'Alight' - My journey of mental hea
I’m writing this to share my experience of how I recovered my health, from the perspective mental health, aswell as physical health. This story is about how I unraveled anxiety and a nervous system crash. It’s about how the qualities and wisdom of sport and nature have helped me, and how new beginnings can grow. By sharing insight through my own experience, I hope this may be helpful to someone and overall help to contribute to the awareness of mental health and overall health in sports and in the community. This is the message and purpose of this writing. Awareness is core to our daily life experiences, the magic of it is we can help each other out and find it for ourselves at the same time. Throughout the writing I’ve also included symbols of flowers and nature, and their meaning, as this wisdom helped me very much along the way. I’ve called this writing ‘Alight’, a word that means to settle and also to bring experiences to light and to ignite new beginnings. I feel it connects with the mind’s ability to settle, overcome and evolve challenging times by bringing dark experiences to a light of healing, safety and understanding.
Road to Recovery
I hit a turbulent time in my life when I was 22. I lost physical and mental health and went on a recover process that has overall helped me grow in awareness and wellbeing. It showed me that through even the toughest times doors of healing and new beginnings can open. Just like in the depths of Winter, though the land is barren and the weather can be stormy and cold, there are seeds of new growth in the deep. Sometimes it’s there to be reached for.
In 2014, I came back to Galway after 7 years of playing international hockey from underage to senior level and 3 years with UCD hockey. I enjoyed great experiences and success with teammates, in Ireland and at European tournaments. I was honoured to be apart of great teams and to captain the Irish u18s and u21s at European Championships. I played in a world league tournament with the senior team and was on scholarship with UCD’s elite athlete academy. Among all these opportunities, at the core of it were qualities in sport that inspired me at any level I played at, and resonates at every level of sport. Friendship, fun, team spirit, commitment, determination and evolving skills were among these qualities. I made great friends and shared brilliant experiences, moments that I’ll always cherish. It’s these values that would be strong in the memory to help me through difficult times too. Life turned in 2014 as I exited Dublin suddenly due to a mental health issue. I had to remove myself from studies and hockey, and find a way to recover my mental and physical health. One month I was lining out with the Irish Senior women’s team against teams like Australia, USA, South Africa, and the next month I was unable to leave the house. I was only able for 50 metre walks before getting severe panic attacks and pain throughout my nervous system and physical body. My head would be spinning and I was unable to think clearly. I experienced high levels of irrational, disrupted thinking, at times feeling like I was listening to 50 radios blaring at once. This rippled to impulsive and irrational behaviours too. It felt like I had to go through many internal electrical storms to get on a road to recovery.
- Symbolic for keeping the faith
My mind and body were so overwhelmed and for the first year I was unable to communicate well with anyone. I was very fortunate to have amazing support of family and friends. I experienced completely withdrawing from life, experiencing the very far opposite side to myself from the Brenda that was. I was in a captaincy role with 10 teams between 15-22years of age, no problem in communication, always inspired by collective energy, and enjoyed inputting into team talks and many circles. I always remembered to come from a place where everyone is their own captain and connecting in enjoyment as a whole. So it was an interesting and quite scary experience to go from a place of clear communication, to not being able to communicate well with even myself. And maybe that is where I had to start, by being a good friend to myself to rebuild my life, regain a sense of being a human being and taking care of my needs. It took me a long while to find the openness and trust to talk to someone. I’m very grateful to the wonderful people I met along the way. Looking back now I would have said to myself or now to anyone else, have no fear about going to a counselor or a therapist or talking someone you trust, through talking so much can begin to unravel and release, so there’s no shame only freedom in that. It’s okay to not feel okay sometimes, and in opening an inner door, feelings of pressure or worry can be let out. I always imagine the feeling was like a thousand butterflies trapped in a net. They just need a window, an opening, and then all that energy of entrapment is set free.
