Retreats, Classes, Books, Heritage Week, and The Burren Retreat Centre

Painting of flowers from the labyrinth, Glore Mill

I’m giving various retreats, firstly in Mayo, at the Glore River Mill and Labyrinth, courtesy of the incredible Ray Cooper who has very generously offered me the space to host a workshop during heritage week. Probably the 20th August. Then I’ll be in Glenville Park, which is a beautiful Irish Georgian country house in Cork owned by the wonderful Silvia Bence-Jones, on the 27th August, and after that I’ll be in the fantastic Happy Pig which was set up by Mark Boyle of Moneyless Man fame on the 3rd of September, thanks to the excellent Olwyn Williams. I may manage a fourth in West Cork in mid September, and a fifth is provisional at the Nano Nagle’s Birthplace retreat centre and cosmic walk just outside Mallow.

After a month of Thursdays draws to an end, I’m planning to run another month of classes during September in Fermoy. Many thanks to this remarkably dedicated, kind and generous group of practitioners who joined me in Adair Hall. I hope you come again and tell your friends! I’ll put posters up on all these retreats and classes and I’d really appreciate you sharing the information.

October takes me to Portugal and the Wellness Cascade where thanks to the extraordinarily hard-working Robert Heuston, and after a very successful retreat in the Algarve in April, he’s organised and I’m facilitating a second week there that’s rapidly approaching capacity. It will be luxurious, and nurturing, and educational, a proper holiday but with all the delights of a unique retreat, with philosophy, and yoga, and meditation, and a day out, and the aim is to really explore the natural and cultural heritage of the Algarve while also exploring and expanding your own learning, health, happiness, freedom and effectiveness. We do still have space if you’re quick. Call or leave a message and we’ll get back with all the details.

Online, I’m continuing to upload audio recordings of meditations to Insight Timer, so if you only have a couple of minutes, consider trying a two minute meditation to refresh your approach to whatever you’re doing. It’s a remarkably powerful tool. I’m also writing on Medium, every day, for at least six months, and all (or most) days will include an installation of a fictional story I’m working on, so follow me there for that. And from 25th July – I’m offering (if I get the word out in time) a ten week online course which will include philosophy and yoga in ten live weekly sessions, plus ten recorded sessions, all for a mere 300 euro (which means I’m giving 20 hours of content, including all the preparation, recording and so on – so that’s less than 15 euro per hour to you!). Obviously, if that course doesn’t fill, I’ll offer it again at a later date. I’m beginning to get an interest in my one-to-one existential mentoring, philosophy, and yoga consultations, so do get in touch if you’re interested in discussing what you might need in that respect.

For pleasure, and sanity, I practice yoga, jog or walking through the woods, read, write and paint. I do still like a glass or two of wine, and I’m mostly vegan, but I’m also partial to a piece of cheese, so 80/20 is the approach I take to this. Like most of us, for me the summer is an opportunity to visit family, and I’m looking forward to having some people to stay here too. It’s always a busy time for doing all the maintenance work that needs to be done, painting, repairing, gardening – and the restoration of the old car continues apace! I’m also working on the index of a book I’ve contributed to and edited which is about to go into production with Palgrave Macmillan as part of the Springer Nature Series. This book has been slow in the making, and I’ve learnt a lot about editing in the process, but it’s been a long road, and I’ll be glad to see it in print, hopefully within the next few weeks.

My most obvious obstacles are a certain diffidence – I don’t know how much difference anything any of us does, and although I quote the last line of David Mitchell’s book a lot, I do so as much to convince myself as for any other reason. This is partly because the ecological emergency is so overwhelming. It’s also because self belief is difficult when philosophically one is engaged in questioning the notion of a self, so you’ll have to forgive me if I feel quite justified in not seeing much sense in relentless self promotion. As someone said to me the other day, the people who you connect with will see the value in what you do. Perhaps not pushing is a better way for me. I meditated yesterday on the possibility of getting help with my website, so if there’s anyone out there who might have something to offer in that area, and who is interested perhaps in a barter-style exchange of services, that would be wonderful. But perhaps the biggest obstacle I have is organisation. I am, in character and personality, almost pathologically disorganised. I think I have huge gifts to offer, but putting things into a format that is accessible, has continuity, and emerges into a coherent structure with logical and rational connections between the various elements, without losing the nuance, or the detail of what it is I want to say – that’s hard. I spend an inordinate amount of time ordering, and then reordering, and attempting to classify, and trying to create folders that follow logical sequences. I often think that this kind of disorder is connected to a habitual pattern of avoidance, or fear, that has had me trapped in food or other addictive tendencies for many years. I’m so nearly clear of these disorders now but the generalised difficulty with maintaining systems that allow for easy access to all my material is still a major drain on my time and energy. Any advice out there? The saddest part of this, for me, is that other people’s disorganisation drives me crazy, obviously because it resonates with one aspect of myself that I find deeply disturbing. The only consolation I can get from my philosophical work is that I recognise and am aware, excruciatingly aware, of the connection between my reactions to others and the areas of my own life where I need to do the most work. As a friend of a friend once said, there’s always effing something!

On a more positive note, and in a sense this addresses what I’ve set out above, I’ve started writing scripts and often recording them for all the classes I now give. That means I’ve got a resource, in the form of a recording and a document, which I can either share with the class or keep to work on further, and it also means I’m really enjoying the word play that this allows. One of my greatest joys is playing with words to see if I can get them to express in more surprising, or more accurate, or sometimes more shocking ways, what it is that I am attempting to get across, so that the images land with people, in the same way some of the images that have been generated by other people’s words and writing have landed, and then changed how I see the world.

Finally, I did say that I would give a shout out to Dave Brocklebank of The Burren Retreat Centre. He’s been running that place for a very long time, and is a dedicated yoga practitioner and teacher. He hasn’t yet asked me to teach there but perhaps that is because I haven’t yet had an opportunity to attend a retreat there, and it makes sense that he would want teachers who he’s met and who know what the place is like. But I have every reason to believe that the set up is beautiful, it certainly looks it on the website, and his credentials as someone who teaches about the need to heal our relationship with the natural world through really appreciating its beauty, and maintaining a deep connection with what it gives us so that we are highly motivated to give back is evident in the kinds of retreats he offers. Thanks, Dave, for what you do, and hopefully we will, in the end, meet, and work together!

I do hope you will feel free to contact me to discuss any of the offerings mentioned above. The world keeps turning and as the editorial in the local newspaper (The admirable Avondhu) said this week, it’s important we note not just the woes of the world, but the bright beauty in the flowers (particularly the wildflowers, folks! Look at the loveliness of buttercups and daisies too!). We will not change anything much with resentment, blame or hostility. But kindness is as cyclical, inevitable and enduring in our psyches as spirals of the galaxies or as existence itself.

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