more of a contemplative Mary type.  Silence and practice is my   ' prayer '.  On reflection I can see that this time devoted to practice has enriched my life beyond measure, peace, joy  contentment and love are the fruits of living one's Dharma.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Zen East and West


      Under the trees, among the rocks , a thatched hut :
      verses and sacred commentaries live there together
      I'll burn the books I carry in my bag,
      but how can I forget the verses written in my gut ?

                      Watermelons and Zen students
                      grow pretty much the same way.
                      Long periods of sitting
                      till they ripen and grow
                      when you knock them on the head
                      to see if they are ready -
                      sounds like nothing is going on.

                                                        Peter Levitt

 During dinner one night at a San Francisco Zen Centre  someone asked ,
" How do you cook enlightenment ? "
A young woman said . " Over easy ".

Saturday, 23 February 2013

The number 1 best way to exercise your brain.

I noticed that this post from November 2010 was the most popular page view this week so I thought I'd share it again.
Faith. No matter what choice we make concerning our physical, emotional, and spiritual health, we will never know for certain if we are absolutely correct in our beliefs. We can make educated guesses about the world, but some degree of uncertainty will always remain. We can't even trust our eyes when it comes to something as obvious as color, because color doesn't exist in the world.Light waves exist, but we can't see them at all. Color is a product of our imagination, and so is our perception of the world.To believe in anything we have to rely on faith. None of us can be certain if we have made the "right" decision ,especially when it comes to dealing with abstract concepts like justice, fairness, or moral ideals. If we don't have faith that we are making the best decisions we can then we will be swallowed up in doubt. And doubt at least as far as your brain is concerned, is a precarious state in which to live.
Recently, a team of National Institutes of Health concluded that " a moderate optimistic illusion " appears to be neurologically essential for maintaining motivation and good mental health. They also found that highly optimistic people had greater activation in (anterior cingulate) the same parts of the brain that are stimulated by meditation.
Faith is essential for maintaining a healthy brain,but if you exclude exercise and companionship, you are going to cripple your health. So why not nurture all three. Meditation seems to be the best way to make spiritual values neurologically real. Meditation undermined the everyday doubts and anxiety we all harbor when we reach for new goals and ideals. In other words meditation will strengthen your faith - in yourself, in people, and in God

Thursday, 21 February 2013

I have a new beginners T'ai Chi class that started a few weeks ago . It's a mixed class in both age and gender.  The oldest lady in the class told me that she is seventy five this year.  We were chatting after the class last night and she told me of her experience during our T'ai Chi  walk.
She said that in her twenties when she was  training to  be a nurse she would often go and stand outside on the hospital veranda during the night time break.  Sometimes on very still nights she could hear the chanting of  the nuns in  nearby Poor Clare Convent . As we practised our slow silent T'ai Chi walk she re experienced the sense of peace and remembered that time in her youth when she felt drawn to the contemplative life.
Now a grandmother she has found that sense of peace and contemplation in the quiet practice of this ancient Art.

Mini Form Lessons

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Doneraile Park with Suzie

              Let's go in the back gate today.


         What is this all about ?  

    Look up Su and you will see.

   Gosh even the ' trades man's ' entrance is spectacular.
   What's Next ?

    The back of the House and you can just about see the Cafe.

   Around the front and look a friend.

        Must move on . . . so much to see.

       A bridge .

   Curious deer.

      Look Susie  another bridge.



This is nice too.

Gosh  another bridge.

Coffee Ann ? 
Love to Su but must head to T'ai Chi .
So much more to see we will come again . 

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Processing Anger With An Open Heart

Anger is an intense and primal expression of the life force, a burning flame that cannot be ignored. It is the psyche’s alarm system, demanding that attention be given to a limit or boundary of ours that is being invaded, to an injury or pain that is being denied, or to an area of our being that has become unhealthy. The function of anger is similar to the function of a fever. It helps to burn out unwanted, inharmonious elements. Its purpose is to restore balance and well-being.

