Round Ireland with an iPhone: Wildflowers of Seahill

A few days ago I had occasion to take a walk along a lovely lane in Seahill, County Down. To say the wildflowers are in their prime fails to do justice to the enchanting display.

Everywhere you turn there’s another beauty to beguile you. Then the sea, lapping along a gentle rocky shore, completes the spell. Before that day, I had not even known about the place and a return home by train via the quaint little station sealed the deal on a remarkable and memorable day trip.

Bangor next, I think.

Round Ireland with an iPhone: Belfast #3

A day in December past, Ormeau Park, Belfast. The air was crisp chill, the sunlight pale and hypnotic. One tree had bark of a peculiar orange shade, made more surreal by the way a sun shaft illuminated its branches. A bird puffed its body up against the breeze and sang in muted tones. I walked and breathed the mist and light.

Dawn is coming: On Dune old and new

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My first reaction was ‘Oh No!’

I dreaded the day a Dune remake would appear because I cannot imagine anything better than David Lynch’s classic, if controversial, 1984 movie; nor can I see anyone supplanting Kyle MacLachlan as the young Paul Atreides.

And yet…since I saw the list of new cast and crew members, I am warming to the idea of a fresh incarnation.  No one forgets all the previous ‘Dr Who’ embodiments, after all, so why not anticipate the intrigue of a new Dune? With Blade Runner 2049‘s Denis Villeneuve in the director’s seat, excitement is mounting. And Call Me By Your Name‘s Timothée Chalamet will play the young Duke Paul, while Charlotte Rampling fills the role of Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam.

The Novels

I came to the novels after the film, an experience that, to begin with, actually enriched the film even more for me, then made me thirsty for more on-screen portrayals of the richly detailed sequels and back stories.

Themes that stood out to me in the books, much more than in any filmed versions so far, are the rich descriptions of the various ecologies of the planets, and the mind-bending cosmology and parapsychology of the navigators and the space they fold to enable instant transportation across distances of light years.

Herbert‘s imagination is captivating and the novels are a perfect combination of readability and sophistication. I think it’s time to re-visit the books and to build anticipation for a new dawn on a new Arakkis. Roll on Dune.

Into the Zen Zone: My Big Three Inspirations for 2019

image of book cover ten to zen by Owen O'Kane

ten to zen book by Owen O’Kane

1.  Hot off the press, psychotherapist and workshop facilitator Owen O’Kane’s book ten to zen is a welcome, practical guide to developing a meaningful, do-able meditation and mindfulness practice as part of everyday life.

As the author explains,  this ten minute daily routine is more of a workout for the mind than a rigorous regime. Just like a physical health drive, ten to zen is designed to keep our brain, mind and soul healthy and effective.

By explaining and describing each step of the ten minute workout, ten to zen helps us to lean back from stresses and strains for a brief breathing space each day,  ultimately enabling us to master anxiety or fear and to embrace and transform our experiences into  joyful living.

Still working my way through the book, I will testify that already I sense a shift in my perspectives and a more optimistic and connected relationship with family, life and the world.

Highly recommended, click the mage or in-text title for more details (I claim no affiliation to any sources linked or cited, just keen to spread the word), and here is the full citation: O’Kane, Owen (2018), Ten to Zen: Ten Minutes a Day to a Fuller and Happier You, UK: Bluebird.

 

2. While appreciating the fresh take on mindful living in ten to zen, every once in a while I revert to the Master of Zen for the western world, Jon Kabat-Zinn, for his deep yet accessible, and again highly applicable, works. So now, re-reading Full Catastrophe Living wherein there are so many gems and nuggets of wisdom and insight, I have to say the world is looking rosier by the minute.

My first encounter with Dr Zinn’s wisdom was through his numerous recorded talks on YouTube, as well as a free audio-book of Wherever you go, there you are. Here’s a brilliant starter for ten that enlightens us to the facts that we are not our thoughts, they are self-limiting phenomena and don’t need to be fought, just liberated. Here’s ‘Your Thoughts are Bubbles’:

 

3. I never cease to be amazed at the ways in which each teacher shares these profound truths and joys of mindfulness and meditation in their own unique, inspirational voices. Perhaps it is that they are all coming from different traditions and disciplines, and that in itself is an uplifting and enriching encounter. This is something that struck me in an intense way when I received my most recent new year reading list title, The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down by Haimin Sumin.  The format is quite different, with wise comments and quotes set out almost like a poetry collection, interspersed with beautiful and captivating illustrations by Youngcheol Lee (2012, UK: Penguin Life). This is my night-time book and certainly worth finding. I wish you all a peaceful, inspired year for 2019.

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