- Symbolic for finding your inner voice
Pressure & Panic
My eyes started to open to a real feeling of deep stress. There was a feeling of huge tension and pressure in my mental health. This constant hum of tension was what I began to understand as the feeling of being overwhelmed. I was in a state of being both highly sensitive and vulnerable. Someone closing a door would sound like a bolt of lightening. Simple things in life that wouldn’t have bothered me before now did. Going anywhere in public was very challenging. There were a few places I’d feel safe and where overwhelm would begin to reduce. I went to the woods one day with my Dad and just standing there was a first glimpse of what inner calm could feel like. So the part of my mind that still connected to clarity and purpose knew that a whole recovery was possible. These moments and glimpses like being in the woods, at the beach, in the garden, listening or gently playing a few notes on the piano gave me great hope. Even though my eating patterns went out the window, Mum and my sisters always helped me to try and connect with cooking and the garden. It was something I always enjoyed before and I had to rekindle that connection. The step-by-step focus of cooking and being surrounded by nutritious energy and working with herbs from the garden definitely helped me restore my mind. All of these good energies helped me cope and dissolve sensation of panic, and begin to understand panic.
Into panic & pieces
Panic attacks were an hourly thing for a few months. I didn’t want to have them, it just felt uncontrollable. It was like I had been taken over by a virus that shook my body to it’s core. It was a very physical experience, and mentally my thoughts were racing non-stop. My breath would become shallow and start racing like there was a metal band around my lungs. As if my subconscious mind was approaching a hole and I was gasping for air as the walls closed in. It was like getting claustrophobia in an open field. There was no reason whatsoever to be panicked, though there was no telling a part of my mind that was in a state of being constantly terrified. My mind was not able to cope with what was happening and I spent many days breathing into a bag or floored on the couch because the medication I had to take was trying to stop my system from going into panic. Underneath it all I was actually terrified of things getting worse, of being at risk of not being able to come through where I found myself. A path lit up when I was fortunate enough to meet health experts who understood the roots of what I was experiencing. I'll always be grateful medication free understanding and approach of Dr. Terry Lynch, for the care and kindness of Sinéad Murphy, Brian Munday, Miriam Wright and Dr. Sally Blossom, and those in the field of health who helped me along the way, I really wish to thank you all and to appreciate how much your work has helped me and many more people can imagine. The understanding, intuition and patience I’ll forever be grateful for.
I'll always be grateful too for the support of my family. For the patience, inspiration and space they gave me. Ten years ago a challenging time occurred that I know overall rooted strength and insight in me, that would for sure help me further on up the road. When I was 16 my sister experienced a serious accident and made an amazing recovery. Kate thought me so much about life in her recovery phase. I learnt the qualities of inner strength, bravery, healing and determination alongside Kate. Day to day she showed me this, just by being herself and trusting herself. She brought these qualities to the fore to lead herself through her own recovery and reflected these strengths in the people around her. The experience as a family helped us recognize the dynamics and strengths of a family unit. It brought all the different strength of bonds to light, such as the family and a whole and sisterhood between Kate, Gráinne and myself. It all helped me to learn how to dig deep to have faith that things can work out and that our future is in our own hands. It was these memories and the energy keeping the faith in the good things and getting through the tough moments that helped me so much through my own recovery. I'm forever grateful to Kate that she showed me courage and commitment as she walked her path of recovery. It gave me great hope and knowing when I needed it most in my recovery.
- Strengthens and protects the immune system, the body's aura or personal space, and the mind
The saying ‘it’s not a breakdown, it’s a breakthrough’ took me awhile to really understand. I was living a good life and it didn’t make sense that everything fell apart. Though it became clear that it was a deep level of anxiety and turbulence that I had to face. I loved the team environment and sharing great times with teammates, that’s what kept me focused and helped me through earlier waves of anxiety. I feel I was always myself even though there was a deeper part that was struggling at times, and this just came up in waves. I came to realize and accept that this is sometimes a part of the experience of being human. We all have different experiences life and many aspects to our whole being. I just kept the aspect of feeling worried or overwhelmed buried away because that was how I could cope. Maybe rejecting that part of me from the inside, which just made things worse. This resulted in a building up of inner pressure over my teenage years into my twenties. After an initial experience of an anxiety plummet in the summer of 2013, I managed to recover that though just listened only a little to the warning signs. It built into shouts over time. Things began to fragment inside before I completely crashed. I just kept losing the ability to cope.
