The Buddhist CEO: A Zen summer of ups and downs
It has been a few months since my last update, which is longer than usual. This has been a strange last few months and I have been forced into taking things a bit slower. Read on for my reflections of a Zen summer of ups and downs.
Regular readers of this blog will know that I was diagnosed with a neurological condition known as FND (Functional Neurological Disorder) about four years ago. During the first two years of my illness I was very unwell. My main symptoms being dizziness, fatigue, memory issues and pain and numbness across several areas of my body. However, with the help of a fantastic doctor specialsing in FND I have made great progress over the last two years. To the point where I felt close to being normal at times. But FND is charaterised by sudden flare ups and that is what happened this summer.
About 10 weeks ago I started to feel unwell again. The dizziness and fatigue came back quite strongly and I generally felt really unwell. As I write this post, I am still not feeling great but there are signs I have started to turn a corner. So what has this meant for my novel, my Zen Buddhist practice and life in general over the summer.
The promotion of my book has slowed a bit now. There was a concerted PR effort for 8 months after the release but that has tailed off a bit now as the initial campaign comes to an end. I have still been appearing on some podcasts and I have two more to release over the coming months. But I would like to have done a bit more these last few months but I have had to accept that I have felt too ill for this. I will come back to this theme of acceptance in a moment.
Likewise I had plans to climb more mountains and possibly visit some new places throughout Scotland and the wider UK this summer. My health was so good at the start of the summer I climbed my first mountain since my FND diagnosis. I even purchased a tent and slept out on a few occassions. Unfortunately those plans are on hold just now until this phase of my FND journey passes.
For me the important aspect of dealing with this set back has been accepting the situation. Buddhism teaches us about living our life here and now in this moment and to avoid clinging to attachments. This might sound easy but when we start to meditate and develop a Buddhist practice we realise this is not so easy. Minds think, it's just what they do. When we sit in meditation, our mind starts to chatter and starts wondreing what we are doing next, or what's for tea. When we get ill, like in meditation our mind starts to add stories. We start to want to feel better, or think only if life wasn't like this things would be better. All of these thoughts are unhelpful I find. The Buddhist approach is to avoid creating ideals of how well I should be and what I should be able to do. There is just this moment. In the moment I sometimes don't feel well. If I feel unwell, I try and just feel unwell. No need to add a story to it. Even when unwell my experince of trying to bring a curious, contemplative mind to my life, shows me that even when I am unwell there is still a sense of peace beneath it all. This peace is hard to explain in words, but I feel it and sense it. This is how I try and live with my illness and it seems to help.
However there have still been some developments with my novel the Buddhist CEO. I was thrilled to appear on one of my favourite podcasts "In Conversation with Nathalie Nahai". In the podcast we discuss a wide range of topics including my novel and what Zen practice can offer the modern world and the relvance of the Buddha's teaching today. Listen below.
Another highlight was recently being asked to speak at a group in my home city of Aberdeen called Alpha Alignment. They are a group of men that come together to offer support to one another and to learn about various spiritual practices and how to look after themselves well in the modern world. I felt incredibly welcomed by them and it was a pleasure to speak to them about my novel and Zen practice in general.
Hopefully that is me feeling well enough to start writing this blog again. If you enjoy its content then please consider purchasing a copy of my novel The Buddhist CEO. Regular readers of the blog know that I share a daily poem on twitter, instagram and Facebook, along with one of my own photos. Below I share a couple of my favourite poems since my last blog post. If you enjoy them please follow me on social media using the links on my website. Until the next time stay safe and well my friends.
Autumn has caught up
With my meditation
Now when I enter the zendo
The world is dark
I watch the candle flicker
The small red light
As the incense burns
In the morning sky
Soon I’ll be joined
By shimmering morning frost
I look from the
Across the North Sea
Rise from the depths
Enjoy their moment in the sun
Before returning to the source
I watch on for a moment
Then sit zazen