Looking for a real treat to lift the January blues, Positive Lifers? If so, check out Soul Centred Retreats’ ‘New Year, New You’ retreat, taking place in Aherlow House Hotel, Co. Tipperary, from January 14th to the 17th.
As this year draws to a close, many people’s thoughts are turning towards warmer days ahead … and if you’re looking for a getaway with a difference in 2019, we have a great suggestion for you. Learn all about the magic of the Earthsong camps in this beautiful article by Ruth Pinson, which appears in our Winter 2018/19 issue.
Looking for a restorative and deeply healing retreat experience this winter? If so, look no further than the amazing Nourish women’s retreat led by Judith McAdam and Kathy Scott. It takes place in the The Elbow Room Escape, Donard, Co. Wicklow, from 4.00 p.m. on Friday November 30th to 2.00 p.m. on Sunday December 2nd. Read on to learn all about it!
Nourish is a special weekend retreat inviting you to experience a heartwarming winter break in the Wicklow mountains, so you can acknowledge and celebrate all that is sacred at this time of year.
This retreat is designed for women who feel drawn to unplug, unwind and unravel before the intensity of the Christmas season kicks in. This will be a deeply nurturing journey that will enable you to reconnect, restore and rejuvenate from the inside out. We promise warm fires, delicious food, wild landscape, hot tubs and great company. All are welcome and no experience is necessary.
Join Judith McAdam (author of The Source) and Kathy Scott (creative director of The Trailblazery) for an alchemical weekend of yoga, mindfulness, energy alignment, visualisation techniques, kundalini kriyas, ritual, creative practices and other gifts from the wisdom traditions.
This will be a deep healing experience where you will:
• Move in tune with the natural rhythms of the season
• Explore what makes you feel really alive inside and out
• Tune into your intuition and psychic abilities
• Release habits and patterns that are holding you back
• Embody the power of intention and start to deliberately create your own reality.
• Welcome the gifts in store for the year ahead
Judith McAdam, author of The Source, is a mother, theologian, kinesiologist, life coach, course facilitator and inspirational speaker. Throughout her career Judith has been inspiring women and men to tap into their unique creative intelligence and step into their true potential realising their personal and higher purpose in this life.
Kathy Scott is a creative producer, curator and strategist in the cultural arena. She is the Creative Director of The Trailblazery, ‘The Ireland: Iceland Project’ and Wonderlust at Body & Soul Festival. She is currently artist-in-residence at Trinity College Dublin. Kathy is trained in the Sivananda, Anusara and Kundalini yoga methods.
Retreat Date: 30th November to 2nd December 2018 Time: 4pm Friday to 2pm Sunday
Venue: The Elbow Room Escape, Donard, Co. Wicklow https://www.the-elbowroomescape.com/
Investment: €395 each for Shared Room or €425 each for Twin Room
Creacon Wellness Retreat in New Ross, Co. Wexford, served as the perfect getaway location for Tara Congdon, who described it as “a blissful place.” Learn more about it below!
A Beacon of Bliss
Total relaxation in Co. Wexford
by Tara Congdon
I recently had the enormous pleasure of taking a trip to Creacon Wellness Retreat. Creacon is cosily nestled a stone’s throw from New Ross in Co. Wexford. On entering the little driveway, a cute Buddha welcomed me with a smile from the garden, and as I parked, my eye was drawn to a sign that said, ‘it’s a wonderful life.’ My usual frantic adrenalin immediately began to settle itself.
I tumbled out of my car and into reception, passing sweet chimes on my way, setting the tone for my adventure. An aside – bags hanging out of me and arriving late, just a few minutes before dinner, I was distracted from the fact that my top had pretty much come undone and so I stood in front of Veronica, the receptionist (decorated receptionist, I might add: Veronica won the 2017 Receptionist of the year award) in my bra – I have to say I would highly recommend it as an icebreaker because it gave us a great belly laugh and we were solid buds from then on.
From the minute I saw my beautiful bedroom, named Hawthorn, and my big cosy double bed, all of my busy world faded away and I was completely enchanted by the place. There is Anespa Alkaline mineral ion water in the bathrooms – it helps relax the entire body, helps improve dry skin, poor circulation, eczema, insomnia, stiffness, fatigue, rheumatism and much more.