After one of the last UCD games, I remember crying very much, to myself. I didn't really let anyone see my tears, because maybe a part of me believed it was too hard to explain, and somehow this part of me knew my UCD and Dublin experience would be over soon. That broke my heart and my communication in a way. I didn't want to let go because I loved the friendships and the strength in the focus together. But maybe these were the qualities I had to learn to bring with me. In reality, I was beginning to shatter physically and mentally. I plummeted myself into the ground, I was fit but I was living 100 metres above my head, completely ungrounded. I veered away from being dealing well with situations and was beginning to drift away from myself as the anxiety grew. The wavelength of suppressing found it’s last straw. I played my last game with UCD, that day I forgot all my gear, I forgot all my abilities to cope. I managed to remember what friendship and family are, and the feeling of those bonds is what got me through that day. I shared lunch with my teammates for the last time and I lost my ability to find words well. I had to say goodbye to UCD without saying goodbye. All I can say now is if you find yourself part of a team appreciate it from your heart, teams often have the natural magical ability to live in this way. This is something that stands to us when we are in a team and when we aren't. It's the qualities that are eternal, it's a strong feeling and bonds that have the tendency to last forever. It can ripple throughout life and show us that there are teams all around us, like friendships and family. It can teach us that by connecting with a team we also learn about an inner team feeling, how to be a good teammate to yourself from the inside out.
Teammates were and always will be an important aspect of sport and life to to me. I'm sorry that I drifted away from people, and I'm so grateful to my friends and at the same time. A part of me wished somehow I could've communicated better. Now I'm coming to a place of knowing that I was trying to cope with things the best I could, and have let go with a lot of work, of being hard on myself for what happened. Everything happens for a reason as our wise Gran says. A woman who at 95 walks a mile a day and is the picture of health and resilience. I learnt about inner forgiveness and the possibility of being able to let go of worries. that forgiveness on the inside liberates understanding. It's letting go of sorry's and embracing thank you's. I had to find a way of letting gratitude wash away any feeling guilt or shame that was eating me up on the inside. Forgiveness helped me release chains of worry and for-give to future ways of thinking. To give myself the possibility of new horizons of thinking and understanding life. To embrace how the mind is not bound to thinking one certain way or being stuck. The mind's nature is to flow and grow, neural pathways are ever weaving and evolving.
I began to understand I had to find a way to breakthrough this wavelength to find my feet in day to day living. Everyone experiences tough times in life in different ways. Maybe we can relieve and prevent such storms of experiences by learning from each other about these experiences. Breaking down any feelings of being lost or isolated. Just when I thought there was no way out of this feeling of terror and chaos, I was lucky enough to cross paths with more amazing people in my life. Experts in the field of health, who helped reflect a deep sense of hope and reassurance. Ensuring that stronger than any chaos or crash, is the reality that healing and growing in community support and in self support is possible.
Choosing a Holistic Approach
I was lucky to take a holistic path and gradually wean off heavy medication that I found hard to be on. I always felt connected to natural remedies and natural ways, I didn’t feel like medication was the way for me, though I began to understand that it helped the process in the early days, like scaffolding around a house. With a medication free aspiration and holistic therapies I began to trust life again, and started building a recovery from there. The description of a crisis, on the levels of the mind and spirit, was something I could understand. The recovery path of weaning off heavy medication resonated with me, it was like a light in the dark. I had to learn quickly about being kind and gentle with my own mind. To connect with natural remedies and essences that were really helping me recover. To trust the benefits of the practices of meditation, mindfulness and gentle movement such as yoga and qi gong, and embrace the simple actions ever free and available, like going for a walk in nature.
Over the recovery process I connected with different things that helped me recovery. Garden work was a foundation saving grace in helping me getting back functioning normally and well again. It helped my mind settle in the present moment and focus on one thing at a time. I volunteered in community gardens when my energy began recovery step by step. The presence of plants were just like the encouraging thoughts at the back of the mind, just kind, gentle and present with however I was feeling inside. Sometimes I needed to dig a little deeper to find these thoughts and calming feelings. And open my eyes to get to know the benefits of the plants, like Yarrow for example. One that is all around our streets, and a plant that holds properties that are beneficial for mental health, strengthening the immune system and the integrity of knowing your own personal space. I volunteered at a local salad grower, with Brigit’s garden and Transition Galway community garden over the span of two years. My sister Gráinne was an inspiring presence in the garden, she began a vegetable and herb growing project in Brigit's Garden. I felt lucky that this was in sync with my time volunteering there and we teamed up amongst the herbs, veg and seasonal gardens.
