Stop drinking alcohol with meditation – a Vedic Conversation interview with Claire Robbie

In this episode of The Vedic Conversation podcast, we are joined by Claire Robbie to talk about how meditation can help us emerge from under the influence of alcohol. Claire is a yoga and meditation teacher from Auckland, New Zealand and the founder of No Beer Who Cares, a community dedicated to shifting attitudes around how and why we drink and showing people that they can have a good time without alcohol. 

She is a former TV news reporter who has lived all over the world and taught yoga in LA for many years. She studied Vedic Meditation and now teaches Awareness Insight Meditation, as well as coaching people one on one in how to reset their relationship with alcohol. Today, we talk to her about her personal journey with alcohol and the insights she has had over the years about meditation, and how it provides a healthier coping mechanism for the pressures of modern life. 

I'm Rory Kinsella, a Vedic Meditation teacher based here in Sydney and I'm joined for the conversation with Claire by my Vedic colleagues, Anthony Thompson in London and Derrick Yanford in New York. Don't forget to stick around until the end, we'll offer a practical exercise in how you can apply this knowledge to your daily life. 

Find out more about quitting alcohol with meditation with Rory or Claire through the links below.

Rory Kinsella 1:20

Claire, welcome to the podcast.

Claire Robbie 1:23

Hello. Thanks for having me.

Rory Kinsella 1:30

Great. So you actually met Derrick and I in Mexico, three years ago on Light Watkins, his retreat, which was pivotal in inspiring me to quit drinking myself. And yeah, thank you for that. inspiration, I guess I've reached a point where I knew that alcohol was holding me back. But I hadn't yet grounded that realisation in a real world way of doing something about it. And I guess you inspire being by being a normal person who decided Look, I'm just not going to drink until. So it'd be great if you could talk a little bit about your your personal journey with alcohol.

Claire Robbie  2:14  

Thanks for describing me as normal. And relatively Oh, goodness. So I had a really Kiwi hit down here in New Zealand and a really key upbringing. My parents are very social. From age 16, I did what most New Zealand teenagers do, I started going to parties trying different alcohol. I remember, one of my first drinking experiences was with Sambucca, you know, that dark liquorice tasting spirit and we do a shot and then we light it on fire in our mouths. And I was like 16 years old. And I thought I was so cool. Because I've always been a bit of a tomboy as well. So keeping up with the boys was something that definitely influenced how I drank. And so yet started pretty young, although, compared to a lot of the teenagers around me, I didn't probably binge drink as much I did pretty well at school. I loved debating and drama and all those kinds of things. And it wasn't really until university, I think that things became more problematic. And, you know, you study hard, you party hard. And I also, at that time in my life made a group of people who are really heavy drinkers, they're in the rugby scene and boys in the rugby scene, my boyfriend at the time, who eventually became my husband was a very heavy drinker. And I just kind of like slipstream got into some bad habits with alcohol. And that was early 2000. So the part that the party dragged, sane was just really kicking off here in New Zealand. So dance parties and ecstasy became a thing for me. After I finished uni, I moved to Tokyo. And that was the first time I lived away from my parents. And that's when I was started to get real crazy with the drinking. And I've always had amazing jobs. And I think because I've always had amazing work and love the work I do and done quite well at my work. I felt that my drinking wasn't even a problem. To be perfectly honest. I didn't even think about my drinking because I was always surrounded by people who are doing the time. I got into Meteor and Tokyo and I moved to Shanghai and I was also working and this is when I started working as a journalist and for radio stations and in the media world. Same thing you work hard you potty had and and then when I was 25 so young. 

