April 26 – May 30, 2024


Ready to rock?

A subtle thought enters my mind that perhaps I wrote about the swallows before, but that’s ok, it happens every year and even though the feelings are similar, they can still catch us by surprise, as they announce the promise of brighter days. Some- how the swallows reminded me of how building and repeating small, simple habits, slowly and consistently, into our everyday lives, over time, a lifetime even, can build a simple, mindful life of noticing, paying attention and feeling thankful. Even though meditation is a practice we re- peat and repeat, time and again, it never loses its novelty and is never the same experience twice, we bring a curiosity and a gentleness to our practice to see what’s alive in this moment for us, in our inner and outer worlds. The swallows represent great hope, and their arrival is some- thing to mark and celebrate in our year, currently an extremely challenging one on a global scale. These resilient birds make it back every single year. What an incredible achievement, reminding us of consistency, reliability and repetition in nature and the cycle of our lives. And because our seasons are no longer as clearly defined as before, these steady markers of the approaching summer are very reassuring. By learning to notice what’s going on around us through repeated meditation practice, we can really savour these gorgeous moments in ploughed field. And not a moment too soon. We had almost given up. March 2024 was one of the wettest on record. According to Met Eire- ann we suffered over twenty days of rainfall, with County Cork getting eight days that they call “very wet days”. FYI: A wet day is a day with more than 1.0 mm of rainfall. A dull day is a day with less than 0.5 hours of sunshine. A very wet day is a day with over 10mm of rainfall. (So now you know, You’re welcome.) March 2024 was a very wet, very dull month with a few wet, dull days in between the downpours. I must confess that, like many others, we abandoned the sod- den Aul’ sod as soon as March was out and took off to sunnier climes. In our case, we went to Florence and Pisa for some R&R and Art, but mostly for some sun and heat. And food. And wine. I won’t gloat. It was

wonderful. Suffice it to say that when we landed in Cork to grey skies and eight degrees Celsius, it was hard not to turn around and join the queue waiting to board the flight back to Pisa. Thankfully only a few days after our return the rain stopped and the sunshine pushed the clouds away, finally letting the blue skies back in over our heads. When we ventured out- side the buds and flowers were getting going,

bell leaves and the double row of foxgloves in the wee woods which is going to be a delight in a few months. This is the most hopeful time of the year. It is a time I love. The bullocks racing around, kicking up their heels in the delight of getting outside. The pale green light that diffuses everything with a magical filter. And, of course, all the

enough this year. Let these mindful lines by poet Danna Faulds inspire us to make the most of every precious day. “Do not let the day slip through your fingers, but live it fully now, this breath, this moment, catapulting you into full awareness. Time is precious, minutes disappearing like water into sand, unless you choose to pay attention”. Monthly mindful journaling workshops are running at CE- CAS on April 27, May 18 and June 22. Each two-hour mindful journaling work- shop will combine mindfulness med- itation practices, reflective questions, live in town, but the yellow primroses (cowslips) have been amazing. I have never seen such abundance. They are usual- ly shy flowers, hiding in the shadows, peeping out from the grass. Not this year. This year the tiny flowers got together in a chorus line of flashy flounces that have covered entire grass banks. Encountering a wall or hedgerow covered in dainty pale-yellow flowers is a balm for the heart on the greyest of wet, grey days. In the sunshine they take on that Disneyesque look that we call “silly pretty”. You can easily imagine a car- toon rabbit lounging in the sun. (Sometimes there is a real one. Or a fox from central casting.) Judging from the swathes of bright green leaves along the roads, we’re in for a similar treat from the bluebells. The white bells (or three-cornered leek) are already blooming. Soon the blue and the white will

