When did you start meditating and why?
I have tried meditation on and off through high school and college but didn’t finally start doing it daily until three years ago. My mother has been meditating for nearly two decades and so I always felt it was something I should do but couldn’t. I read Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda and though it took ten years, I eventually found my way to Ananda and was finally able to dedicate myself to my meditation practice. I think I needed Ananda because until I had a physical human teaching me and there to answer questions while I learned meditation, I struggled to meditate on my own. But all of that trying and failing laid the groundwork for where I am now.
What are some of the benefits you have received from meditation?
I think meditation is helping me become the person I want to be. It’s not magic and it takes a lot of effort both inside and outside of meditation (more than I want to give sometimes) but it’s completely worth it. I see myself reacting less to situations. And when I do react, I’m better able to pull myself out of it. There have also been some other perks. I remember things better and have slightly better concentration. The last one is definitely a work in progress.
What advice might you have for someone who is just starting to meditate and would like to make the practice of meditation a part of their life?
One of my meditation teachers wisely said “What you put in is much more important than what you get”. There’s a lot of layers to this advice but at the core, it means that when we focus too much on the results, it hinders our practice. So don’t worry about the effects of meditation or even trying to have a good meditation. Instead focus on putting the energy and willpower into sitting down and being regular in your meditation, even if your mind wanders the whole time. Everything else will follow.
What else do you do besides meditation?
I love running. Finland is a great place for runners with all the small pathways through the woods that make running rather relaxing. Initially my sweet tooth led me to baking but now I enjoy it more because baked goods are easy to share with others. And weirdly, I like writing. I’m not a prolific writer and most of my work is academic but it gives me a thrill to put word after word on the page and eventually have a ten-page paper.