When and where did you begin to meditate?
At the Zazen Japanese Meditation Centre at a Dojo near Borough Market in London. That was probably in 2011. It was really cool; they were good people. In 2012 I joined the School of Meditation.
Why did you take up a regular practice? What was the spark?
I don’t think there’s a clear or thorough thought process before people take up meditation or a spiritual practice.
If you read the words of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj or Sri Ramana Maharshi they tell meditators: ‘You came here because you had an inner pull’ or ‘You’ve stepped onto the path’
The practice pulls you into it, it’s a journey of self-discovery. For me that was the spark, an inner pull, a spark out of nowhere.
With the mindfulness movement, people approach meditation intellectually, to achieve something. That’s like starting meditation as if it’s membership at a gym. But for me it’s just a calling, it really is, it doesn’t correspond to thought or time. It’s like water returning to the river, to an estuary, then to an ocean. It’s a natural return to yourself.
What were your early experiences?
Speaking technically, sitting in meditation for the first time and closing my eyes was actually quite daunting. It’s like the mind immediately realises that the game is up.
Once I’d joined the School and had a regular practice, space opened up around my thoughts. Things just settled after years and years of needless restlessness.
If you trust the process, things begin to settle. Like a glass of water with sediment in it, just leave it and it settles at the bottom. Once we’re settled, we start to really see things. If we feel pain, we still feel pain but it’s more raw and quicker to move through.
In those early days, I also learned how to relax physically, to relax my shoulders and to carry less tension in my eyelids and jaw.
It didn’t take long before I noticed that my mental and intellectual horizons had expanded too.
How does meditating affect your everyday life?
Once you meditate, you notice a difference. In situations where previously I was eager to speak just to be heard, that eagerness has gone down.
And when I do speak there is a greater chance of me being genuinely authentic and present are much higher.
Space also opens up in life, in conversations, in social interactions, I just deal with things much better now that I meditate.
What has been your experience as a member of SoM?
At the School I meet people who are very unpresumptuous and modest. There’s no status and no hierarchy.
It’s just gentle, a real escape. Once the door closes, it’s a different feeling. The general vibe of the School is that there’s no pressure from anybody, they’re just going about their business and doing something they love.
Who doesn’t want to have a peaceful environment as part of their recreational activity?
People can be so busy in their lives that after four or five months of constant action every day, they’re shattered. It’s only natural to immerse yourself in what life has to offer, but it’s also natural to enjoy some deep rest too.