When and where did you begin to meditate?
In 2009 at the School of Meditation. I was on the tube one day and saw a poster advertising the School. I found myself staring at it and decided “I’m gonna try that.”
I was in a difficult period of my life, feeling very stuck and not finding meaning in the things I was trying. I was discontent and desperately looking for something in life. I had been to India, stayed in an ashram and was aware of meditation, but didn’t know much about it. The poster really drew me in.
Why did you take up a regular practice? What was the spark?
When I was 16, I was in Ibiza sitting on a rock all by myself. For the first time in my life I felt so calm, completely free and blissful. I always remembered that feeling. It was a miserable time in my life, but I had experienced one of the best moments of my life in Ibiza, just sitting there alone.
I was looking for a LOT more in life and the School of Meditation poster on the tube really drew me in.
The School helped me start a regular practice. I’m very good at starting things – I’m studious and do things properly, so I was able to follow the suggestion of meditating twice a day.
What were your early experiences?
Within a month of meditating morning and evening, I experienced an overall calmness, something that could be described as meaningless, just a feeling, but it is actually everything.
I remember being in a toxic work environment at the time I joined the School. I would be anxious, stressed and uncomfortable when I was there. But suddenly it really didn’t bother me at all. I felt comfortable in my own skin, something I hadn’t experienced before.
There were other experiences at work that became totally different too. I worked on a live radio show at the time and I remember a huge crisis just as we were about to go live. Normally I would have been filled with anxiety, but I resolved the problem really calmly. Afterwards, I thought ‘Who was that?’ – it was me.
Meditation cleansed my soul and cleared my mind. It was very special.
When I was at the School of Meditation, the rock in Ibiza came back to me, the stillness I’d always been looking for.
It had a massive impact. It’s easy to miss the point of what really matters in life. I found I could be completely content with myself, the world, the nothingness…Meditating was the truest moment of my life, complete pureness. That’s what we should strive for in life, not the other stuff that messes up our heads.
How does meditating affect your everyday life?
Life sometimes gets in the way of meditation. When I had my baby I was sleep deprived and it took me a little while to get back to meditating.
I started to do it sporadically, but it wasn’t the same. When I do it every day, there are so many more benefits. Like with exercise, regularity is important.
I’m settled in Edinburgh now and I meditate almost every day. I try to do it twice a day. When I don’t, anxieties and stress come back into my life, stresses become magnified.
Meditation is a huge part of my daily life. If I stop for a week………it’s difficult, but it can also be a reminder of how helpful it is.
I do meditation for myself and everyone around me. My family knows when I’m doing my meditation regularly, they don’t need to ask. I also meditate with my partner. He never thought he’d do it, but he really enjoys it, he’s much less reactive to life’s events now. My son is five but we sometimes do five minutes meditation together, and my partner and I can tell him, ‘we’re just going to meditate now’ and he is very respectful of us needing a bit of time and space to do it.
Meditation in the morning is an investment that pays off during the day.
What has been your experience as a member of SoM?
Without the School of Meditation, I don’t know if I would have found meditation. I don’t think it would have had such an impact. The School gave me the training and guidance that I use today.
The School was a safe place where I could be completely myself. In the weekly group I was very true to myself. I could be grumpy, sad, anything…during the group it would dissolve, an answer would present itself, usually something somebody else said.
I realised I was hiding part of myself- from others and myself- the part that said ‘I am not good enough’ I would often feel inferior. I'm dyslexic and it would sometimes take me a while to find my words so often I would just stay silent. At the school I started to feel comfortable and within my group I began to let go and it resulted in the people in the group knowing a part of me that people I had been close to for years hadn’t seen. I started to feel the freedom of just being me. I was able to be vulnerable and be comfortable with it. I am extremely grateful for the group that I was part of and for the tools it gave me to help me find a better life.
Reading the material, talking it through and looking at our daily lives in relation to the material, that was extremely special for me – it gave me openness and safeness with everyone in the group. I learned to share my vulnerability, I don’t know where else I would get that. Sometimes I’d arrive apprehensive, but I’d leave feeling relaxed and able to express myself.