If the symptoms of a fever are suppressed and ignored, then the illness will remain unchecked. So it is with anger. It is useful to listen for the message it brings and then to use it for growth and wellness.
We need to remember that the anger we feel toward someone else is not an accurate evaluation or judgment of who that person actually is. It is merely our own feelings communicating with us, telling us more about ourselves than about the other person. It is the beginning of greater clarity and discrimination, so that we can live our passion with integrity, develop our inner power, and become capable of acting assertively, rather than aggressively, on behalf of what we cherish.

There should really be two different words-one for "anger-with-the heart-closed" and one for "anger with-the-heart-open." Most anger in our society is "anger-with-the heart-closed." Many of us are in the habit of automatically using our anger vindictively to protect ourselves or to impose our will upon others. We may believe ourselves totally justified in demeaning others’ self-esteem. We may believe that we do this for "their own good." We may even believe that the will we are trying to impose is God’s will. From such unconsciousness have come generations of abuse. From such self-righteousness have come millennia of "holy" wars.

"Anger-with-the-heart-closed" is destructive. But there are times when our anger can be a gift to the other person, when it is not simply our own ego twisting in a knot, and trying to use the other person to undo the strain. Though we may feel great heat and urgency, there need be nothing mean in the way we express ourselves. For when there is no desire to wound or punish or blame, we become able to speak with great clarity and power. We may roar like a lion, but it is a healing roar. We may be challenging, but we are infinitely fair. We may be outraged, but we are respectful. This is "anger-with-the-heart-open" and it has a beauty, a passion, and a clarity that is unmistakable

by John Robbins & Ann Mortifee

Zen Story

The Sixth Ancestor Huineng came across two monks who were arguing about a banner flapping in the wind. One said " The banner is moving. " The other said  " The Wind is moving." They went back and forth without coming to agreement.
The Sixth Ancestor said  " It is not  that the wind is moving, it is not  that the banner moves ; it's your mind that is moving." The two monks were stunned.

Sunday, 17 February 2013


The longer I practice and study the more I come to recognise how limiting our brain actually is.
It is becoming clear to neuroscientists that our brain is mostly used to reduce the billions of 'bits' of information picked up through our senses to the few we teach it to allow into our conscious awareness.
 This is necessary so we do not become overwhelmed by an onslaught from our senses. However this also means that we tend to live in a very narrow field of repeated experiences rarely ' allowing ' the windows of perception to open to the amazing experiences waiting to reveal themselves.

We can learn to expand our perception. To open our awareness and have a much richer life experience.
This however takes time and practice.

When one learns an art such as T'ai Chi, trains in  Reconnection  or sits in Meditation. One learns to use parts of oneself that are beyond the brain. This opens up a much expanded sense of self and this expanded awareness is very difficult to explain in language because language comes from the brain and so is too limited to comprehend or express what is experienced in these practices's .

It seems to me that when we partake in these practices's we connect with each other on a ' soul ' level . We meet there beyond our thoughts , in the deep commune of silence and wisdom . When we return to our regular consciousness we all know something profound has happened . We say that was a good session , we are often frustrated in our attempts to put into words the wordless wonder of this deep connection.


On the great road of Buddha ancestors there is always unsurpassable continuous practice.It forms the way-ring and is never cut off. Throughout aspiration for enlightenment, practice, enlightenment, and nirvana, there is no gap; continuous practice is the circle of the way. This being so , continuous practice is unstained, not forced by you or others. The act of this continuous practice confirms you as well as others. That means your practice  affects the entire earth and the sky in ten directions, Although it is not noticed by  others  or by yourself, it is so. In this way, by the continuous practice of all buddhas and ancestors, your practice is actualized and your great road opens up. By your continuous practice, the practice of all buddhas is actualized and the great road of all buddhads opens up. Your continuous practice creates the circle of the way.


