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The power of outstretched hands

Gavin Thomas Murphy runs a website called Gratitude In All Things where he looks to Ignatian Spirituality for strength and inspiration.

Do you ever find yourself getting stuck in negativity after a challenging interaction? Or perhaps you’re not conscious of your inner dialogue but find that you dip in mood afterwards? I had the opportunity to face such demons head on with a kind hearted and wise man.

Like the open-armed statue of Francis of Assisi at Ards Friary in County Donegal, I’ve been able to let go over the last couple of weeks. I’ve let go of my plans, I’ve let go of my dreams, and I’ve let go of my stress for something much bigger and warmer.

The many locals and visitors know what I’m talking about when I speak of a universal rhythm and feeling to this place. There is the forest, the sea, the chanting of joyful men and women, and if you were a guest like me, you could do a retreat to catch up on your life and become more fully alive. It is hard to describe the feeling of Ards, but you will recognise it when you come.

It dawned on me, as I was guided through practical body-based exercises, that I was getting caught up with a negative energy of condemnation – internally pointing the finger at myself and others – and I was invited to embrace a positive energy of love, to see reality as it was and to tune into a bigger self.

I came to realise that I was identifying with my pain and suffering that left me fearful, distrustful and half-hearted. For example, I had the same kind of inner condemnation around my low mood that only fed the cycle of negativity and persisted for days at an unconscious level.

This treacherous landscape surfaced as I journaled my thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and impulses after the exercises. I felt moved to relate to the world in a different way. I learned to appreciate the people I identified my low mood to. I imagined that I saw their goodness and they saw mine.

Moreover, I experienced what it was like to disidentify from my challenges in life to the extent that I could truly say, “I have low mood, but I am not my low mood. I have low mood, and I am more than my low mood”.

Are you also invited to let go? To stretch out your hands? To experience incredible freedom?

Perhaps the next time you struggle with a vulnerable mood, you can choose to live your life from a deeper, warmer place. You can choose to surrender your stress. You can experience the power of outstretched hands.