Padma Coram is naturally warm, smiley, reassuring. She wraps my legs in a blanket and pats them at regular intervals, rubs my shoulder, even gives me a cuddle.
We’re talking about my ‘roles’ – wife, mother, daughter, breadwinner, friend, editor, sister… the list goes on, as it does with us all, of course. It’s easy to talk to her – she has a natural talent for intuiting your need, given that she is an expert in everything from Emotional Freedom Technique to meditation.
She sits with a large pad of paper on her lap, and sketches freely as I talk – filling pages with spider graphs, key words, pointers that will then help me remember the things we’ve discussed and the steps I need to take. I’m lucky, I’m blessed, I say a lot, and she calls me out on it. ‘You can still be tired, worried and unable to cope, it doesn’t mean you are failing – that’s just life sometimes!’ I smile, because I am also all of the above.
She skips from one therapeutic skillset to the next, seamlessly, and it’s word-association that’s particularly enlightening for me, being a writer. She asks me to fire off three words without thinking in response to her words… fame, wealth, love, husband, mother. As I answer without thinking, I’m not able to see a pattern emerge.
This is what she does brilliantly – points out the wood to you, until you see the expanse, clear as day, no longer muddled by all the trees. She’s a deft, gifted guide on this journey, and after two hours that began with me saying, ‘I’m not really sure where I’m headed,’ she proves that I know exactly what I want, and what I need to do to get there.
She also makes me see, via guided meditation that takes me back to childhood, that I’ve always been this way – that I’m always, fixed on the future – on what I want next, where I’d like to be.
But, my uncertainty now comes from having mellowed a great deal – and essentially, wanting nothing more extravagant than a balanced work and family life. Happiness, she says. I say, family, love, peace.
And there is the answer I knew all along.
Meditation teacher Burgs offers some advice on how to give yourself a break
- Allocate time to respond to email instead of filling the gaps of a day with constant interruptions.
- Notice how sleep and mental energy improve when you don’t stay up watching TV, awake first thing to emails, or fritter your free time surfing the net unnecessarily.
- Reduce the level of stimulus you are exposed to – give your nervous system time to relax each day.
- To reduce the need for ‘instant reward’ that we’re becoming used to, do things that take time to complete: read a book, cook, or learn to play a musical instrument. l Spend half an hour outdoors; sit quietly in a garden or park after a long day and delight in letting yourself slow down and decompress.
For more information, visit theartofmeditation.org