Vedic Meditator Q&As
Leslie O'Kelly-Maiden: Married to Pete, business owner, former model, former meditation skeptic, Vedic Meditator
I met Leslie when I was working with her boyfriend Pete Maiden in Los Angeles.
Pete, a media entrepreneur and Vedic Meditator, had warned me that Leslie, or "Bugsy" as he calls her, was a meditation skeptic.
Pete and I were filming an interview with a Vedic Meditation master and Leslie was our sound recordist over the long, upcoming hours.
All I could think was, "Poor Bugsy, this is going to be a boring couple of days".
Leslie's had a big career since a young age. At 14 she was discovered by a modeling agent in a Texan shopping mall. She was soon working for some of New York fashion's biggest names. Now her focus is her Native American jewelry business - Bow&Arrow.
After the first day's shoot, Leslie gave me some useful ideas on where to take the interview the next day. Clearly she wasn't as bored as I thought she'd be.
Two weeks later when we were back in New York, Pete rang me: "Bugsy wants to learn meditation!" He was surprised and pleased.
A week later I taught a still slightly doubtful Leslie. She seemed to enjoy the experience.
Q: Can you describe your meditation practice?
A: In the mornings, it is usually the first thing I do after a shower. It sets the tone for the day. I’ve had to get used to setting my alarm an extra 30 minutes earlier than previously. The second meditation I try and fit in where I can, in the park by my office, the subway, or last resort, in my office after I announce to everyone I am not sleeping, just meditating !
Q. What does your day look like, How do you fit it in?
A. My days are never the same, so having a “routine” is often difficult, aside from the morning meditation. But like I mentioned, I usually just make it happen where I can. If I can’t fit in a midday meditation I usually make it up at the end of my day at home.
Q. Questioning is healthy, so I respect the fact you were doubtful about the benefits of meditation. That said, what were your doubts initially?
A. My doubts were never that meditation didn’t work, I saw it work on Pete in tremendous ways. My doubts were within myself. I thought I was already “chill” enough and didn’t think I needed it. I would say the biggest benefit I have seen is my ability to make decisions better. I am a textbook procrastinator because I often cannot make decisions, now after meditating I feel I have a clearer outlook on life. Also problem solving seems much more relaxed, instead of instantly stressing, I now think about a solution before panicking, which I think is a massive improvement.
Q. Has anything notable happened since you began to meditate, that you would attribute to meditation?
A. I think that meditation as a whole has helped me figure out my path in life. Modeling was no longer fulfilling and actually making me miserable. I feel meditation gave me the courage to finally take a chance on life and do what I love, which I am happy to say it is exactly what I am doing today.
Without meditation, I feel I would have still been in this limbo of doing something I hated. It definitely relieved my mind of that conflict.
Jonathan Harley - married to Sarah, father, Twitter Executive, Vedic Meditator
I first met Jonathan 20 years ago when we were reporting for an Australian national current affairs program. We became firm friends. Our industry was cut throat and demanding and deeply serious.
He made me laugh … there wasn't a lot of humour around in the lonely hours of a late shift.
Jonathan went on to report from South Asia and the Middle East, write a memoir, create a television series for a major network, and become a field producer and then Supervising Producer of Sixty Minutes, Australia. He married writer/broadcaster Sarah MacDonald and had two sparkling kids.
Now he's Twitter’s Director of Media Partnerships, Australia, and he recently helped launch a new foundation in California to assist non-profit leaders.
Most of us admire our friends. Isn’t that why we spend time together? It seems to me our friends have qualities we either aspire to, or would like to enhance in ourselves.
Jonathan’s inherent decency has always inspired me, plus he’s funny; at times, darkly so. Even when things are really tough, for either of us, he’ll eventually drop a line that will make me fall apart laughing.
Years ago, there were many things I’d say about Jonathan, but “relaxed” wasn’t one of them. In fact, I’d go so far to say he was “tightly wound”. But then Jonathan learned to meditate and it began to seem like he was getting more out of life.
Q. What made you decide to learn Vedic meditation?
A. I really wanted to find a new way to experience life that would help me enjoy and see life more clearly. I was open to anything - and to be honest, I was so busy at the time that I was also happy to just do 'something'.
Q. Did the benefits kick in immediately, or did it take a while?
A. Not exactly. At first I found it hard! I had to learn to accept all the noise in my head was ok. For the first week or so I just had to punch on and hope it would pay off. Thankfully, it did.
Q. Five years down the track, you’re still meditating, why?
A. It just works for me. Life is better, clearer, calmer when I am meditating regularly. It's not that is has totally turned my life on its head - I still try to do too much, for example - but it gives me a 'buffer" on the world, softens the edges and makes me a better person. How much better? Depends on how much meditating I am doing - and I am still way too stop-start with it. So there's a long way to go.
Q. You work in a demanding environment and you have a very tight schedule, how do you fit in meditation?
A. I love my morning meditation - and in some ways that's the easiest, as long as I get up on time! But the one that has been the real game-changer for me is the mid-afternoon session. Today, for example, I'd had a big day already, lots of meetings, and I was really losing focus. I had exactly 20 minutes till my 3 pm meeting so I took a meeting room at work and punched out a 20 minute session. It set me up for the rest of the day (and night). There are also some friends at work who meditate so we sometimes do an afternoon session together, which is really cool. But it's just so easy for it to slide and it's a constant process of coming back to a regular rhythm. I've just learnt that you can't bash yourself up if you miss some sessions ...... or days! It's a process and a practice that I will continue to practice for the rest of my life and it will never be perfect. And that suits me perfectly.