In 2007, comedian and broadcaster Dermot Whelan, arrived at a comedy festival in an ambulance. It was a hell of an entrance. He had had a panic attack enroute. Realising that this was not a sustainable way to travel to future gigs, Dermot decided to become a meditation teacher and learn how to destress without annoying the emergency services...

Now a leading corporate stress management expert, Dermot has published his first book, Mind Full (published by Gill Books), described as a 'no nonsense, incense-free, hilarious guide to relaxing the head, reducing anxiety and living a calmer life'.

We asked Dermot for his choice cultural picks...

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Watch: Dermot Whelan talks Mind Full with Bressie

FILM

Withnail and I. No matter how many films I see, I always end up going back to this gem. Every line of dialogue is just perfect and it is so funny! Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann play out of work actors struggling to survive in 1960s London. The soundtrack is great and it’s full of belly laughs and quotable lines. "We want the finest wines available to humanity! We want them here and we want them now!"

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MUSIC

I am really loving a band called The Contortionist right now. I seem to have them on daily. It’s powerful prog-metal with really melodic vocals, a brilliant mixture of light and shade. The band hails from Indianapolis, Indiana and could be compared to other acts like Tool or Steve Vai.

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BOOK

Well, it would be silly not to recommend my brand new book, Mind Full! It’s a humorous and accessible guide to the calming world of meditation. I’m a meditation teacher and very determined to bust all the myths and preconceptions around meditation. It’s not for woo-woo hippies, everyone deserves to un-wreck their heads!

PLAY

I gotta be honest. I haven’t seen a play in a long time! The last thing I saw was the Gaiety panto – don’t judge me!

TV

I have been utterly hooked on a new Netflix show called F! – Drive to Survive. It's a behind the scenes documentary series on the whole world of Formula 1. It totally demystifies the sport and introduces some amazing characters in the sport, from drivers to manufacturers. I highly recommend!

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GIG

Eh… what’s a gig? I’m really hoping my own gigs can happen. I had a tour lined up for Mind Full – The Show before something called Covid turned up. The show is a mixture of comedy and an intro to meditation where I teach simple de-stressing techniques and have the craic. The dates have been rescheduled again for the Autumn but I’m not sure if they will go ahead this year. Fingers crossed!

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The last gig I attended was Tool in Prague. Every year, I like to see a band I like in a city that I have never visited before. They’re a very influential prog-metal outfit that have spanned the last few decades. The gig was in the O2 Arena there and was absolutely mind-blowing.

ART

I’m not just saying this but I love my wife’s art! She’s a painter who works with oils and does mostly portraits and landscapes. She works from a studio in our garden and her work has an incredible sense of peace and tranquility to it. She’s @corrinaearlie on Instagram.

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PODCAST

I’m a big fan of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. He’s a comedian, podcaster and martial arts expert. I love how he has made long form interviews so mainstream. The trend in radio is always to keep things short which can limit a presenter from going deeper on a topic. Joe has proved that, despite what the traditional audio world will tell you, people will listen to a three hour interview if the content is good enough.

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TECH

Insight Timer is a wonderful meditation app. It has hundreds of teachers and thousands of different meditations and most importantly, is free. I use it a lot, particularly at bedtime.

THE NEXT BIG THING...

Meditation – it’s going mainstream, baby! Without the smelly candles…

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Mind Full by Dermot Whelan (published by Gill Books) is out now.