I came back to New Zealand for a wedding and at the wedding I did what I was doing weddings, I got, you know, written off basically, I could always function very highly drinking too. So lots of people the next day to me would be like, we wasted and I was like, Yeah, but would function Okay, so but at this particular waiting, I tripped over, landed on my own champagne flute and severed my patellar tendon completely. She's a pretty major injury, couldn't go back to China was in a league cast for ages. And interestingly, that wasn't the moment I sort of thought, hang on, maybe you're drinking too much. That was just sort of a byproduct of a big night, you know? And but that accident got me into yoga. So I started practising Bikram yoga because a physiotherapist said to me you can have a limp. You'll never run again. This is going to be a huge problem for the rest of your life. And my nature tends to be when someone tells me that kind of thing. No, no, it's not just you watch me. And so, Bikram yoga had just come to New Zealand, I'd never done any yoga, I thought it was a whole lot of hum and crazy spiritual stuff, the word spiritual would have freaked me out. But with Bikram yoga, it's very, no nonsense, practical physical. And it's like a workout a hot workout. But it was my first experience of yoga. And these postures and it completely healed my league. And from then on, I practice a little bit of yoga every now and then. But here in New Zealand, it was, it was still a very physical practice, there wasn't a lot of talk of spirituality, I didn't, to me, it was just another form of exercise, sort of, I would notice how I would feel after yoga would be different. And then if I went to the gym, and then I moved to America, andthat's when drinking and also taking drugs became problematic for me. 

But again, I didn't realise fully to the extent of how much of a coping mechanism these have become for me, until I went through a divorce. And one of the reasons I left my husband was because I thought his drinking was problematic. And I thought if I leave him and I start again, there was a lot of other reasons as well. And in the back of my mind, I thought things would be different if this relationship ended. So I left him and a month into leaving, I was still drinking a lot and partying in Los Angeles, I also had a job in a hotel, where I did events for celebrities, and, you know, drink drinking, and drugs were everywhere. So I kept doing those things. And then a friend of mine was doing a yoga teacher training. And it was on the weekends. And I thought if I do this on the weekends, maybe that will tidy me up. And maybe if I focus on that, it will keep me out of mischief. And it was a conscious thought, okay, weekends, because weekends were the problem time for me, could even plan things on weekends, especially Sundays, because I knew I'd be hungover. And so I went to this first teacher training. And it was so phenomenal that first day learning about the yamas and niyamas, these codes of conduct within a yogic discipline. And the first one being Ahimsa, this concept of non harm, so not just not harming others with our actions or our words, but also all of a sudden, I remember this Penny dropping of how I was harming myself with what I was consuming, and the thoughts I had no conscious awareness of the quality of what was going on in my mind. And I remember thinking, Whoa, it's not a great environment in here. And in that moment, I said to myself, I'm going to give up drinking for a year.

And it was not until I made a commitment to myself that I realised what a problem that had become. And I'd never considered myself an alcoholic. And but I started going to a even because it was so difficult for me to socialise, I'd go to these social events and I'd feel so uncomfortable. And I'd sit there with my water looking at everyone with your wine. And I knew I didn't have a physical dependency, but that was the moment I realised I had an emotional dependency. I was using it because I felt anxious was one of the first moments I realised I was an anxious person. And well I sort of just would describe myself as an anxious person and over the course of this year, combined with this, you Yoga teacher training, and developing for the first time ever, as awareness of my internal environment and how your internal environment literally shapes everything for you, your, the landscape of your life. And I started to shift things, and I have, I haven't done drugs, if I never did drugs ever again from that moment onwards, and I stopped drinking for a couple of years. And over those two years, I became a yoga teacher in Los Angeles. And I started exploring meditation as well. Because at first, my first my very first experience of meditation was Shavasana. So in a yoga practice, when you lie down on your mat, and you wonder if you're doing it, right, so I'm Himalayan ago, should I be thinking? I don't know if I should be thinking, should I fall asleep? What do we do here. So that was my first taste of meditation. And then, and that two years of not drinking, was combined with this new knowledge. And I was lapping everything up, I was very fortunate to live in Los Angeles at a time where incredible teachers were very accessible. So this is 1011 years ago, now, I'm very accessible. And also I had gone through a divorce, that was just me, I had no fixed abode, basically, and I just devoted myself to study. And that experience has changed the trajectory of my life completely. After the two years, though, I did start drinking again. And

I never drank the same, so I never had the there was like a real, a fiendish way I would drink. When I was drinking, where I'd have, once I'd had two drinks, it was Game on. And I could moderate it. And I have a couple. And I wouldn't drink to the extent that I had been drinking, but the conversations in my head about alcohol, even just having one drink, I'd feel the most i'd feel really shameful of guilty.

