What a difference a day makes……

I woke this morning to the sound of silence  and realised there was no wind blowing outside. Through the cracks in the window blinds I could see  what seemed like sunlight. I got up to check and lo and behold  I was greeted by a vast blue sky and bright sunshine. I could hardly believe my eyes as I have become so accustomed to grey skies and mist covered mountains these last few months 🙁   I also felt  a deep  blessing well up inside me as I had nowhere to drive to today, I could be at home in the mountains taking full advantage of this beautiful day.

As I stood outside my front door looking down on Lough Inagh as it glistened in the morning sun I felt  the cool of the morning air on my skin and and the beginnings of moments of warmth from the sun.

I donned my cycling gear and headed of on my usual circle for the first time in months not having to battle strong winds, or be soaked to the skin with rain or mist. I could actually cycle with my head up  feeling the sun on my face. As I rode up my mountain road I could see the fullness of the Maumturk and Twelve Bens mountain ranges. I even saw Mweelrea the highest mountain in Connaught  as it displayed its quirky shaped top. The shadows  and light reflections in the lake were a delight to behold. And I realised how much I had missed  the blue sky and the warmth of the sun these last months. Although I do try to practice gratitiude for whatever turns up I did feel a  gratitude that ran a little deeper for this beautiful day amd made the decision to be present to as much of it as I possibly could. So I did what I have been longing to do for months moved all my work, -books, notes and laptop outside and spent all day in  the sun and quiet.

As I sat on my swing watching the sunset in a blaze of pink and grey I gave thanks for having had the presence of mind to make my intention for the day to be present, to experience as much as I could of this glorious day and to not fast forward to hoping it will last . Now I feel a sense of  peace  and a spacious inside  and a deep regard for the power of the sun to lift my spirits. So as the song says: “what a difference a day makes , just 24 little hours……”

Connections

Sitting on a rare and beautiful evening here in Connemara , I  have time now to reflect on another weekend workshop. This time I was in Dublin offering Connections. This is a workshop based on taking time to notice how we make, break  and sustain connections in our lives. I was very struck by the use of the word “pleasure”  in the feedback. It was a pleasure to take the time for this exploration, was the experience of many who attended. And I think that was a surprise for us all 🙂

I have so often noted in workshops that we often approach them as if we were lacking, less than, not enough etc.  This one was no different at the introduction where each stated their intention. Yet at the end almost everyone left with the sense that they are good at connecting , even if they wish to pay mindful attention to some aspect. For me it was a great example of the usefulness of integrating the burgeoning information emerging on the workings of the brain (neuroscience) and the embodiment of the 5 Rhythms® movement practice.

I find the new information takes away  a lot of  the “blaming myself” for how I am and gives a greater understanding of how I became who I am now. And  that is not static- I can change with attention, mindfulness and support.

The 5 Rhythms® allows us over and over find the physical ways to make this change and to practice living this new found pathway to well being. It gives us practical hands on tools for health and well being.

Since the weekend I am more fired up about my semi sabbatical in 2013 as this is exactly what I want time to explore in depth- the link between neuroscience and 5 Rhythms. I want to be able to offer sound information that can facilitate  movement towards health  and well being in whatever guise that is for each individual who steps on to the dance floor in one of my workshops.

I look forward to beginning that focused teaching in my only offering for 2013 the Shadow and Light On going in Dublin. All the details for booking are on the website. I do hope I can entice many of you to consider joining me in this exciting exploration.

In the meantime I look forward to the reflections on the workshops for the rest of this term as they happen. :):):)

The Power of Gratitude

I experienced a very powerful  workshop in Belfast  this last weekend where we explored the notion of Harvest and Gratitude.

To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great. It just means we are aware of our blessings. (Robert Emmons) was the underlying theme of our time together.

There is some very interesting scientific research on the impact of Gratitude on our well being from two psychologists Micheal Mc Cullough of Southern University in Dallas Texas and Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis. The results of their studies are showing that regular practice of gratitude results in less depression and stress, fitness levels improve, and there is more enthusiasm,optimism, and energy for life.