I then began a community garden where I live, a project worthwhile with involvement of the community and I always go back to to steady my Health. I joined mindfulness and mediation groups this helped me find the confidence to be in a group environment again. I worked in a café and volunteered at a school. I embraced music, I love playing the piano and Irish trad sessions are always good craic. Also joined an African drumming group which I loved, this helped the feeling of being grounded, like feet on the Earth feeling. Communities that I’ll always be grateful for. It all opened my eyes to all the different branches of things to do and enjoy and help revive energy levels naturally. It ensured me of all the natural ways we have around us to revive inner energy and root a steady foundation for mental health.
- Symbolizes a true sense of self, empowerment, honesty and inner balance.
Balance is the Key
Mentally I learnt to practice letting go of any patterns of being hard on myself. I began to see how much my mind and body felt drained and frustrated if I was putting myself down. I had to keep choosing to free myself from a loop of worried thinking, and get to know the landscape of my own thoughts. I became aware that life and Health is all about balance. I learnt to get to know the importance about nurturing a calm and clear place inside. I reflected when I played to my full potential and felt fit before, I was in a state of calm and composure not chaotic. It took a lot of training and breathing space to get to that state. I just tipped my balance with overtraining and a no rest or no breaks lifestyle. I realized is that balance is so important. A grounded lifestyle and balance has a ripple effect on fitness and high pace playing sport. In a relaxed state the body feels freer and can feel healthy and just as quick and strong in this mindset.
The presence of sport
Though when I was far away from being well in body and mind, I still remembered what determination felt like. This was thanks to knowing the strength of this energy well from the hockey environment, and no darkness can crush this feeling. The memory and what feels like an eternal feeling of inner drive, team spirit and moving in harmony. This reminded me of what keeping the faith is, that there was no way I was going to give up on finding my way no matter how intense things were. Even if it was the smallest of steps, that was fine. Every step makes a path. I began to accept life as just it is, and maybe I just had to walk down the paths of these shadowy aspects of mental health and out the other side. As I accepted myself and my current reality, my recovery accelerated. The training I was now doing wasn’t in a gym or on the hockey pitch, it was training in the day-to-day life skills. Even though I thrived in the hockey training environment, my training ground had to adjust. The garden, the short walks and getting into the sea turned into my training ground. I had rebuild my health and the simple reality and enjoyment of movement from the ground up.
Learning to Listen
I realized that the inner voice that I needed to listen to was just like the inner focus I nurtured for years in the hockey environment and training grounds. When I was in full tilt training and enjoying the hockey was the same inner voice that had to carry me through this process of recovery. At roots it was inner encouragement and finding the will to be strong. Even though I was forced to be away from hockey, the spirit of my experience helped me in the process of recovery. The encouragement and clarity on the hockey pitch came through all the chaos of thought I was experiencing, it found its way into glimpses of hope in recovering my health. These glimpses grew to become realities over time. It just showed me how much sport and hockey help inner growth, helping me cope and finding an ability to tune into a deeper strength.
- Deep cleansing, protection and insight into the subconscious mind
Harmony and Sport
The need for balance in sport is key to enjoyment, achieving and evolving in harmony. Before I crashed, I needed to recognize the accumulation of pressure & seek techniques as I know now to move the pressure through and out of my mind & body. The root aspiration for high quality hockey for me is finding the balance between being in the moment enjoying the process and pushing steadily to fulfill potential, the ying and yang. I was able to achieve my goals when I put my mind to it. Though I’ve found it’s about less over-thinking & dissolving self-criticism that settles the energy for clear goal setting and the progress of achieving. To let the foundation of the mind and the will to evolve be more at ease with the moment. Letting ease, speed and a steady pace flow naturally be the guiding light.
