The reputation of Jillian Lavender as a truly exceptional meditation teacher precedes her. Friends and collegues almost whispered with reverence about her a few years ago when meditation wasn’t as widely discussed as it is now. Everyone cited her calm and very practical approach to meditation. When we briefly met at one of the events details of which seem hazy in my mind now, I was intrigued by the calm and grounded woman in front of me, who paused before answering as our conversation progressed, yet just her presence alone was innately comforting.
In early July I heard that Jillian published her first book, an informative guide on the benefits of meditation and she kindly sent me a copy to read. The book accompanied me on plane and car journeys this summer and its blue cover radiating reassuring calm even when I wasn’t reading it. “Why Meditate? Because It Works” delivers a very eloquent, fascinating and easily absorbed information about meditation and what it can and will do for you with regular pracise. Jillian makes a very convincing argument via her book why a daily meditation practise is truly necessary for our busy lives.
As a co-founder of London and NY Meditation Centres, Jillian has been teaching Vedic Meditation to thousands of people across the globe for many years now. The book is like a distillation of all her wisdom and practical advice. From piercing common myths to scientific facts and accompagnied by beautiful illustrations, Jillian creates a simple and practical groundwork that you can create at home and make your own, if you are curious and willing.
My copy of the book arrived lovingly wrapped in brown paper, tied with thin string and included a charming hand-written note from Jillian. Day by day I read and little by little I felt that I became just a little bit wiser on the topic and process of meditation, which I have been practising myself, on and off for years. A practise that helps to ground me and something that I also tried to introduce to my own children from early on, as a simple tool that they can use for their inner benefit at any time and in any place.
In the book Jillian starts with her own story and …promises that the book won’t teach you how to meditate. Instead you will find three sections: Meditation Myths, What Is Meditation and Why Meditate.
“We don’t need more rules telling us how to behave. We need more action – tools that actually make a difference. We need knowledge that is relevant to our hectic lives and that enlivens our full potential. This is meditation – ancient knowledge for a modern world.”Jillian Lavender, author & Vedic Meditation Teacher
Jillian might have the most calming surname, but she didn’t grow up with any spiritual education and knew nothing about meditation. She didn’t practise yoga, nor was she in alternative therapies. In fact she was working long hours and as an executive for a global publishing company spent too many hours on planes. One day she went to a meditation center in Sydney and the teachers there clearly made such an impression that Jillian decided to take a course. Within weeks her anxiety subsided, her work efficiency improved and she even had more energy. Jillian remarks in the book that she hasn’t realised how tired she actually was, until she learnt how to meditate, a habit that is like brushing teeth for Jillian now.
With so much advice and meditation apps it’s somewhat surprising how many people continue to struggle and lack calm. Possibly part of the problem lies is the perception of what meditation is and how one should do it. According to Jillian, ‘if you can think, you can meditate’. After all meditation is a process of working with the nature of the mind instead of fighting against it. All you ultimately need to do is to carve out a little bit of time each day to sit…and close your eyes. Meditation will put you in touch with your essence. Then you can get on with your life having gained clarity and easy to make the choices that are right for you.
When it comes to meditation Jillian shares one important key – mantra. In Sanskrit is means ‘instrument for the mind. The process of meditating involves turning attention away from the outter and towards the inner world. And mantra is the device that orients our minds on its inward dive. Our minds actually are looking for happiness, but mind doesn’t just move randomly – it has purpose. A mantra acts like an orienting device, leading the mind in the direction that is very restful, rather than active. And when our minds settle down, that’s when our body becomes more rested as well.
In this book you will also find advice on breathing and consciousness, creativity, sleep, as well as ten reasons why meditations is good for you – less stress, better health come to mind almost instanteniously! The ultimate wisdom that got reinforced by the book for me personally is that meditation does make us better people and as a consequence better partners, collegues, friends, parents or friends. And this is something both we individually and the world can truly benefit from right now.
“Why Meditate? Because It Works” by Jillian Lavender. Published by Yellow Kite and comes in hardback, e-book and audio versions. £12.99
To learn more about Jillian Lavender and her work, please click here