Tag Archive Meditation

The Power of the Pause

Roger Holmes No Comments

One of the most productive things that we can do, is to do nothing. ‘The pause’ is sometimes the best option amid the many response choices we need to make in our busy lives.

The pause refers to a moment of mindfulness, which if used wisely and regularly, can be key to becoming happier, more content, and ultimately more productive.

Few people like to admit this, and it is something of an elephant in the room, but it can be reasonably assumed that our lives can all be a little too busy and stressful at times. Even if fear of being labeled prevents us from attributing such things to stress or anxiety, we can all identify with worrying about money, job security, health, our children’s welfare, relationships, family affairs etc. Regardless of what it is that gets us flustered, the pause can help.

Of all the things that we spend time stressing about, very few of them are actually happening right at this very moment. Right at this very moment, we are immune from the past and safe from the future. The present moment could be thought of as the eye of the storm. In the eye of the storm, conditions can be completely calm, despite all of the craziness going on all around it.

The pause is literally a moment where we stop, and enjoy what is going on at that very moment, regardless of what that may be. It is a moment of clarity, and generally where there is clarity there is greatly reduced stress and anxiety. The pause may be accompanied by a few deliberate and mindful breaths which can further calm our thoughts.

On a recent road trip to New England, in the north east of the United States, I practiced the pause many times throughout the three day vacation. The feeling of ease which the pause brings is a thing of real beauty. There were many times while journeying through Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and upstate New York, that the pause allowed me to fully appreciate the beauty all around me, while I may have otherwise been fussing about the GPS, phone battery level, the next gas station or diner.

Sometimes on the trip, the pause allowed me to fully appreciate the fall foliage in the trees, the cool calm waters of the lakes, the beauty of the silence, and it added an overall level of enjoyment to the entire experience. How many times on what is meant to be a relaxing trip, do we end up feeling stressed by the journey? The pause can fix that, and keep you focused on enjoying every moment of a much needed break.

Meditation to those who do not meditate, can seem complicated or out of reach. The difficulty with learning to meditate can seem counter intuitive. But anyone can pause. Anyone.

The pause can range from a few seconds to around a minute, and has an instant affect. Try it! Just stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and feel the weight lifting from your shoulders. If you are able to do that, you are able to meditate, and meditation can bring so much contentment that it will make you wonder why you didn’t try it long before now.

The most profound pause came at Lake George, New York. We are just about to leave to drive back to New York City, where the sirens, airplanes, traffic, subway crowds and busy streets would be waiting. I took a last look across the lake and just paused. I paused all movement and thoughts, and focused on the beauty of the view. It was a final last look at the beauty of nature before going back to the city. These are the moments we so often miss. The pause allows us to capture that moment.

Too Busy?…Do Less! The Benefits of Meditation

Roger Holmes No Comments

I’ve now been blogging about the benefits of meditation for around two and a half years. The reaction has been interesting. The most common feedback I get, is when people say that I must have a lot of time on my hands. That’s the whole point!

Everyone has something to fill their schedule – work, kids, school, training, commuting etc etc. Most people would identify with the term “I don’t have a minute”. Well, guess what? That is not actually true. If we didn’t commute for two hours every day, we would find something else to fill that time-slot. If we worked ten hours less in a week, we wouldn’t spend those ten hours relaxing. We are very adept at filling voids, so that we can avoid having to quietly face ourselves.

The Benefits of Meditation

Doing nothing does not mean sleeping. It is not achieved by watching television, or constantly checking social media. It is not ‘chilling out’ by drinking alcohol or getting high. It is not exercise. Those are all somethings. Doing nothing relates to the mind and not the body. In fact, we are so incapable of telling ourselves to switch off, that business leaders are now telling us to do it. Business now accepts the benefits of meditation.

For a long time, some of the worlds largest corporations paid for their staff to attend a gym, go to the movies, join social groups etc. The intention was simple – keep people healthy, and they will be more loyal and productive. Well, that may be true, and many continue to do so. But many now do it as a perk, not solely as a  productivity tool. That is because a new realization relating to the benefits of meditation is now in vogue.