Friday, 15 February 2013


When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whisperings of the hours turns to music.
And what it is to work with love ? It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth. . . .
       - Kahlil Gibran

The full reconnection is about reconnecting lines and points in and on the body.
This Reconnecting of  lines and  points in the body is a fascinating pursuit.  It feels ancient as if the lines go back through tine and also extend forward into time. It never ceases to astonish me that when I feel around and the line or point  ' appears '. It is as if it has been waiting there all along for me to come and find it. The full reconnection is like rewiring the body and this may be why people usually feel such an increase in their energy once they have been reconnected. It really does feel that one has been reconnected to some more aligned structure that was already present but not fully connected .
The full reconnection takes  two sessions to complete and both sessions feel quite different to me as I work them and also different to the recipient . This is not surprising as the first day's work has already made many connections and therefore in the second session the ' frequencies ' can penetrate much deeper.
It also feel as if the body is more open to the ' frequencies ' registers in the body are usually much stronger on the second day. In my experience the reconnection is a much different session to a Reconnective healing session the latter is about balance in the body ,about returning a sense of order to ones systems where as the full reconnection is a restructuring of ones whole system.


ISSSEEM 2010 Conference Journal

At the 2010 ISSSEEM conference, new research was published regarding studies with Reconnective Healing conducted by Ann Baldwin, Gary Schwartz and Doug De Vito. In this research, Reconnective Healing was shown to be real, measurable and documentable in numerous independent measurements. It was also shown to be different than energy healing as we know it. When practicing the work, both the practitioner and the client/patient go into dramatically enhanced healing states.

The International Society for the Study of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine (ISSSEEM) is an international non-profit interdisciplinary organization dedicated to exploring and applying subtle energies as they relate to the experience of consciousness, healing, and human potential. ISSSEEM is in a unique position, acting both as a bridge builder between communities and a leader in the field, offering a community with a widespread appreciation of the energetic component within many disciplines including quantum physics, therapeutic modalities, healing, psychology, consciousness, psi and the understanding of our multidimensional existence.

Findings about Reconnective Healing were also recently published in Bridges, the ISSSEEM magazine. The publication explores leading ideas in the field of subtle energies and energy healing. Its interdisciplinary focus creates an open forum for the diverse membership of healers, teachers, researchers, and pioneers to exchange information and discuss new discoveries.

In this research, Reconnective Healing was shown to be real, measurable and documentable in numerous independent measurements. This work is demonstrably and significantly different that energy healing, meditation, yoga, affirmations or anything that we had had on the planet before. The work is reflected and measured in the brains of the receiver as well as the practitioner. Measurements of the practitioners’ brain and heart states prove that this is not energy healing as has been on the planet before now. Nor is it meditation or simply mind over matter. It is something different all together.

When practicing the work, both the practitioner and the client/patient go into dramatically enhanced healing states. The practitioner goes into a state in which marked and significant brain and heart activity occurs. This state, called emotional quiescence, is associated with extreme awareness, feelings of peace, connection to the field and the ability to perceive on enhanced levels. This is NOT the state that is typically seen with ANY energy healing modality on the planet OR meditation.

With Reconnective Healing, the mechanism is simply different than anything documented on the planet before. All traditional and existing new “energy healing ” modalites have similar mechanisms, requiring the practitioner to first become centered, coherent or aligned within themselves, then connect to some higher source of energy. If they are able to do the first to steps effectively and without consequence, then they could become a conduit for those energies. But only if they remain grounded and focus with enough discipline, through whatever technique is required. Reconnective Healing has a completely different mechanism.

Through this work, we become catalysts. We receive and sense the frequencies and energies — we do not send them. As a result of this new mechanism, we are able to step beyond the limitations and frailties of technique.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

You often say, "I would give, but only to the deserving." The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture. They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.

- Kahlil Gibran -

Wednesday, 13 February 2013


Most of us experience a life full of wonderful moments and difficult moments. But for many of us, even when we are most joyful, there is fear behind our joy. We fear that this moment will end, that we won’t get what we need, that we will lose what we love, or that we will not be safe. Often, our biggest fear is the knowledge that one day our bodies will cease functioning. So even when we are surrounded by all the conditions for happiness, our joy is not complete.

