A hopeful reopening to life

The easing of most public health restrictions comes at a perfect time, just as we open to the promise of Spring, one of the most hopeful times of the year. The announcement we were all waiting and hoping for, in the end came quite suddenly. And, even though very welcome, it was a bit disorientating and may require some time to sink in. This sudden return to ‘normality’ for some of us might feel a bit surreal, especially if, like myself, you don’t like sudden moves or are not a major fan of surprises. Perhaps we are feeling some resistance to returning to life as it was pre-covid and, if that is the case, what is that telling us about how we were living? Maybe there’s difficult emotions alive in you just now, like, fear, anxiety, or caution. Are we the same people that we were this time two years ago? Or has there been a profound shift in our priorities?  

And can we just let it go now? Can we release that familiar sense of holding on and release and relax back into our lives? Do we still know how to relax? Even though the phrase ‘let it go’ is one that is bandied about so frequently, it is not so easy when our bodies have been stuck in survival mode for such a prolonged period and when people have been through so much. Do we possess the skills to let go of all that we have held in our bodies and minds over the past two years? Learning to check in with ourselves and take care of ourselves is more important than ever, as much as it is to take care of each other. Mindfulness meditation is a wonderful way to practice letting go but it can be difficult on our own to process feelings and manage painful thoughts or emotions that might come up. Maybe we can find ways of coming together with others through sustainable practices like compassion-based mindfulness and benefit from what Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn described as the ‘collective energy of mindfulness’ for nourishment and healing.  

Thich Nhat Hahn died in January 2022, and I feel it incumbent on me to mark the passing of one of the world’s masters of mindfulness and someone who embodied mindfulness, compassion, and hope in every word he spoke and in every step he took. His teachings are simple and relatable, yet so profound and can speak to all of us. He provides astute insights on the basic condition of happiness, pointing out, for example, that many of us humans have an inability to stop and be in the here and now, we have what he describes as ‘habit energy’ pushing us ahead all the time, unable to be happy, unable to rest in the present moment.  

And with all that’s going on within us personally, in our lives and around us in the wider world, I believe there is great comfort to be found in the words and mindfulness teachings of peace activist Thich Nhat Hahn. I would encourage any of you that haven’t already, to explore his books, podcasts, etc.  His message is simple.  We get tired from constantly thinking ahead, running into the future, or going over the past, but through mindfulness we learn to recognise this “habit energy” and can free ourselves from it.  By learning to live more in the present we become able to touch the wonders of life and develop a deep love for ourselves, others, and nature.  He recommends to ‘walk as if you’re kissing the earth with your feet’. By being present, in this instance, when walking, you only pay attention to the step you are taking, and, in this way, you arrive in the here and now, your step brings you home. You then have what Thich Nhat Hahn calls ‘an appointment with life’, not constantly carried away by the future or the past, but in the present and truly alive.  

If you would like to begin a mindfulness practice or deepen an existing practice together in community with others, drop-in mindfulness sessions are held at Myross Wood, Leap on Tuesday mornings 10-11am: €10

Sustainable Wellness is a rolling four-week collaboration with Emma Fitzpatrick, which includes mindfulness, movement and self-massage, Thursdays 10-12pm at Myross Wood. €25 per session or €85 for the entire programme.

Online guided meditation sessions continue via Zoom on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8pm, please do consider joining in, whether you have tried mindfulness meditation before or are new to it.  These small group sessions are personal, down-to-earth, informal and donation based. Individual or group sessions are also available online or in-person.

For more information on these or upcoming workshops and courses please like my Facebook page (Mindhaven) or feel free to get in touch by phone: 087 2700572 or by email: susanoreganmindfulness@gmail.com 

WCP Staff

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