And what I recognise now was, is that when I started drinking, again, I had so much more awareness around it. So I was aware of when I was drinking, who I was with, when I'd want to drink, how I would feel after one or two. And that feeling where you leave your body. So I was aware that I was doing it to leave my body because potentially I didn't feel comfortable in that moment. And, and then also, having a meditation practice in a yoga practice us so much more aware of what's happening in your physical body. So even after one drink, and I was navigating meditation around drinking, which we've kind of spoken about Roy. So I knew that if I had a glass of wine, I wouldn't need I couldn't be to take because it's, for me, it would just feel disgusting. So I'd plan to have done my meditation. So I was always getting in my practices, but became this really annoying, juggle. And then in the morning, if I'd had a drink, and I'd meditate, it just wasn't the same. And it was like scouring a dirty pan. Before I would get into any state of relaxation, I had to almost get through this layer of, I don't know what you'd call it like toxicity before I went in. So the drinking slipped away more and more and more slowly over time. And then for you about nearly four years ago, one year's eve, and I only had a couple of drinks. And I was looking around the pub that as I was at at this beautiful beach up north. Everyone was really drunk. And, and I just remember looking at my drink and as an espresso Martini of all the last drinks to have my God. And I mean, they're looking at it and going, what are you doing that you don't even want this. And I was literally drinking because everyone else was and I put it down. And I was like I think I'm done. And I woke up the next day wrote something on Facebook, because I'm big on accountability. I if I tell people I'm gonna do something, I am much more likely to follow through with it. 

And so I put something on Facebook about how I was going to do another sober year. So I thought, okay, I'll just give it another year of sobriety, after being alcohol free. And I had 80 people message me here in New Zealand saying I'll do it with you. I'll do it with you. And I was like, wow, that's interesting. Because I never really thought about other people's drinking even I'd been to AI a bit they were doing category to me back then, like they were alcoholics resigns just like a normal party drinker. And but I recognised just from that one post and the feedback I got that this was more of a thing. And potentially i'd contemplated. And I remembered the loneliness, this I felt this loneliness as I made the transition from my old life to a new life, of finding people who were on the same page as me. And I was very fortunate in Los Angeles for those two years, I had two friends who would always hang out with me and one of them wasn't really a big drink. And in LA, it's a little different too, because lots of people don't drink. And also a is quite normal. Whereas here in New Zealand, it's not like that. If you don't drink then. And it's checked, it's definitely changing. But But our drinking culture is so entrenched that to be a non drinker, you either have to be pregnant, or have had a terrible problem. Like it's highly and it's unusual to go to a party and say, No, no, I don't drink or say not today. So I knew that there was like, I know the power of connection and support. So I decided to organise these little meetups once a month at a bar in and around the corner. For people who were choosing to go alcohol free, or for people to practice going to a bar and ordering a tonic water or ginger beer, because often, that's the thing that most people feel uncomfortable about at the beginning is going to abandon instead of that conditioning of I'll have a beer or whatever it is wine, for the first time saying I'm going to have Can I please ever, so people just need to practice that. And normally, it needs to be normalised and it needs to be, you know, these new neural pathways need to fire until that is what you do. And

so this was before I'd really studied human behaviour, like I have in the last few years and done some really incredible trainings. But just kind of intuitively I knew that people just needed to practice doing these things and feel supported. And I knew my practices, myself wiliness practices had been pivotal in helping me understand why and how I used to do the things I did. So it was also a way for me to secretly sneakily trying to get meditations into people's consciousness. So at the beginning of these meetings, was so funny, I would do a guided meditation in the middle of a bar. And I remember the first few times, specially some of the dudes would come over and go, Oh, my God, I was like, what you're going to get us to close our eyes, and a Baja. And I just saw a really simple way for people to connect with themselves and do literally just a few deep breaths, and people would open their eyes. And you could see the difference, because quite often that people would come to these events, and they'd feel a bit uncomfortable or nervous because they were going to go to a bar and not have a drink. So that was also a way for me to. I feel like one of the things I've been doing is normalising things that are not normal, here in New Zealand, because I'm normal. And meditation and not drinking, because for me the combination of not numbing yourself with alcohol. And then the beautiful thing we do twice a day of experiencing our emotions is like a really quick way to evolve as a human being. 