Creacon serves Kangen water, which is alkaline water. Some of its benefits include: relief of IBS and Acid Reflux, lowers blood pressure and blood sugar, and alleviating stress and anxiety!
At dinner, I was served up the most delicious menu of nutritious, wholesome and healthy plate of food – homemade marinated salmon served with basil mousse and garlic crostini, followed by a vegetarian ragu and polenta. Later, I had some chamomile tea with cookies in the heart room.
The café has recently opened up daily to the public too. The chef is Gaetano Pernagallo, who believes ‘food is medicine.’ The benefits of each dish are listed on the menus. Something I really liked is how everyone seems to gravitate together for meal times – including the staff – and it’s like chowing down with your family. It’s warm, with lots of storytelling and great craic too.
Some of the other lovely treats I discovered during my stay at Creacon were the bijou conservatory area for quiet time and meditative colouring, the yoga/meditation room equipped with cushions and cosy mats, the relaxing heart room, sometimes showing an inspirational film, and the upstairs yellow room with the most snug couches.
There is a daily opt in/out schedule, including things like Five Tibetan yoga, Gentle Hatha Yoga, Japa Meditation Class, Mandala Class … there really is something for everyone! If you wish, you can book a consultation or private session. Everything is put together so carefully to nurture and love its guests. Nothing is missed.
I am blessed to have had this experience. If I was to put my finger on one stand-out from my stay, it was, without a doubt, the people: staff and guests. Funny, witty, warm, honest, down to earth people – I immediately felt like part of the family … and I just felt completely at home. Creacon is a blissful place!
If you’re looking for a tranquil getaway destination to nourish the body and spirit, as the searing heat of summer gradually gives way to a more autumnal feeling, look no further than Creation Lodge Wellness Centre, located in Co. Wexford. Creacon was founded by Derek O’Neill, with the aim of providing a safe haven for guests who want to escape from the busy outside world for a while.
The quality of Creacon’s accommodation is second to none. Their guest suites – available with king-size beds, double beds or twin beds – come equipped with nutritious snacks, alkaline Kangen water and lightly scented relaxation mists to help encourage total relaxation and enable guests to enjoy a restful night’s sleep. Creation also boasts a personal fitness studio, an art room, a library, community loungers and beautiful lush gardens to explore and enjoy.
A wide range of treatments are offered at the Lodge: under their Spirit healing programme, Heart Healing, Prema Birthing, Rising Star and Relationship Rising Star treatments are offered. For the Mind, hypnotherapy, mindfulness training, NLP and psychotherapy sessions are available. For the Body, the range of physical treatments include acupuncture, auricular acupuncture, cranio-sacral reflexology, massage, organic natural facials and Quantum Biofeedback. For more in-depth descriptions and reviews of each modality, just click on the links provided.
As if all of that weren’t enough, they also offer classes on yoga, meditation, essential oils, Tibetan bowls healing and many other topics – to browse the full programme, just click here.
Of course, no description of Creacon’s facilities could be complete without mentioning their scrumptious food. Resident master chef, Gaetano Pernagallo, prides himself on designing meals that are designed to provide optimum nutrition and wellness, while also appealing to the taste buds. Based on the philosophy that ‘food is medicine’, Creacon uses only high-quality ingredients – many of which are grown in their own gardens – all specially chosen for their seasonal and environmental appropriateness. To view the café menu, just click here. A juice cleanse programme is also available.
Summer is well and truly at its peak (and our Summer 2018 issue has hit the shelves), so we just had to share the Positive Vibes section from the magazine, which showcases some of the most exciting events, courses, products, and tasty treats that Ireland’s holistic scene has to offer this season. Sit back, read all about it, and while you’re at it, make a note to pick up a copy of the Summer 2018 issue in your local health food store. You can also subscribe online to receive this issue, and three others, straight to your door.
“Summer moonlight / All soft and fair… Breathes sweet thoughts everywhere”
Bloom n’ grow
Thirsty to drink from the font of feminine wisdom which lies within you? Facilitator Sky Buitenhuis invites you to embark on ‘The Heroine’s Journey’, a four weekend immersion into the wilderness of nature and the self, to emerge empowered and attuned within. Come share in the rich tapestry of women’s wisdom awaiting YOU.
