I am 60 years old this year, a mother of two, grandmother of four, and I meditate! In retrospect, how I arrived here has been quite simply a process of distillation. So you can understand what I mean, let me share the unravelling of my life to date.
Coming from the highlands of Scotland, where all the whiskey is made, I am the youngest of three. Born into a working class family at a time when children were ‘seen and not heard’, my personality was molded, to a large extent, by my environment. By the time I was seven years old I had developed most of the traits that remain with me today, however, they now emanate in a different way.
As a young child I had a yearning for travel and adventure – often delivered by the police after being posted missing! Never clear where I was going, I would just ‘follow my nose’, driven by the potential of uncharted territory and a desire to experience. As a teenager I would hitch-hike all over the country, and later explored Europe and further afield. Traveling with nothing specific in mind, just to ‘be in life’, my mantra was to keep on moving on. I scored off people and places, continually searching. And I was 40 before I realized what I was actually searching for!
Always fighting for the corner of the ‘less able’, I had an innate need to serve in some way, and my childlike view of justice and equality became the blueprint for my career path. Youth & Community Work was my initial profession, including residential childcare with so-called difficult children. Then work with women in education further evolved into a self-help business alongside Yoga and Reflexology. Finally I found myself running a charity offering therapeutic interventions for addiction. All of these roles began with volunteering. Quite simply, there was a need that required attention and I felt the need to change things; it was not rocket science.
One of the most noticeable adjustments or evaporations, was my ability to lead a double life. I could be running riot, getting into all sorts of mischief with one group of people, and in parallel be part of another group where I would present a soft, pious side, doing all that I could to support and serve. This understanding of different paths really helped me develop empathy and compassion for others in a very natural and experiential way. I knew very early how easy it would be to find myself in similar positions as I had worked hard and played hard most of my life.
Another strategy that I developed very early, that would enable me to experience new and exciting activities, was to teach others. I would set up clubs as a young child, I became a trampoline and ski instructor as a teenager, and later trained as a therapist, yoga teacher, and counselor. This ‘doing for others’ ensured a level of discipline and interest was maintained. I might not have been so stringent about my own personal development but it was easy and natural to work for the benefit of others.
Seeking out my mother when I felt a need for nurture, loving and being loved, was easy as a child. As my experiences in the world expanded, so did my judgments. My prejudices increased as I moved from the innocence of a child through the black and white, right and wrong, of teenage years. The pains and joys of marriage, world events, and the cocktail of emotions that goes with it all appeared to take me further from the simplicity of pure love. Life and its events forced me to look at what I really wanted. The wonder of becoming a mother, the phenomenal blessing of grandchildren. Losses such as the death of my grandmother, and then being able to spend quality time with my own mother before she passed on, all supported me to adjust and work back towards unconditional love – more of a pilgrim than a warrior!
Meditation was the tool I used to distil my traits. Am I still the same person? What evaporated over the 60 years?
I still love to travel, and continue to do so to be with family. My meditation facilitates a daily journey, albeit an internal one.
I am still promoting good causes – what better than the evolution of human beings!
Teaching? Yes I have become a meditation trainer and do all I can to share the joy of this with others. Volunteering in a youth project, developing training for a range of professions and people – sharing the benefits of meditation as a coping mechanism for 21 st century life.
Love and loving? My mother began meditating at the age of 75. She would often comment on the difference it had made to me, and would make fun of me traveling all over the world to sit with my eyes shut! The love of a mother is said to be the closest thing to Divinity. This became a reality for me when she passed away two years ago. Sharing universal love with my children and grandchildren is a way of being, and I no longer have to work hard or play hard. It’s the middle path for me – one that is naturally loving.