Interview with a Botanical Beauty Brand.
'The edit ' of which was published May 19th 2022.
1. What does a 'usual' day look like?
Waking up early, enjoying the ritual of making and drinking my first cup of chai, meditating, facilitating (mostly online) satsang & meditation meetings, doing yoga, walking, and reading or listening to audiobooks or inspiring discourses - mostly on the principles of non-duality.
As much as I appreciate being in good company I also love to be alone, in complete silence. There is no difference between my work and creative outlets, as meditation and self awareness remain central to every aspect of my life.
2. What advice would you give to someone who has never practiced, but is wanting to start with meditation?
To recognise that the calling to meditate is coming from a deep inner awareness that something more can be known than what has already been experienced in the life. Regarding how to meditate, there are of course many mantras and techniques readily available now. But I would suggest putting a prayer out that a source of information should reach you which can enlighten you as to what meditation really is, so that the practice can be approached with as much wisdom and as few misconceptions as possible.
To think of meditation as only a practice we 'do' is a very limiting way to view it. It is in fact the natural state of being: that which was there before we were born, that which remains the same throughout the duration of our apparent ever-changing lives, and that which goes nowhere when the body is no more. The more one comes to understand this directly without the filter of an individual identified intellect, the more one becomes aware of the reality which meditation is.
3. Could you take us through your meditation practice.
Meditation has never failed to make sense to me. Throughout my life I have had countless opportunities to both witness and experience directly its multifaceted, transformative power. I was first introduced at the age of 6, and was formally initiated at the age of 11. I spent my twenties meditating 8 hours a day and saw in my thirties how it embraced me like a protective fire of knowledge through a lot of emotional turmoil. I was blown away in my forties when it came like an immortal angel carrying me fearlessly through life-threatening health situations, and witnessed in my early fifties how by grace it seemed to catapult me, on an infinite beam of light, to the other side of what I can only describe as the very centre of the seed of all the grief I had ever experienced.
Over the years I have used various techniques from mantra and mala, to breath work and others given in, for example, the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita. How I practice meditation now is to simply approach it with no plan. I just sit, close my eyes, and let the awareness of awareness—which is already taking care of everything—take care of the rest. Mantra or any other technique may or may not arise from the silence. Either which way it’s fine; the key is to stay with the awareness and to observe that the nature of awareness has no beginning, no middle, no end, and therefore never becomes mixed or lost in what it may appear to be aware of. For awareness there is no time, no location, no opposition – just an eternally divine ever-present indifference. It may appear as if the practice of meditation ends when the eyes open and movement again starts, but in truth meditation and awareness remain the same whether the eyes are closed or open.
4. Do you think meditation can help us grow as a person and what do you feel it brings to our lives?
Absolutely! Meditation helps us grow out of the limitation of feeling like a small, separate, individual person (which can only ever bring us pain) towards a much greater awareness of who we really are.
As a practice it is a science, which enables the practitioner to directly experience— whilst remaining awake and alert—a total cessation of all mental waves of activity, and thereby observe what remains when all else subsides. This opens up a new dimension of understanding which can enlighten us to the fact that nothing exists separate from pure consciousness. Therefore even our thoughts can simply be seen as movement in the same consciousness.
As a result this then helps us to de-identify with the meaning of our thinking, which becomes a strong antidote to how otherwise we can so easily default into believing and becoming attached to our mental functioning and conclusions. And in turn it also releases us from the endlessly painful cycle of taking things personally when in fact they are not.
So many of the situations we pass through in our lives are not within our ability to control, but what is within our control is how we respond. If we are able to master the art of withdrawing our energy from any thought or narrative that doesn’t serve us, we make ourselves available to an infinite resource of intelligence that then places us in a position of strength and neutrality, and guides us in knowing how best to respond from a doubtless, compassionate clarity, rather than a small-minded, contracted weakness.
As we go deeper into the study, philosophy and practice we see that our entire perception of life shifts from identifying with the changing world as our reality, to becoming aware of and identifying with that which is unchanging (which is not in opposition to change). Meditation is like the bridge between the outer and inner world because it allows one to directly perceive and understand that which the mind
and intellect can’t reach, and which ultimately transcends both inner and outer. With this understanding our resistance drops and a fluidity of awareness comes into our being, enabling us to live our lives consciously, with a sense of freedom and equilibrium at heart that isn’t reliant on anyone, anything, or any preference being met.
5. What does wellbeing mean to you and how do you incorporate it into your daily life?
Aside from how I take care of myself physically and spend my time, the essence of wellbeing to me has to be the awareness that no matter what happens to my body—no matter what unpredictable events the future may have in store for me—for the sameness of being one with all beings, nothing wrong can ever happen.
In my own experience, that best gets incorporated into my life by my surrendering to it, having faith in it, and witnessing again and again how trusting in the indestructible nature of being has never failed me or let me down. Rather, it releases me from all fear, need and doubt, fills me with love, and makes it very clear that separation from God or Self is actually not possible. Therefore in truth the being will always be well.
Interview with an Organic Essential Oil Company.
Published February 2022
Claire Pincham has been meditating since she was 11 years old.
And even though I’ve only spent time with her over a screen, she’s had a profound influence on me these past few years sharing wisdom from a lifetime of practice. At 16, an inner voice told Claire she must find a Satguru (Sanskrit for 'true guru’, the remover of darkness), so she left England and headed to India to make that search.
