When and where did you begin to meditate?
In 2012 at the School of Meditation. I attended a course then joined.
Years before that I had bought a book called ‘How to Meditate’ that had been recommended to me when I was stuck in a rut in life. I didn’t understand the book at all, but I retained a sense that I wanted to experience more in life. When I got to the School I saw that books and esoteric ideas aren’t needed, just the most simple instruction you can imagine.
Why did you take up a regular practice? What was the spark?
My regular practice came when I joined the School of Meditation. I was given the mantra and the basic instructions.
It worked so I made it part of my daily life, rather than just being a fad or an occasional thing to use in a crisis.
In 2012 I was walking from North Kensington to Chelsea every day to get to work. I would listen to podcasts every day, there and back, and on one podcast Father Laurence Freeman was talking about meditation. I had never heard anyone talk about it in such a straightforward, unpretentious way. That was final push to really explore it.
Prior to that, I had had two experiences that had given me a sense of peace and shown me that humans don’t have to suffer, that we can have lightness and gentleness in our everyday lives.
One was visiting Laos, which is a majority Buddhist country, where people seemed to live according to spiritual values, rather than capitalist ones. That was the first time I’d seen a culture that was very different from my own. The other was having a friend who became a devout Muslim and seeing the change in him as he embraced a more peaceful internal experience.
What were your early experiences?
I remember two things well: a sense of space I hadn’t had before, my thoughts had more space around them, like they were freer.
The other thing I remember is that I had a boss at the time who was very uptight and unreasonable. Just after I joined the School, she tried to unsettle me by complaining about something very strongly, it was some kind of power trip. Previously I had wasted my energy getting stressed, wondering why this person was being this way. But after starting the meditation, I looked at her and realised that this was just a person who was really suffering – it changed the dynamic completely, I didn’t take it personally anymore.
How does meditating affect your everyday life?
If I look at my life over periods of months, the good times always match the periods when I meditate routinely, morning and evening. I’m happier, lighter, more creative and less reactive. I am more present in the moment, or at least I regularly remember that I can be more present; it’s a real option, whereas it wasn’t previously.
What has been your experience as a member of SoM?
The day I joined, one of the senior members told me “You will become more confident. I don’t mean in a superficial way; I mean truly confident in yourself.”
This has stayed with me, and I can see that a lot of what the School of Meditation does supports this idea. In our group we look at ideas that go to the heart if who we are as humans. By looking at this, I sense that I am more at ease.
I like the shared experience of the group, inquiring together into what it means to be here on this planet.
It has been a lot of fun too, people from all kinds of backgrounds, with lots of ideas and influences come together for shared experiences, it has a very creative energy.
To find out more about taking up meditation, please see details of our courses and classes here or contact the School of Meditation's office: 02076036116 / firstname.lastname@example.org