I have meditated for over 30 years alongside a career in education and began a daily meditation practice over a decade ago.
At first, meditation was part of a journey looking for a practice of wellbeing beyond the ones of my upbringing, which involved a wide variety of practices: engaging with philosophical and wisdom traditions, co-counselling, women’s groups, personal development seminars, coaching… to name a few!
Meditating with Olga sessions thus gather practices from many global traditions, and turns them into accessible guided meditations that fit into modern lives. This is very much the spirit of the British School of Meditation, where I trained as a teacher.
I am an advocate for wellbeing and transformation: my intention is that as we learn to slow down, we nurture ourselves and start to transform our lives and our world. I do guided meditation sessions in person and online and support people to ‘wind down’, get into the flow of wellbeing, and engage in personal growth.
I also lead meditation sessions for people living with chronic pain with my local NHS Community Prevention & Engagement Team and for activists with a variety of environmental groups.
Often in my meditation sessions we reflect, share, and work together in ways influenced by other things I do: I regularly coach university staff (I have a Level 5 Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring from the Institute of Leadership and Management), and am an accredited facilitator of Student Minds Mental Health workshops.
What I do seems to have had most resonance on the Meetup social media platform, set up to build community spirit after the events of 9/11. I am grateful to have found this space that values connection and cooperation.
You can find out more on https://www.meetup.com/meditating_with_olga/ and see where meditation can take you!
Meditation is a welcome retreat from a busy life. I am an energetic person who sees potential everywhere and my desire to engage with many aspects of the world around me is a source of joy and most importantly to me, connection. And it has also brought with it busyness and overwhelm. Meditation is my antidote and my mission is to attract others to making their lives sustainable through meditation too.
definitions of meditation
Mediation is a regenerating activity that supports a human being to slow down and be in stillness. It can be defined as ‘paying attention, on purpose’ (Jon Kabat-Zinn) and related to this, one word in particular has come from the original Buddhist roots to encapsulate the 21st century understanding of meditation – mindfulness. This activity of taking certain postures and slowing down the breath supports mindfulness: getting a clearer consciousness of the present moment and increased awareness of mind and body. This activity of focussing on the breath and observing and detaching from thoughts and sensations is an activity that also has been shown to alter brain waves.
In this quietness a certain spiritual attitude is also referred to by practioners. Ram Dass talks about meditation quietening the mind and opening the heart. Many other consequences are written about: releasing the self or ego (e.g. Buddhism), releasing stress (e.g. Mary Pearson), releasing judgement (e.g. Gabby Bernstein), releasing the busy left brain and tapping into the right brain (e.g. Jill Bolte Taylor). Modern secular interest in meditation focuses on the mind/body connection benefits of meditation and physiological effects such as decreasing heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate. All these effects of meditation have been proved to modify the brain and encourage all types of neuroplasticity.
Meditation as a practice also has religious roots and has been used to as vehicle for connection to nature, to the heart, to a higher power or higher self. This entity we can access through meditation can also be expressed in many ways; God, source, universe, spiritual guidance. As such, as an activity meditation sometimes goes hand in hand with beliefs in the importance and value of intuition, compassion and loving kindness.
This variety of definitions also reflects that meditation is a personal and self-directed activity and because it works very much on an individual level, it encourages personal responsibility for healing and empowers people to discover their own journey.t
Meditation is not complicated but it is also not easy, as Sharon Salzberg has famously said. As a simple activity, it is not time consuming or costly. No special equipment or clothing is needed to do it. It is not easy as the human being seems to resist awareness and stillness. There is no right was to do it or no one position to assume or one way to do it – there are indeed a variety of practises. As such, it is not prescriptive. It is not ‘not thinking’ but rather observing thoughts and allowing them to pass.
It is a process and an activity that opens out to a myriad of benefits and effects, and so there is no one thing to ´achieve’ or ‘get’- there is no specific goal. It is not tied to a particular religious or spiritual tradition, but rather it is shared by many of these, and indeed can be practised completely outside of a spiritual or religious framework. It is not ‘doing nothing’ or ‘time wasting’ but is a purposeful activity and therefore is not synonymous with ‘just relaxing’.
What it isn’t
my definition of meditation
For me, it is a practice of consciously paying attention to calm mind and body. This ritual of being in stillness and connecting to loving awareness is a way to replenish myself, grow in peaceful and loving behaviours, and to deepen my journey as a human being.