The Peace Team
Ready to share the bountiful benefits of meditation and mindful living? The Meditation Teacher Academy® is now offering a 200hour certified teacher training course which enables you to confidently teach a variety of chill-out techniques. Think loving-kindness, yoga nidra, mantra and mindfulness. Let the peace ripple on.
Optimal Brain is an advanced, personal transformation system designed to help you get the best use of your brain. With training, you can enhance just about anything in the realms of brain functioning; relieving stress and anxiety and improving sleep cycles, focus, attention and retention. Do you brain a favour and have a gander.
Hope and healing
Disenchanted and ready to embrace a new health paradigm? Paulette Agnew, in her book FAB Health, shares the story of her recovery from Lyme disease. A compilation of personal experience, research and interviews with leading health professionals, Paulette offers hope and a simply explained solution to antibiotic-resistant illness through Frequency And Biomagnetic (FAB) medicine.
Camp out in the Heartspace this August during a six day extravaganza of playfulness, celebration, learning and transformation. Expect a diverse range of workshops from African dance to circus skills and yoga, helping to deepen your connection with yourself, others and nature. You can bring the kids along too! See the Heartspace Facebook event for details.
Creacon Wellness Retreat, nestled in the lush Wexford surrounds, is the perfect place to plot your next summer escape. Whether you’re going solo or attending a specialized retreat or workshop, Creacon offers an abundance of ways to relax and rejuvenate.
Downsize your baggage and travel ultra-light with Mooncup; a reusable, portable silicone menstrual cup to replace disposable tampons and pads. If you’re heading off the beaten track this summer, Mooncup will be your best travelling companion!
Lion’s Mane mushroom is a delicious variety of mushroom, with a special affinity for the brain. Mushroomstuff creates 100% organic, highly bioavailable, Lion’s Mane in capsule form to enhance and protect those precious neurons in your noggin’.
Small-batch, unhurried production prevails in Stoneybatter, Dublin, where Genovese Foods have been crafting their gourmet, additive-, gluten- and GMO-free pesto products since 1999. The oldest producers of fresh pesto in Ireland, their flavoursome little jars are well worth the dip.
Rise and shine
Mushrooms are all the rage. We tried the mushroom coffee by Four Sigmatic: rich, earthy and delicious, it sends positive vibes coursing through your system. The mushroom works with the caffeine and neutralises the jitters, replacing them with a balanced feeling. Wake up and smell the mushrooms.
Mother natures’ bounty
Medical Medium Anthony William’s fascinating book, Life Changing Foods, reveals the healing properties on physical, emotional and spiritual levels of fifty fruits and vegetables which the earth provides us with. Discover the choices for healing, health and recovery you can make each time you sit down to a meal.
Way of the heart
Share in the “most healing, centring, transforming and enlightening thing” in Kevin James’ life this July, as he arrives to Dublin for an evening of chanting heartsongs, mantra and kirtan to reconnect with the intelligence of the heart. Come spread the love!
Marianne Williamson will be winging her way to Dublin this October 10th for what’s sure to be an inspiring, uplifting and empowering seminar. Marianne is author of twelve published books and shares stories and wisdom on love, the spiritual journey and miracles. Check out the Seminars website for more.
Melting pot of positivity
Come simmer in the power of positivity and an atmosphere of inspiration, sharing and enlightenment during the summer series of Positive Nights. Bring an open heart and an open mind and expect to meet more of the same.
Be the Divine You
Mother Meera, native to India and embodiment of the Divine Mother, will be in Dublin this July bestowing her blessing on all those who feel the call to enlighten their inner divinity. In total silence, experience a purification of consciousness and a bestowal of light upon the soul.
Treasa Traynor, director of Chrysalis Wellness, is on a mission to bring the strengths of a yoga practice into school communities. Specializing in programmes such as ‘Time out for teachers’ and ‘Wellbeing workshops’ for teens, Treasa seeks to help young people and their teachers cope with the many challenges they face during the transition from childhood to adulthood.