We may think that if we ignore our fears, they’ll go away. But if we bury worries and anxieties in our consciousness, they continue to affect us and bring us more sorrow. We are very afraid of being powerless. But we have the power to look deeply at our fears, and then fear cannot control us. We can transform our fear. Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.

The first part of looking at our fear is just inviting it into our awareness without judgment. We just acknowledge gently that it is there. This brings a lot of relief already. Then, once our fear has calmed down, we can embrace it tenderly and look deeply into its roots, its sources. Understanding the origins of our anxieties and fears will help us let go of them. Is our fear coming from something that is happening right now or is it an old fear, a fear from when we were small that we’ve kept inside? When we practice inviting all our fears up, we become aware that we are still alive, that we still have many things to treasure and enjoy. If we are not pushing down and managing our fear, we can enjoy the sunshine, the fog, the air, and the water. If you can look deep into your fear and have a clear vision of it, then you really can live a life that is worthwhile.

The Buddha was a human being, and he also knew fear. But because he spent each day practicing mindfulness and looking closely at his fear, when confronted with the unknown, he was able to face it calmly and peacefully. There is a story about a time the Buddha was out walking and Angulimala, a notorious serial killer, came upon him. Angulimala shouted for the Buddha to stop, but the Buddha kept walking slowly and calmly. Angulimala caught up with him and demanded to know why he hadn’t stopped. The Buddha replied, “Angulimala, I stopped a long time ago. It is you who have not stopped.” He went on to explain, “I stopped committing acts that cause suffering to other living beings. All living beings want to live. All fear death. We must nurture a heart of compassion and protect the lives of all beings.” Startled, Angulimala asked to know more. By the end of the conversation, Angulimala vowed never again to commit violent acts and decided to become a monk.

How could the Buddha remain so calm and relaxed when faced with a murderer? This is an extreme example, but each of us faces our fears in one way or another every day. A daily practice of mindfulness can be of enormous help. Beginning with our breath, beginning with awareness, we are able to meet whatever comes our way.

Fearlessness is not only possible, it is the ultimate joy. When you touch nonfear, you are free. If I am ever in an airplane and the pilot announces that the plane is about to crash, I will practice mindful breathing. If you receive bad news, I hope you will do the same. But don’t wait for the critical moment to arrive before you start practicing to transform your fear and live mindfully. Nobody can give you fearlessness. Even if the Buddha were sitting right here next to you, he couldn’t give it to you. You have to practice it and realize it yourself. If you make a habit of mindfulness practice, when difficulties arise, you will already know what to do.

-Thich Nhat Hanh

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

T'ai Chi DVD

So excited and happy today my Short Form DVD  (the one I made with John Shiel at Christmas ) arrived by post. It looks good to me and I can't wait until it's copied so I can share it with everybody who had asked me to make it.

Sunday, 10 February 2013


                          This morning
                          The snow turned to rain,
                          The fault of nearing spring.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Master the Art of Listening and Watch All Your Relationships Thrive

No wonder listening is an undervalued art. Research shows that we speak at a rate of about 125 words per minute, yet we have the capacity to listen to approximately 400 words per minute. So what are we doing with that extra space in our minds when someone else is talking? Are we really listening?

I have a friend who used to multitask when we spoke on the phone. He would respond appropriately to what I was saying, but I could hear him shuffling papers or trying to quietly order food at the deli (yes, this actually happened). Even though he was following the conversation, I felt bereft as I was sharing my innermost thoughts and feelings. Fortunately, our friendship was more important than his to-do list, and now I happily get his full attention.

Listening is essential to fulfilling relationships. If you are experiencing challenging interactions or you want your connections to deepen, reflect on how you can improve your listening skills. The benefits? Consider the following:
People will feel be more drawn to you; they will like you more.
You will learn something new.
You will solve problems more effectively.
You will experience less loneliness and frustration.
You will feel happier and more relaxed.
Learn to listen well, and watch all your relationships thrive. Here's how.
Pay attention
Since our brains have the capacity to process 275 more words per minute than are actually spoken, we tend to fill up the void with extraneous thoughts. Notice how when someone is speaking, you are partially listening, while simultaneously planning the rest of your day, replaying a meeting that just occurred, or deciding what you will say next. Paying attention is the cardinal rule for good listening. Hear the words, and let their meaning in. If your mind wanders, simply re-focus your attention on the conversation.