I can  say that these attributes were openly displayed with the dance on Saturday and Sunday. The whole atmosphere within the group was of spacious generosity. Again confirming for me the ways that the 5 rhythms allow us to let the warm , generous, spacious parts of ourselves to be revealed each time we dance with mindful attention. They also gives us the courage to have compassion for the parts of us that are closed, mean and hurt. Having permission to feel deep gratitude for all of our being is  a truly healing experience.

New Beginnings

That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and impermanent, is the first mark of existence. It is the ordinary state of affairs. Everything is in process. Everything—every tree, every blade of grass, all the animals, insects, human beings, buildings, the animate and the inanimate—is always changing, moment to moment.”   Pema Chodron

I thought this quote and the picture of a beautiful Galway Hooker sailing past me at the regatta in Cashel, Connemara in July on one of the few lovely evenings in Connemara were fitting starts to the launch of my new website.

The process of letting go of deorade.com and transforming to 5rhythms.ie has certainly taught me firsthand that “everything is in process”.

This feels like the first step into some new way of being within the 5 Rhythms® for me as a teacher. As with all beginnings I am not sure where it will lead and I am weaving (or sailing) back and forth from excitement to fear. Thankfully the Rhythms have taught me how to navigate between those two feelings, in order to find moments of dry land on which to reflect on how well my old website served me and to trust this new adventure will serve the start of something new.

I am very grateful to Sinead Mannion who designed and updated deorade.com with such a great heart and has become one of my treasured friends. Liz Gleeson has been the match that helped me light the spark of courage to make the change, thank you. Caroline Herriott whom I met for the first time designed the site and working with her has been a sheer delight. Gail Ramsey is the support behind my attempts at Face book and will continue to be so which I am grateful as she has learned just what a technophobe I am….

Finally thank you to all of you who agreed to let me use the photos of your great dances and the beautiful collages with your testimonials.

Gratitude is definitely the true name behind 5rhythms.ie

As I said this is a work in progress and we will be adding interesting pieces over the next few months so I hope you enjoy browsing through the website as much as I did putting it together.

“Everything flows and nothing abides,
 everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.” ~Heraclitus~

Caitríona

Greetings from my base on the side of the mountain in Connemara

“SEEING OURSELVES CLEARLY. When we begin to see clearly what we do, how we get hooked and swept away by old habits, our usual tendency is to use that as a reason to get discouraged, a reason to feel really bad about ourselves. Instead, we could realize how remarkable it is that we actually have the capacity to see ourselves honestly, and that doing this takes courage. It is moving in the direction of seeing our life as a teacher rather than as a burden. This involves, fundamentally, learning to stay present, but learning to stay with a sense of humour, learning to stay with loving-kindness toward ourselves and with the outer situation, learning to take joy in the magic ingredient of honest self-reflection.”
Pema Chodron

The above quote sets the framework for a decision I have finally come to after tracking one(!) of my habits i.e. : to really, really want to do something different yet fall back into the same old pattern over and over as the change can seem inviting but too great a challenge to carry through.

After 20 years of teaching the 5 rhythms firstly in my organisational development work and then for the last 16 years in workshop and class format throughout the island of Ireland, I have decided to take a mini sabbatical. I have finally through lots of dancing, thinking and soul searching found the courage to take this time out for myself. To take the time to review my teaching of the 5 rhythms and what I would like to offer into the next 20 years!!!. I have wanted to go inwards for some time in order to see what might emerge if I actually took the time to slow down, to wind down, to deeply enter the rhythm of moving stillness.

I kept waiting for the “right” time and as the years pass I realise there is no “right” time there is only now time. So these next 18 months will be my time to to use the gifts of the rhythm of lyrical/stillness as I know them – space, curiosity, pausing and reflection.

Thus, in the spirit of Lyrical I will still offer some teaching opportunities and in the spirit of Stillness I will be adding in a lot of pauses.

A new adventure for me….

Here is the bones of what I will offer over the next 18 months:
*Heartbeat Ongoing Group 2012-2014 in Connemara
*Waves Shadow and Light Ongoing Group 2013-2014 Dublin
*The annual Alternative Summer Holiday 2013 in Boghill Centre, Co. Clare
*Some daylong workshops in Connemara and The Sanctuary in Dublin.

