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The Summer Day – Mary Oliver


Who made the world?
Who made the swan and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
The one who has flung herself out of the grass,
The one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
Who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
Who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated
Now she lifts her pale forearm and thoroughly washes her
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
Into the grass, how to kneel down into the grass,
How to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the field,
Which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else would I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?
-Mary Oliver
from House of Light

Wild Geese – Mary Oliver

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees.
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

-Mary Oliver

From Dreams Work

Mindfulness/Meditation Groups in Dublin

There are a number of other weekly meditation groups in operation in Dublin and further afield. Some of these are listed below. Most of these meditation groups operate on a drop-in basis and payment is usually by anonymous donation (the practice of “dana” – generosity). Contact details are provided.

• The Dublin Buddhist Centre – 5 James Joyce St, Dublin 1 drop in sessions Tuesday nights.

• Every Monday Evening: Drop-In Guided Meditation Session
the centre, 33 Lr Pembroke St., Dublin 2. They also run Days of Mindfulness. Times and venues are posted on

• Plum Village Sanghas throughout Ireland
Check the Sangha Directory on

• Wake Up and Mindfulness Ireland Joint Sangha: North Dublin. Every Wednesday from 19.00-20.00 hours at Glenhill House, Glenhill Rd, Finglas East, Dublin 11 Plum Village Sangha open to all, delighted to have your attendance. Please also see face book page…called northdublinsangha

• Grey Heron Zendo ( Zen meditation )
Dominican Retreat Centre, Tallaght Village, Dublin 24
Tuesday evenings 8 – 9.15pm.
contact: Mary McGrane
Ph: 01 4048189

• South Dublin Sangha (Plum Village Tradition)
Oscailt, 8 Pembroke Road, Ballsbridge,Dublin 4.
Contact: Josephine Lynch
Tuesdays 7.30pm – 9.30pm.
Phone: 087-2372130

• The Sanctuary Meditation Group
Stanhope Street, Dublin 7.
Wednesdays 7.30-9.00pm.
See for details & directions.

• Mindfulness Meditation Drop-In at The Novara Centre, Bray, Co. Wicklow
Every Sunday from 6-7.15pm. Contact: Martina Dolan, email: Phone: 086 8052525
See for details and directions

• Shambala Meditation Centre
19 Herbert Street, Dublin 2.
Monday and Wednesday evenings.
See for details

• Rigpa Meditation Centre
12 Wicklow Street (3rd Floor), Dublin 2
Phone: 01-6703358

• Kagyu Samye Dzong Tibetan Buddhist Centre
Kilmainham Well House, 56 Inchicore Rd., Kilmainham, Dublin 8. for details.

• The Tara Kadampa Buddhist Centre
47 Terenure Road East, Rathgar and various other locations around Dublin and in Galway, Limerick and Cork. See

Jon Kabat Zinn talks about the attitude of Beginners Mind

“Beginners Mind is a lovely orientation to bring to the present moment, this moment is always fresh, always new, and yet we bring so many ideas and attitudes and desires to every moment that we can’t allow ourselves much of the time to see things as if for the first time.”

“In the mind of the expert there are very few possibilities, but in the Beginner’s Mind there are infinite possibilities because we come to it fresh. So it is a kind of a discipline to try to bring Beginners Mind to every aspect of life and not be so stuck in our ideas and opinions.”

When we come things with this freshness, it has tremendous transformative qualities. If you bring it other people and are open and spacious with them, and don’t insist that they be the way there were half an hour ago or two years ago, they feel seen and recognised and met. That benefits them and it also benefits us”

Jon Kabat-Zinn talks about the attitude of Trust

“There is a Wisdom to the Body that can remind us that we ourselves are trustworthy…if there are so many beautiful and complex things unfolding in the body well why should the mind be any different, why should the heart be any different”

“Confidence in our ability to meet whatever come towards us in ways that can be effective is based on trusting ourselves… and this can be cultivated by practice, so everytime we don’t trust ourselves we can bring awareness to it and remind ourselves maybe this is a good opportunity to shift from feeling like we are not able to trust something, to trusting it.”


How to keep your mindset as sharp as your skillset – the era of corporate mindfulness training


Irish Times Article March 24 2015


Picture the scene: more than 200 business people sitting in silence at round tables in a large conference room with their eyes closed at 8.30am on a weekday. They are not sleeping, but practising an exercise in mindfulness led by Rasmus Hougaard, the Danish managing director of the Potential Project, an international corporate-based mindfulness training organisation.
The Irish Management Institute (IMI) has invited Hougaard to Dublin to introduce the IMI’s first such training. The techniques are based on ancient Buddhist teachings that have been widely embraced by healthcare practitioners around the world and are finally reaching the business world. But don’t expect an orange-robed teacher, burning candles or incense sticks: this training is placed firmly in the slick corporate environment, with prices to match.
Simon Boucher, director of the IMI, says many of us now check our emails before we get out of bed. “People check their mobile devices up to 150 times a day; that’s every six to eight minutes. In this context, mindfulness has risen to the top of the pile as a skillset and mindset to adopt to the 24/7 working environment,” he says in his introduction to Hougaard’s presentation.

