Breaking through!

Posted on June 17, 2016 in Personal Development

When we are in distress and in emotional pain we are on the edge of  ‘change’; this offers an oppertunity for growth and maturity.Photo for Blog EDITED  f64b2135d5fae61a39fe638f7f5139ca

The following poem captures this perfectly:-

“You must give birth to your images

They are the future waiting to be born

…fear not the strangeness you feel.

The future must enter into you long before it happens.”
– Ranier Maria Rilke

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Invitation

Posted on June 15, 2016 in Personal Development

Dear Precious Being

INVITATION

Dear Precious Being,

I live in a state of uncertainty. When I think I’ve solved some problem or come to a resolution about a philosophical question, like- what is my purpose on this earth? -Why am I here in this particular place- at this particular age- in this particular time in history? After much soul searching and agonising and finding the inner courage to accept the answers I find, why is it that it all seems uncertain and confusing again and I continue to question.

To day I am deciding to do something about the questions andperhaps the answers will unfold. I am going to share with you my limited views, and some of what is happening in my life in the hope that it will provoke you into examining more deeply the meaning of your life.

The focus of my sharing is “good news”. I watched films like Three Wishes, The Little Princess and other feel good dramas during the Christmas season. I wondered what it is about these films that bring tears to the eyes of grown men, that grandparent and grandchild can sit together and cheer on the vulnerable part within all of us to succeed. What is it that touches our hearts and connects with a part of us that yearns for touch, for affirmation, and encouragement? A part of us that applauds the person with integrity, who will not be bought or bullied, who believes in the power of good.

Perhaps it is an innate tribal connection, or a spiritual motivation to evolve, I certainly do not have the answer.

I am writing in the hope that I can in some small way spread this kind of magic, share good tidings of people showing love for others.

Watching Westlife on TV singing the Abba song “I have a dream”, I wondered what are the dreams of people at the beginning of this time. What are people’s priorities?. There are those who say that putting it out there helps make it a reality.

Last night three of us spent time reflecting on our lives. We choose to let go of anything that no longer served our higher purpose, then we meditated on the nothingness, before tying ribbons to a tree, prayer ties we called them, symbolising our wishes, our intentions. We asked of ourselves to trust the process of surrendering to the unknown. I wonder what opportunities for growth will come my way? There is an excitement and sense of anticipation as I wait in this in-between time.

I want to make a tiny difference. This week I will phone my close friends and thank them for being my friends or perhaps send them snail mail and put dried rose petals or outlines of tiny angels in the envelopes to surprise their inner child, bring a smile to their faces and a moment of joy to their hearts.

I wonder what surprises you and I will receive this week?

Blessings to you all,

Saille Fearn.

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How Gratitude Can Change Your Life

Posted on August 14, 2015 in MENTAL HEALTH

“If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”

– Meister Eckhart

Gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you’ve been given. Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present. In addition, behavioral and psychological research has shown the surprising life improvements that can stem from the practice of gratitude. Giving thanks makes people happier and more resilient, it strengthens relationships, it improves health, and it reduces stress.

Research Shows Gratitude Heightens Quality of Life

Two psychologists, Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis, wrote an article about an experiment they conducted on gratitude and its impact on well-being. The study split several hundred people into three different groups and all of the participants were asked to keep daily diaries. The first group kept a diary of the events that occurred during the day without being told specifically to write about either good or bad things; the second group was told to record their unpleasant experiences; and the last group was instructed to make a daily list of things for which they were grateful. The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy. In addition, those in the gratitude group experienced less depression and stress, were more likely to help others, exercised more regularly, and made greater progress toward achieving personal goals.

Dr. Emmons – who has been studying gratitude for almost ten years and is considered by many to be the world’s leading authority on gratitude – is author of the book, “Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier”. The information in this book is based on research involving thousands of people conducted by a number of different researchers around the world. One of the things these studies show is that practicing gratitude can increase happiness levels by around 25%. This is significant, among other things, because just as there’s a certain weight that feels natural to your body and which your body strives to maintain, your basic level of happiness is set at a predetermined point. If something bad happens to you during the day, your happiness can drop momentarily, but then it returns to its natural set-point. Likewise, if something positive happens to you, your level of happiness rises, and then it returns once again to your “happiness set-point”. A practice of gratitude raises your “happiness set-point” so you can remain at a higher level of happiness regardless of outside circumstances.

In addition, Dr. Emmons’ research shows that those who practice gratitude tend to be more creative, bounce back more quickly from adversity, have a stronger immune system, and have stronger social relationships than those who don’t practice gratitude. He further points out that “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.”

Notice and Appreciate Each Day’s Gifts

People tend to take for granted the good that is already present in their lives. There’s a gratitude exercise that instructs that you should imagine losing some of the things that you take for granted, such as your home, your ability to see or hear, your ability to walk, or anything that currently gives you comfort. Then imagine getting each of these things back, one by one, and consider how grateful you would be for each and every one. In addition, you need to start finding joy in the small things instead of holding out for big achievements—such as getting the promotion, having a comfortable nest egg saved up, getting married, having the baby, and so on–before allowing yourself to feel gratitude and joy.

