Who’s The Expert? And Why?
“I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Jillian by a friend who knew that I was looking for better ways to manage stress and anxiety. I did a one week one-to-one course with Jillian and have never looked back! She is an excellent, empathetic and discerning teacher, who helped me to realise that I had been over complicating meditation for years. With so much research telling us of the powerful impact meditation can have on our health, I urge you all to find a way to learn, even if not with Jillian, to give it a go.” Amelia
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Where do you practice?
London (South Kensington) and New York City.
These are two places where there is a concentration of English speaking people who are open and curious and in need of tools to get rid of stress, sleep better and have more energy. These are two very demanding environments to live in and it’s so easy to get out of whack when you live in these places.
What does meditation mean to you?
It grounds me. It energises me. It strengthens me.
It lets me push reset and I always feel better for having done it – always.
In one word, can you tell me what meditation gives you?
Where did you train & what are your qualifications?
I trained with Thom Knoles in the U.S. Thom is one of the most experienced teachers of Vedic Meditation in the world and has been teaching full-time for over 40 years. I had the great good fortune of living in a cottage on his property in the mountains of Arizona for over a year, while undergoing an immersion and one-on-one training programme to become a teacher of Vedic Meditation. I graduated in 2003 and have been teaching since then.
What inspired you to work in your area?
My own personal experience was the primary driver behind me wanting to teach meditation. I first learned to meditate over 20 years ago when I was living in Sydney, Australia. At the time I was setting up a division of a global publishing company and I noticed such a profound and positive impact on my health, work performance and overall enthusiasm for life as a result of meditating each day. After many years, a point came when I could see that I had knowledge that others wanted and needed. However, it needed to be made more accessible and available. That’s when I ditched the corporate career to become a teacher.
Why do you thinking teaching meditation matters?
Because we live in a world that is saturated with stress and fear and poor decision-making. Meditation immediately begins to remove stress and fear and then you are clear and awake and able to make good decisions. There are no negative side effects. It’s natural. It’s easy. It works quickly.
Without this knowledge, the stress and the fear and the poor decisions keep on growing.
What do you specialize in?
I teach Vedic Meditation – one of the oldest forms of meditation that we have on the planet today. What I love about this type of meditation is how it’s grounded in ancient wisdom and yet at the same time is completely relevant and doable in 21st century life. Life is not slowing down. It’s getting faster and faster and we need to have the tools to keep us connected to who we really are.
What are the key problems that clients come to see you with?
There are so many and yet there are some themes that come up again and again; anxiety, low energy levels and poor sleep, digestive imbalances, infertility, hormonal imbalances…
Generally people are tired and stressed. These two factors lead to a whole range of emotional and physical issues.
What has been your most memorable client success story?
It’s very hard to pinpoint just one because we’re working with such a wide range of people with all kinds of big issues. Here’s some recent ones:
- a 10 year old who was anxious and not sleeping well – after her first 10 minute meditation she said to me “I feel clean. I feel so calm as if I am floating” (She is now sleeping well and doing so much better at school).
- a woman in her 40’s who hadn’t had an uninterrupted nights sleep for years and then slept the whole night (on Day 3 of the course)
- a woman in her 30’s who had done many unsuccessful rounds of IVF over a number of years, learned to meditate and two months later conceived naturally and now has a gorgeous one year-old
- this quote from someone who had been suffering from anxiety most of his adult life has stayed with me: “I have woken with a sense of fear for months – this morning I woke and didn’t feel fearful.”
What would you say are the three biggest challenges faced by clients in your area of specialty?
I think the biggest challenge is to overcome the #1 mis-conception that meditation is difficult.
On one hand it’s great that there is so much more awareness about meditation now. However, with that comes a lot of mis-information and misunderstanding about what meditation is. For many people they think it involves concentration, trying to stop thinking and a whole lot of hard work. Many people come to me having ‘tried’ to meditate without success and then are left feeling like they may not be able to do it.
When you know how to meditate correctly, you find it is not difficult or hard work. Actually it is natural, easy, feels good and brings about an upgrade very quickly.
How do you help clients to tackle those challenges?
We take the time to explain how meditation works and how it impacts every aspect of our wellbeing. There’s a lot of research about the benefits and it is very reassuring to get an overview of this. We prefer to do this in person because then we can really address the key issues, answer questions and give people a chance to meet us and see that we’re normal and not all ‘brown rice and sandals’!
Please describe an average working day in your life.
I find myself talking and writing about meditation A LOT! My days are a mix of talking to people who are interested in learning and then actual teaching. I also do a lot of personal mentoring on a range of issues from lifestyle, diet, relationships and change management. I also work with some clients as an Executive Leadership coach which draws down on my previous experience in senior leadership roles.
My days are normally long and varied. I have a toddler and I’ve chosen to be very hands on and I don’t have full-time childcare. It means that I have to be up early and often work late, once she’s gone to bed.
If you could give one piece of advice to everyone reading this interview, what would it be?
Other than meditate? Ummm… sip hot water regularly throughout the day. It will hydrate and purify you like nothing else!
What is your favourite meal?
I love south Indian food – it’s light, easy to digest and so tasty. I especially love Idli, the fluffy dahl and rice dumplings you find in the south. Very yummy with coconut chutney!
How do you manage your work:life balance?
a) I meditate twice-a-day. My days are full. I have a young daughter and we have two businesses in London and NYC. I’m in front of people a lot and then there’s the never-ending stream of emails and computer time. The deep rest of meditation gives me energy and a way to release stress. I come out of meditation feeling clear, calm and better able to deal with all the demands in my life.
b) A big part of my training and personal interest is in the area of Ayurveda – the most ancient system of healthcare and wellness that exists. I follow Ayurvedic principles in terms of diet and routines – very simple things such as sitting down and eating a cooked lunch or sipping hot water throughout the day make a huge difference.
What would you say are the main lessons meditation has taught you?
Before I learned to meditate I thought that I was going to be happier by having more stuff and more experiences. I thought I was going to be more successful by doing things faster and better than the next person. I thought I was going to be more fulfilled by the things I had and the places I went to and the people I hung out with.
Meditation turned that upside down. I began to realise it was not by having or doing more. I came to understand how vital it is to BE me. I realized how out of balance I was and how deep down I was not happy – even though I got pretty good at covering that up by continually doing.
Before meditation I didn’t know how to rest properly and I didn’t understand why that was so important. Now I know how that is the key to everything I do.
What has teaching meditation given you?
It has given me a way to make a lasting, positive, life-changing difference for other people. Along with raising my daughter, it is the most fulfilling thing I can do in my life. I love that I and my students get to witness that so quickly. I literally feel my heart swell up inside.
When I teach I learn so much and I feel it connects me to other people is a very profound way.
In my work in the corporate world, the bit that I really felt most engaged with was the ways that I could help other people develop and create. I was very clear that first and foremost I wanted them to enjoy where they worked. Teaching people Vedic Meditation feels like I can help them to enjoy their life. It always makes me smile inside.
Where do you feel most at peace?
When I meditate. And in that lovely space when I just come out of meditation.
More and more I notice how that feeling stays with me all through the day. This is what develops over time – that ability to take that peaceful feeling with you everywhere.
And there are places that I find especially peaceful. Being by the sea is right up there. I think that growing up in New Zealand set me up for that very early on. I love the way the ocean constantly changes. I love the light. Living in London means I don’t have that experience so much. Every so often I’ll say to Michael%