Dzogchen Beara, a stunning Tibetan Buddhist retreat centre in Co. Cork, is offering a special retreat weekend from Friday May the 18th to Sunday May the 20th with Maureen Cooper, a meditation teacher and the founder of Awareness in Action. The title of the retreat is ’10 Ways to Wellbeing at Work’. Maureen will be offering guidance on how you can cultivate a sense of tranquillity and ease in your working life.
Our careers are major components of our everyday lives, and our attitudes and sense of wellbeing at work have a huge knock-on effect on our overall sense of happiness. As a highly experienced professional coach, mentor and meditation teacher, Maureen is passionate about addressing and resolving the cause of stress that can come up in our working lives. She wants to ensure that you leave Dzogchen Beara recharged and renewed, with a selection of 10 easy-to-practice methods of caring for your wellbeing at work.
Those who have visited the tranquil setting of Dzogchen Beara before (and witnessed its spectacular ocean views) will be well aware of the amazing impact that its environment can have on your state of mind. To arrive in Dzogcehn Beara is to leave something of your worries and problems behind.
It is the perfect place to take time out, explore the ways in which you approach your work, and identify where your working habits are causing frustration and stress. During the retreat weekend with Maureen, participants will explore ten comprehensive ways to enhance their wellbeing at work.
A wide array of meditation and compassion techniques will be utilised to help participants reassess how they are working and reconnect with what is truly important to them: the reasons they originally chose their career path to begin with. They will also look at compelling scientific research to back up the explorations that will be undertaken during the weekend.
A personal workbook will be provided to each participant. The relaxed weekend schedule will also allow each participant ample time for space and time for discussion, interaction, and quiet contemplation.
The retreat begins on Friday the 18th of May at 8 p.m. and ends on Sunday the 20th of May at 4 p.m. Dzogchen Beara’s website is dzogchenbeara.org. The booking link for the weekend retreat with Maureen Cooper is available here.
As winter slowly but surely begins to release its grip, what better way to celebrate than by checking out some of the most enlivening products, events and getaways the new season has to offer? We have picked out some of the best and brightest below. This Spring Vibes section is featured in our just-released Spring issue, available now at stockists around the country. You can also subscribe to have this magazine – and the next three for the year ahead – delivered straight to your door.
Delphi Adventure Resort
‘Is the spring coming?’ he said. ‘What is it like?’
‘It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…’
Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
EATS N’ TREATS
If you’re in the mood for indulgence, check out the adorable Cake Room, located on 19A Main Street, Blackrock, Dublin. This popular café serves breakfast, lunch, drinks, coffee … and of course, a dazzling array of cakes. Their reputation for high quality service has earned them a well-deserved place in customers’ hearts.
All Shouk Up
For a dining experience with a difference, we highly recommend Shouk, an Eastern Mediterranean restaurant in Drumcondra, north Dublin. Shouk is tucked away in a beautiful redbrick Victorian building that just oozes character. Our advice? Try the mezze platter. You won’t regret it.
YOPE’s New Hope
Polish cosmetics brand YOPE is releasing three gorgeous new hand creams: ginger and sandalwood, tea and mint, and salvia and green caviar. ‘They contain 98% natural or low-processed ingredients, most of which are valuable oils and plant extracts,’ explains YOPE creator Karolina Kuklinska-Kosowicz. You can’t say nope to these beauties.
Naturally Cleaner Teeth
Irish brand Happy Humphry is fully committed to delivering great dental care products with excellent customer service. Their 100% Natural Activated Charcoal Powder is derived from coconuts – one of nature’s most powerful healing sources – and their activated charcoal is 100% natural with no chemicals and no fluoride. Happy days!
The Ría Organics Energising Day Cream provides essential all-day hydration. Certified COSMOS-Organic, this unique rosehip blend is packed with hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture and help reduce the appearance of fine lines. Ría Organics is planting its own organic roses this spring to produce rosehip oil for its products.
For a break with a difference, check out the beautiful Forest Domes of Finn Lough in Northern Ireland. These domes feature 180º transparent walls that allow you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty and tranquillity of the surrounding countryside. Ensconced in the comfort of these domes, you can enjoy a night of stargazing like no other.
SaolBeo has created an inspirational retreat this May in the beautiful Inistioge, Co.Kilkenny. This will include accommodation, freshly prepared vegan meals, guided yoga, meditation, Feng Shui classes, a Beauty Ritual workshop and of course, plenty of time to explore the breathtaking surroundings of Inistioge. For further information please contact Tara at email@example.com.
