Do not conform any longer to the patterns of the world, but be transformed by the constant renewing of your mind Romans 12.2
I picked up again a book I’d read years ago, by Nuala O’Failain, called Are you Somebody? It is a poignant story of being raised in an alcoholic family, a story of cruelty and neglect and fear, of loneliness and regret. It is written completely free of blame and bitterness.
It is a beautiful description of coping and not coping, and living with questions.
On a picnic with ‘luxury sandwiches’ she takes in appreciation for the food, for the dog leaping, the landscape around. She says ‘it isn’t possible not to be thankful with all your heart for such a blue sky and such a sweep of sparkling valley”. She congratulates herself, “how wise I was to be there”. It was a moment of peace.
Then the doubts come… “I didn’t believe in my own wisdom…how can I be so sensible? Will I be able to keep all this positive stuff up? What will happen next year?”
She asks “what happened to make contentment so precarious?” And later “how do people arrange to love their ageing selves?” “how can you persuade yourself to accept your fortune?” ”how to accept loneliness?” which, she notes, exists even in partnerships.
She describes living in turbulence, always moving between opposites – ‘wellbeing and sadness, delight and dullness, acceptance and restless regret”
To assuage this, she has “Yeats ‘company of friends’ in my head… music and books”. She decides “I’ll go out to see things or rather things will make themselves seen… what is out there will be my partner , what I write about will be the record of the relationship”
She recognises that to go over and over the past will keep her in the state of dissatisfaction.
She quotes a poem by Adrienne Rich
“… any time you go back the familiar underpulse
will start its throbbing: HOME, HOME!
And the hole torn and patched over will gape unseen again”
She concludes “Forgive them, forgive yourself”. With that realisation, something inside her that that been agitated for as long as she could remember, went quiet. “why didn’t I see that before, they were only ordinary people…” So “What else can I do? Look after my teeth, listen to all the music that I can and keep going. Keep working on my escape tunnels out of the past. To break through to the ‘here and now’. To be just myself , like the cat, which is so perfectly and unselfconsciously a cat and does not know it will perish. What can I do, when everything is so various, and so beyond me, but cling on, and thank the God I don’t believe in for the miracles showered on me?
Bernadette has worked with the Quest for Life Foundation since early 2006 and is the Senior Facilitator on our residential programs. Her work is treasured by our participants and our team. She has also been developing and refining a deep understanding of the use of appropriate yoga and meditation approaches for use in oncology and with serious illness.
Bernadette maintains close association with International Yoga Teachers Association and is a senior lecturer for their Teacher Training Course. She has designed and delivered yoga teacher training courses for other organisations. During 5 years in the UK she taught retreats, workshops and classes across the UK and in Europe and worked as a personal ‘lifestyle’ coach. Bernadette brings a gentle and loving nature with insight and compassion borne out of her experience. She can assist a deeper connection with the body as a means to rejuvenate the spirit.