At a time when mental health has become an essential part of keeping healthy, local author Brigid Lowry offers a wise and witty companion in her new book of essays.
By Ara Jansen
If you only had a year to live, how would you do it?
In her latest book, A Year of Loving Kindness to Myself, author Brigid Lowry gently reveals one way we can live and make the most of our years.
Informed by decades of practising Zen Buddhism and learning about modern psychology, this collection of essays is a calming cup of tea and a balm for the soul. What’s delightful and indeed soothing about Brigid’s book is that she’s letting you know she has bad days, too. and doesn’t always get it right.
It’s a refreshing alternative to self-help books by people who say they are on the other side of their stuff and are therefore experts in instructing us how to be as happy
as they are.
For the Perth author, the days aren’t always brilliant. Brigid, like all of us, is imperfect.
In September’s essay ‘On Wonder’, the writer paints a spirited picture of spring. She reminds us how often we forget to “bow down to the marvel of our own existence”. She assures us that wonder is indeed a wonderful thing. When in doubt she gently counsels, “lean towards awesome”.
Throughout the book, the author offers strategies and hard-fought wisdom for finding ease and grace in a life which, try as we might, will sometimes exist side-by-side with suffering.
As an award-winning young adult author with a master’s degree in creative writing, Brigid spent her 20s living in a Buddhist community outside Sydney. This set her on a life-long path of Buddhism and later Zen.
“When I was at the Margaret River Writers Festival recently, people who came to my session said they were glad I wasn’t saying I knew everything,” Brigid says. “It’s important to show that and to have some humour about it.
“With all of the things happening in the world – from COVID to #MeToo and the climate change crisis – people need solace and humour, but they don’t need me to be pushy.”
While the timings might not be exact, the events and experiences Brigid relates are real. Making friends with your emotions is wise, she suggests, but murderous rages are not to be encouraged. Walk, journal, watch funny shows and “do something every day that brings ease to your body”.
“A lot of things I talk about around kindness are found in many religions,” she says. “In the moment, I try to live simply and be kind. I’m interested in what our capacity is to live with difficult feelings and to truly realise that it’s human. But we also have the capacity to hold our own emotions and must know it’s OK to feel gorgeous, horny, cranky or contented. Can we be one with our feelings? All of them? That’s what fascinates me.
“If COVID has taught us anything, it’s that a simple life and pure pleasures such as a cup of tea, a friendly smile or not wearing a mask, are a joy.”
A Year of Loving Kindness to Myself is published by Fremantle Press. (RRP Hardback $29.95).
We have three copies of Brigid Lowry’s book to give away, thanks to Fremantle Press. Visit our competitions page to enter.