Where and when did you begin to meditate?
I was taught the meditation technique in 1969 when I was 17years old. I lived in London and meditated with The School of Meditation.
Why did you take up the practice? What was the spark?
A friend and I met a tutor at the college where we were studying. This man had a quality of stillness, silence, confidence that was not egotistic. I felt that he had a secret and I wanted to find out what it was!
After some months he told us that he meditated with The School of Meditation. In a moment, I knew, without a doubt, that I had to join this organisation. It was such a deep knowledge that it superseded all my more superficial teenage thoughts and ideas. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.
What were your early experiences?
First there was the discipline of simply sitting down and listening to the mantra, not easy to establish, but I had the conviction that this endeavour was important and that it was important to meditate every day. I had the help of regular individual guidance with wise, caring people to keep me on track. I found the discipline boring but I kept at it.
I joined a philosophy class at the School where I met people from all kinds of backgrounds. I was part of a large group of younger members, we met socially and went to concerts, theatre, cinema all together as a large group. We all had jobs and lived in rented accommodation in the centre of London. We seemed to have limitless energy, worked hard and enjoyed all that London had to offer. We helped to run and develop the School, it was a happy unified community.
What has been your experience as a member of the school?
Meditation enabled me to travel beyond the ever changing thoughts and feelings to a subtle realm within which is ever the same and yet ever new, a vibrant silence, a place from which to watch the ups and downs of life with equanimity.
The words of wisdom of the Shankaracharya are the bedrock of the School’s tradition; his steady, practical teaching leads to freedom. The only activity I am asked to do is to practice the meditation every day.
The Vedic philosophy enabled me to understand the mind from a totally different point of view. I am not required to believe in a limited dogma that binds me to rituals and belief systems. I am not beholden to those who had taught me the meditation, the wisdom is given for free, I don’t have to be a follower or worship anyone in the organisation.
How does meditating affect your everyday life?
Sitting down for two half hours a day is only part of the process of meditation. When we come out of the meditation, the Shankaracharya invites us to fully engage with the world in which we live, to give full attention to the daily work before us however humble it may be. I find that I can find the same rest and stillness in the activity I am engaged in as I do when sitting to meditate. By giving attention to the present moment I find enjoyment and no loss of energy.