Unlock Life’s Magic
Jody Mountain’s new online course – The Body Consciousness Training – is aimed at awakening our bodies’ cellular wisdom. She will also offer a transformational retreat at The Boghill Centre in Co. Clare from May 26 to June 1. Here, mystical movement, music, breath and Ancient Bodywork will reignite our essential wisdom.
While training under Deepak Chopra, Siobhan McKenna of PerfectHealth.ie met Deepak’s then lead educator, Davidji. She is now thrilled to bring Davidji to the Velvet Strand, Co. Dublin, for a unique meditation workshop from April 13–15. Positive Life readers can avail of a €50 discount off a standard price ticket. Visit perfecthealth.ie and use the discount code PHPLDJI.
Delve into Delphi
In need of revitalisation? Look no further than Delphi Adventure Resort’s fantastic Spring Cleanse Retreat, a yoga weekend designed to de-stress and rejuvenate the body, mind and soul. This retreat runs from April 13 – 15. If you can’t make it, don’t worry: Delphi will hold another retreat in September!
SAVE THE DATE
An Evening With Anamarta
If you want to learn more about how the ancient healing practices of the Tao can help you to feel more revitalised and balanced in your everyday life – and the powerful role that sexual energy has to play in this process – then come along to our evening with the much-loved Tao teacher Anamarta. She will be visiting us at Positive Nights for a special evening on Thursday March 22nd, from 7.30 to 9.30 p.m. More details are available here.
Our Mantak Moment
Grandmaster Mantak Chia will teach in Dublin for the first time in May 2018, leading two fascinating workshops: ‘Foundation/Basic Practices’ and ‘Sexual Alchemy: Healing Love Practices’. We are thrilled to be welcoming him to Positive Nights on Thursday May 17th. This unique opportunity to learn from a living Tao Master is not to be missed.
Join world-leading health expert and best-selling author Dr. Gabor Maté for a very special two-day workshop in Cork, starting on June 30th. Dr. Maté will share his insights and wisdom on mental health, stress, addiction, trauma, health, ADHD and childhood development disorders. Register here: bookwhen.com/gabormate.
Erase Your Ennui
Fans of the classic synthpop band Erasure will be thrilled to hear that they have rescheduled their Dublin gigs in the Olympia Theatre, Dublin, after being forced to bow out in January due to illness. The new shows will take place on Tuesday 13th, Wednesday 14th and Thursday 15th of March. Tickets that were purchased for the January gigs will be eligible for the new dates. You can book tickets and find more information via this link. The support act on the night will be Ekkoes.
HEALTH IN FOCUS
Linda O’Connor founded the private blood testing company Bloodworks in 2013 after undertaking years of research into phlebotomy. Bloodworks now offer over 3000 tests, ranging from basic health screenings to genetics testing, with no consultant request required. The services of a holistic doctor and counsellor are also available to all clients.
Heal with Dheai
Dheai Ilsaaid is a general Oriental practitioner and author with extensive training in acupuncture, Reiki, massage, iridology and more. He addresses health issues from every aspect: emotionally, physically, structurally, and functionally. Dheai treats children under the age of fifteen for free. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Contact him on 086 077 7700 to arrange an appointment.
Cannabis CBD Oil or CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a nutrient compound found in the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. Hemp is a source of nutrients unlike any other, containing all the families of essential fatty acids. ImproveMe CBD Oil is filled to the brim with nutritional and health promoting properties.
For a healthy brew with a difference, try Chaga tea. It has a deliciously rich earthy flavour similar to coffee, but those who try it report feeling energised yet calm. Chaga Tea Ireland’s founder Philip says, “Chaga mushroom is known as the ‘King of Mushrooms’, and with good reason. I haven’t had a cold or flu in four years.”
The renowned spiritual teacher Mooji recently released a new book called An Invitation to Freedom. If you are longing for a profoundly clear and direct guide to Self-realisation, Mooji’s Invitation is for you. In this radiantly alive pocketbook, he will lead you into the recognition of your own infinite Self.
Positive Vibes Joyous January: Positive Nights events, Vitality Retreats, Amazing conferences & more!