I will fulfil my commitments for the Autumn schedule 2012 I have already put out and I will be working with Sinead, Gail, Liz and Dolores to look at a more updated website and more use of Facebook to keep you all informed of my offerings within the broad landscape of the 5 Rhythms Movement Meditation Practice.

As so many of you have travelled  variations of the last 16 years with me I hope you can travel this next 18 months with me into the unknown and unknowable right now……….

Caitríona

Become familiar with the running away

“Finding the courage to go to the places that scare us cannot happen without compassionate inquiry into the workings of ego. The Buddha taught that flexibility and openness bring strength and that running from groundlessness weakens us and brings pain. But do we understand that becoming familiar with the running away is the key? Openness doesn’t come from resisting our fears but from getting to know them well.”
Pema Chodron

 

Greetings from a grey (surprise, surprise!) and pink evening in Connemara. The sun is setting and we have streaks of pink and peach breaking the relentless grey we are becoming accustomed to these days. Delightful.

I have started with the above quote from Pema as the words courage and running away speak to me from two different aspects of my brain!

I have been reflecting lately on the two bike accidents I had and the common theme in them of crossing boundaries-one through opening the car door onto oncoming traffic without checking the side mirror and the second a hit and run.

Of the two the hit and run is a profound crossing of boundaries and I now know firsthand the devastation and pain that, that can cause, physically and mentally. I have spent many a night wondering who and why, who and why and I am now at the point where I accept I will never have answers to those two questions.

Where the courage comes to support me is in taking the focus off the external hit and run and taking these words and applying them to me.

Yes I have found the ways I hit and run myself.

One of the ways this manifests itself for me is in setting boundaries, hitting up against them and then running away as quick as I can for fear of implementing them. So I hit and run over and over and over.

Finally I am finding the courage to face the fears that lie behind this running. Dealing with the actual hit and run has helped orient me in the direction of courage, steadfastness and curiosity. Three supports to finding a new habit of implementing my own healthy boundaries and sticking with them to the point where I know they have either outlived their usefulness or need to be adapted or held on to for now.

As I know from my study of the workings of the brain this will take dedication and commitment to change a habit of a lifetime to a new and more useful one that can serve me and those I come in contact with better. It is a practice I am open to at last. So maybe the hit and run did serve a useful if painful purpose!

Caitriona

At Every Window a Different Season

“I remember a house
where we sat to watch
the days pass:
hour by hour.
The changing of the light
on mountain and lake.
The year’s passage
in an afternoon. At every window
a different season.”

Mary Dorcey

When I read this poem this morning I though this verse sums up these days in Connemara and the view of lake and mountains from each window of my house displaying a different season.

At one stage yesterday I looked out the front window and saw snow, as I looked out the back, bright sunshine, The snow or the sun had not quite synchronized themselves outside all the windows……

Quite a metaphor for life these days… as Pema Chodron often says – nothing is as it seems. It just depends which window you are looking out!

Caitriona

Inspired by two wasps………and a cycle in the rain……

While I was cycling in the rain this morning-the first really wet morning in awhile-, I was doing my usual thinking and mulling over what needed to be attended to today and in the week ahead. I reminded myself of my appointment in the hospital in Galway on Monday for what I now call my  “wasp” injection.

About 18 months ago I got 2 very serious wasp stings which resulted in me enrolling in a desensitizing programme in University Hospital Galway’s Immunology department. The process consists of an injection of in my case wasp venom ( each participant has a particular allergy -wasps or bees) every week for 3 months and then a maintenance dose once a month for 3 years. I have to say I nearly died when I heard what the commitment would entail. I don’t think I had ever in my life had to pay that much attention to anything to do with my health, as I have been blessed with very good physical health.

So off I went each Thursday morning to Galway, to St Michael’s day ward and started my desensitization adventure. The idea behind the process is to inject increasing doses of wasp venom to teach my body not to react to a wasp sting in an aggressive manner.  Then when a high threshold is achieved a maintnance dose is given to fully acclimatise the body to no longer react.

