82-year-old expert meditator shares her insights on the power of spirituality, the excitement of ageing and the paradoxes of today’s youth
Who best to ask for life advice but to someone who, faced with the question ‘what are your regrets?’ immediately answers ‘none’?
Françoise is a yoga and ex-French literature teacher, who has practiced meditation for over 40 years. I had the wonderful opportunity to ask her about how mindfulness transformed her life.
What amazed me the most about Françoise, is that despite her apparent wisdom and strong belief in her way of life, there was no wish to convince me of anything. She knows that her happiness speaks for itself. I hope that you will find this conversation as inspiring as I did.
A synonym for the word ‘meditation’?
Faced with this question, Françoise first brought up the word ‘tranquility’.
She then paused. “Actually, this is more of a state achieve through meditation.”
“The real synonym of meditation is ‘exercise’.”
“Engaging in meditation is about embarking on a process through which we build real happiness from within. It takes effort, and silence is absolutely necessary.”
Despite a difficult childhood and an unaffectionate mother which left her with anxiety as an adult, Françoise was able to find contentment that was less dependent upon external circumstances.
But meditation is not just about hard work. For Françoise, “Everything is easier now. I fight less with my husband. I take things as they come. And I am never waiting or wanting for things to happen.”
The biggest benefit of meditation?
“Thanks to meditation, there is no bad weather. Every day when I wake up, whether it is raining or I see the sun beaming, I am at peace.”
Whether Françoise means this literately, or as a metaphor for life, or both, I think this is a pretty appealing… Plus a particularly good investment for Belgium residents.
Your best argument for taking up a meditation / mindfulness practice?
“When you go buy a jacket, you know that spending 100€ as opposed to 15€ will usually get you a better quality one, right? Well, it’s the same with happiness. How can you expect to be more fulfilled, if you do not spend time on yourself?”
How can meditation transform life at work?
‘You know what a student of mine once said to me? With you Ma’am, it’s different, you are the same person inside as outside the school classroom.”
Françoise explains that meditation was critical for finding the confidence to be her authentic self, as a teacher. Equipped with less negative self-questioning, she was able to teach in a more instinctive way, making “every day different and full of new discoveries”.
How do you approach ageing?
“We tend to see ageing as a scary process, but for me, every day that passes, I feel better and better. So, ageing can only be seen as a gift”.
What are the main obstacles faced by today’s youth?
According to Françoise, today’s youth is plagued by a “bulimia of discovery”. « Young people are always on the move. They go to Bali expecting to discover themselves. You could have travelled the world, but as long as you have not done inner work, you will remain lost”.
Your take on religion?
Françoise is a practicing Catholic. In her view, “religion can be steppingstone to spirituality. But the latter remains the end goal. Many religious people are not spiritual. And religion is absolutely not a requirement for spiritual attainment.”
Any advice for meditation novices?
“It’s wonderful that you want to start. There will be ups and downs as part of the process. Do not give up! It can take a bit of time to start seeing results”
Any concluding words of wisdom?
“As a wise a person once said, human beings are meant to be happy. But it takes a lot of work!
And meditation practice is one of the best ways to undertake that much needed work.”Tags: brussels meditation, Meditation, Meditation Benefits, meditation brussels, Meditation Testimonial, Mindfulness, mindfulness benefits, mindfulness testimonial