Spirit of Team
Harmony is strong when a team comes together on a focused and determined wavelength. And it just showed me how strong the influence of team harmony is when I found myself tested to the maximum on the inside and on my own. I was able to connect with this determination feeling that I knew well from being part of a team and transfer my connection with it into my recovery. Determination and teamwork go hand in hand, and as I reflect on it, it all taught me to root it in my own energy first and then this will naturally connect with a team. At first and for a long time I thought I was on my own in this chaotic and overwhelming time, that no one understood and I was cut off from team spirit. Though gradually as I began to wake up and recover my sense of self, teams of many wavelengths began to appear… my family, a neighbourhood, friends, people working in the garden, working in a café, a school, a mindfulness group, a drumming group, health care experts, even the sea or the woods! All teams in their own way and all connecting with a focus. Isolation and fear began to thaw gradually, as my nervous system began to free itself from frozen and heal the zonked burnt feeling. Connecting outwards in the community had to come with a balance of connecting inwards. As I began to find my own feet and connecting more with Nature, I found the balance of freedom and unity was at the heart of all these communities.
- Symbolizes energy, protection and clarity
Wisdom in Sport
I’ve found that the presence of hockey and sport in our lives gives us the opportunity to unite, learn about ourselves, about the team environment, about harmony, skill and enjoyment. With each person taking care of their own health strengthens this constellation. This ability is in each person wherever we go in life. It gives roots for freedom, creativity and unity. As the quote goes, ‘It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.’
By sharing both the difficult moments and the wellbeing pathways, I hope that this can be of help to someone in some way. That we can all share insight and understanding of mental health as we come to learn more about it individually and collectively in society. What sport, and any form of movement that we are passionate about, can hold such strength and growth for the mental aspect of life. That mental health doesn’t have to have a dark note in the shadows but a light in the dark as often as we come through any challenging time, the creativity, inner strength and freedom that is there beneath any darkness and is there to be ignited and enjoyed. The mind can be a safe and purposeful space. As humans we hold both the candle and the match, to light up our own paths and lifestyles, and share this freely.
Ways of life
Throughout the recovery I became aware of letting two lifestyles meet and integrate. One being the high pace athlete training environment and another being the gentle grounding decisions like a going for a stroll in nature, playing music or taking it easy in the garden. The balance can co-exist and nourish one another. Like the ying and yang both the activity and restfulness are ever weaving and interconnected. The balance is of equal importance for the body and mind. It can strengthen the qualities of self-assurance, trust and self-knowledge. Building this balance and trust creates an environment for healthy growth, confidence and worth. I found this can be said for a hockey environment but also for the environment of mental health. That the purpose whether it is creating plays on the hockey pitch, or choosing to go for a walk by the sea to feel calm, can nurture the deep rooted feeling of trust, inner worth and community worth. The presence of sport and the presence of mental health can continue to interconnect and enlighten each other.
The power of trust
Words of a good friend always did and still echo in my ear. In times of high pace on the hockey pitch, the words that sounded through any noise or confusion were ‘back yourself’. During a match, where the pace of the game is seriously fast, it’s the inner composure and trust that can change the feeling of one moment. It can relax the shoulders and the breath and give the legs and extra boost to make that run, or to hold strong in a tackle or to make the deflection on the back post. By simply trusting and backing yourself from the inside, the way in which the external is met can be given a choice, to stress about it, or to find the calm and the composure.
This process and encouragement of ‘back yourself’ also refined into moment-to-moment thinking for me. The feeling of trust and building inner trust can spring from similar roots. It’s when the battle to retrieve the stability of the mind becomes a moment-to-moment experience that memories and awareness are worth more than anything in those moments. I remembered the unity on the hockey pitch, standing side by side with your friends and seeing the trust and will, reflected in each other. For me, remembering this feeling of team unity helped let my mind piece itself back together, remembering it’s own naturally unity. It’s in those moments I wanted to say to my friends thank you or even just to say hello, to tell my family and health care support thank you and I trust you and things will be okay in some way I know. I had to begin by just connecting my thoughts together again. No star is left alone in reality. There are always constellations and interconnections, and when one part of the mind crashes, another may rise with space and time can hold it and heal it. Same goes for no tree is left alone starving of nutrients in a forest, there is an underground network of roots that connect and send nourishment and support to themselves and to and from each other. By letting my brain come to peace with the process of letting the neural pathways renew and flow again this realization became a light in the dark. And ignited a hope that by trusting this process I could heal and the gratitude and the explanations I wished to share could be there in my presence. If I couldn’t find a way to communicate at times, I still had the glimpse of clarity and hope that understanding could be felt even if there were not many words at the time. It helped me recognize everyone goes through their own challenging times. We are no isolated stars as humans, there is always the reality of constellations.
