- What is the name of what you do?
- My husband Gosha and I teach courses on meditation and the development of awareness Wake up and live. This can be deciphered in different ways, but the meaning will be something like this: we help people begin to “hear” (feel) themselves better. If we consider each of us as a living system, then a huge number of signals constantly appear and disappear in it.
Usually a person is aware of only a small part of them, like the tip of the iceberg, and below, beyond the boundaries of awareness, lies a huge dark territory, which in fact creates the reality of each person imperceptibly for himself. We help a person begin to notice more signals in their system and, as a result, make more relevant decisions.
At one time, Gosha and I discussed a lot about what words to call what we are doing, because in this area there are many clichés that create distorted ideas. As a result, we have so far settled on the word "guide". On the one hand, we are holding an event, on the other hand, we, as a guide, take the traveler to the territory where he has not been or was, but forgot. On the third hand, we act as a conductor in the electrical sense - we conduct some knowledge through ourselves, making it available to others and trying to do it as cleanly as possible.
- Is it true that you previously worked in the financial sector? How to decide and quit such a job?
- I graduated from the Faculty of Computational Mathematics and Cybernetics at Moscow State University, where we met Gosha, and worked in the IT field for 12 years: I was involved in the implementation and development of information financial systems, my last job was heading the IT Finance division at Sberbank CIB (formerly Troika Dialog"). I was responsible for the back-office IT systems for the finance department.
In general, “how to leave” is a topic for a separate interview.
In 2014, my decision was ripe. It was not spontaneous, I thought and weighed the pros and cons for about a year. But inside, the feeling that it was time to change something sounded more and more clearly. More and more I stopped seeing myself as part of the corporation. Previously, it attracted me, but now it stopped. I am very glad that I heard myself then and did not wait for more specific signals.
At that time, there was no clear understanding of what I wanted to do next, but one thing was clear: the world is much wider than work in a corporation and I want to free up space in life and free up energy for something new, to get to know the world and myself better, and not continue to work within the already clear protocol.
I have always dreamed of traveling and living in Asia for more than two weeks of vacation. I decided that it was no longer possible to postpone, my husband supported me and helped me in this decision, because he had already gone beyond the corporate format before me, led a startup - he already had a freer view.
Of course it was scary. Leaving a company where you are respected and appreciated is always difficult. That is, on one side of the scales - status, money, satisfaction from the implementation of complex projects and responsibility for their field, a sense of need, a position in the IT community, but on the other - a strong level of stress, a constant need to force oneself to seek motivation.
More and more questions began to appear: is that all? and because of this life consists? why am I spending most of my time doing this? what do I really want? if life ends now, what will I regret, what did I not do?
The existential crisis of values and meanings began back in 2010 with personal growth trainings and other psychological trainings, various practices, kundalini yoga, bodily practices, tantra seminars, meditation and the like. All this happened gradually and more and more directed attention to the area of studying oneself, revealing one's potential - in general, to the question "Who am I?"
Perhaps it is also important here that the path of transformation, which began in 2010, we walked together with Gosha, supporting each other at all stages of the path.
In 2014, we bought one-way tickets to Goa, where we went on vacation for two weeks the previous seven years, working in corporations. I thought that I would have a month's rest - and immediately energy and strength would come for new exciting projects and creativity. But my restructuring took much longer, it took more than a year. It was a very difficult time emotionally; time to look inside; time to learn to be in a state of confusion about what to do next; go beyond the bounds of an understandable schedule where it is incomprehensible and scary; learn to live; see what my reality actually consists of at every moment. Slow down the Moscow rhythm to see what's inside.
We traveled to India, America (also one of the “dreams” of an IT specialist - Silicon Valley and San Francisco), Thailand, Bali, met people who had long since embarked on the path of seeking themselves and spiritual development, met friends and teachers, accumulated knowledge and practitioners, took several Vipassana retreats in Thailand. Gradually, the intense search gave way to a quieter phase of clarity and observation. What had raised questions before has ceased to bother.
Friends often contacted us with some vital questions about relationships, business or some everyday situations. Asked to teach any meditation practices or techniques that we used. At some point, we decided to try to make a course to share what we ourselves use and what works well for us. Since 2014, Gosha has been posting notes about life on his Facebook, something like a travel journal of our inner journey. He wrote that we want to do the course, and more people came in a day than we could take.
- What do you teach people? How much esotericism is there, and how much pragmatism?
- We are close to the Pragmatic Dharma paradigm, it is a modern Western adapted approach to Buddhism and the practice of working with attention, based on checking on our own experience that works without reference to classical religious movements.
In our course, we teach the basic Buddhist technique of "noticing", and we also use many other practices and techniques such as metta, anapanasati, visualization techniques, concentration, techniques from the field of psychotherapy, NLP and other tools for self-exploration, self-healing and awakening as additional personal pointers.
An important tool in our course is the daily journaling in which participants describe their meditation experiences. It also helps the participants to understand their experience and provide the correct signposts to us as guides.
As for the relationship between pragmatics and esotericism, I don’t know. It depends on the person. My pragmatics will be esoteric for someone. The further a person moves along the path of knowing himself and, as a consequence, the world, the more esotericism becomes pragmatism for him. There are things around us that science cannot yet explain. But they do not cease to exist from this. The good news is that science in general and quantum physics in particular is catching up to this gap, and I expect there will be many important discoveries in this area for the foreseeable future.
That is, on the one hand, there is pragmatism in our approach in the sense that a person uses his attention in accordance with his tasks and needs at the moment. In certain business circles, it is now customary to call meditation fitness for the brain, a way to relax after a working day, take a break from continuous obsessive internal dialogues. On the other hand, the technique of working with attention can be used to explore the contents of your consciousness, study your patterns of automatic reactions and, if there is such a request, the development of special states of consciousness. I would not call it esotericism, meditation is life, it is the ability to look and not turn away from your experiences, living your experience carefully and consciously, and if this experience includes the study of "subtle worlds and states" - then this too.
