|April 24th, 2012||Interview|
A few weeks ago I had the chance to speak with Gliding Calm, a healthy living blogger. As a long-time reader of her website, I had a few questions regarding her meditation practice that I wanted to learn more about. *Please note, the answers to the questions have been paraphrased and not 100% her words. I spoke with her via Skype, therefore did not have her answers written down word for word.
What is your background in meditation and how did you get started?
My father was a Buddhist priest in a Japanese monastery where he learned to “sit”. Sit is another word for meditating. Both of my parents did a course in Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. Needless to say, I was engulfed with meditation from an early age. The meditation that I practice is Vipassana.
I went through a dark period in my life, as many athletes who quit their sport do. It was a period of identity loss and confusion. I never sat prior to taking a course in Vipassana. It was truly a life changing experience.
Tell us a little bit about your Vipassana retreat.
Vipassana has been used for 1000s of years in ancient India. The Vipassana course consists of 10 days in a residential setting. Participants learn the meditation technique day-by-day by recordings of Mr. Goenka. This is the same video that is shown in all Vipassana retreats, in order to keep things consistent. Participants in the course live in a dormitory-like setting with a roommate.
Before starting the retreat, I had to fill out a mental health questionnaire to make sure I was mentally fit to take on the practice. I have a lot of back problems from my skating background, so I wasn’t sure if I would be able to be in a sitting position for long periods of time. I’m not going to lie to you. It was mentally and physically difficult.
Is it true that the retreat is completely free?
Yes, the retreat is free and you aren’t even able to donate to the retreat until after you complete your course. The teachers want you to learn the technique and its benefits first before thinking about donating your money and/or time. All expenses are made by donations from people who, having completed a course and experienced the benefits of Vipassana, wish to give others the opportunity to benefit from the course.
Describe a typical day.
The retreat is silent. The only time we were able to speak to our roommate was during the first few hours to talk about things such as who you are, where to place bath towels, shower routines, what brought you to the retreat etc. The only people you are able to speak to during the 10 days are the female manager and the female instructor. You speak to the female manager if you are having roommate problems, need clean sheets and towels, or have any other living problem. The female instructor leads the sits, vocal recordings, and question and answer sessions. At the end of the first day, you take an oath of silence. This means no writing, no music, no speaking, no cell phones, no eye contact with other participants, and no gestures. The purpose of this is to really take in your own feelings without being influenced by the other people around you.
The day begins at 4:00 a.m. with a wakeup bell and continues until 9:00 p.m. The retreat focuses on your own breathing and natural feelings/sensations in the present. I had a lot of time to think, and honestly there were times I laughed, cried and questioned myself. I do want to note that although I have a Vipassina background, I’m not saying that other techniques aren’t worthwhile.
What is one concept that you take with you every day from your retreat?
A concept that I take with me every day from the retreat is the concept that attachment and aversion are causes of suffering. When you become so attached to something and you realize that you cannot attain it, it causes suffering. Likewise, when you have an averse feeling towards something you are also feeling suffering. It’s a constant pushing and pulling. The important thing is to be mindful of these feelings. Although I’ve been through the 10 day retreat, I want to make sure that everyone understands that I am no guru. I’m not perfect and am constantly learning day by day.
For more information regarding Vipassana go to: http://www.dhamma.org/
|April 11th, 2012||Interview|
Last week I had the opportunity to Skype with Clare from Fitting It All In! Not only is she extremely sweet, she is smart and ambitious as well. I’ve been a reader of her blog for a long time now, so I obviously had some questions to ask her about some of the topics she’s written about in the past. *Please note, the answers to the questions have been paraphrased and not 100% her words. As I’ve said, I spoke with her via Skype, therefore did not have her answers written down word for word.
What made you decide to enroll in your integrative nutrition health coaching program?
I looked in a few different program options, but the integrative nutrition program worked best for my current lifestyle and focused on a holistic approach. I was able to listen to the podcasts on my ipod, interact with other students in an online education forum and finish the program in 1 year!
What are your career goals for the next 5 years?
I would like to build up my health coaching business, while still maintaining my blog and working. I can’t tell you where I will be in 5 years, because the success of my blog and health coaching business will dictate where I’ll be. Right now, I’m happy to balance all the things in my life.
I’m running my first half marathon in November. What advice do you have for me and other first time half marathoners?
Follow a good training plan and cross train. My favorite ways to cross train include yoga, weight lifting and group fitness classes. As for race day, just be present and enjoy it!
How do you see your blog progressing in the near future?
I’ve given much thought to re-branding my blog in order to make it fit with my health coaching website. At the moment, I am not sure of what my new blog name will be (or if I even want to change it), but I have taken time to design some new logos! I also want to move away from life casting posts and focus more on developing subject based posts.
What advice would you give to individuals interested in healthy living who may want to start a blog?
My biggest tip is to be open and honest with your readers in mind. Know who your target audience is and be prepared to share everything with them. Another tip is to be confident in who you are. Not everyone is going to like what you have to say, so you have to be confident in yourself to deal with nonconstructive comments.
Thank you Clare for taking the time to chat with me! To visit Clare’s blog go to: www.fitting-it-all-in.com.