Mental Strength of Sport
All I wanted to do at one point was just get out and play hockey but the true reality was that the biggest achievement, and on the same level of achievement as lining out for Ireland in any tournament or sitting any exam, was to be able to go down the road for a walk. Beneath all the turmoil somewhere I had a dream I would be able to play again. There were seeds of hope my nervous system would fully recover. Even though over these two years were the toughest I have ever experienced, gems I found within them too. I worked hard at recovering my health, met wonderful people in the process, have made great friends and on looking back, it’s a process that I’ll actually always be grateful for. I walked to Seapoint on the prom from my home about 300metres away for the first time after 7months of attempted walks. Two years later I picked up a hockey stick again alongside encouragement from friends about Galway city and Connacht hockey. Moments like these I built on as I felt windows opening up and the energy of my legs coming back.
Cherry Blossom Tree
- Symbol of renewal, new beginnings and Health.
The turning point for returning to hockey was inspired by the hockey community. After what I went through physically & mentally I held a belief I wouldn't play again. Though two moments ignited a new hope for me. On an Autumn weekend of an Interprovincial tournament I called by to say hello to Connacht hockey friends. Watching the game, the girls were giving it their all and playing mighty. And as the coach said there were not only 18 players but 18 angels flying about the place playing with heart and togetherness. I felt a feeling of encouragement come back into me, the passion of the Connacht crew and the Interpros environment providing a boost & source of inspiration.
Roots Go Deep
Another moment was when I then joined in helping out with the Jes secondary school hockey team. A question and a warm smile saying will you be around and join in for more hockey was all it took for me to know that the path of hockey opened up again and my heart was back on the hockey pitch. A togetherness and fun was reflective of the ladies in white spirit as strong and encouraging as ever. I have and always will have such fondness for the Jes and school hockey in general. It is a phase of life that gave me such encouragement going forward. I feel what helped me so much in times of challenges was to tap into the hockey experience in the Jes, the togetherness, the kindness and the inspiring firey feelings. That helped me wake up to the present and see how much alive it still all is. Connecting with the current Jes team was something very pivotal in my own personal recovery. I'm very grateful to Richie Malone, a good friend and hockey coach, for encouraging me steadily in the early days when I came back. He said 'you're going to be alright, it's going to be okay', and the part of me that needed to really hear that listened. Thank you to Richie, Debbie Heery and all of the team. The enthusiasm helped me de-frost and open up to the possibility of new beginnings. It ensured me all is not lost, everything is just being rediscovered and beginning anew.
The firey passion and unity of current Jes reflected so strongly into my past and just proved to me that that school spirit really does live forever. The beauty about school hockey is that all we have to do really is remember. The feeling of the enjoyment and comradery is just one thought away. All the values and team spirit are in those moments. All the hard times, the lessons learnt, the overcoming, the resilience, the friendships and the building blocks of life are still alive in the memory. I became aware of how resonance of enjoyment, inner growth and team spirit becomes alive in playing school hockey and hockey in the youth, and how this can help ground a foundation for a love for sport and have benefits for health throughout life. That’s why I felt inspired to put a book of messages together. It will be called ‘Roots Go Deep’, it’s about why we love hockey and sports in school, why sport and exercise is important for wellbeing, and an insight into the challenges and benefits of sport. The book is a collection of inspiring and insightful messages from the hockey, Jes hockey, sports and wellbeing communities. Website with further information coming soon, the book will be published this coming Winter.
