Thursday, 28 October 2010

Clouds, Lily Moses, and Spirit Art

It was just another wintry summer’s day in Ireland. As I stared forlorn at unseasonal clusters of black and grey clouds, I wondered for a while: how did the rolling, water-vapour fluffs in the sky ever come into creation? A geographer, with wrinkled brow, would probably tell me to study the hydrological cycle, but I'd probably tell that geographer to scoot off. Because I, for one, do not believe that a textbook explanation is all there is to clouds…

Prior to water, prior to any element, what was there? Who was there? What force manifested into visible forms, such as clouds? When I ponder over this and really focus on the properties of specific forms, like clouds, I go all gooey inside. I feel something burning. My cells vibrate, pulsate; come to life. If I can observe those movements, then I am not those movements. They exist independently of me.

I usually conclude that I am somehow connected to, and independent of, all of life, like the force that must have created the clouds. It’s a bizarrely wonderful thought to follow. Am I, in essence, the force that creates visible forms? What could I create if I tapped into the purest, greatest part of myself?

Feeling inspired and in the mood to be seduced by beauty, I typed the keywords ‘beautiful art’ into Google. Link after link, I hopped through the cyber world, arrested by nothing I saw. I wanted to see more than just landscape and pretty fruit bowls; I wanted to see manifestations of pure beauty. Then, after a while, I stumbled upon Lily’s site Oh my.

Phwoo. I can’t describe the beauty, purity, love and mysticism that must come through that girl’s brush. So I won’t. Words would only spoil it.

Kudos, Lily Moses.

A little post script:

I have permanently copied Lily’s videos into this blog under the video section to remind myself (and anyone who reads this blog) just how beautiful the world can be. Enjoy how big your smile’s going to be. x 

Eckhart at the RDS

Eckhart Tolle’s teachings changed my life. Not a small amount or a significant amount; totally. His books about life in the present moment blew to smithereens my outdated thinking in one almighty mind bomb. If that sounds like more inner destruction than it’s worth, consider that his second book, A New Earth, sold over five million copies. That’s a lot of people paying money to have their heads torn apart. Maybe, then, there’s something to be gained from destroying old thought patterns to make room for head space. Maybe, there’s something about Eckhart...

When Oprah Winfrey hosted a live web chat with The Power of Now author over a ten-week period, 35 million people tuned in. It’s clear that the man has universal appeal – even though he basically tells you that all of your pain is self-created and unnecessary.

Though Tolle is widely considered the leading spiritual teacher of the modern age; to look at him – which I did last Thursday in the RDS – you’d think him an ordinary Joe Soap. His humility and diminutive disposition are awe-inspiring. It’s easy to see that the man, a German-born ex-academic, has shed all ego. There are a rare few people in the world who can truly say they have no ego, and I’m definitely not one. But I’d like to be one some day, which is why I went to Tolle’s surprisingly packed-out talk in Dublin. Looking around at people my age; or older people in professional garb getting out of BMWs and Mercs, I got a first, real taste of just how prevalent alternative philosophies have become in Ireland. It wasn’t a hippy fest, or a meet-up for neurotics; it was normal. Scrap that; it was better than normal. It was, and I don’t use this word willy-nilly: enlightening.

Eckhart inspires because his every word and movement come, quite obviously, from a place of focused, still and uninterrupted consciousness. He preaches nothing – no doctrine, law or gospel. Instead, he points seekers of truth to inner peace. Ignore thoughts and see what happens, he smiled, as he addressed worried people in the audience who were convinced they just couldn’t. Stop identifying with thoughts, his books say, and see just how vast your true identity is. Live your life without future or past; stay only in the present moment. After all, he points outs, amused at the beautiful simplicity of it: the present moment is all you ever have.


Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Ruby, the foster dog who can sit

Ruby, my new border collie, was born in a barn. And like other creatures sharing that distinction, she has issues with doors. Closed doors. She hates to see a freakin' door closed on her. It makes me want to grrrowl right back at her. But I'm working on taking the high road instead, with her help. Now, before I elaborate further on her door issues, I'll first tell her story; exactly what happened from the day she arrived to when she learned her first command :) Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I give you the tail of ruby the dog ;)

Marie from Paw Pourri Rescue Centre  handed 9-week-old Ruby to me with no more than a collar around her neck. Poor Ruby was shivering, riddled in fleas, suffering from an ear infection and had her tail between her legs. I immediately wanted to put my Super Mammy skills to action on her. She was petrified. With a soft all-white coat and intense brown eyes, my urge was to coo and woo her, wrap her in cotton, and hum a Beethoven lullaby in her floppy ears. However, that kind of mammyish behaviour, I have learned, is exactly what you shouldn't do to a distressed dog. So I stifled my visceral urges and decided to think like a dog, for the sake of the dog. I hung up my superhero accoutrements (mask, underpants, lycra leggings), sat back, and gave her space.

