An Interview with Laura Poole
Laura Poole is a Vedic meditation teacher based in Melbourne who has trained intensively in Australia, India and the United States. She merges poetic elegance with ancient wisdom to turn meditation into an effortless art form. Her mission 'guiding people to live a radical and fiercely loving life in flow with nature' really resonated with me and I hope it does with you.
How did you discover Vedic meditation?
To be honest I wasn’t actually searching to learn meditation all those years ago. I was 17, living a ‘normal life’ and was more interested in partying and boys then I was in meditation and yoga. But it turns out my body wasn’t keeping up with my lifestyle. I then started my first degree at University and with the compounded stress of study, intimate relationships and ‘taking responsibility for my life’ the whole thing started to collapse in on itself. To put it simply, I was tired, stressed, overwhelmed and had no tools or techniques to help. And it started to come out through heightened anxiety, panic attacks, digestive issues, deep fatigue and states of depression.
I then spent the next few years at doctors and naturopaths, taking herbs, testing for allergies, going through elimination diets, seeing chiropractors and doing emotional work with a kinesiologist, all to find out what the ‘issue’ was. And after lots of work (and money spent!) it was actually my wizard chiro/ kinesiologist who introduced the idea of a daily meditation practice to me. He said, “We are working really well with healing your body, and getting to the deeper root issues. But you see, your mind is running the show here. Your mind needs to learn how to settle down. And I can’t be with you all the time – you need to learn how to do this yourself.” So I went and met his meditation teacher, sat in on an intro talk, loved everything he spoke about, and as we say ‘the rest is history.’
How is Vedic meditation different to other forms of meditation?
Vedic meditation falls into the category of a ' transcending technique'. The term 'transcending' refers to the experience of the mind naturally settling down into deeper states of awareness. To do this, we use a mantra; the word mantra comes from the ancient Sanskrit language and translates as; Manas = Mind and Tra = Vehicle. Your mantra acts as a vehicle to draw the mind inwards where the body then spontaneously relaxes and naturally becomes still without any force or effort. Vedic meditation is not about controlling the mind or body, emptying the mind of thoughts or creating a perfect state of stillness and silence. It’s a technique that allows you to create the perfect conditions for your mind to expand, your body to rest and for deep healing to take place from the inside out. Other systems of meditation typically involve concentration or control of the mind. Vedic meditation on the other hand is an easy and effortless style that absolutely anyone can learn and experience benefits immediately.
How has meditation influenced your life?
Meditation has changed every aspect of my life. There is nothing that is the same! And that’s a really good thing. I had a student ask me this questions once so I wrote a whole blog post on it. You can check it out here.
Do you also do yoga?
It depends what you mean by ‘yoga’! Yoga to me is a state of Being, rather then a practice. What we call ‘yoga’ in the West would actually be called ‘asana’ or ‘pranayama’ in India. To me, yoga is the state of knowing yourself as the source of creation, a state of ‘being’ beyond doing. It’s the experience of being ultimately fulfilled within – whole, unbounded and full of bliss. To get there, I have done much work! And all the practices from the 8 limbs of yoga, alongside deep surrender and devotion… it’s been a daily practice. Asana has probably played the smallest role, pranayama next, Vedic knowledge close behind and meditation the biggest role.
What is a daily ritual you can’t go without? How do you find the time?
In case you couldn’t guess by now… my Vedic meditation practice! I now work my life around my twice-daily ritual, because I know that my state of being, my awareness and my presence is the most important thing. And not only for me, but for everyone I come into contact with. Therefore meditation takes number one priority. Oh and it feels amazing every time I do it so finding the time is easy. A bit like how finding the time to eat chocolate is also very easy.
How do you live your meditation in daily life?
Meditation is the eyes-closed practice that allows your mind to settle down, your awareness to grow, and your body to let go of old stresses. I sit down twice a day, everyday and allow this inner healing process to take place – it’s not always gratifying… but damn does it work! And the real results show after meditation. This is actually the whole ‘point of meditation’ – not to become better at the eyes closed technique, but to become better at life after meditation when you get into your day. Meditation is really about shifting your eyes open experience of life through giving you a greater perspective, opening your heart and allowing you to tap into the deeper essence of who and what you really are.
What does having a ‘yogi spirit’ mean to you?
To me, being established in ‘yoga’ or having a yogi spirit, means being present and engaged in the here and now. It's about seeing the underlying unity of all things and therefore treating others as you would yourself. Living in a state of yoga means to be kind, generous, willing to help and be of service. You become the expression of nature - in harmony, flowing and contributing to the greater whole of humanity.
How can we all bring more meditation in our life?
Start a daily practice and make it non-negotiable! Find a teacher you love, a technique you enjoy, and go deep with it. Connect with a real life community and be open to sharing. Ask questions. Stay curious. And be willing to ride the waves of life back to the ocean of your Self.
I highly suggest the practice of Vedic meditation, but if you can't find a Vedic meditation teacher in your area, then the next best thing would be to start with the 1 Giant Mind learn-to-meditate app.
Tell us a little about the highlights of India.
Ah this could be a whole other blog post! I actually head to India in a couple of weeks for our 'Himalayan Pilgrimage' Vedic meditation retreat. I'll also be going to an Ayurveda clinic in the south of India to receive panchakarma, an Ayurvedic detox program, and will be documenting the experience along the way. If you want to stay in touch, you can follow the journey via my Instagram @laura_poole!
Laura is also a co-founder of 1 Giant Mind. You can find her at Laura Poole and follow her @laura_poole.
Photos by @_alexanderklein_ and you can find out more about him here