September 27, 2020

Can The Present Moment be a Dangerous Place?

Michael Mc Govern, 47

This work was part of a therapeutic process. Each panel represents an important event over the last forty years of my life. They begin with childhood experiences of fear and anxiety that developed into poor mental health. I thought my malaise was spiritual. I entered a monastery and became a Tibetan Buddhist monk. After a decade of rigorous meditation, I found myself still unwell. I later travelled to study with a Zen Master who taught us how to integrate parts of our animal nature. Yet still I felt broken. My aspirations of spiritual enlightenment had died and so I turned to Western Psychology. I engaged in intense work with a therapist, which helped me to create a different narrative and accept my past. I learnt that I was a ‘product’ of Adverse Childhood Experiences and I had developed differently. It transpired that all those hours of spiritual practice had not healed, but further harmed me. I had been reliving traumatic experiences while trying to be in The Present Moment. Now that I have appropriate tools in my mental health toolkit I am working to forgive myself and those who unintentionally mislead me.

Adverse Childhood Experiences and my Strange Journey through Buddhism, 2019Acrylic on board, mounted on a sheet of fabric163cm by 170cm