For a painstaking hour, I watched silently (almost) as she sniffed her way around our small apartment, which was as alien to her as a spaceship would be to us. She fast considered me her mother/guardian/whatever and followed me, you guessed it, like a lost puppy. Everywhere - to the sink, the couch, the toilet, etc. At first glimpse, I thought it cutiepatootie cute but after a few days it started to get old. Really old. And I began to wonder if I was sowing separation-anxiety seeds by letting her follow me ev-er-y-where. Sad to say, I think my wonderments might have been right...

Because now, one week on, I can't get a decent night's kip. It's no longer the Riddler keeping me up at night (see ignoring the riddler post), it's a tiny dog catapulting herself at my sitting room door, yelping and whining louder than a Doberman would. I got to sleep last night at 2:30 in the friggin' am. The night before, there wasn't a peep from her; she slept like a good baby. How does that erratic behaviour make any sense? Hmm? I seriously need to implement a solid bedtime routine or Ruby's gonna, I don't know, suffer in an acceptable, fair and legal way. My options:

Because I live in an apartment, ignoring her for too long is simply not an option - unless I want grumpy neighbours ringing my bell, which I don't. So I have to watch her fall asleep, tip toe out of the room, and maybe get some sleep for my efforts. If she hears me leave, she's straight up and bouncing all over the place. Leaving her without making even a hair-pin-falling sound has become a fine art; a strategy I hone every other night as I creep in the dark. And although I might make a crafty burglar after all my work, I definitely won't make it as an eyedrop model. The bags. Sleep deprivation does no-thing for radiance, I can tell you now.

But the positive news, and the reason for this post: Ruby has learned her first command: sit. I was so PROUD. I've never had a dog and never really considered myself a dog person, but with encouragement from dog enthusiast and manipulator, Julie Hyde, I've been dipping my toe in and liking it. I guess that fostering Ruby (Hyde's idea) means that I'm all the way in now, especially because I've taught her something, right?

Anyway, I'm happy and surprised to say that I still have my head above water.  But please, Ruby, be a good girl tonight.

A little post script:

Tomorrow, Ruby learns to give the paw. Watch this space for results.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Ignoring The Riddler...

Since I was old enough to realise my mother didn’t make me, I’ve smelled a rat: this creation malarkey is not what it appears to be. My mother, bless her, did not stay alert for nine months and decide that, yes, Mondays were for making toes, Tuesdays for neural pathways to the prefrontal cortex and Wednesdays for dendritic end bulbs. Of course she didn’t. My mother hosted me, the intelligence created me. I’ve spent my grown-up life trying to catch the tiniest glimpse of this elusive intelligence. And pondering over it for any length of time makes me want to ask the big one, the ultimate one:

Who am I?

Now this question hangs around me like a bad smell. It forces its way into my personal head space and lingers until it stagnates, leaving me - it’s unwilling host - put out that it ever came near me. It’s impossible to address and even harder to get rid of. At least you can assert yourself against a person if they send one rolling your way. But you can’t speak to a thought. So you have to learn to live with it, deal with it – whatever it takes to not end up pacing up and down a chicken coop at night.

I call it, the unanswerable question, the Riddler. He/she/it whooshes around my mindscape in the quiet of the night, challenging me for an answer.

‘Who am I? It whispers.

The Riddler’s question always hits me from left field. And because I’m never aware it’s coming, I usually don’t answer very well. I usually don’t answer at all. In fact, I’m that kind of girl who answers a question with a question.

‘Am I you, Riddler?’

I always offer my answer in gritted-teeth trepidation. After all, adding another layer of intensity to an already impossible conundrum is hardly wise. And I know I’m not the Riddler, so am basically just trying to keep it quiet by offering it utter fandangle. But, lately, the fog has been lifting and I feel I now know at least this much for certain:

I’m not the Riddler because the Riddler is just a thought. How could I be just a thought? I am not my thoughts. I am the awareness behind my thoughts. I observe my thoughts.  I’m the Observer, not the Riddler.

The Riddler is just a wisp of air – not me or a Jim Carrey villain in question-mark-print spandex. It has no mass. It’s just a thought that lurks within and around the recesses of my unmanaged subconscious. But for some unknowable reason, I end up chasing for answers to its questions like a dog after its own tail. And all at the expense of a decent night’s sleep. I need to, me thinks, put an end to this destructive pattern and consider a more enlightened route for figuring out who I am. So…

Henceforth, I do declare, I will approach existential questions from the Observer state. I’m going to listen to nothing but the stillness. The answer will come to me if I just rest in peace. I’m going to commit myself to meditation, the way I’ve been doing this past week (barring two mornings - I’m human).