We use a personal approach to each member in the group, we give personal pointers depending on the request.
- Why has the need for meditation increased today?
- The speed of information exchange is growing. The desire for super profits is driving corporations and companies to build momentum, which in turn requires people on the ground to juggle more tasks than ever before. For many people, this is a direct road to chronic stress and illness. Sure, some have intuitively groped their way through stress or absorbed such skills from their parents, but these are in the minority. The rest chronically postpone what they want to do, and do what they don't want constantly through force, supporting themselves with "dopamine injections" from material joys. And all this happens unconsciously. A person is simply trying sincerely to “be successful” in the way that modern society suggests.
When a person is ready to change something (not just an abstract desire, but an intention), he begins to look for tools. There are many of them, and meditation and mindfulness are one of the main ones.
- Who comes to you? What are their goals?
“Word of mouth started working for us right away, and people come on the recommendations of friends and acquaintances. Considering Gosha and my past business biography, about half of our participants are entrepreneurs and top managers. They tend to come to be more efficient, better time management, and "stress management." Some come simply because it is fashionable or because friends suggested it.
Depending on the experience, our participants can be roughly divided into three groups. First, beginners who want to try meditation. The goal here is to experience the practice under the guidance of experienced guides. Second: Meditators with little experience who have practiced through a mobile app or have gone through a retreat. Usually, in this case, people already have a greater understanding of their goals, for example, to establish daily practice, learn new techniques, learn meditation as a tool for deep self-knowledge, pump up concentration, improve contact with the body and emotions. Third: experienced meditators. They come to get new pointers on the way, "ride" on the group wave, restore the lost rhythm and discipline.
In general, most participants come with a request to get to know themselves better, be calmer and learn how to recover through the practice of meditation.
Now there is also an opinion that meditation helps "get rich". In general, there are other specialized courses for this. Although indirectly meditation can help in this, as it harmonizes the living system, synchronizes all its components.
- What is the difference between self-meditation, audio guide meditation, mobile meditation, group meditation and guided meditation? What are the pros and cons of each of them?
- It seems to me that everything ultimately comes down to coming to regular independent practice, which can be divided into formal and informal. Formal practice is regular homework, focus training in a comfortable environment. Informal is the inclusion of established practices in life. From a certain moment it becomes clear that this is life itself, awareness of the flow of one's experiences is an integral part of the experience of the awakened mind. To establish daily practice, it is useful to use various tools that help along the way, including audio guides, mobile applications.
Meditation in a group and with a mentor enhances the dynamics of progress along the path as the person has feedback. This is very important, especially at the beginning of the journey. Also, in the case of a group, there is a common group field. With a competent attunement of the participants, this catalyzes their internal processes and increases efficiency. You see, here too it was not without "efficiency".
It seems to me that it is worth starting with a mentor or in a group, and then moving on to an independent regime. I see “Meditations with the App” as part of the group work of the mentored sessions. By themselves, they can give some relaxing effect, but this is more a short distraction from everyday worries than serious deep work. If we are talking specifically about revising our "attic", where we put all our beliefs and stories throughout our lives, then it is better to start such work under supervision.
- When and how much do you advise to meditate?
- We advise you to look for your time. There are some common considerations, but there is also the observation that we are all different. Gosha and I meditate in the morning - the mind is quieter and fresher, the attention is sharper. Evening time is more suitable for harmonizing the state before falling asleep.
As for the duration of the sessions, I would not give unambiguous instructions either. I will say that regularity is very important. Meditation is also about creating new neural connections. They are like a path in the forest - if you do not walk along it, then it becomes overgrown. In our courses, we recommend starting with 15 minutes and adding one minute a day every day, reaching up to 30-40 minutes.
Sometimes it happens that a deep dive has arisen and the finishing gong rings. In this case, it's good to stay and carry on. It is also sometimes worthwhile to arrange long sessions for yourself - an hour or more - or go to a retreat.
Well, and the main thing is to remember that meditation happens not only when you are sitting on a pillow. Meditation is a way of life, it is an angle of vision and perception. Formal practice is just a training room, and the main work of developing awareness is our day. During the day, we recommend making short "pauses" for informal practice, returning attention to the current moment and being aware of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations. All of our life situations at home and at work during the day are an area for applying those skills that we train “on the pillow” (or yoga mat).
- What advice do you have for those who would like to try meditation?
- Thoughtfully answer the question "Why?" Try meditating for a month with an audio guide or app. If you are interested in going deeper, then go to a group course or look for a mentor for individual work.
Meditation is a tool for subtle and deep work. Often, a person's request can be resolved more quickly with the help of psychotherapy.
- Don't you think that the trend towards "mindfulness" commercializes spiritual and personal practices, devalues them?
- I used to think so, but now I look at it differently. It seems to me that the nature of reality is such that sooner or later people who practice meditation come to existential questions and seek answers to them. I think that the proliferation of mindfulness practices is in any case a positive trend that allows you to develop clarity and focus, acceptance, wisdom, even if they come to meditation through the practical motivations of "fitness for the brain" and self-improvement, taking into account research on brain neuroplasticity.
- What can you say to those who are skeptical about meditation and make fun of those who practice?
- Everyone chooses for himself what he responds: someone runs marathons, someone reads books and watches movies, someone does yoga, someone meditates, someone walks the dog. To each his own, and to everything his time. Everyone makes their own journey from birth to death, and this is always a unique trajectory.>