Well needless to say the process was not straightforward for me. As many of my friends and family have often said to me if there are two routes to chose from, a difficult one or an easy one, I am programmed to chose the difficult one  🙁   And so it happened. It took 9 months not 3 months for my body to finally stop reacting to the injections. My body fought tooth and nail to each injection with varying degrees of success. From minor irritations to full blow attacks. I was truly amazed at what I was experiencing. I found myself putting all my meditation and dance practice skills into good use. The most helpful was in being able to witness what was happening rather than getting caught up in the battles and dramas being played out between my body and the wasp! I truly felt as time passed that I was watching a battle each week unfolding and  wondered who would win in that round. Many times the strength of my body’s resistance to the change resulted in us having to drop back down to the beginning again and start the process all over from scratch.  I did wonder if we would ever get to the stage of a truce between my body and the wasp, as did the doctors and nurses in the department. Yet none of us were prepared to give up and call it a day. Thankfully I had great support from the  doctors and  nurses who got to know me very well. ( A little aside – I never in my live imagined I would ever be instantly recognisable at the admissions office of a hospital – but I am by all the staff in Galway !!!!!! )

So with amazing patience and curiosity each time we would re-embark on the journey to get my body to make peace or at least learn not to react to each injection. Painstakingly week by week we got there and in June this year finally I achieved the maintenance dose and delight rung out in the day ward 🙂  I am now on the monthly phase and am truly amazed each time at how my body  seems to take the injection – the equivalent of 2 wasp stings- in its stride and is causing no grief to me so far.

Reflecting on this while cycling this morning got me thinking of the process itself – of finding a way to teach the body to ignore/not to react to  an irritant.  I began to think of what a great analogy this would be for teaching us to not react to all the negative/ disabling thoughts that keep trying to invade our minds and brains. I imagined choosing a particular thought pattern and giving it the attention that was given to the “wasp” as in learning all the ways needed to build a strong immune system so that we no longer needed to give it so much of our valuable life force or be so controlled by it. I imagined having the patience, the witnessing skills and the support of others over a sustained period of time to help the reactive habits became less and less.

I decided there and then that the new course I am designing to combine the 5 Rhythms movement Of Gabrielle Roth,  Mindfulness Meditaion of Pema Chodron and Interpersonal Neurobiology of Daniel Siegel  would be inspired by my wasp desensitization process 🙂 🙂  Having been through the desensitization process myself  and coming out the better for it, I  sense inside me the excitement of applying it to thought patterns and not just wasps and bees to see if the results can be as hopeful and helpful.  I am aiming to start the course in September 2014 and now as a core part of it I will ask participants to choose a particular issue they wish to dedicated their time and resources to and we will mindfully track through dance, meditaion and solid brain information the changes  that can occur over a year.

Keep an eye on the website for more details and application forms.

Right now I feel a tremendous sense of gratefulness to two wasps that changed the course of my life quite unbeknownst to either of them and a cycle in the rain……

Accidental Enlightenment Part 3

A  Blessing for New Beginnings

In out-of-way places of the heart,

Where your thoughts never think to wander,

This beginning has been quietly forming,

Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

 

For a long time it has watched your desire,

Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,

Noticing how you had willed yourself on,

Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

 

It watched you play with the seduction of safety

And the gray promises that sameness whispered,

Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,

Wondered would you always live like this.

 

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,

And you stepped onto new ground,

Your eyes young again with energy and dream,

A path of plentitude opening before you.

 

Though your destination is not yet clear

You can trust the promise of this opening;

Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning

That is at one with your life’s desire.

 

Awaken your spirit to adventure;

Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;

Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,

For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

John O’Donohue

 

As my accidents have come in threes and you know how often we say in this country “things come in threes” I decided to add a part 3 to my accidental enlightenment musings. And it actually feels fitting to add on this part.

In my first blog I spoke about  being stuck and what that meant to me after the car crash. And yes my physical body felt very stuck initally and full of fear that this would not change. Yet change it has. As I stayed with the stuckness I discovered or should I say uncovered a  new world awaiting me.