Rory Kinsella  18:59  

Awesome. I love what you're saying about using alcohol as a way in to kind of give give meditation to people who might not be interested in that's definitely been my experience, because this is kind of touching on what we were talking about privately yesterday, in that alcohol is the kind of most well known coping mechanism tool out there. You know, it's on every street corner. It's government approved, it's taxed. It's it's there, it's easy. But you know, it, it doesn't work. It's not effective in the long in the long term and it can be very damaging. So I think it's really a useful point of entry to people to say, hey, look, use this thing called alcohol to relax. How's it working out for you? And when you ask that, it's surprising, like you said with your 80 people who contacted you on New Year's Day, a lot of people feel I don't really know what's up here but I would like to drink less.

Claire Robbie  20:00  

It's a really tricky one too, because I find it hard to dance the line of feeling judgmental. And, and then also, really knowing what a problem is for many, many people, and some people can drink perfectly fine. You know, they and I remember one of the last times I had a drink with my the last time they had a drink, where I had this moment of like, Oh, this is drinking mindfully i was i was in Sydney actually. And I had this beautiful day of doing a lot of yoga, I done a workshop with my, the woman, I did my Vedic training with Jackie Lewis and Sydney. And I, we It was a beautiful sunny day, and I hopped on the back of my brother's motorbike. And we zoomed up to a little bar, and I had a glass of red wine. Because as with my brother, I was already relaxed, there was no need to, to mask anything. So I was with someone who I love very dearly, and was completely comfortable. And I had this one drink in the sun overlooking the beach. And I was like, Oh, that was beautiful. And then I stopped. And I didn't need anymore, and nothing had been triggered. So I know, some people can drink like that. And but unfortunately, for most people, it is an unconscious coping mechanism. And I think even helping people understand the relationship between sensation, so what we're feeling and how it's driving our thoughts, and how our thoughts drive our actions. Even just helping people cultivate awareness around on feeling, what we might call anxiety. 

And where does it feel like we know, where is it in my body, etc, etc. What are the thoughts that come from that anxiety. And even just teaching people that there that is even happening in their body and their minds is incredibly powerful, because I definitely wasn't taught that at school. And I've only really learned about that in the last 10 years. And if I had have potentially not on that earlier, then maybe I would have been able to make some slightly different choices or learn the importance of regulating my nervous system. or understanding the concept of unconscious conditioning guiding our behaviour. Maybe I would have made some slightly different choices. Although those choices that I did make have led me to be able to be really empathetic, and compassionate for every single person I work with, because when people come in to talk to me about resetting their relationship with alcohol, I know exactly how they feel. And I know that we do this really cool visualisation, when people are going to a party or an event. And you're like, Okay, I'm going to this event, and I know that I'm going to feel and it's going to be hard for me not to drink. So we do this visualisation process of getting into the body. And we do then First of all, we do that what will happen if you don't drink? What will happen if you do drink, and I know what will happen if you have that one drink, like I know that I know that pattern so well within me that I can talk people through it perfectly. And and visualisation has been a really, really powerful way for me to help people reset their relationship with alcohol and cultivate that self awareness around their drinking.