Slowly, companies such as Ford, Google, Apple, Adobe, and even Goldman Sachs among others, began to realize that the traditional methods of keeping staff healthy and motivated had a flaw. They are costly, and do not necessarily equate to increased productivity. So the realization was simple – by acknowledging the benefits of meditation, they are now encouraging employees to take time out. This is an increasingly popular benefit to business.

Meditation is not some hippy pass-time for those with unlimited free time. I know that this is a misconception, because that is how I once viewed it. But I am now extremely grateful that I embraced meditation. The benefits of meditation have helped me in so many ways.

Just for a second, stop to consider how often we check on things. Phone, car fuel level, speed, weight, train schedules, social media, our appearance etc. But how often do we do a check-up on the one thing that drives all of the things that we do? Most of us don’t use the brains equivalent to anti-virus, anti-malware software for our IT systems. Most people don’t even realize when they are out of sync.

Have you ever seen a person sitting and bouncing their leg up and down? Or tapping something incontrolably? Watching this is like witnessing some sort of mental twitch. The person does not realize they are doing it. I once did, and sometimes still do. But I find that the benefits of meditation quieten that restlessness. Meditation is a discipline, which helps me to understand how I can focus my attention. If I can train myself to focus on nothing, then for the remainder of the day, it becomes a whole lot easier to focus on the ‘somethings’.

The basic premise is that the subconscious if much more powerful than the conscious. When we meditate, we learn to discipline the subconscious, so that we can get better results by having a more concentrated conscious mind. The conscious mind is how we concentrate, enabling us to learn and follow logical tasks. Therefore we not only perform better, but we have greater capacity to appreciate and enjoy the world around us.

I also find that meditation gives me a more natural balance between humility and confidence. This, for me at least, is very important. Ego can be a destructive force. It is closely linked to a lack of humility. I have found that ego equates to me feeling that I am deserving of something good happening. Confidence is the feeling that I am capable of making something good happen. When I meditate, I feel more confident in the decisions that I make, and these are the decisions that positively affect my life. These are the benefits of meditation.

The companies who have introduced mindfulness in the workplace have done so to help their staff to be more innovative and concentrated on their work. Being more concentrated leads to better results. Six hours of concentrated work is probably better that eight hours of stressful laborious thought-interrupted work right? If a profit-driven multinational sees the benefits of meditation by asking tens of thousands of staff to do it, then don’t you think you owe it to yourself to do the same? By doing it on your own initiative,  YOU get the benefits of meditation. It is surely worth a try. I tried it, and it is working for me.

If you are unsure how to meditate, you could start by trying The Paris Method; a five-step technique that leads to a peaceful state where you can meditate.

If you have tried it, look me up and let me know how it went for you – I love hearing feedback!





Wild Atlantic Retreat in Glencolmcille, Donegal

Roger Holmes No Comments

Wild Atlantic Retreat announced for weekend of March 11th-13th 2016, in Glencolmcille, Donegal, Ireland

Let the refreshing ambience of the Wild Atlantic Way soothe your soul in one of Ireland’s most spectacular coastal locations.

Wild Atlantic Retreat

Wild Atlantic Retreat

Get away from it all for a magical weekend of pure fresh air, ocean views, chill-out time, hiking, meeting new friends, meditation, live music, good food and spectacular scenery. This is your chance to escape the world, on The Paris Method‘s inaugural Wild Atlantic Retreat in Glencolmcille, County Donegal, Ireland.

The calming influence of the open ocean and spectacular coastline along the Wild Atlantic Way in south west Donegal will revitalize you, setting you up for a great spring and summer. Staying at one of Ireland’s finest hostels, Aras Gleann Colm Cille, you will be treated to the famously warm Donegal welcome, and enjoy a memorable weekend of YOU time.


