Unravelling meditation- interview with Amy Burke
Yoke is thrilled to have the next Soul Seekers Guide to Bliss being lead by Amy Burke. Amy's practice of meditation began 10 years ago and we sat down with her to talk to how she found her groove and unpacked the mystery that surrounds this practice.
1. How has meditation impacted the rest of your life?
I imagine life without my yoga and meditation practice would be like a snow globe that’s just constantly shook up, swirling and busy, missing the world around me because I can’t see clearly what’s here and now.
Practicing meditation doesn’t take away all that stress and swirl of life, but it does give me increasingly more settled moments where I feel a little more at home inside myself.
2. Who has inspired you most on your meditation journey?
I’ve dabbled with meditation since I first started practicing yoga about 10 years ago but it wasn’t until I trained with Sarah Powers that the practice opened up for me. She introduced me to mindfulness meditation and she had such a wonderful way of weaving the ancient wisdom traditions with modern psychology. I learnt tools and techniques that helped me become more skilful in my practice rather than just spacing out and, most importantly, I learnt not to be so hard on myself!
3. Meditation is such a mysterious practice! For some, it seems like an easy road though for others it is so challenging....
It’s funny when we practice a yoga class we get all kinds of tools, techniques, and alignment cues to help us create a physical practice that can grow safely and sustainably and empower us to move in a way that feels right for us. My experience of learning meditation was very different to that. Trying to just sit and be still meant for long time I sat there lost in thought, distracted, wondering when I would “get good” at it, assuming other people were having some kind of blissful experience that I really didn’t understand.
But meditation is just like any new skill or practice we want to learn. It’s helpful to draw on support from teachings and techniques that have been proven to work for others until we eventually feel comfortable to branch out into a practice that feels a little more like us. With so many techniques it can be a bit of trial and error to see what works for you.
4. It is quite common to hear people ask, "What am I supposed to feel or hear or how do I know when I have reached a point of meditation?" Have you been asked this before?
Expecting meditation to feel a certain way and yield certain results was a big part of what made my initial attempts feel like an uphill battle. Something we’ll work with in our upcoming Sadhana program is, rather than having an agenda each time we sit, we’ll instead focus on methods and intention. Trust the methods and let your intention support your experience.
5. What does an established meditation practise look like for you?
The type of meditation I practice is a mindfulness meditation that broadly has two components.
Shamatha: exclusive or concentration practice. Focussing on singular elements such as the breath, body, thoughts.
Vipassana: inclusive practice or open awareness. You can think of this as a widening of the lens of what we’re paying attention to. It’s often translated as “insight meditation” or clear seeing.
I tend to start with Shamatha and when I feel ready broaden out to a Vipassana practice. But often I’ll need to come back to concentration techniques when I get lost in thought or space out.Overlaying these methods is always my intention to be as kind to myself as possible. I really feel that’s key to me consistently coming back to my seat.