Joyous January! Happy beginning of 2018! The start of the year always gives us a wonderful sense of hope. We feel we can leave behind all that we no longer need and start fresh, like a newborn! This year belong to all of us and is up to you to make it twelve wonderful months. We encourage you to embrace a more experienced you and carry it through out the months and years to come. We, as always, want to bring you our lovely suggestions and recommendations to make your year a better one! Our Vibes are filled with beautiful events, products and more for your mind, body & spirit! Our Positive Life Winter edition is still out! Do not miss it by subscribing for yourself or as an original gift. Sign up here to get a chilled copy in your postbox! Loads of love, from all the team. Join us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter if you haven’t already.x
Positive Nights: Heal Screening!
Positive Nights presents: Heal, You have the power to heal yourself!
Date: Thursday, January 25th
Location: Cinema Room, Generator Hostel, Smithfield Square, Dublin.
Featuring Deepak Chopra, Bruce Lipton, Marianne Williamson, Michael Beckwith, Gregg Braden, Anita Moorjani, Anthony William and more.
Director Kelly Noonan Gores’ documentary takes us on a scientific and spiritual journey where we discover that our thoughts, beliefs, and emotions have a huge impact on our health and ability to heal.
A Spiritual Turn On!
Turn On Ireland Brings us Orgasmic Mediation (OM). This is a great consciousness practice you do with another person. The OM practice combines the power and attention of meditation with the deeply human, deeply felt, and connected experience of Orgasm.
Reach out to Rachel Regan of Turn On Ireland on email firstname.lastname@example.org
Virtue Brush: Time to rethink your toothbrush? Small steps pave the way to sustainability where “everything counts in large amounts.” Think VirtueBrush; a plastic-free, bamboo-handled, charcoal-bristled toothbrush with a conscience – this Dublin-based company plants one tree for every VirtueBrush sold.
They now offer a 20% discount with code “PositiveLife”
visit virtuebrush.com for more!
Open Minds Conference
Open Minds Conference an incredible conference revealing our true world! Three Days of Truth, Knowledge & Awareness. They aim to Provide a plataform for open minded people to connect; provide conscious knowledge and awareness & uplift people and provide solutions.
Dates: 2nd-4th March 2018
Vitality Retreat for the Body & Soul!
Laura Dowdall of Healing Yoga is hosting a wonderful 3-day retreat & invites you to unwind in the serene settings of Lisnavagh House and Gardens on the Wicklow/ Carlow border.
Dates: 2-4th February 2018
Through the body, we will experience space, stillness, e-motion, sensation, vibration and bliss. In this retreat you will have time to be by yourself, surrounded by serenity and your own room where you can relax.
There are still places open. Visit here to learn more and reserve your place.
Become a Wellness Coach!
The Wellness Coach Institute Brings us a revolutionary Online course with the purpose to help practitioners and all those interested in learning and developing coaching skill abilities based on holistic theories and new sciences. The institute is committed to bringing new knowledge and understanding of the connections between the new science and a holistic vision of how to optimize health, wellness and balance through educational classes all over the world.
To sign up visit awellnessrevolution.net
On page 56 of our just-released Autumn issue, we published Alison Canavan’s breathtaking story of her experience of a Vipassana silent retreat. The magazine version is an abbreviated version of the full article below. Let your mind expand and relax as you read this truly beautiful account of self-discovery and healing.
By Alison Canavan
What is intuition? Are modern human beings stuck in logic and left brained thinking? Am I a product of what I have been told, rather than tuning into my own inner essence or knowing?
All of these questions moved around my mind as I wondered what my upcoming 10 day Vipassana silent retreat would bring my way. As a daily meditator for many years, I have wanted to sit a Vipassana for a long time and this year I finally felt ready. Having recovered from addictions and mental health problems using meditation as one of my tools, I’m acutely aware of the power of going within. In fact, I believe it’s the only way to really heal emotional pain and move into a life of freedom and peace.
As my retreat approached, I felt anxious as I knew there was deep rooted pain ready and waiting to come to surface, given the right time and space to do so. I didn’t have to wait long as on the first day I reacted very physically to the practice and had to leave the room, as I was going to both throw up and pass out. As I sat outside, pale as a ghost, the course coordinator assured me that this was a very normal reaction. That afternoon, the teacher did too.
