Mindfulness to Silent, And A Very Fitting Standing Ovation for the Grand Finale of Listowel Writers’ Week 2014

 

Tishani Doshi and Dave Morrison at the Colourful Spirits Launch
Tishani Doshi and artist Dave Morrison at the Colourful Spirits Launch

There is always a feeling of sweet sadness mixed with a lingering exhilaration when we pack up our bags and decamp from The Arms Hotel on the Sunday evening of Listowel Writers’ Week. The positive feedback we have received this year has been tremendous, with social media going absolutely crazy over the past few days, from authors, performers, workshop directors, participants and visitors.

Take a look at some of the other marvellous events that took place during that magical week.

To everyone’s delight, the beautiful (everybody said so!) Tishani Doshi launched the Colourful Spirits Exhibition, Response, at the Seanchaí Centre on Friday 30th May. The innovative exhibition consisted of a collection of visual responses to the work of writers attending Listowel Writers’ Week 2014. The Centre was packed to capacity and Colourful Spirits laid on the most delicious buffet, including generous amounts of wine. By all accounts it was a roaring success and last time I heard, a number of the exhibits had been snapped up.

Emeka Ezebuiro and Jane Ovbunde of Diverse Writers with Seán Lyons
Emeka Ezebuiro and Jane Ovbunde of Diverse Writers with Seán Lyons

The Tralee Diverse Writers’ Group were in The Feale Room at The Arms Hotel at 12 noon on Sunday. This is the second year they have been at the festival and this year they explored the theme of conflict in our society and wider world, and performed a mixture of poetry, prose, monologue and short stories. Entertainment was provided by the Tralee International Resource Centre drumming group and guitar player and singer, Ronnie Moore.

On Sunday we welcomed Pádraig O’Morain, a practitioner of Mindfulness for the past 25 years. Ideal for the Sunday afternoon, after the full-on activity and excitement of the previous four days. It was another hugely popular event.

Pádraig started off by asking the audience not to take his word for anything he was about to say, but to go and practice it and find out for themselves. He then had everyone doing a few exercises, which he described as a simple and effective Mindfulness practice. We started off by becoming aware of our breathing, posture, our feet and hands, and then the sounds we could hear, both inside and outside of the room. When we focused our attention on the furthest away sound, we were then to return to concentrating on our breathing.

The first aspect of Mindfulness, he said, is about returning your attention to what is going on in the now. The second is accepting the reality that your mind is starting to

Padraig O Morain signing a copy of his book
Padraig O Morain signing a copy of his book

drift, and as soon as you do that, return to the breathing. The third aspect is labelling. As soon as you feel negative emotions such as anger or fear, label the emotion in your mind and then return to the breathing.

The benefits of Mindfulness, he said, included being less reactive to negative events and developing a greater sense of empathy.

There was a Q&A at the end of the session and an audience member questioned him on whether Mindfulness can help with depression. Pádraig answered that it is best not to practice Mindfullness when depressed, as when we are depressed, we tend to ruminate. So Mindfulness is certainly not a cure for depression. If anything, it is more a preventative measure.

Padraig O’Moran’s latest book is called Mindfulness on the Go – Peace in your Pocket. You can also log onto his website for more information at www.padraigomorain.com

Pat Kinevane with Fergal Keane
Pat Kinevane with Eamon Keane

The grand finale of the festival was the hugely talented Pat Kinevane’s one-man production, Silent. Shocking, heartbreaking, brave and beautiful, this stunning production brought Kinevane a prolonged standing ovation at St John’s Theatre on Sunday night. If you haven’t seen Silent already, I highly recommend you do.