Scrolling through Jay Shetty’s Instagram with one hand & Chopra’s ‘The Shadow Effect’ in the other, I tried to give my hungover head the impression that I was super zen and had my shit together. If I’m showing up to meditate, I must have my thoughts under control & they are surely going to be clear as I move forward, correct?
Eh, no. Meditation is not a miracle for your negative thoughts, worries or indeed, anxiety. It is however an opportunity to sit & figure out the space between this busy life & your mind. During Covid times, it’s well, more important than ever.
In 2016, a lady called Hilda Carroll gave me the opportunity to ‘Come om’ with her as she launched an online course. I tried it out & was sporadic with how I applied it & partook in the meditation. I did however dip my toe & introduce my blog readers & instagram fam to this practice.
Fast forward to 2020 & I’ve become a more consistent meditator. As I’ve navigated through the Pandemic, lock down & other challenges this year, it’s been a practice that has helped me so much to make sense of happenings & relax my mind. Not to mention – processing some emotions I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Moreover, Chopra’s 20 day abundance challenge meant that I had to hold myself accountable so I could pass forward the meditation via WhatsApp to another group. Paying it forward got me into the habit that was meditation.
During 2020, we’ve been forced to face our vices. Let’s be realistic, we (all) have them & they give us a short-term dopamine fix throughout our weeks. Whether that’s 20 Benson a day, a bottle of Pinot Grigio or binging on Ben & Jerrys’ – such fixes become crutches to lean on as ‘a treat’ or a ‘sure, it’s lockdown & we deserve it’. There’s no judgement here (I had a few glasses of vino with my dinner last night & it was divine). What I’m saying is that we have options when we’re reaching for these during moments of stress & anxiety.
The idea of meditation is about sitting with our thoughts (what thoughts they may be & whether we want them to exist or not). Meanwhile, the temptation when those thoughts get rather too hot (or tricky) to handle, is to reach for those ‘treats’. We self-medicate with a bit of vino, smoke a few cigarettes for a reprieve or stuff our faces with chocolate so we can get a hit of sugar as we watch a movie.
This week, take a look at what you’re consuming. As always, it has an impact on who you are & how you navigate through your life. The substances, food & hits feel good in the short-term, sure. But what about the medium to long-term?
Take one of those temptations and replace with some deep breathing time, a Chopra meditation or sitting in silence for ten minutes. I promise you’ll learn something new about yourself.
Here are some examples of resources (check out my Instagram for more).
Sitting at home as we embarked on another weekend at home during lock-down, I reached out to Aisling from Paint Club for a catch up & to talk through her business venture I had learned about during pre-covid times. Girlfriends of mine had posted some photos of beautiful starry nights on their Instagram, of quality paintings they had produced while sipping on prosecco in a bar in Limerick. It sounded like an adventure to me & such a great idea so I kept it wandering through my newsfeeds.
In a world where we are more and more focused on our screens, stepping away and doing something that flexes that creative muscle is well needed. Equally, it’s good for morale. A dopamine hit that’s focused on colours on a page rather than likes popping up in the corner of our screen sounded well, wonderfully enticing.
Fast forward to 2020, still browsing on Instagram & I learn that Aisling & team are doing virtual Paint Club sessions on a weekly basis. They’re covering a range of paintings with different artists to suit various tastes. The term Paint Club Fairies is one that I immediately fall in love with & with a focus on Irish businesses needed now more than ever, Paint Club continued to have my curiosities rising. Naturally, as I had been eyeing up businesses on Instagram that have been inspiring & crushing it during such a weird time, I was keen to talk to her.
Zooming on a random Wednesday evening, I wanted to learn as much as possible from this lady. Not only has she been running a business started herself, she’s managed to have it thriving during a Pandemic. Pretty epic, right?
Aisling is an absolute lady to speak to. Greeted by her with a wonderful smile, sense of humour and approximately 1 million paintings in the background, Aisling lifted my spirits from the moment we engaged. She was clearly excited about what was to come & gave so much insight into her business & the art industry as a whole.