Be receptive
If you show up with an agenda, you are not going to be available to fully hear what the other person is saying. There is no problem with having goals for an interaction, but let them go while the other person is speaking so you can hear what is being expressed. Balance your need for a given outcome with your desire to sustain a harmonious relationship.

Check your understanding
Make sure you can repeat what you just heard, and if you can't, ask for clarification. You might be surprised at how much you are missing. Most people are. When you think you've gotten it, you might say, “So what you are saying is....” to verify your understanding.

Be an explorer
Explorers are open and curious. They are inquisitive, without knowing what they will find. So what to do with all of that excess brain power? Focus on the speaker. Notice body language, tone of voice, and rate of speaking. Then look beneath the words to see what feelings and needs are being communicated. You never know what you might find.

Show interest
If you find yourself bored and distracted, reconnect with the interaction. Maintain eye contact, uncross your arms, and ask questions that take the conversation deeper. Find out what really matters to the person you are speaking with.

Be patient
As much as you may be tempted, don't speak over someone who is talking. When you feel the urge to step in, take a breath, let your agenda go, and continue to listen. If you need to move the conversation along, do so politely, as in, “Excuse me, I'm so sorry for interrupting, but ….” Likewise, be careful not to jump to conclusions or assume you know what hasn't yet been said. These are all signs that your inner explorer has fallen asleep. Revitalize your experience by paying attention to what is happening in the moment.

Get out of a rut
Have you ever had the same problematic conversation with someone over and over? Bring a fresh perspective to the relationship by redoubling your efforts to listen. Let go of your need to be right or your ideas about what the other person should be saying or doing, and hear them as if for the first time. This moves you from contraction and limit to possibility and potential simply by listening.

Effective listening develops empathy, which is the capacity for a deep understanding of another's experience. And isn't that what it takes for a relationship to thrive? It's as simple as paying attention.

 - by Gail Brenner

Wednesday, 6 February 2013


Here are the first few lessons of the mini form for my Tai Chi beginners.


If you have been keeping a gratitude list or better still a journal you will already have begun to notice a shift in  your life.  I love hearing about the changes coming about in peoples lives as they take up this practice.
Each week I hear more and more stories of how life ' seems' to  be more  ' co-operative ' once we become grateful. Now if this is true for you why not move to the next level. Once you have evidence that life is really good and  " on your side " . Start to ask for what you want. Begin with small requests for example , once  my morning gratitude journal is written and I am already in a really good mood  I often ask for a nice surprise that day.  You can also practice and build up your faith in the method be requesting perfect parking places and fun encounters in your day.
Go ahead and give it a try those of us who practice this are having lots of fun. And that is the Big Secret it Must be fun.
Wishing you a lots of fun and wonderful surprises today.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013


Just like many other ' Corkonians ' there is no end to my love for this city.

I love the bridges.

Love the streets.

The riverside houses.

And the evening lights as I head to Blackrock for Tai Chi.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Today in Mallow Library

Here is a video from today's fun session in the library. Thanks to everyone who came along and made it the success it was.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Last week I posted a blog from my friend Pat about discovering at 81 that she was  a soprano.
Lots of people have told me how they found her  email to be inspiring and encouraged them to pursue their own dreams. So  here some more stories about  ' late ' beginnings that I found inspiring.

The Greek philosopher Socrates learned to play a musical instrument when he was 80 years old. Michelangelo was painting his greatest canvases at 80. At  80, Cios Simonides won the prize for poetry. Johann von Gooethe finished Faust, and Alfred ,Lord Tennyson wrote " Crossing the Bar "at 83.

I love to think of having years  ahead to learn , to explore ,to uncover and develop talents .
What an amazing age we live in when so much information and experience is available to us.