Another way to use giving thanks to appreciate life more fully is to use gratitude to help you put things in their proper perspective. When things don’t go your way, remember that every difficulty carries within it the seeds of an equal or greater benefit. In the face of adversity ask yourself: “What’s good about this?”, “What can I learn from this?”, and “How can I benefit from this?”

There are Many Ways to Practice Gratitude

A common method to develop the practice of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal, a concept that was made famous by Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book “Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude”. This exercise basically consists of writing down every day a list of three to ten things for which you are grateful; you can do this first thing in the morning or before going to bed at night. Another exercise you can try is to write a gratitude letter to a person who has exerted a positive influence in your life but whom you have not properly thanked. Some experts suggest that you set up a meeting with this person and read the letter to them face to face.

Last year millions of people took the challenge proposed by Will Bowen, a Kansas City minister, to go 21 days without complaining, criticizing, or gossiping. To help condition the participants to stop complaining, they each wore a purple No-Complaint wristband. Several authors in the self-improvement genre have suggested that people do something similar to help condition themselves to be constantly aware of the things in life that they’re grateful for.

A variation of the wristband concept is to create a gratitude charm bracelet, with either one meaningful charm or different charms representing the things you’re most grateful for. For example, you could have a charm shaped like a heart to symbolize your significant other, figurines to represent different family members, an apple to represent health, a dollar sign to symbolize abundance, a charm that represents your current profession or a future career, and maybe a charm that makes you laugh to represent humor and joy.

Conclusion

Once you become oriented toward looking for things to be grateful for, you will find that you begin to appreciate simple pleasures and things that you previously took for granted. Gratitude should not be just a reaction to getting what you want, but an all-the-time gratitude, the kind where you notice the little things and where you constantly look for the good even in unpleasant situations. Today, start bringing gratitude to your experiences, instead of waiting for a positive experience in order to feel grateful; in this way, you’ll be on your way toward becoming a master of gratitude.

By Marelisa Fabrega

🙏🏻

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How an ex-Garda went from the depths of depression to Winter Olympics hopeful

Posted on August 11, 2015 in MENTAL HEALTH

Dublin-based skeleton (bobsleigh) athlete, Brendan Doyle, chats to The42 about his future ambitions.

Brendan Doyle, once a member of An Garda Síochána, now hopes to represent Ireland at the Winter Olympics.

A LITTLE OVER six years ago, Brendan Doyle’s life was changed in an instant.

Working as a young Garda one day, he was called to investigate a report of domestic abuse in a house in Dublin.

Doyle arrived to find an aggressive man and a frightened woman, and attempted to apprehend the former.

Unfortunately, it was during the ensuing altercation that Doyle’s hand was slashed by the knife-wielding man in question, and permanently damaged in the process.

As a result of the incident, his baby finger and thumb no longer function, while countless hours of skin grafts and corrective surgery followed.

Furthermore, the psychological trauma caused by the attack ultimately forced Doyle to quit his job as a Garda permanently, as he regularly began to suffer from depression and panic attacks, and struggled to deal with the anxiety, which inescapable memories of the incident continually prompted.

He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, becoming an insomniac and having to get by on just two hours of broken sleep a night for a sustained period between 2009 and 2013.

However, Doyle is now feeling substantially better. While he still struggles to a degree with sleep, rarely falling unconscious until 2am at the earliest, he no longer wakes up in the middle of the night at regular intervals.

“In terms of the depression, it got very dark,” he tells The42. “Sport and exercise was the one thing I could fall back on. I never drank in my life, I don’t have anything to fall back on other than the gym. I was in really bad places. Using the exercises, I’ve got back to where I am now.”

And in relation to the insomnia, he adds: “It’s just the way my mind is, it doesn’t switch off. It’s still something I try to fix, but I’ve learned that I have limits and my body is approaching those limits. I’m aware of what’s going on, it’s not a sudden thing, so it gives me the ability to be able to handle it better. Much like if you see a car pull out in front of you, you can break and adjust for a new scenario.

“So yeah, it’s still there, but I’m dealing with it in a much healthier manner and I’m sleeping through the nights, that’s the main thing.”

From this incredibly dark experience, there emerged a silver lining, however.

Before he became a Garda, Doyle had been an athlete at a high level in some capacity since the age of 13, when he began to train intensively as a sprinter.

“We’d all train up in Morton Stadium in Santry,” he recalls. “I’d see the girls who were doing bobsleigh training. It always caught my eye.

“I was just training one day and they asked me if I’d give it a go. I jumped at the opportunity, so what happened was I got a skeleton sled. It’s kind of like in Cool Runnings, we have wheels on it. It’s just a normal athletics surface.

“I did a few push runs, trained with them for a couple of months, I was about 16 at that stage. They sent me off to Austria, where I had to go to a school and get my driving licence [for the sport].”

bd

(Doyle pictured in action)

Having shown initial promise at a competitive level, an unfortunate twist of fate meant that Doyle was effectively forced to quit the sport before he could ever make any real impact on it, as the Irish Bobsleigh Skeleton Federation’s money was cut in conjunction with the collapse of the Celtic Tiger.

