It’s not unfair to say that the words “I used to be the person pouring absinthe down my parents’ throats on Christmas Day” aren’t exactly ones you expect to hear from a super chilled, tea-sipping meditation expert.
And yet, that's exactly how my coversation with Will Williams, the founder of Beeja Meditation started. We sat down to chat about how he discovered the practice, how it helped with mental health, and why he thinks meditation has such an important role to plan in the modern world.
It was a car accident aged 19 that first set me on the path to meditation
. I ended up with what I now know to be PTSD. I was experiencing depression, anxiety, and consistently noticeable broken sleep. By my mid-20s I was working in the music industry and essentially getting paid to party, drinking all night and downing Red Bull during the day. I had insomnia. I was pre-diabetic. I was beginning to feel it.
The first time I tried meditation, I felt like I’d taken something naughty.
By this point, I had tried every ‘wellness’ approach going to fix myself – acupuncture, yoga, even colonic irrigation. You name it, I tried it. Most were interesting, enjoyable even – well, apart from the colonic irrigation – but none really stuck. With meditation though, it was like I knew from the beginning that this was going to be different.
Within a few weeks I noticed that I felt less stressed.
I was a nicer person – I was even nicer to strangers, and that’s something I’d never been before. I stopped drinking Red Bull. I started noticing I was more productive – I’d gone from working until 8pm every night and not fishing my work to leaving at 6pm having done everything. My girlfriend noticed the change in me straight away. With my friends it took a while longer as I was still going out drinking with them. That was, until I started meditating on a stag do – I think they were quite confused by that.
There’s such a need for meditation in today’s world.
With rates of anxiety and mental health issues soaring like never before, there’s a need for something else. Change is always scary and even when I got into it there was a certain resistance to it from those around me; I was no longer the hellraiser and people didn’t quite know what to do with that.
One of the biggest barriers to meditation is that it’s not seen a ‘productive’ thing.
There’s a pernicious myth that it will hamper academic success or slow you down. In fact, the opposite is true. It makes you more focused, more emotionally intelligent. The further into meditation I got, I found myself being more self-aware, feeling more invincible. Just look at footballers for example – Salah, Messi, Ronaldo – they’re some of the world’s best players and they all talk about how they use meditation to improve their game.
It’s short-sighted to see meditation and materialism as binaries
. Many people perceive that have to choose between the two, between wanting a certain lifestyle and wanting ‘life fulfilment’, but the two enhance each other. It’s a tool for high-performance, and where you apply those gains is entirely up to you. I think they key to a fulfilled life is to actually have an appreciation for both.
The city is the best place for accessing meditation.
A lot of people have a romantic notion that you have to go to the country of a practice’s origin in order to get the best experience, but that’s not true. If you go away to practice meditation, whether it’s because you’re stressed or for some other reason, you’re still going to have to face reality when you come back. It becomes a cycle. Right here in London there’s more opportunities – and more need – to integrate it to your daily life and to make it a useful tool for your day-to-day lifestyle. That’s an incredible opportunity – and a fantastic challenge.
Will’s top tips for finding a meditation for you:
- Ask yourself: do you want to be happy? It sounds basic, but if you don’t have a level of self-awareness that you want to make a change, then you won’t make it.
- Find a technique that’s right for you – there’s a preconception that meditation is about staying still and switching yourself from the world. This is the opposite of true. If you trade it back to its roots, meditation isn’t about being detached from the world but about letting what will be, be.
To find out more about Beeja Meditiation, or about Will, visit the website or Instagram
- Give yourself 100 days. The only way to make meditation work is to achieve a level of consistency. For this period see it as research, rather than a lifestyle change. If it doesn’t work, so be it. But it probably will.