The vibrations are especially good in Cathy Pearson's back garden off the South Circular Road in Dublin today. The founder of the Celtic Woodland Yoga Festival - which runs virtually, August 1 to 3, from Townley Hall in Ardagh, Co Louth - waxes lyrical about how the world has entered a time where consciousness is rising through movements like Black Lives Matter. Cathy also says "a lot of people are now doing their inner work", healing themselves, their relationships and the world around them. The hot summer sun was high overhead as Cathy posed the big philosophical question: imagine if Michael D Higgins was president of the United States of America.
"It would be a nation of hearts and art, because he is a great yogi," she answers.
"The arts would be valued and people would find expression easily, and be encouraged to see all people as equal and worthy.
"There would be no basic human rights; there would be the highest ideals of human potential rights reached. Free healthcare and education for everyone, and nature would be respected and preserved at all costs.
"Of course now we have the direct opposite," Cathy continues, "a narcissistic man who has never dealt with his own childhood trauma. But it's all coming out in the wash now which is good. It will probably get worse before it gets better but there are so many amazing, intelligent, awakened American people who see through Trump. He's the shadow of all our psyches really... until we clean them up. That's why we have to do our inner work and enlighten our unconscious mind, and it takes courage."
The daughter of Eileen and film producer Noel Pearson, Cathy's earliest memories are of "the back of theatres and film sets". She lived with her mother in Monkstown, south Dublin. When Cathy was eight or nine her parents "just decided to do their own thing. That was healthy I think," says Cathy, who also has a younger brother, Leo, a composer. "My mum and dad got on very well. We would see him every week or whenever he was in Ireland. There was never any kind of discord between them."
Her granny Catherine, who lived with them, was "a wild character who left home at 18 and went off travelling to London. I probably take after her the most." Cathy went to school in Loreto Dalkey, which she describes as not her happiest time. "I had great friendships there but that way of educating didn't really sink in. I remember being told I should learn how to do secretarial work or become an air hostess or a beautician. That was all they ever saw we would be able to do."
Cathy admits now that her mother "put up with a lot from me. She was always fearful something could happen to me and I didn't help with that by always wanting my freedom and being quite wild". She found growing up in Ireland "very tough at times".
"I was and am very sensitive and I realised at 15 or 16 that the world is a pretty messed-up, unkind and an unconscious place, with so many man-made rules that made no sense to me." Cathy had to push the boundaries to find to "what was real and what was simply the culture around me".
She rebelled against school. "Nothing serious," she says, "but I had no interest in it." The experience of education felt for Cathy "like being squished into a box that I was never going to fit into".
Cathy was "never destructive or stupid".
"The opposite really," she says. She was always looking for "connection of some sort in a world that seemed and still does seem, very disconnected".
Cathy says that when the journey of finding meaning and connection starts so young - "and the schooling and community has no way of supporting that in a young person" - that "it's painful".
"So many people will relate to this," she continues, "it's not a singular realisation. That's why it's so important that we listen to our kids, really listen, because they are connected to a higher energy and have been less influenced by society, they are wise. It's so important to keep empowering children, trusting them and letting them find solutions for themselves. Otherwise they are going to rebel and maybe even hurt themselves in the process.
"Sure, I played out all the normal teenage stuff of alcohol and drugs but it bored me very quickly," she says, "… just another thing to fill up with temporarily." In her teenage years, Cathy got, she says, "a lot of things out of my system fairly quickly".
Her mother took Cathy, aged 15, to visit her godfather, the composer and conductor of film scores, Elmer Bernstein in Los Angeles for the summer, which she found "very educational".
"I was going to these parties with my godfather's daughter and they were wild. All these kids driving around in Porsches and Mercedes with tonnes of money. I had never seen anything like it. I arrived in my baggy jeans and my T-shirts from Ireland."
When she returned from LA, her father cast Cathy as an extra in a film he was producing. "I ended up being an extra in My Left Foot," she says, adding that the first time she met the film's lead Daniel Day-Lewis he was "in character. He was method acting the whole way through that. He was in a wheelchair and doing the whole character of Christy Brown. Then I met him a year later when he was in a tuxedo in Dublin Castle; it was a transformation."
Her own transformation was in full flow some years later. Twenty-one years of age, Cathy travelled to India with her boyfriend for a three-week holiday. A student at Oxford, he had go back to university at the end of the three weeks. Cathy, being Cathy, changed her flight and stayed on in India on her own for six months. She went to Varanasi, "where they burn the bodies on the ghats. It is one of the holiest places in India. I was amazed by everything I saw. It was mind-blowing."
Were Cathy's parents' minds blown in a different way while their daughter was in India on her own for five months?
"I don't think they knew I was on my own, actually," she laughs.
"I had one amazing train trip. I was on a train by myself when these two Indian men came into the carriage. They asked me, 'Where are you going?' I told them I was going to Calcutta to check out Mother Teresa's place. It was a 15-hour train journey. 'Where is your husband?' 'I don't have one.' 'Where is your father?' 'He is at home.'" The two Indian gentlemen were so horrified at the answers from this young Irish woman that they escorted her the whole way to Calcutta.