The clean-shaven smiling Danish man asks the audience how many people have already done some mindfulness training. Almost half of the audience put up their hands.
“Many of the Fortune 500 companies are now doing mindfulness training as a mainstream thing. You can use mindfulness as a way of working more effectively, to be more present in your work and as a kinder way of working,” he says. He cites companies such as Carlsberg and Accenture as examples of those that have brought the training to their employees. While he is in Dublin, Hougaard is to have meetings with Microsoft, Google and Enterprise Ireland.


One audience member expresses a concern that mindfulness training in the business world will be less authentic. “My concern is that the corporate world will embrace it and then throw it away as another toy,” he says. Hougaard counters that he has been practising mindfulness for 25 years and that it is not just another fad.


“People are under pressure. They are always on, dealing with information overload and constantly distracted,” he says. Quoting a 2014 workforce study by Deloitte, he adds, “The overwhelmed employee is the most significant human capital challenge for Irish organisations. Information overload and the 24/7 working environment are contributing to reduced productivity, reduced decision-making and lower levels of engagement.”

In this so-called “attention economy”, workers increasingly need the ability to pay attention. “The ability to pay attention has dropped radically, with 46.9 per cent of workers involuntarily wandering away from what we are trying to focus on,” says Hougaard. He refers briefly to neurological research on brain plasticity to explain that behavioural, attitudinal and indeed personality change is possible with mindfulness training.

“Mindfulness helps the brain to refresh and refocus when it goes off task. Breaks are also crucial, as letting the mind wander helps creativity and innovation but with an awareness of being focused or not,” he says. Therein follows the simple mindfulness exercise with everyone sitting comfortably with their eyes closed while they pay attention to their breathing, acknowledging and letting go of mental distractions as they do so.

“Getting a group of people to sit in silence for five minutes is an interesting exercise, with no Twitter, no emails and no other distractions. How would this work at the beginning of a meeting?” he asks. Meetings at Carlsberg became 35 per cent shorter when they introduced mindfulness at the start, according to Hougaard.

Brian McIvor, career coach and IMI member, says, “Tech startups and established companies have a set of behaviours that shape profitability and success. Unless mindfulness resonates with the deepest part of the company culture, it will shrivel up. People no longer do time-management courses. The measure of success of organisations is to be seen to be busy and to multitask. There is a huge distrust of the person who stands back and reflects. A tool like mindfulness would require an organisation to take the long-term view in shaping performance and culture.”

Hougaard acknowledges that other areas of the corporate work environment, such as realistic workloads and having a sense of purpose at work, would also need to be addressed.

“The workload is relentless in some organisations and companies need to look at smarter ways to work and change to the work/social culture of their organisations,” he says. “Multitasking reduces efficiency, decreases the quality of work, hampers creativity, drains energy and increases stress. There are two rules for mental effectiveness: focus on what you choose, and choose your distractions mindfully.”

Scientific Research on the Effects of Mindfulness Based Approaches

A 2013 meta-analysis of mindfulness-based therapies (MBT), involving 209 studies and 12,145 participants, found that MBT showed “large and clinically significant effects in treating anxiety and depression”, with gains maintained at follow-up. These findings were similar to those obtained in previous meta-analyses.

A systematic study on the efficacy of various forms of meditation programs commissioned by the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, was published in 2014. After a review of 17,801 citations, involving 2,993 participants, it concluded that “Meditation programs, in particular mindfulness programs, reduce multiple negative dimensions of psychological stress.” The assessment found that “Mindfulness meditation programs improved multiple dimensions of negative affect, including anxiety, depression, and perceived stress/general distress … the effects were significant for anxiety and marginally significant for depression at the end of treatment, and these effects continued to be significant at 3-6 months for both anxiety and depression”

Jon Kabat-Zinn talks about the Attitude of Letting Go

“It is inevitable thing will arise that are unpleasant and we will want to push them away, and other things will arise that are pleasant and we will want to hold onto them, so Letting Go really means Letting Be, allowing things to be as the already are, and not getting too caught up with them having to be a certain way, when the evidence is they are already not that way…The breath can remind us it is a natural part of life to receive and then release, recieve and then let go”