When most of us hear the term meditation, an image of a Dalai Lama type figure perched on a mountaintop chanting ‘om’ is probably more likely to appear than a comedian from Limerick who is best known for his impersonation of a crazy old lady on TodayFM.
But, while Dermot Whelan may not be the spiritual guide most of us envision, the broadcaster and author has certainly earned his right to preach on the topic.
“I began meditating over 12 years ago and became a teacher three years ago,” Dermot says.
“It is hands down the best tool for relaxing your body and mind.”
The comedian, who once arrived at a gig in an ambulance after suffering a panic attack, says he meditates “wherever and whenever” he can these days.
“Even just a few seconds of a simple technique can have a far-reaching impact for your feelings of calm.”
Dermot Whelan’s book Mind Full has been shortlisted in this year’s An Post Irish Book Awards. You can visit www.irishbookawards.ie to vote. His first book for young readers, Noni and the Great Chawwwklit Mystery is also out now.
What shape are you currently in?
I’m in reasonably good shape. I just bought jeans with a 31-inch waist which was my same waist size when I was 21, so that’s promising. I’ve recently started a fitness programme called Fit By Fifteen. It’s run by a great trainer from Toned Fit gym in Dublin where he sends out videos every day for 60 days. Each video is just 15 minutes long of intense resistance training. I’m really enjoying it. Although my leg muscles were so sore the other day, I couldn’t get up off the loo.
What are your healthiest eating habits?
I’m pretty good at avoiding really sugary things. I try and eat salads and veg and have begun to cut back on the amount of meat I’m eating.
What are your guiltiest pleasures?
Cinema jellies. I can never understand the power of the cinema to make you eat stuff you wouldn’t dream of eating normally. I love pick’n’mix. The secret is to mix normal and non-fizzy jellies and then shake the bag well. This coats all the jellies in a fine dusting of fizz. Like I said, I’m slightly obsessed with them.
What would keep you awake at night?
Alcohol. It plays havoc with my sleep. Anything more than two drinks will keep me awake and I’ll have a restless night. I recently invested in a fitness tracker which tracks recovery. After even a small amount of alcohol, I can see it has a massive impact on my body’s ability to catch up and recover. We often feel we need alcohol more when we’re stressed out or worn out. But actually, we need the opposite. Good sleep and something a bit more nourishing. I drink gallons of rooibos tea.
Who are your sporting heroes?
Ronan O’Gara, Paul O’Connell, Conor Murray, Peter Stringer, CJ Stander, Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry, F1 drivers Daniel Ricardo and Max Verstappen, the Limerick hurling team, the list goes on.
What’s your favourite smell?
Really wild fresh sea air, with just a hint of a bag of chips somewhere in the distance – heaven.
When was the last time you cried?
Probably very recently when I was meditating. It’s a great way of clearing through all the emotional turbulence that you mightn’t even know is there. Sometimes, during meditation, all kinds of emotions can come up. You don’t even necessarily know where they’re coming from. It’s a bit like dipping your toe in the river that’s flowing through your consciousness at that parti