  • Friday March 11th, Check into the wonderful Aras Gleann Colm Cille. (Check their trip-advisor here).
  • Friday evening ‘Meet and Greet’, followed by an introduction to the area, and The Paris Method.
  • Saturday March 12th Following breakfast, we spend a quiet hour together, building on our introduction to meditation.
  • Hike to the wonderful Silver Strand Beach at Malin Beg, picturesque pier and Martello Tower (With Packed Lunch).
  • After a warm shower, relax over a simple but delicious home cooked evening meal.
  • After dinner meditation hour.
  • Saturday night live music entertainment.
  • Sunday March 13th breakfast followed by short meditation time, and reflections on our experiences.
  • Sightseeing trip to the majestic Slieve League cliffs (With Packed Lunch).
  • Lunchtime check-out with farewell session.

FREE collection/drop-off to connect with local transport services.Fly-Drive package available from Dublin and Glasgow via Donegal Airport

  • PRICE: €119 per person sharing.


To book your place:

Web: www.arasgcc.com

Email: info AT arasgcc DOT com

Phone: +353 74 973 0077

Hostel Facebook Page:  Aras Ghleann Colm Cille

The Paris Method Facebook Page: The Paris Method

*Itinerary subject to change, based on group size and weather conditions

Tranquility at St John’s Point, Donegal

Roger Holmes No Comments

A journey through Donegal, on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, brings an eclectic mix of experiences. A land of outstanding natural beauty collides with the might of the north Atlantic Ocean, and the result is a spectacular coastline which is ideal for many types of activities and vacations. Among the many spellbinding visual wonders, Donegal also has a mystical, thought provoking and inspiring allure.


Donegal Bay

Donegal Bay, Ireland. At peace in the late evening sunlight. Mid-December 2014


The experience I will recount, happened during the busy shopping days in the lead up to the Christmas holidays of 2014. I was feeling a little bereft of Christmas spirit. As mentioned in my bio, at that time I was still finding my feet after an accident, and was therefore a long way from where I had been the previous year. Being off work and recovering from an accident, meant that money was tight, and so, I was beginning to feel a bit like The Grinch. Self-pity mode had been activated, therefore some ‘me’ time was needed, to ensure that this feeling would not spoil the holidays.

Back then, I was still in the process of forming (or becoming aware of) the meditation technique which is today The Paris Method. Now, when I use the method, I could be on a crowded train and still manage to have a quiet moment to myself. But back then, I relied heavily on the tangible conduit of the wild Atlantic coastline in Donegal.




So, in mid-afternoon on that busy December day, I took off, leaving the crowded streets of the market town behind. As it was already well into the short December day, I needed to go south. I wasn’t sure where, but I was going south.

Following the mid-winter sun, hoping to catch a glimpse before it disappeared, I arrived on the shores of Donegal Bay. And then, I remembered someone had mentioned that they had visited a lighthouse at the end of a peninsula in this area, so I decided to find it. I’m now very grateful that I did.

Midway between Donegal Town and the cliffs at Sliabh Liag, the road weaves and dips through the village of Dunkineely, which almost stands as a gate lodge for the road to St John’s Point – a long and narrow headland sticking straight out into Donegal Bay. The road passes by the haunting ruin of McSwynes Castle, a 15th century stronghold which passed through many owners, before falling into disrepair. Marguerite at Castlemurray House across the road, will be happy to tell you the history of the area, in her beautiful boutique hotel.


Donegal Bay Sliabh Liag

Donegal Bay, Ireland, on a clear December evening in 2014. Looking towards Sliabh Liag


I stopped briefly to admire the evening views over Coral Beach, a lovely little cove on the sheltered side of the headland, which has blue flag status, meaning it is safe for swimming. These waters are also very popular for snorkeling, diving and fishing. The photo below shows Coral Beach in summer. It is a lovely place for a quiet day out on the beach.



Coral Beach, St Johns Pt, Donegal, Ireland on the Wild Atlantic Way. Image: welovedonegal.com


Onwards I went, further out into the bay, venturing over the stretch of moorland which rises up to screen the tip of the peninsula from the mainland. It was then that I saw the lighthouse sitting proudly in all of it’s glory, looking out over Donegal Bay towards the setting winter sun. It is a view that has stayed with me, and I recall it often.