As human beings, we all have pain and suffering. It’s simply a part of life. However, we become very good at suppressing experiences and emotions, in the hope that they won’t rise again and cause us any trouble. This is something I did for many years: I pushed everything down and thought that I didn’t ever have to face it or deal with it again. During the 20 years of depression, anxiety and addictions that followed, I never connected my emotional pain to my problems, and neither did anyone I went to see. Instead, I got handed tablets and hoped for the best.
This is like cleaning the outside of your kitchen cupboards every single day so that when you have visitors your house appears to be gleaming, clean and bright. However, if someone were to open your cupboards, the stark truth would shock them. The inside would be dirty and food would be rotting. This is what suppressed emotions look like in your body. They are giving off toxic fumes that manifest as emotional problems, such as over or under-eating, depression, anxiety, stress, sleep issues, addictions and much more.
We fail to connect the dots, and we outsource our power to external sources, hoping that they can fix us and heal our pain. My greatest learning from a week of Vipassana was that only you and you alone can heal your pain, and there is no escaping the work if you want to get well or live better. You need to feel and deal with your pain to truly heal.
The word Vipassana means to see things as they are. You are up at 4 a.m. each day and have 10 and a half hours of meditation. Bedtime is 9 p.m. The noble silence you agree to means silence of speech, body and mind, so no eye contact or hand gestures are allowed either. The silence and no phone part were incredible, and I did not miss either. Dealing with my emotional pain, however, was quite another story. You begin the week focusing on your breath entering and leaving your nose. You are instructed to simply observe your bare breath as it is and not try and change it. Then you are asked to observe the sensations just above the upper lip area. This helps to focus your brain on the sensations of your body. The technique of Vipassana is based on Buddha’s experience of enlightenment. It’s also based on science – the law of nature, which states that everything, at all times, is constantly changing. We are all made of molecules that are constantly changing form, and during Vipassana you are instructed to observe the sensations within your body with an aware and equanimous mind. This means if you are experiencing pleasure or pain, you simply observe the sensations and don’t feed into them. In life, we either feed into our cravings or aversions. Through Vipassana practice, we learn to have an eqanimous mind with the intention of taking this equanimity into our every day life, meaning that we can better respond to the everyday problems of life that come our way.
For someone like me, who has an incredibly addictive personality, it was very interesting to observe this in myself. I also had a lot of pain during the retreat, which I learnt to sit with and observe in the knowledge that it would pass, as every experience passes with time.
During the retreat I struggled with my mind many times, and some days I felt like it was a torture chamber. On day 8 I asked to see the teacher and explained to her through my tears that every thought I had was negative and my mind simply did not want to meditate. She explained that this was all part of the process and it’s what they call ‘storming’. She instructed me to go back to my breath during storms and allow them to come up and they would pass. They did. She was 100% right. Vipassana is like doing a deep surgical operation on your most deeply rooted emotional pain. My pain was certainly deep and had I not been on a silent retreat, I know I would have avoided working with it.
During the retreat, I vowed never to return. The process was so painful at times the noble silence was actually a great relief, as I didn’t want anyone to look at me and see my pain. On day 11 as I was driving home I felt an overwhelming rush of gratitude for my experience. I also realized what a blessing it is to get 10 days to sit and go within. Since returning from my retreat, I have been able to deal with stress in a different way and I also see myself and my place in the world quite differently too.
Vipassana allowed me to really see my truth. It gave me an insight into how disconnected we all are from ourselves and from our own personal GPS/guidance systems. We live in a rat race where we rarely stop to appreciate the beauty of life and the world we inhabit. I learnt that my mind really is the root cause of all my suffering, but by working with it and working on myself there is a very different life available to me: one of peace and acceptance – a life where I truly feel connected and alive.
Most modern people are not in touch with intuition. We have let our awareness drift and we have completely forgotten how to be aware of the many dimensions of life and not just the external one. You have to get connected to your senses and most of us can’t do that anymore.
We need to rethink how we sense the world and our place in it. One thing I now know for sure is that life is an inside job. We need to help people to reverse what they have been told, because working from the outside in is simply not working. Everything we need, we already have.