It was interesting to hear that, during this pandemic, there has been a global shortage when it comes to art supplies. This means that well, more & more people have been turning to art to get their juices flowing and/or to rekindle their love of once practiced talents. It has equaled to longer wait times for orders made online & suppliers are needing to work even faster to meet demand.
It’s not a surprise that this is the case when you understand the turn-outs for Paint Club’s sessions & the boom of art posts trending on Instagram. People have been exchanging swipes on Tinder for swipes of a paintbrush. Meanwhile, using art to rejig their minds while they try to make sense of what’s happening in this Narnia that is 2020.
‘I can’t believe I painted that’ is a common response from PaintClub artists. As they ascertain their skillset while staring lovingly at their paintings & how they moved from having a blank canvas to a wonderful art piece they can hang in their living room, it’s hard to not feel great about yourself. Multiply that painting by 3-4 if you’ve decided to engage in the online session with your family or housemates & you’ve got yourself an art collection.
Since taking part in PaintClub in June, walking into our living room here in Dundrum is quite the adventure. My house mate & I keenly ask every visitor ‘guess who did which painting’ as we proudly point to our ‘In the Deep’ jelly fish leaning against the bookshelf. We had sat on a Sunday afternoon creating them with a friend as we pulled string across canvases, speckled acrylic colour for an ocean effect & compared our different styles with the exact same instruction.
As Aisling taught me during our chat, art is like hand-writing – everyone’s is different. Like our minds, personalities & ways of life, variety is the spice that makes it. This is what renders these Paintclub classes extra wonderful – each is made your own. Visit Paint Club’s Instagram here.
Paint Club sessions are run on a weekly basis up to 4 times with a mixture of paintings to choose from. With the original paintings inspired by Irish culture & geographical landmarks, browsing through the options is recommended. You’ll also get access to a Facebook group that will allow you to rewatch the recording & get support as you navigate your best painting.
More recently, Aisling & co have introduced a new pricing structure with Bronze, Silver & Gold tickets which determines access level for you. Learn more here.
A massive thanks to Aisling for her time & for sharing insight on her business, the art world & herself. Be sure to pop by & see what’s happening.
They said we needed to pack up our stuff & adapt to a new work from home life. Going through the motions while running around like the headless chickens we felt like, we barely had a moment to think of how surreal & strange a life we were about to start navigating. When it came to moving forward, we were told – hey! keep going & we’ll get back to normal at some stage. This is immediately met by those who don’t want that normal back. The ‘what is the new normal?’ debate brigade come out in full force and reminded us that indeed, we have more work to do.
We all know this could be a long time away. That’ll be the night, though! When we find our way back to Copperface Jack’s with a Yagerbomb in one hand & signaling the dj to play the latest cringy pop tune with the other. We’ll lie on our sitting room floors nursing our hangovers the next day & check in with ourselves reflecting on what it was like during pandemic when we couldn’t get that drunk or wild because of the limits set on us.
Our hopes of finding a clear next step makes us anxious at the thought of identifying our future path & oh my, the amount of future paths we can take.
Which one are you contemplating today, by the way?
No need to be overwhelmed though, we’ll figure it all out. Or if we don’t, we’ll keep seeking & searching while having redundant ‘what if’ conversations about our futures.
Speaking of ‘what if’ conversations, oh how I wish I’d been told this in my earlier years, there’s a Pandemic on the way & it’s going to be mega WEIRD. Somehow, the possibilities about our futures didn’t encompass this as a possibility.
Mary Schmich was right.
“Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.”
Fast forward to post-covid times. We’ll all talk about how weird it is & how this time in our history will make some school books in years to come. Meanwhile, we’ll be lying on some beach with people sitting less than two metres away. We’ll stop randomly during conversations to go and wash our hands yet again and highlight to our friends that well, things haven’t gone back fully to the way they were before.
As we move into Winter-time, the evenings will get shorter, our energy may drop & indeed, we’ll reassess all the things two or three more times. It’s a great time to be opportunistic. What can we learn? What does this mean & how lucky are we?
Watch this space as I talk through ways of managing through Pandemic times in our Winter world.