As a consequence, Doyle reluctantly left life as an athlete behind, and proceeded to focus on his career with the Gardaí. And of course, fate intervened again, preventing him from pursuing this path in the long term ultimately.

However, his departure from the Gardaí eventually enabled him to return to his previous life as a skeleton (bobsleigh) athlete. By now, thanks in part to the success of Sean Greenwood at the most recent Winter Olympics, the Irish Bobsleigh Association is in a far healthier position. Greenwood’s performance at Sochi 2014 means that Ireland are the highest ranked of the smaller nations in terms of seedings.

And while Doyle may dream of emulating Greenwood at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, there is a long way to go yet if he is to fulfill this ambition. That said, his return to action emphasised Doyle’s considerable potential.

“The sport I’m doing is skeleton, so it’s like bobsleigh, except I go down head first [at speeds of up to 130 km/h]. It’s a toboggan basically, and there’s two main aspects to that sport — the acceleration phase and the drive phase. I’ve got a lot of power and a lot of acceleration speed, so that translates perfectly into skeleton.

“I have completed a training camp in Igls, which is just outside of Innsbruck Austria, and it went really well — I posted competitive times. Myself and the federation are trying to get as much track time as possible for me… There will be training camps in Calgary and Salt Lake City, European Championships in Austria and Slovakia, and a North American Championships in Calgary.”

Nevertheless, the main issue is still finance. In order to compete at a high level, he estimates he’ll need over €20,000 in funding.

“This year is going to be a fairly expensive year. I need to upgrade my sled. I have a sled in Switzerland, but that was bought back in 2002, so it’s weathered. The technology of the sled now has come on tenfold, so to be competitive, I need more equipment.”

But while the Winter Olympics is currently still a distant prospect, he remains undaunted by this uphill task, insisting: “I have never faced a challenge I couldn’t overcome.” For instance, he once tore his calf so badly in training that he was at risk of losing his foot at one point, and yet, it did little to quell his passion for the sport.

Doyle is hoping to raise funds through his PledgeSports account, and describes himself as an “athlete/agent”

“I’m training full time for this,” he explains. “Both my parents are sick, so I’m also looking after them. In terms of effort and energy, it is full time. I’m training six days a week, I take Sundays off… I’m trying to do everything I can — it’s an awful lot because my training sessions can be four hours, and then after that, I would do some recovery sessions. So I could be gone five or six hours a day, and then come back and try to hit up the emails and applications to here, there and everywhere.

“I’m going to be putting any little money I do have into this. If I need to sell the car, I’ll sell the car. I’m going to put everything into getting to Pyeongchang in 2018.

“We’ve got a lot of track knowledge and track coaches to get us there. All we have to do is build up competition in track time. We were in a position this year to get to the World Championships for team events — the only issue is that the other slider I would need to go with me has just got a new job in Bath and he can’t get time off.

“So we can’t actually do the World Championships this year, but next year, it’s on the cards.”

Nonetheless, to even get to this point, where Doyle is contemplating representing Ireland on the world stage, constitutes a remarkable achievement, given that he was seriously depressed and struggling to sleep as recently as two years ago.

“If the accident never happened, I’d still be a Garda out in Crumlin,” he says. “I wouldn’t be possibly getting to the Olympics. I’ve been training hard since I was a 14-year-old, with goals of getting in the Olympic Games in my chosen sport, which was sprinting [initially].

“As soon as I got a taste for skeleton, I was put on an Olympic development squad for Turin in 2006, but one of the older lads got a spot. So once it was turned away from me, I just kind of turned to work. I’ve given myself an opportunity, which is once in a lifetime. I’m just grateful for it. It’s not easy and it’s a lot of work and there are a lot of ‘what ifs’. It was a silver lining and in hindsight, it’s not as bad as it seemed. The way I see it, life put me back on the track I was supposed to be on.”

Doyle emphasises that for anyone who might be suffering similar problems to those which he encountered in the aftermath of his accident, being prepared to discuss these troubles with a close friend or relative is vital.

“Communication is key. I was in a job where you’re expected not to feel these things. We all know what happens, but when you put on that uniform, you’re expected to be almost like Captain America. Get in, get the job done. The lads would have drinks and that would be that.

“The main thing I can say is that when you’re in the moment, things seem so much worse than they actually are. It wasn’t until I got that phone call from the skeleton association that I realised it wasn’t actually as I thought. I had suicidal tendencies. The lowpoint for me was when I was actually rationalising those thoughts. It wasn’t having those thoughts.

“To deal with depression actually shows you’ve an awful lot of strength. If you’ve got a leg injury, you get a set of crutches, but there’s no set of crutches for depression. You just reach out, talk to people. There’s one or two lads, if something happened, I’d reach out straight away and talk to them.

“Looking back at it now, it takes an awful lot of mental strength to beat and live with depression. So you take solace in the fact that you’re still waking up every morning and wanting to get better, that’s the main thing.”

Author: Paul Fennessy

From: The Journal article on Sunday 9th August, 2015.

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