It’s no exaggeration to say I was a reluctant convert to meditation. I’d experienced a notable health success by changing my diet in the early 2000s which gave me the confidence to read up about anything else that came my way and might benefit from another dietary change, herbal remedies, exercise, in fact I was open to trying any gentle and natural approach that might support healing. Almost any.
It took a long time to figure out that I was suffering from low mood … mild depression even. I actually thought the world had changed, not realising for some time that it was me. I felt disappointed by my visit to my GP, it was nothing to do with her personally but she seemed to have little to offer other than to set up a consultation with a therapist who was someone I knew in my personal life. I lived in a small place, this wasn’t surprising. A few of the things I was reading about low mood and depression pointed towards a possible lack of certain B vitamins, so I bought a B complex. There was a modest improvement which prompted me to look at my diet again to try and address any deficiencies.
All this time though, I’d been wilfully ignoring the recommendation that seemed to appear in every book, magazine and radio programme on the subject of depression and sleep, which really should have grabbed my attention. But I wasn’t going to meditate. It sounded boring, weird, something for other people, hippies mainly and those with religions that I knew little about. It took a few years for me to come round to the idea that I should maybe at least dip my toe in the water. Like it or not (and I didn’t), I’d read so much about it, some of it from people I held in high regard, that I felt it was worth a try.
A year or so into my half-hearted trial, I booked on Sandy Newbigging's Mind Detox Practitioner course in Edinburgh...this was a therapy I wanted to learn. The venue changed immediately after I'd booked it causing little to no trouble for me, but by means of apology, I was invited onto a meditation weekend that was being held very close to where I was living. I attended, with muted enthusiasm. That weekend challenged me in ways I couldn't possibly have anticipated. But equally, I was excited. This was definitely not boring, how could it be? The revelations, some of them entirely personal, were too impressive.
This was a good move on the part of Sandy because not long after qualifying as a Mind Detox Practitioner, I eagerly embarked on his Mind Calm Coaching program; I already knew I wanted to share this, and that's precisely what I did, with anyone who would attend my classes. Body Calm came a couple of years later and I lapped that up too.
The timing of these remarkable meditation programs, Mind Calm in particular, couldn't have been more meaningful to me. The day after watching the closing ceremony of the London Olympics, my wonderful Dad fell into an unexplained coma and was to spend two more years with us in this subconscious state before moving into...whatever comes next, after this life. I'll never know how I might have responded to all this had I not learnt CALM ..Conscious Awareness Life Meditation. It could easily have triggered a return to my former depressed view of the world as having ‘gone wrong’, but I managed to see the beauty in what we were experiencing...pure love IS beautiful and, with the layers of fear and negative judgement exerting much less influence, that is what I mostly saw.
However, collapse did come, almost literally, just a few days after he passed on. I woke up one morning to discover I couldn’t stand up; my biggest supporter in life had left and I couldn’t so much as get myself to the bathroom. It was labyrinthitis which I’d never heard of until then. What a perfect physical manifestation of my relationship to that event!
Perhaps not surprisingly, meditation has remained a feature of my life … I wouldn’t be without it. Aside from the relaxing and de-stressing advantages often attributed to it, it’s quite simply too instructive to abandon; learning about one’s real self is far more liberating than our minds might have us imagine. The teaching of Mind Calm and Body Calm extended to also incorporate coach training for a couple of years until the work that Graham and I were doing meant putting our emphasis on food. Then a further and even more physical redirection took place when we made the move to Berlin in between pandemic lockdowns.
We’re not even sure what inspired both Graham and I quite simultaneously to seriously consider reintroducing CALM classes. We’d witnessed the division brought about by Brexit, followed swiftly by a global pandemic with yet more division plus pain, loss, fear, anxiety, loneliness and more, some of this then amplified by the news and direct effects of the climate crisis. We realised that if we’re serious about doing our bit to contribute to a more conscious and compassionate world then we must bring everything we have to offer to the table.
Mind Calm and Body Calm are each magnificent in their own right, but bringing them together is even more potent, and this is what we’re making available to Premium Members (or ‘off the shelf’ for non-members) early in the New Year. We’re calling it Calm InSight, the same title as the little book of poems I wrote whilst my Dad was between two worlds. Who knows, it may transform somebody else’s relationship with life for the better, and that alone makes it worthwhile.
And for the record, I haven’t become a hippie or taken on a new religion. As for boring or weird, well that’s dependent on whoever chooses to make the judgment.