In 1992, she met her guru in The Valley of Gods, Himalayas, and studied under his guidance for the next 25 years. During one of their first conversations, he told Claire to 'make meditation her best friend.’ In doing so, a vision opened that took her far beyond ordinary perception, which is always engaged in the field of opposites, to a dimension of absolute neutrality and stillness.
Throughout her life, Claire has had countless opportunities to see the practice and theory be transformed Into reality. In 2014, she was diagnosed with cancer. Rather then being gripped by fear, she found herself filled with a profound awareness of an unchanging reality that remains forever free and unaffected by any situation or prognosis. Her being was flooded with a euphoric happiness that she had never experienced before. And she realized at that time that true happiness exists only when fear and death consciousness do not. Hence she came to truly understand the meaning of her guru’s mantra Amaram Hum Madhuram Hum, I am Immortal I am Blissful.
What draws you to India?
First and foremost, the Guru-Disciple tradition and the ancient Vedic texts dating back thousands of years. If studied and understood, they remain as relevant today as when they were written. This is the only true calling I’ve ever known, in which the key to liberation was found.
And there are many other reasons why India has always been close to my heart: the Ganga, the culture and land, the science of Ayurveda, the architecture and art, the colors and textiles. I’ve always found it fascinating, though not surprising, that so much of the tradition and culture is intrinsically intertwined with the ancient Vedic wisdom, and has a much deeper significance than how it may appear on the surface.
What advice would you have for someone just starting a meditation practice?
To understand what meditation actually is, why as a practice it’s recommended, and therefore the immense value in prioritizing even a few minutes a day to sit in meditation.
Meditation is the natural state of being that never becomes anything other than what it already is. To sit in meditation regularly is to see the infinite potential that can arise when one allows the mind to be absolutely, deeply absorbed into utter stillness. It is a science: the science that allows one to come to know the true I, rather than only his or her individual transient I, and therefore the science of liberation from identification with one’s story in totality. If practiced correctly, regularly and sincerely, with a full understanding of these points, one comes to see that the indestructible Self itself—the perfect science of Yog—will never fail us. There are many techniques and mantras offered, but the target remains the same: pure awareness of the natural state.
I love the metaphor your Guru uses about perceiving each breath as if you were slowly pouring oil from one bottle to another. It’s one I can relate to!
I also love this metaphor because it immediately gives one the direct sense of the power of attention. When division is removed from vision the vision remains pure and undivided and with that one has full power over his attention. Notice how the functioning of the intellect creates a mixture of identification that effectively causes one to become whatever they are attending to. This can bring fleeting joy or a hell of a lot of pain! But notice the power of being aware of the fact that attention itself never gets mixed, attention itself never changes, attention itself never becomes what it is attending, and therefore attention itself never becomes anything other than attention pure.
If one sits to meditate as pure attention meditating on pure attention, right there there’ll be a total cessation of mind and duality, and a direct example of the power of what meditation can offer. Sit with closed eyes and quite simply do nothing but attend attention.
How do you view the nature of sacrifice?
There are countless manners and dimensions in which sacrifices can be made. But perhaps the ultimate sacrifice is the willingness and ability to surrender one’s attachment to his or her individual identification. This could also be understood as surrendering one’s ego, which actually means to come to know one has never been an ego-bound being. This allows one to be present and fully available, and in the best position to sacrifice in whatever way that may manifest.
What is your relationship with death?
Whatever is born by the law of nature will one day meet its end. I’ve had numerous dramatic death experiences in my life, on physical, emotional and spiritual levels. What was clear throughout all of them was that there was always a witness self that remained present, alert and free. The witness self neither is born, nor dies, nor sleeps, nor dreams nor wakes up. The witness self never gets caught in an illusory mixture with what it appears to be witnessing. Check and see - there is no separation between the witness self, the witnessing and the witnessed. When one understands this and identifies with this, one understands that though it must be said that the body is born and will die, the witness self—the being of pure awareness—is birthless, deathless, immortal and therefore blissful.
The direct experience of this has totally transformed my relationship with death. Having lost my mother to cancer at the age of 6, I became acutely aware at a very young age that anyone or anything can be taken away from us at any time, whether we are prepared for it or not. Knowledge that is realized directly is the greatest antidote to fear, and when one conquers fear an unparalleled relief comes into the heart that even under the most adverse or challenging of situations one is actually equipped and prepared. Knowledge and a fluidity of awareness of the ever free witness self allows us to accept without resistance that there is a momentum to the changing field that is totally out of our individual hands. To be free from the fear of lack of control is everything.
Do you believe in fate?
Fate can be understood and interpreted in so many different ways. What seems clear no matter what we describe as fate or not, is that all human beings have been fated to be born into a human body and, no matter how long or what quality of life they live, the demise of the body is inevitable. What interests me most is how we use this fated existence and our time, as it appears, between the arrival and disappearance of our bodies.
Fate is as it is, but our destiny is what we make of it. Are we truly living or just surviving? And here I am not speaking about worldly achievements. To live fully requires being present, and being present requires not being caught as a victim of one’s thoughts and feelings. It is a big work and, as is clear in the world as we know it and see it, the circumstances different people are born into or what they later find themselves passing through varies massively. But no matter what, I truly believe in the power of the human spirit, which of course is the spirit of the divine. The spirit of the divine is indestructible, fearless, doubtless and needless, and the human being has the potential to realize that directly.