At the Root of it
I remembered why I played hockey in the first place. At 7 years old, it was for the enjoyment and love of it. This is the same with Coláiste Iognáid (The Jes) and Greenfields, with UCD and at international level. The grass roots of Dangan pitch always remind me of the values that travel with me wherever I’ve been or wherever I go. I’m very grateful to Greenfields hockey club, for the warmth and understanding to welcome me back into the club when I made the steps to return to hockey. I’ve made life long friends and have cherished many fun memories, training and matches. What hockey is all about. I have an opportunity now to reconnect with University. I’m going to study again and take the opportunity to really heal the part of myself that left UCD, the EAA and physiotherapy so abruptly. I had great times with UCD which I’m very grateful for, we had a lovely momentum as a team and created fast pace enjoyable hockey. It has all helped me appreciate the reality of chapters in our lives. That transitions are natural processes in life, physically in what we do and mentally in our own minds. Decisions we make in pursuit of enjoyment, trusting the gut in what’s best in the current situation, doing what’s best for your own evolution on a personal level, can only ripple out what’s best on a collective level. As we live in rhythm with our own happiness and goals, that’s what we share.
College is the environment of opportunity. By opening a new chapter with NUIG and further my career in wellbeing and music, it just reminds me that opportunities can become realities. Equally to have a chance to play for NUIG is something that I would love to do. I've learnt to understand decision making is the process that happens in pursuit of personal enjoyment and fulfillment. Our interests are in our own interests, our plans are in our own plans, everyone owns their own choices, and in that there's freedom. By learning to respect what I need to do, I’ve learnt that I'll offer that respect to those around me. It is the enjoyment and care for Health at the core. It’s true for me that all the achievements in Ireland and overseas are equal in effort and will, as to the achievement of recovering health and returning to play. I’d like to say thank you so much to all my hockey friends, for all the inspiration, togetherness and sharing the sport. As the Connacht team motto of 10 years goes, "Performance is temporary, friendship is everlasting."
Balance, the Ying Yang Symbol
- Connects with the balance in life, Nature, the elements (such as Sun and Moon, Fire and Water)
Beo & Be
I began the wellbeing classes ‘Beo & Be’ Mindfulness & Qi Gong / Nature Movement. I’ve integrated my experience in mindfulness, qi gong, sport, physiotherapy studies and health science. I’m very grateful to Claddagh primary school, a mighty and encouraging community in the heart of Galway where it all started. Inez Riordan, Micheal Gallagher and Orla Walsh ever a source of encouragement and support, along with a group of staff that embody a special collective bond. I am similarly grateful to the support of Catherine Hickey, the Bobs centre, the staff and pupils of Coláiste Iognáid.
The classes have grown now with the community, in primary schools, in Jes secondary school, the Train Station Gym and Devon House Salthill. Mindfulness & Nature Movements are connected with the practice of Qi Gong, sports wellbeing and physiotherapy studies experience. It’s gentle, grounding movements focusing on breathing & the body’s energy. When I began practicing Qi Gong it was like the feeling like a big window opening and felt a safety that I could steadily recover. I trained with Colin Dempsey of Qi Gong West and knew from day one it was a practice that was going to help me recover my health and influence my career and way of life. I qualified in mindfulness & Qi Gong and now share it with the community. I’m very grateful to Colin for his guidance and sharing his expertise of Qi Gong aswell as Tai Chi and Kung Fu.
The aim of Beo & Be classes are a focused calm approach to health and movement. It benefits health on all levels and nurtures our natural connection to nature’s rhythms. The practices of focused breathing and moving meditation helped me greatly on my road to recovery. There are many practices that connect with the ethos of calming the mind and nourishing the body such as tai chi, qi gong, yoga, sports pilates etc. I’m grateful to be in a position to offer classes of a pathway that helped me very much. These practices along with swimming in the sea, fun gym classes in the Train Station, playing hockey, playing music, going into nature and a community garden are core for me maintaining and evolving good Health.
There are wellbeing choices all around us, and even in each moment Nature wherever we are offers that peace of mind wavelength. Doing the simple things, like taking a stretch or mobility exercises and a few calm breathes even for a few minutes can have a deep effect on how we feel inside and how we connect with what’s going on around us. Creating a bit of inner space can make the challenges on front of us not daunting or overwhelming but remind us of the ability to cope and grow. Inner strength is always there, sometimes it’s just like a seed that needs to be watered. I feel it comes down to the choices I can make day to day, that make all the difference in how I feel and the rhythm of life that can be steady and enjoyable. Clearing stress is right at our fingertips and living freely feels like our natural instinct. A mantra I always come back to is calm in the mind, strong in the heart.
- Symbol of awareness, harmony and peace