One of Ireland’s most inspiring poets, John O’Donohue, wrote a beautiful poem called “Beannacht: A Blessing for the New Year”. An abundance of comfort and compassion can be found with each word. He lets us know in a subtle way that there is wisdom all around us, if we allow ourselves to tune into it.
To me, the essence of this poem is hope, resilience, and the importance of moving forward with your life, no matter what it presents. It can act as a gentle reminder that life is a gift, despite the difficulties we may encounter. To this day, the poem gives me courage to live life to the fullest no matter what challenges come. Each of our lives have great meaning, we are all here for a reason, and perhaps hard times happen to teach us, shape us and give us valuable life lessons.
Three special people come to my mind when I read Beannacht. My brother Derek, and two of my first cousins Eugene and Michael Desmond. My last memory of Eugene and Michael Desmond was when they flew over from New York to be by my family’s side when Derek died, by suicide. Little did we know at the time that Eugene, who was only 29, would no longer be with us five months later, and Michael Desmond would die in 9/11, at 33. Three first cousins, gone from this life in the space of 18 months.
I have huge admiration for my parents, and Eugene and Michael Desmond’s parents for coming through what must be one of the hardest experiences in life, losing a child, in tragic circumstances. I’ve learned so much from Derek’s short 16 years with us, mainly the importance of looking after our mind, body and soul. Eugene and Michael Desmond’s lives remind me to be grateful for mine and to appreciate each moment as tomorrow is not promised.
What is it that enables us to come through these deeply sad and traumatic times in life?
We have a choice as to how we respond to events in our lives, this can be the key differentiator between merely surviving and thriving in life. Ruminating over adversity can cause unnecessary suffering as can believing everything we think. You are not your thoughts, or emotions. Cultivating mindfulness brings a whole new dimension to the way we experience thoughts. Jon Kabat Zinn has done some amazing work in this area.
Reminding ourselves that it’s ok to feel vulnerable, and that it is always ok to ask for help. “Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.” Brene Brown. In my experience, remembering that the “the human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it” is very empowering. Realising that you have all the power you need inside to heal yourself and create the life you want. In my experience, any work we do to help heal ourselves accentuates the body’s own natural resources. There is a lifeforce at work in all of us and we can help activate it in many ways.
In the words of Michael Corry, “energise your system by getting physically fit, doing yoga, by having a massage and by eating and sleeping well. Remind your senses what they are for, by bringing in pleasure. Have fun, see friends, titillate your taste buds, listen to your favourite music, feast your eyes, burn essential oils, take long baths, dress yourself up, detoxify. Stop ingesting what you know very well is bad for you. Eliminate negative relationships, change jobs, make positive lifestyle changes. Share your problems with good listeners, connect to the tribe. Get skills, do self-development courses, take up a hobby and engage life actively. Spend time in nature, meditate, stimulate your brain. Visualise yourself well and happy. Healthy anticipations and intentions are powerful medicines. Educate yourself. Let your intuition be your guide.”
You are the expert in your life, no one else. There are many people who bear witness to what lies within the human repertoire of possibility, once the spirit is ignited. In Ireland, some people that come to mind are Caroline McGuigan, Mickey Harte, and Conor Cusack.
Believe in yourself, believe in your life and no matter what happens, always strive to move forward. Even if that is making a cup of tea for yourself on a difficult day, it’s a step in the right direction. Anything is possible for you, and your life.
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