"Until I got to my hotel," she smiles.
What had inspired the spiritual trip in 1995 to India (a country Cathy has been to every year since) was meeting the famous author and psychiatrist Ivor Browne when she was 19. "He was - is - a great friend of my mother's. I was working in Brussels and Amsterdam, back and forth. Then I came back to Ireland and I'd had so much fun seeing the world and Ireland was not so exciting. I was feeling down and depressed and disillusioned. I was going through a slump, like all teenagers. I told my mum that I just wasn't happy. Then she introduced me to Ivor. Thank God my mum was able to listen to me and bring in some positive influences like Ivor Browne."
He suggested that Cathy needed to learn how the mind works. "I think a lot of our mind is conditioned to believe and to have certain patterns of thought," she says.
"I have been studying this for 30 years. I think our mind is so influenced by outside forces, by our culture, by the way that we're raised, by our religious upbringing. And I think the practice of yoga and meditation really starts to steady the mind. You get to ask, 'Is this really what I believe and think? Or is it an influence that has come from somewhere that I have just taken on as a belief system?' So, part of our practice as yogis and meditators is undoing that and really getting to your own truth about what something is; your own real feelings."
To get to that place, says Cathy, takes "a lot of commitment and effort. What gets us there a lot of the time is pain. Or painful experiences. Or catastrophe. Or illness. It's not always the nice things that lead us there. It can be a crisis. Look at what is happening now, with Covid 19. It is pushing a lot of people into re-evaluating themselves and how they are living."
Through Ivor Browne in her late teens, Cathy had "a massive realisation that what I had identified as myself was not the truth; I was so much more than my thoughts".
Cathy says she has "always been seeking, always been curious about my connection with my world. I have always been dissatisfied with normality".
"But Ivor was amazing," she says of that life-altering meeting twentysomething years ago. "He invited me to come to his garden and we would sit and chat about the intelligence of the heart and he just taught me over the course of a couple of months how to meditate," says Cathy, who has a son Harvey who will be five in September. His father is an American actor, Luca Pierucci. They are no longer together but have a good relationship. They met at a spiritual retreat in Donegal. "He met me the first day and that was that. It was a whirlwind romance. It all happened very fast."
As well as practising as a yogi internationally (in Bali and Thailand, among many others), Cathy has also worked as a location manager on films like P.S. I Love You, Reign Of Fire, Marley & Me ("I had good banter with Jennifer Aniston because she is a yogi") and more recently, Jim Sheridan's Secret Scripture. Cathy also has a home which she built herself in the middle of the jungle in Thailand.
What can we learn about ourselves in this enforced time during the pandemic? "It's true that in any kind of crisis - be it global or personal - we have a choice in how we deal with that," Cathy says. She believes that we can let ourselves feel ruined by it, or we can use that challenge to re-evaluate and transform our lives in a powerful, meaningful and positive way. "Most people come to a point of deeper meaning in their lives though some sort of crisis or pain, be it illness, loss or hurt of some kind. We have to find an inner resilience or power and that is something that the material world can't give us for very long. It's fleeting and it's never enough."
This is why we need to understand the mind and go beyond it and include the heart. "This is what all the great masters are teaching," says Cathy, "but we have to do the work ourselves and look at our habits and tendencies. If we are lucky we find some great mentors and teachers along the way. I am lucky I know many like that, as I have made it a point to seek out those kinds of people. Now I want to bring them all to Ireland."
Celtic Woodland Yoga Festival: August 1-3 is three days of yoga and seminars from over 36 presenters with online interactive events and exclusive video streaming. Register free at www.celticwoodlandyogafestival.com
"My dad Noel Pearson is a total character. He can be very tough - but he has always taken huge risks in his career. Some have failed and some have been big successes - My Left Foot, The Field, Dancing at Lughnasa.
"That's the thing about being a producer, for every hit there's always probably 10 failures, but you just have to keep going, and keep trying, he's hardwired like that and I guess I am too as a result.
"The very first job I ever had was on a documentary film when I came out of film school, it was called From Ballybeg to Broadway. Donald Taylor Black was the director, and I was a production assistant in New York. It was the journey of Brian Friel's play, I think it was Wonderful Tennessee, and my dad was producing it on Broadway. Donald Taylor Black was following the journey of the play in his film.
"The night of the opening was, as always, very exciting and we were filming that night for the documentary.
"In those days The New York Times review was the most important element for success of a play. We had to film my dad and all the cast in the early hours after the opening night while they opened the reviews from Frank Rich of The New York Times - and it was a bad review. The show closed within a few days.
"That was terrible, a real blow to all the cast and crew and a huge financial loss, but it made a great ending to the documentary.
"And my dad took it in his stride.
"I'm sure it was not easy but he just sort of got on with it - and I was stunned, he switched his focus quickly to how it would make the documentary a better story! He lost a lot of money that day."
Sunday Indo Living