poetry, and embodied writing techniques. There’s still time to book your place for Saturday, April 27, 4 – 6pm. €35 includes printable worksheets and audio recordings for listening at home. Weekly drop-in mindfulness sessions continue at CECAS, Myross Wood, Leap on Tues- day mornings through-out the year (May 7, 14, 21 and 28) from 10am-11am. €12. All are welcome to join this wonderful community of practice. For more information, phone: 087 2700572 or email: susanoreganmindful- FB: susanoreganmindfulness combine with the pale unfurling ferns to provide a floral display that would cost you an arm and a leg in any European capital. West Cork is beautiful any time of year, but May has got to be in the top slot. In fact, if you do live in town, get out and about on a back road. You won’t regret it. I trust that by the time you read this we will have enjoyed some sunny days. Met Eireann is predicting a mini heatwave. It’s only 18 degrees, but it will have to do. We’ve taken out the garden furniture and put it out the back. We even had drinks before dinner out there last night. Granted I was wearing two jumpers and a big woollen shawl, but the light was lovely, the birds were singing and for about a half an hour we could feel summer in the sir. Then we went inside because it was getting a bit nippy…


flowers and buds, leaves and ferns. All of it holds anticipation and hope. Summer is on the way and we’re getting ready to rock. Naysayers

T hank the Lord! The rain has stopped, the sun has come out and the soggy land is slowly soaking up all that excess water. The cows are back in the fields and some farmers have even managed to get the tractor into the mud and get the ploughing done. It finally feels like that wonderful inter-season: Spring to Summer. Nothing tells you that the winter is finally over like the rich fudge brown furrows of a freshly

the soggy ground out the back had stopped looking like a swamp and we could have a bit of a wander round. As always at this time of year, the land was full of surprises –

beware. I refuse to contemplate anything but a beautiful, sunny, hot Summer 2024.

like new bunches of primroses and extensive white bells; and promise – like the sea of blue-

Speaking of flowers – so far, it’s been an extraordinary year. You may have missed it if you

Live it fully now

the changing seasons and be so grateful for them. Like the quote above, however, it takes more than one swallow to make a summer and the same goes for mindfulness meditation, it takes more than one attempt. The skills of mindfulness and compassion are not developed overnight but learned repeatedly over time and deepened over the seasons of our lives. The repet- itive nature and transformative power of mindfulness, when practiced regularly, strengthens our inner reserves and resources for coping, perhaps with times of prolonged rain here at home and prolonged conflict situa - tions that are happening around the world in this moment. Maybe there’s conflict in your home, in your close relation- ships or in your heart or mind as you read this. Or maybe you are ‘at war with yourself’, a phrase coined by Tara Brach, a state of being I think we can all identify with, as so many of us are in the habit of constantly criticising or giving out to ourselves. Being in the moment and noticing nature all around us can help us to shift our attention away from self-criticism, rumination or overthinking and simply take in what is here and now. Over time, compas- sion-based mindfulness can help build peace and calm inside us which in turn can have a ripple effect, radiating outwards. With regular practice we learn to notice when we are at war either with ourselves or with others

and we can bring compassion and soothing to these troubling situations. This in turn makes space for us to notice many things to be grateful for. We can give thanks that, along with the swallows, the sun has also arrived this week and what an instant boost of energy it brings. Feeling bare feet in sandals or on the ground, the smell of freshly cut grass, the heat of the sun on our bodies, bird- song, truly

“O ne swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day”. I spotted two swallows one morning this week, one swooping low near the bridge in Skibbereen and the other on the road to Union Hall. Both filled me with mixed emotions, first a deeply instinctual, primal, sense of joy to see these remarkable birds having made their epic journey to get here, heralding the beginning of long summer days. Joy was immediately fol- lowed by a poignancy, remem- bering many Summers spent with loved ones marking the return of the swallows. These sightings made me very happy, reflecting on the turning of life, the leaving and returning, the joys and the sadness, all part of this bigger picture. MINDFULNESS Susan O’Regan Susan O’Regan, Msc Mindfulness Studies teaches compassion-based mindfulness. She is a teacher member of the Mindfulness Teachers Association of Ireland (MTAI) and The Mindfulness Association.

a feast for our senses. Bright sunny days have such restorative value and they have been scarce

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