Tuesday 9 October, 2012

interview with a meditator – Christelle

Two of the most common questions people have when they are thinking about learning to meditate with us are:
a) am I going to be able to do it?      and
b) will I actually be able to fit it into my already jam-packed life?

We are all leading busy lives and very often it can be a challenge to think of how to add yet another thing into our day. One of our dear students, Christelle has a very demanding job and was going through a particularly busy period when she learned to meditate. I am so grateful to Christelle for sharing her experiences.

When did you learn to meditate?
I learnt in May over the bank holiday weekend. A friend of mine who was about to start working with Michael and Jillian invited me along to the introduction session. I think she thought it would be good for me.

What got you interested in learning to meditate?
I have never really been able to do it in the past. I practise yoga and I have often thought of myself as quite spiritual deep down but I’ve never really been able to switch off. After the introductory session it seemed like this version (Vedic) might actually be easier and Jillian was such an impressive speaker and seemed so balanced and grounded that she was part of the reason for inspiring me to do it. I also liked that she came from a similarly pressured professional background so I knew she understood where those stresses came from.

How did you deal with stress and tiredness before meditation?
I like going to the gym and being outdoors and find when I’m being active I feel less stressed. I have tried acupuncture too which can help.

Did you have any concerns about learning to meditate eg how am I going to fit it in? Will it work for me?
Yes I was worried that it wouldn’t work for me. Because I have found it difficult to switch off in the past and my mind (when under pressure) always felt like it was racing ahead with too many thoughts.

What changes and benefits have you noticed since you began?
Firstly I was really surprised that it worked. The first night I did it on the course I went home that evening and felt really relaxed. I went to bed early and slept deeply. I was really looking forward to going back the next day.

How long did it take for these to become noticeable by you?
This was after the first session but then over the course of the weekend I noticed other things. It was May bank holiday weekend and I had to go into the office (after I booked the course – much to my annoyance). After the meditations I felt really relaxed but so tired and all I wanted to do was go home and sleep. However I found I also had energy and was able to go to work. I also felt a bit calmer and made my own decision not to go in on the Sunday and go home and answer emails there. I think before I would have gone in anyway whereas I felt I had a bit more clarity and that helped me make a better decision for myself.

Have others noticed changes in you since you have been meditating?
After the course I went to Cannes to work at the film festival. This is normally pretty stressful as you are living and working in a pressure cooker with several clients all needing things at the same time. It can also be lots of fun but you don’t have much time for yourself and by the end I am always pretty burnt out. This year I went to stay with my parents afterwards in the South of France and they both commented on how relaxed they found me compared to previous years.

I also cooked a roast for my sister during the meditation weekend and we got on really well. Sometimes we argue but I really felt like the meditation helped that evening.

I remember that on the weekend you learned to meditate you were working on a very important and demanding pitch. How did meditation help?
I think meditation helped restore clarity and balance. The pitch was all-consuming and a major deal for our company. I had spent the past month or so working round the clock already and had cancelled a holiday to the US to see a friend in order to work more on it. I was so disappointed to have to work over the May bank holiday weekend as I had been looking forward to a few days off. However I felt meditation helped because I was able to take a step back. I still worked hard but I felt a bit calmer. By taking a step back I decided I was going to use one of those days as a definite holiday and only looked at emails a few times. Just that one day off gave me a sense of a break which helped.

The week after you took the course, you headed to Cannes for the Film Festival – how was that? How did you fit your meditations in?
Cannes is not an easy environment at the best of times. You literally don’t have a minute in the day for yourself to do anything. Yet I found space each morning to meditate which helped. The afternoons were harder but I tried to grab time when I could. Sometimes it was just 10 minutes or other times longer. Some days I couldn’t do the afternoon at all. But despite everything I felt like I could manage everything. I kept going and as I said my parents both commented on how relaxed and calm I seemed at the end. My mum has also worked at the festival before so she knows how hard it can be. Also my best friend came out to stay with me for a few nights and she also commented on how well I seemed to be dealing with everything.

What is your advice to others who may be thinking they don’t have time to meditate?
I don’t think you should beat yourself up if you struggle to find time during situations like that. You need to find a way that works for you and that you can work into your routine easily enough. I tried meditating on the tube home the other day which worked quite well actually. I’ve also tried meditating in work bathrooms before which I really hated and won’t be doing that again! It is just trial and error but I know when I’ve done it I feel better. I find it hard meditating if I’ve had a busy weekend – I am trying to work on that. I think if you’ve invested the time in it then you have to see it through and reap more benefits! Jillian told me it would be transformational so I’m just going to keep going in the hope that eventually it will be. So far so good!

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