St John's Point Lighthouse

St John’s Point Lighthouse, looking out over Donegal Bay, Ireland.


I walked around for a while, taking pictures, enjoying the fresh air, and admiring this very special place. As the sun neared the horizon, I ventured past the lighthouse, down onto he rocks near a small jetty. I sat down there for a period of time, and was given one of the most serene experiences that anyone could ever wish for.

The ocean was calm. There was little or no wind. Considering it was close to the winter solstice, the sky was unusually bright and clear. The reflecting light coming off the smooth waters of the bay was amazing. I closed my eyes and listened to the gentle lapping of the water against the jetty. It was just such a peaceful scene.

I practiced The Paris Method, and sat in silence, fully aware of the beauty around me at that very moment. I was completely at ease. I had moved from Grinch to gratitude. From cranky to content, and from self-pity to serenity. Time stood still. The entire world right then seemed to be at peace.

As I again slowly started to walk around the tip of the peninsula, taking pictures and videos, I reminded myself just how lucky I am to have such an amazing place to call home. I was also gratefully aware that the motivational powers of the Wild Atlantic Way in Donegal, had once again given me such peace and contentment.

The location of St John’s Point Lighthouse, sitting proudly over 7 miles out into Donegal Bay, offers many beautiful views, and symbolic perspectives. From Donegal Town to Bundoran in the east, Sligo and Mayo to the south, and beyond Killybegs, Kilcar and Teelin to Sliabh Liag and Rathlin O’Birne Island in the west, the seascapes are breathtaking. As the sun gradually disappeared over Mayo, sea fog began to creep up on Sliabh Liag. To the north, the magnificent wilderness of the Bluestack Mountains began to slowly drift out of sight.



In the cold twilight, I once again sat, looking towards south Donegal and Sligo. Benbulben, the majestic and iconic mountain which presides over that stretch of coastline was silhouetted on the last of the amber evening sky. I thought about her most famous son, Ireland’s first Nobel laureate, Sligo poet William Butler Yeats. What is probably his most celebrated poem came to mind:


I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,

And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;

Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,

And live alone in the bee-loud glade.


And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,

Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;

There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,

And evening full of the linnet’s wings.


I will arise and go now, for always night and day

I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;

While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,

I hear it in the deep heart’s core.


In The Lake Isle of Innisfree , WB Yeats is apparently using the romantic dream of escaping to a peaceful and remote place, to lift his spirits as he makes his way through the busy streets of a 19th century city. The Atlantic on that December evening was as peaceful as the Lough Gill waters, where in Yeats dream he would build his wattle cabin. I realized that Yeats romantic dream from 1890, which he kept with him in his heart everywhere he went, could also apply to my use of The Paris Method.

I cannot always rely on having the time or means to take off and chase the sunset to beautiful locations in search of peace. As much as I love the Donegal shore, I cannot always be here. I need to be able to recreate the images and the peace they give me while I walk the busy streets of life. As I turned to leave, I wondered if Yeats had been to St John’s Point on an evening such as this. I’m sure he had.

As I started the car, the radio turned on. An Irish evening talk-show host and his guest were discussing the issue of men being less willing to discuss their emotions and feelings. It occurred to me that perhaps many men would indeed be willing to discuss their feelings, but are probably not overly comfortable with the response it would receive. Asking for full disclosure is all very well and good, but understanding and accepting it is another matter entirely.

Turning the radio off, I smiled and became busy with my own positive thoughts and plans concerning this blog, and the things that I will write about. As the last of the light faded, I began my northward journey home. Another Yeats poem came to mind in this ”night and light and the half light”.

I hope The Paris Method can give you as much as it has given me. I am doing this for the silent men. On their behalf, I remember Yeats lines …


I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.



Donegal Bay, Ireland, in the ”Night and light, and the half light”

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