I’d never thought of myself as a writer, yet there I was, at a book launch at the notorious Irish Writers Centre in the centre of Dublin. I was to give a short talk and read from the chapter I had written for the book Mindful Heroes.
It was one of those surreal occasions when I had to pinch myself, wondering how I had gotten there.
Over a hundred people crammed into the large, imposing, impressive room complete with podium for speakers. The up lighting made all the presenters look like they were at a Halloween party. And yet the atmosphere of the building exuded an exciting literary history and presence.
The book contains the stories of journeys written by graduates of the MSc Studies in Mindfulness. The proceeds of the book go to the worthwhile charity – the Everyone Project. The charity helps provide mindfulness courses to those who are normally unable to access such a course.
During my whirlwind overnight trip, on a cheap Irish airline – yes, you’ve probably guessed the one – I managed to fit everything I needed into a tiny rucksack. This meant that I travelled in the clothes I would be wearing for the book launch.
This also meant that I got soaked to the skin on a walk by the sea in a Dublin suburb. I had to dry out my clothes and jacket in my friend’s house during the afternoon. I was aware of how I would have felt about this before establishing a mindfulness practice. I would have been quite anxious about it. But I had a deep sense of calm as I allowed my experience to unfold. I even surprised myself that I didn’t feel at all nervous about doing the talk either. Excitement, curiosity and joy were the overwhelming emotions and sensations arising.
I’d woken up that morning with the intention of remaining grounded and centred in my experience. I knew that I was going to be ‘on the go’ for 6 days non-stop. Meditating on the plane enabled me to set my intention for the Dublin trip, the talk, the travel and the changing landscape and events over the next six days. My intention was to allow everything to unfold and to be aware of it all with a sense of curiosity. I also set an intention to look after myself in the process.
It was an evening of laughter and merriment as we made our way from the book launch to dinner and then to an Irish bar complete with live music.
I managed to fit in another walk before heading home the next day. This time is was in the countryside in beautiful sunshine.
I noticed throughout the whole trip I wanted to laugh. I had a big smile on my face and felt joyful. Why? Because I was laughing at how surreal it all felt and was using my mindfulness practice to be present in the experience. On the way home my amusement continued as I noticed the dialogue in my mind was all with the lyrical Irish accent I had been hearing. I was very curious about that, especially as I hadn’t noticed it happening on previous visits to Ireland.
Moving from place to place and travelling necessitates a dependency on my mindfulness practice to keep me centred and grounded. Otherwise I notice that there is a tendency for overwhelm, tiredness and disorientation to take over very quickly.
When I got home, I did some mindful movement from my QiGong and Tai Chi practice to help relax my stiffening body after all the travelling.
Early next morning I was off again. This time I took a relatively short train journey into London to help run the Mindfulness Association stand at the Mind Body Soul Experience at Alexandra Palace.
This experience was totally different. There were so many people at the event and so many weird and wonderful ‘spiritual’ experiences on offer. Heather perfectly described the event in her blog this week.
The venue is very large and the building quite special. It was built in a beautiful park in the 1800 and exudes a sense of grandness.
Duncan and I looked after the stand, speaking to many people interested in mindfulness, amongst the thousands of yoga enthusiasts who attended the event.
Heather modelled embodied mindfulness as she gave a wonderful talk and led an insight practice in the open arena. As I filmed her, I could hear the background noise threatening to overwhelm her voice. At one point I could hear the gong bath in the stand nearby building in intensity and as it reached its crescendo, I almost expected a posse of dancing American Indians in full headdress to appear. I was very inspired by the way Heather used her mindfulness to stay centred and calm, as well as by the talk itself.
When I got home, I checked how many steps I had walked and was very surprised to see I had walked 14,000 steps, which equated to nearly 6 miles. No wonder my feet were singing to me.
I was up early the next day, travelling by train back to Alexandra Palace to mind the stand again. When I got home, I did feel exhausted and wondered which mindfulness practice would serve my tired aching body the best. I chose to do a guided yoga nidra for 40 minutes and had an early night.
The next day I was off again. This time I headed to Manchester on the train ready for the MAHQ meeting the next day. I always stay with dear friends the night before which provides me with some peace, safety and comfort before the day in ‘the office’.
As always, it’s a privilege, pleasure and joy to work with the MAHQ team on the Tuesdays when we meet up. I found I was feeling relaxed, despite all the travelling, as I was in a familiar place with people I care about and trust.
The 6 days had provided me with different experiences, sensations and emotions. Yet my mindfulness practice had enabled me to stay grounded and centred in my experience and to keep calm in the midst of everything going on.
Setting an intention to remain grounded and curious in my experience had helped. On reflection, the most important part of my intention was to look after myself in the process of being on the go for 6 days. That meant eating healthily, taking exercise, keeping up with my mindfulness practice by using the most appropriate practice for how I was feeling, and getting enough sleep.
As I look back, I have a sense of just being the observer of the experience. And that feels good.
This week’s challenge is to set an intention to be mindful, curious, grounded and to look after yourself in daily life for the coming week, whatever it is you are doing and whatever your experience.
I welcome your feedback and comments after this post or personally by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Jacky will be co-teaching Level 1 – Being Present with Alan Hughes at Samye Ling 13 – 15 March 2020 and on the Level 2 – Responding with Compassion with Heather Regan-Addis at Samye Ling Summer 2020.
We’d love to see you there.
Jacky has contributed a chapter to the Mindful Heroes Book entitled “Turning Empathic Distress into Compassion – A Hero’s Journey for Family Carers”. You can hear an extract from the chapter where she talks about the results of her MSc Studies in Mindfulness on Compassion & Family Carers. You can download a free sample of Jacky’s chapter here.
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