Rory Kinsella  23:44  

Yeah, I mean, I personally found that because I I started meditating about four years before I quit drinking, but I was kind of reducing over that time. And what it was for me is that that awareness that you're talking about, that we generate in meditation, I was more able able to sense the effect that alcohol was having on me and the way I think about it was that before I was not feeling good during the week, and I drink and numb that feeling of not feeling good. But when I started meditating, I would start to feel generally pretty good. And then I would find that the alcohol would make me feel cloudy and you know, kind of confused and it was ruining my my high my normal high, rather than, you know, it's like, by making yourself feel good normally through through practices like meditation and yoga, it means that you're not having to run away from anything I think people often use alcohol is a way to escape their lives and it's, you don't have anything to escape from if you've got this way of dealing with your stress and anxiety normally.

Claire Robbie  24:58  

Hmm. Although I do Do think some people use yoga and meditation? My teacher here in New Zealand? once said to me, what would happen if you stopped meditating? What would happen if you stopped working out and going to the gym? How would you feel. And also I recovered. And from that discussion, I recognised that even practices that are healthy for us and good for us can also become coping mechanisms. And I think my meditation practice has shifted over the years. At the beginning, it was a way to make me feel better. And that that changed as well as I became, you know, how we just start accepting more and more and more become so much more accepting of ourselves. And these these moments of like, Oh, I don't need to be different. who I am, is actually, okay. And then from that place as well, we start making better choices, because we just feel better about ourselves. And so even my meditation stopped being a coping mechanism for me too, because it was a form of escape. And if it didn't make me feel better, if I would meditate or do yoga, and I didn't, and it didn't make me feel better, that would cause a lot of suffering as well. And then I realised, oh, it's not about it, making me feel better. It's about showing me the reality of this situation, and that there are these uncomfortable emotions, there are these feelings that I've run away from, or I've wanted to make better, or I've inherently made wrong, you know, the anxiousness for example. I had no idea up until maybe three years ago, how much fear was resonating in my body. And I call it we call it anxiety. For me, it was just fear and a bit of shame mixed in with a bit of shame. And it was so woven into the fabric of my being that I didn't know it was there. And even as a meditator for years, and a practitioner of yoga for years, I had this moment of like, Oh, my gosh, there's this feeling here. And it's been there for a really long time. But it's not me. But it's there. And then for a while, it was, I was like, Okay, well, I'm going to use meditation to get rid of it.

And my teacher was like, I don't know if that's gonna work for you. And I was like, how long will it take for it to go away? If I just keep meditating? Is that? I don't know. It might not ever go away. Could you be okay with it being there forever? And I was like, No, he's like, that's probably your entry point into something.

Rory Kinsella  27:51  

Yeah, I mean, we talk about acceptance a lot on this on this podcast, and it's, it's so powerful. It's, I just love the simplicity of it. Not that it's easy, but it is simple.

Claire Robbie  28:06  

How do you teach acceptance? How do you even describe it? In my when my students are like, Okay, well, how do I accept it? And I was like, that's the problem that question.

Rory Kinsella  28:16  

Okay, just take everything that's happened. All the all the drinks, you've had all those bad mistakes you've made and just go, okay. They're done. I accept them. I What, what now? And what now? Yeah, but yeah, like I said, it's it's a simple concept. But it's not it's definitely not easy.

Claire Robbie  28:35  

No, well, if there's any kind of trying, I always talk about the catch 22 of meditation. Have you read? Catch 22? Yeah, the Yeah. So I don't have the quote on me. But Google, the main caught quote, of Catch 22 it's about this list, basically, and an Air Force pilot and World War Two Yossarian. And he just, he just, he's doing everything he can to be discharged. But the thing is, you can't be discharged. Unless you're crazy. But if you if you try to get if you try to like, show that you're crazy, it's just anyway, it's very hard to explain, but um, the catch 22 of meditation is exactly that. The more you try. It's like that carrot in front of you. Just, you know, getting you can never quite reach it. But if you don't try, then you get there. Yeah, you don't want to try and get there, because anyone give me..

Anthony Thompson  29:37  

That's counterintuitive, of course. Yes. We're all brought up to try, you know, I mean, our culture's are constantly telling us try, try try and the harder you work at, the more likely it is that you'll get the desired result. And of course, I think with Vedic Meditation, this is this is one of the biggest initial hurdles that What do you mean? I don't have to “try” I mean, yeah, that's it, don't do take your foot off the pedal and just enjoy the joy, the you know, the journey, whichever way it takes you. Yeah, that's a big ask. That's a very big ask at the beginning.