In the past few weeks I have discovered ways to move that have given me great ease and comfort and some degree of flexible movement. I have felt parts of my body setting their limits and  calling a halt to my gallop. I have had the time to explore “slow” rather than “stuck” in my outer movements and as I said in my second blog that uncovered many new experiences for me.

Now I have found the time to turn the movement inwards to the inner landscape. To the mountains, rivers, lakes, byroads and superhighways of my internal life, to the ever changing weather systems moving  inside me.

This has been the most revealing journey of all. I have met the really stuck places inside. My life to date has been a constant sense of movement/activity, speeding along hoping someday to catch up with………..I do not know what??????

I just know I have had the internal experience of racing to catch up. And in these days of having to deliberately and mindfully  slow down, I have been able to  sense the quality of this way of being and to see the loop it is stuck in. I had myself convinced if I could keep going, doing more, learning more, studying more, more music, more ideas I would some day arrive ……………..????????

This last week I have seen the  treadmill of this way of being. I have seen how stuck I have become in this pattern and how I had fooled myself by constantly being on the move that I was not stuck.

It took getting physically stuck for me to  allow the blinkers to come off and to see the real stuckness. And it is such a relief to clearly and compassionately see it. To be able to step back and observe this way of doing that has tried to serve me, tried to keep me safe almost all my life. And it has served me well in getting me to do many things I would have been afraid to do, travel to places I would have feared and met many amazing and wonderful people.

Yet as  away of being it does not serve me well now  and just keeps me in mindlless activity with very old thought patterns fueling it.

I have no idea what the alternative will be but as John O’ Domodhue says

Though your destination is not yet clear

You can trust the promise of this opening;

Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning

That is at one with your life’s desire.

 

Awaken your spirit to adventure;

Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;

Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,

For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

 

Yes as I tune in I can hear the whisperings of my soul calling for some  new opportunities to be in this world, to create new pathways in my brain and new directions in my work. I look forward to those whisperings becoming clear steady voices guiding me to the next stage of my life’s journey.  🙂 🙂

 

 

Accidental Enlightenment part 2

 

Thank you to all of you that contacted me  after my last blog when I spoke about the new experience I am having of feeling stuck.

Well the  adventure has started and I have had the “amazing” realisation that  there is no such thing as stuck…………. Stuck for me is a word I use to cover up not wanting what is happening right now . So this time putting it out so publicly has made me  stop and truly reflect on what is happening right now.

The so called stuckness has revealed a whole other view of life to me.  Ram Dass is correct! I have had the chance to experience slowing down a very different view of stuck.  For me anything less than speedy felt stuck 🙁

I walked one foot after the other around a supermarket actually seeing the huge array of goods on each shelf and for once was able to stick to my list as carrying large loads is not part of life at present….

I have seen the dandalions beaming up as the sun shines overhead……

I have tracked nerve endings as pain has radiated through my body and been fascinated at where it started and where it ended……..

I’ve spent time watching two Jacob lambs ( a rare breed up here and very different from our usual lambs) play with one another in the farm up the road…….

I’ve heard streams trickling by as I walk slow by………..

I have felt fear under my skin as my thoughts ran riot about never moving fast and flexible again………..

I have taken more conscious deep breaths to support me staying steady……..

I have developed a huge appreciation for people who live with constant pain and how overwhelming and mind numbing it can be at times…….

I have grown to appreciate a chair and what it offers  as a support and thus a great warmth towards my students who have had the courage to use chairs or the floor as was to remain unstuck…..

I have open my eyes to the beauty of the part of the world where I have chosen to live,  instead of racing by with the great intention to stop when I have the time but not just now…….

I have found so much to be curious of  in the place I call “stuck”……….

 

  When you open yourself to the continually changing, impermanent, dying nature of your own being and of reality, 

you increase your capacity to love and care about other people and your capacity to trust. 

You’re able to keep your eyes , your heart  and your mind open.  

And you begin to think of your life as offering endless opportunities to start doing things differently.  

PEMA  CHODRON