My new Ayurvedic lifestyle plan (see Petals in the Air post) may just prove to be the vital link that’s been missing in my life. I’m beginning to see, dear peeps, that early morning meditation is where it’s at…

So, SCREW YOU, Riddler! I'm on to you...

Wednesday, 13 October 2010


With my good pal Julie, I have co-created a brand spanking new meet-up club called, drum roll please...The Clare Veg Group! It feels just fine to invent something - and even though the result may not be as important as what Marie Curie found in a petri dish, I am, we are, rather proud. What can I say? It's fun to oscillate in and around the excitement spectrum.

We've done up the flyer, the blog:  and chosen the location. All going to plan, we'll meet up with like-minded folk every first Thursday of the month and share ideas about making vegetarianism effortless, interesting and fun. If this sounds like something any reader of this blog would be interested in, then do come along - even if you're just curious about meat-flouting.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Petals in the Air...

Today I start over.

Today I begin the journey to resplendence, one step at a time.  My new and bespoke health regime – planned by Ayurvedic practitioner Doug Hyde  is perfectly suited to my personal constitution. Yes, perfectly.  After an hour-long consultation, in which Doug and I discussed my current lifestyle, I listened to the prognosis. “Follow the plan I have set out,’’ he said, “and you will absolutely-without-a-doubt sparkle like stardust and rainbows.” A side-effect, however, he warned, was that I may start to fart flower petals. He didn’t actually say any of those things, but that’s what I interpreted from his positively peppered parlance.

On a less flighty note, though, I do know that It’s going to require determination, not least of all because I have to rise early, chant a sacred syllable, do a listening meditation, massage myself in spicy oil AND shower before eating breakfast. It’s a lot to incorporate, but I figure it’s worth it. I figure I’m worth it. I’m tired of neglecting common sense advice because the will to listen to it has been weakened by recurrent foolish behaviour. It’s time to grind the proverbial axe; knuckle down – whatever. I’m just doing it and nothing - not even a death-by-chocolate or a dunkable digestive – can stop me.

This is my new mantra:

I’ll remember to add aloe vera to my pomegranate juice twice a day and take my psyllium husks and slippery elm sludge-drink at night. I’ll even remember to take my Chandraprabharati three times a day, eat more nuts and seeds and replace oats in my diet with barley. I’ll sweat more to eliminate ama or toxins, and go to bed earlier so I don’t wake up feeling as though I’m trapped like a miner under rocks. My lunch will be bigger than my dinner and my digestive fires will be stimulated with spices such as asafoetida, turmeric, black pepper, ginger and ajwain.

I am doing this. I am doing this. I am doing this.

Less about me, more about Ayurvedic Medicine.

Ayurvedic medicine sees people as uniquely individual; made up in differing parts of the five great elements: ether, air, earth, water and fire. When an individual reports to a practitioner, the first thing that practitioner does is find out which dosha or type their client is i.e which concentration of elements are strongest within them. The combinations of the five great elements are subdivided into three general types or doshas:

  1. Pitta:  ruled by fire and water. Pitta types are said to be, not surprisingly, fiery. They are also competitive, determined, intelligent and passionate. Out of balance, they are prone to anger, irritability and other ‘inflammatory’ emotions.
  2. Vata is ruled by air and ether. Vata is sometimes considered the primary dosha as it is responsible for all movement, hence life, in the body. Vata types are highly energetic, prone to change and creative. Out of balance, they suffer anxiety and other fearful emotions as the speed of the movement of thoughts becomes increased.
  3. Kapha is ruled by earth and water. Kapha types are steady, reliable, consistent and sweet. Out of balance they can become lethargic, depressed, gloomy or ‘stuck.’

And back to me.

I’m a Pitta/Vata type, so bi-doshic, not polar. And as competitive Pitta is my dominant dosha, grim determination is my birthright. I have enough of the stuff to lift a goalpost out of the earth, bend it into one of those balloon-poodle designs, and throw it far enough into the sky for the reversed law of gravity to keep it suspended in space for infinity. There’s no way I’m not doing this. I’m reinventing my body TODAY. No more excuses.

For less subjective advice about Ayurveda and other alternative health systems, I recommend Doug’s and Yvette’s website Yvette is Doug’s wife/ business partner, is an award-winning naturopath and advises clients about Eastern and Western health systems. Not too shabby.