Claire Robbie  30:12  

It is just so counterintuitive, because we are, you know, it's a it's deeply entrenched without ego, isn't it no egos just a part of being human having an ego and wanting to survive, and to survive, we have to compete, and we have to be bitter and all these things. And so, yeah, this I think meditation has been the first thing in my life. Even with the physicals with a physical yoga practice, there is a bit of drying involved. But even that you can do I do this process called the artists way, quite regularly. And one of the practices is you get up in the morning and you do three, you write three pages stream of consciousness. And you do it for three months. And it's something that's actually stuck with me that's writing, I do it either before my meditation or after my meditation. And there are times when you wake up, just like when you meditate, we you just say, Oh, this is gonna be so hard. And this one sentence that who knows Julia Cameron had in this book is learn to rest on the pages. So when you're writing instead of, you know, you can write and you can force it. But writing with no pressure, just leading what leading the pain, do what the pin wants to do, it doesn't have to be anything special, doesn't have to be this groundbreaking novel. And same thing with a physical yoga practice, you can get onto your mat, and relax into this physical process. Same thing with meditation like we can, we can have the concept of relaxing as you're doing something I know for me, who's had anxiety fuelling overachievement her whole entire life to go, okay. There's no pressure here. Just let what happens happen has been pretty phenomenal.

Anthony Thompson  32:16  

Would you describe that as being very much in the moment? Just just giving yourself to the moment and not thinking about what's going to happen in five minutes time not thinking about what Yeah, you're Yes.

Claire Robbie  32:32  

I think that's exactly what it is. It's, I'm becoming present to what's happening in this moment. And just doing whatever sort of comes from you, I suppose, rather than forcing it out. And that act of writing like that.

Every morning has been really, it almost removes a layer of the nonsense of that, that background noise of nonsense. And it kind of gets rid of that first thing in the morning. Because you can write a to do list, you can write a need to know less than less than that, less than that. And sometimes if you get that out, you realise Oh, there's actually not a lot I have to do. It's just been triggering that. I had this funny moment in my meditation this morning. Where I was really trying to I don't even know how it happened. I was really trying to figure out if the thoughts or the sensations come first. Or because Joe Dispenza. And you know, Dr. Joe Dispenza, who does a lot of that really science-y neuroscience stuff around meditation and and human behaviour. he reckons he talks a lot about the thoughts being first, and then they create the feeling. And I'm like, No, I reckon it's the feeling, creating the thought. And then I'm like, is this the what comes first the chicken or the egg type scenario? And I spent a large portion of my paediatrician this morning, just going, “Oh, what is it?”

Rory Kinsella  34:16  

You don't need to know.

Claire Robbie  34:19  

No. But I would like to.

Rory Kinsella  34:24  

Could you talk a bit about awareness insight meditation and how it compares to Vedic?

Claire Robbie  34:30  

Yeah. It's tricky. When I'm talking to three Vedic Meditation teachers.

Rory Kinsella  34:37  

We're gonna argue you down. Tell us why it is better!

Claire Robbie  34:41  

I dreamed of this moment.

Rory Kinsella  34:45  

This is the supreme court.

Claire Robbie  34:47  

I had a Vedic Meditation teacher tell me once. The Vedic Meditation was the iPhone of meditation. So why would you buy any other kind of phone and just like that doctor, telling me I will never walk without a limp. I was like, hang on, let me figure this out. And so, so I had a meditation. So I studied Vedic Meditation, and I practised with a mantra for probably not two years, I'd say maybe just over a year. And the mantra, I studied with Buddhist teachers first. So I had my Hindu yoga, entry point in the temple around the corner from me at the Malibu was a Buddhist temple. And I'd go there, and that's what you had to practice for an hour. And it was really hard. And I didn't understand a lot of the things they were saying, because it was all in poly or Sanskrit. There's a lot of sort of highfalutin concepts that if you're new to meditation, of fear, he confusing and just don't make any sense at all. But I would go and study with these predominantly mean, actually, I think they're all mean, and do my best, because what I saw around me was the people who I respected and admired the most head of seated meditative practice.

