Lately I’ve been disliking meditation intensely. I’ve been doing it anyway, but I’ve developed a feeling that there is no point to it. No endgame. I’ve been putting off doing it in the morning, trying to squeeze it in later in the day. Come evening, a glass of wine has been far more alluring than sitting down communing with the universal consciousness. A couple of years ago, when I’d been meditating for a few months, this is how it stopped for me. I’d push it back, then skip one, then one day I wouldn’t do it at all, then a week would pass and I’d realise I hadn’t done it at all; then the habit would be gone.

The problem with meditation is that it doesn’t fundamentally change your nature. It’s not going to change you from a pessimistic type to an optimistic Annie, it’s not going to make you one of those enviable extroverts who can chat to all and sundry about anything from cockatoo politicians to the intricacies of your auntie’s bunion operation if you are an introvert who prefers to scurry around the edges rather than trumpet on the stage. It won’t make you one of those calm, velvet-toned sensible people who never raise their voice, if you are by nature volatile and grew up in a shouty family to boot; it won’t make you all scientific and retrain as a (oh Jesus I can’t even think of one scientific job, apart from ‘science teacher’ or ‘brain surgeon’. It’s concerning)… if your jam is looser than that, less pinpointed on reality and more on the nebulous nuances of skipping and soaring words or hazy, haunting pictures.

I have to remind myself sometimes: what does it do? I’ll speak from my experience, not from what teachers have told me it would do for me. It has made me appreciate every small part of life, really note it and appreciate it. Often, that gratitude is there humming in the background even when I am in the midst of a mood or a bad temper or clouty bout of grumpiness. It has made me get out of those moods much quicker, in a matter of minutes sometimes, whereas before I would have chewed on the stinks of life for hours, days, weeks even. In tandem, it has made me pull way back from those same small parts of life to see them from a wider perspective, which makes me feel calmer about what on earth it is I’m doing with my life – fumbling around, hoping for the best it seems, mostly. It has made me much more accepting of myself – specifically, of my ‘bad’ attributes, shitty things I’ve done, appalling things I sometimes think. That means it has helped me to accept the darker sides of my soul and recognise that they are intrinsically human. It is made me write more because I give that ‘You are shit’ voice short shrift now. It has made me see (super corny alert coming up but sorry folks, this is what meditation does for you) that everyone else around me is my brother and sister, walking alongside me, forging their journey however they can, hoping for the same things that I hope for. Love. Acceptance. Security inside their souls. A role in the world, a meaningful purpose for their existence. A sense that their life, in its entirety, is not only a gift to themselves, but a gift to all around them too.

So I guess I will keep meditating. For now, anyway.

Quick! Go sit still


‘I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one,’ said Gandhi. Great things come out of stillness. Out of the quiet and nourishing womb, comes a newborn. Out of the silent embrace of sleep, comes a fresh perspective on another day. Out of the deep cavern of the earth, roots twist in and then, like a miracle, appears all the glory of plants. The waves that whirl on the surface of the ocean are mere froth masking its vast, calm liquid depths. All things must be still before they explode into life. So must we.

Oh, alright. You get it. But it’s so hard to stop and be still (and I don’t mean sitting numbly watching Netflix). When we do try, we berate ourselves for not being in constant motion, carrying out the urgent mechanics of life – like robots. Right now, it’s a challenge for me to find time to meditate and write, two things I really want to do. I’m busy with the bulbous, boisterous task of raising three small boys. And that’s cool, that is exactly how I wanted it, it is what I’ve chosen for myself. But I know that enriching myself by meditating and writing will absolutely benefit my boys – so I keep trying to snatch slivers of time to stuff full of silence, and then full of words. I stick my neck out a bit to meditate. People in my street probably think I’m odd because I often go and hide in the car to do it when my husband gets home. I’ve done it in the loos at work, and in random hotel loos too. In coffee shops. Libraries. Supermarket car parks. The breastfeeding chair in St Stephen’s Green shopping centre (with the baby). Airport lounge. Bus stop. Dentist waiting room. I’m always scoping places out and thinking: would it be weird if I meditated here? Normally the answer is yes – but I do it anyway, because I can’t be going off to sit on the foothills of the Himalayas to do it. My life is here, not on a fantasy mountain.

I find a way to make it work. At 4.30am (I go back to sleep afterwards, come on!), when the baby naps, when the boys are watching a sneaky episode of PJ Masks, when I’ve nipped out to the supermarket. And particularly in busy times, when there is no time to meditate, I know that for me it is extra important to meditate. That is, to remove my bananas, jumping jack brain out of the melee for a short while so it can soothe itself, even just a little. I don’t see the benefits immediately, they are accumulative; it’s often days, weeks, or even months later that I piece together the puzzle and note that it was the deliberate bouts of silence that made the noise bearable. No: that made the noise beautiful.

meditation makes you like a rock


Meditation, Motherhood

‘Answer the why, and we’ll naturally find more courage when it comes to following through on the how.’

Light Watkins wrote this and as soon as I read it, I wrote down why I needed to seek out a particular meditation teacher at a particularly inconvenient time. All the logistics were against me – I was still bruised from the birth of my third son, breastfeeding incessantly, the teacher was in another country, it seemed insane to pay someone to teach me silence, my husband was working 20 hours out of every 24 – but when I made the decision to do it, everything fell into place. Briefly, my life became like a Disney movie, where the heroine clicks her fingers and her desires appear in technicolor across the screen.

It was snowing and viciously cold outside, but I strapped my baby to me and got on a plane. The tiny, mewling little thing stayed cocooned close to me through the next three days, where I learned – through to my bones – how to meditate. Or how to stop telling myself that I was doing it wrong (there is no wrong).

An invisible cord attached to me umbilically, hauling me over to the person who made me understand the simplicity of meditation – and the complexity of what it could unravel.

Two years on, I found my why, scrawled on the back of an old bill. It says: ‘To be the best mother I can be to my children. To be a more loving and supportive person and wife. To love myself after so many years of not liking myself. To turn into a rock. In a good way.’

I’m not the best mother I can be to my children – yet. I’m not the most loving and supportive person I can be – yet. I don’t love myself after years of not liking myself. Yet. As for being a rock, I balance precariously on shifting sands, every day. But in time, I trust these things will happen.

So, what’s your why?