And these people were doing things and were of service and living these very simple lives and teaching these beautiful concepts to people and really helping people. So I was like, okay, there's something in this meditation business, business. And so I studied and I developed a practice and meditative practice, that was an hour each day. And I did that for a couple of years on top of a yoga practice. So my daily practices were hours long, which is not sustainable. In my experience, like you can do that for a period of time, but then I was also unemployed didn't have was literally just me, so I could do those things. And, and I did a few retreats, and I got pretty deep into the study of Buddhist meditation. And then I did a Vedic course with Jacqui in Sydney. And I loved her teaching, her teaching was phenomenal, very easily digestible. And the science behind the twice a day meditative practices was incredible. So my practice shifted to this twice a day practice. And that was shorter. The month through, though, slipped away for me very quickly. And six years ago, I started when I moved back to New Zealand, I started working with a teacher who was very non dogmatic, and you wouldn't put them in any kind of category. Although he does do a lot of the passion sort of retreats. And what I recognised for me was the mantra had slipped away very quickly, and I was committed to my practices. And for me, the sensations in my body, were more of a gateway into what we might call a meditative state.

And also I recognise, being practising being okay with these sensations, relaxing into the flow of the energetic currents, because all emotion sensation in our body is just energy moving through our body. And being able to relax into those sensations was very, very powerful. I could shift sensation, I could change my moods totally, I could, I could, energise myself, I could calm myself down without trying, if I just became more and more in tune with what was happening in my physical body, what was happening in my mind, really became quite background noisy, when I'm meditate. For me now, it is a very first of all, a very physical feeling practice. And so working with that teacher, um, because I would go to him and say, but these Vedic teachers say, we just, you know, you use the mantra to trends in the mind, and he's like, you don't need it. And I was like, I don't feel like I do. But they say, and we had, like, some quite deep discussions about it, because I don't need it. And so it did. It just slipped away for me. But, um, so Jackie is one of my favourite teachers in the world of meditation. I did retreat. have Light Watkins who's also a Vedic Meditation teacher. And for me, it's one of many pads. Different things resonate with different people. I am someone who loves to learn more, which is sometimes is it's unnecessary to be perfectly frank. But at the moment I'm even working with Swami over in India who's helping me understand the energies of the body a little more. And Pema Chödrön who's a Buddhist nun, her teachings have deeply resonated with me, and I'm reading I don't know what it is called the power of no escape or something, the wisdom of no escape at the moment, and how she breaks down these ancient Buddhist teachings, which are basically tools for understanding human nature more, I love how Buddhism, um, like, in this book, they have the nine types of thinking. 

And now with the meditation practice years and years of meditation under my belt, I understand these philosophy, philosophical concepts so much better, because I can apply them to my practice. Whereas in the beginning, when you're new, you're like, What are you talking about, it's like someone describing a dream. Like, I don't know, you have to experience it, for the knowledge to land so. And, for me, it's just a perpetual exploration. And all I do is learn, and then see what lands with me. And that's what I teach. So, awareness, insight, meditation is cultivating awareness. First of all, first and foremost, practising on a daily basis, becoming aware of what's happening in your body, what's happening in your mind, and understanding the importance of the communication between the two. And using that as a way to enhance your knowledge of self, and then also helping you communicate with the part of you. That isn't the thoughts, that isn't the emotions, the part of you that's actually kind of facilitating this whole process. So the insight that we gain from awareness, for me, has been absolutely everything, in me making slightly different choices over the last 10 years, which now results in a very different person, even though essentially on the same, the choices I make. And how I show up in the world, how much service I entered, the people around me is very different to what I was, like 15 years ago.

For the full podcast, please listen to the audio.

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If you're interested in learning more about Vedic Meditation, get in touch with the teachers below if they're in your area.

Derrick Yanford (New York):

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