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This is part – 1 of the interview. Part – 2 of the interview with more insights is published here.
Dr. Elizabeth Denley, a trainer and practitioner of Heartfulness Meditation (HFN) calls herself, “a student of the heart.” For the last twenty-six years she has been practising a heart-based meditation and facilitating and teaching others in that practice. She spends most of her time in Sydney Australia and Chennai India (my hometown!), and has two adult children.
Her undergraduate degree and PhD are in the field of ecology, and she has always had a deep interest in the relationship between science and spirituality, the human mind and vibratory heart, and the nature of the universe. She is also a musician and a writer, and has been active in values education and training for the last twenty years. She also heads the “History and Archives” department of the Heartfulness Institute as the Director.
Our Senior Editor, Purnima Ramakrishnan in India recently interviewed Dr. Denley for World Moms Blog.
Purnima Ramakrishnan: We want to get to know you! Tell us a little bit more about yourself as a mother, as a professional, as a meditator.
Elizabeth Denley: I am 60 now. I have lived a very eventful life. I was born in Australia, South of Sydeney. I have always been interested in learning, exploring, and studied music and dance as a child.
My parents encouraged me to explore life. They were not religious which helped me explore most of the spiritual traditions with an open heart and mind.
After high school, I joined medical school, but did not like it much, so I moved to biology studies and studied Ecology. I couldn’t cope up with the emotional life at Stanford University, which drove me to the quest towards spirituality.
After my post doctoral studies in the US, I moved back to Australia, and got married. My husband worked for the United Nations, with the Doctors Sans Borders, so we traveled a lot. My daughter was born in Paris. and when we were in Geneva, I discovered Heartfulness meditation in 1990. A week later, I met the then spiritual guide Chariji, and that was a turning point in my life — when I discovered my purpose of life. All the research work done on mind, matter, heart, and life studies made sudden sense to me.
In 1991, I became a trainer of Heartfulness meditation. And my son Lucas was born. We moved back to Australia. I was a home maker for a decade, while parenting and volunteering for the Heartfulness Institute in teaching meditation and doing administrative work for the organization.
In 2000, I moved back to the business world, and worked for 10 years, before finally retiring in 2010. It was very tough for me, because I never liked money and business. I always shied away from it. I was disgusted with the world. Then I understood business is about communication and relationships in a different scale. It was a very disillusioning experience, but it also taught me to grow up and handle my emotions.
PR: How has practicing meditation for “25” long years affected your life?
ED: It has transformed my life. I used to be very emotional, which did not enable me to live a really fulfilling life. I was capable and successful in what I was doing, but there was always something fundamentally missing in my life. I tried Tai chi. I tried other spiritual techniques. They all led me to something new and different, and eventually I tried Heartfulness Meditation.
At the time I was a typical western woman who grew up in the 60s and 70s. I was not able to deal with my life. I was frustrated and when I tried Heartfulness meditation, I knew evolution within me had started. It was a turning of the tide. Life did not overnight become easy. It was no magic wand. However, I knew the purpose of my life, and I knew how to deal with the rest of things that did not matter so much.
PR: Tell us a little bit about your children (because we are the World “Moms” Blog!). How has your meditation practice helped your kids?
ED: My Heartfulness practice made life easier for them. My daughter was 2 years old, when I first met my teacher. She had me as her mother before I started meditating whereas, my son was conceived when I was meditating. My son’s path in life is so much smoother. I am a better mother as a result of doing this.
Firstly, I am more straightforward, I am happier. There is more joy in me naturally.
Also my children were brought up in an environment, where there is a bigger love than what I or their father could offer. They grew up in an atmosphere which was charged with an atmosphere of Universal love. These like-minded people were open hearted. Not everybody is perfect. But there was genuine willingness to work on oneself, and open hearts and evolve.
My children have had their struggles. They had their teenage years. But they also had the ability to maneuver obstacles. They had the ability to smoothly sail.
PR: It is difficult to find time to allocate for meditation in today’s busy lives, when women are balancing jobs, parenting, home, and more. How did you find that elusive 30 minutes in the morning?
ED: When I first started HFN, my husband was travelling a lot with the UN. He was out of Geneva most of the time. And I had a 3 year old. Many times my daughter Gerry woke up at 5 AM. So, I waited. I fitted my spiritual practice around family life. And still today I would do that when there is a necessity. There are no hard and fast rules for women. Often I would meditate after feeding Lucas in the night!
There are, of course, a set of guidelines for the best time to meditate, which is at dawn.
But at times, it is not always easy. It is not always straightforward. You have to find and build your own rhythm. No woman is selfish – to tell her family – “I can’t help you now- because I am meditating.” So fit the practice around family life. It is a matter of being flexible.
Check out Part – 2 of Dr. Elizabeth Denley’s interview here.
If you would like to meet Dr. Denley, you can connect with her through social media or meet her in person at any of the US Heartfulness conferences coming up in June! In fact, she is chairing one of the breakout sessions in Detroit and will speak about “Heartfulness Education for Creating a Resilient, Well-Grounded Student.” She will interact with the audience and outline the educational initiatives of the Heartfulness Movement, such as the Conscious Living Program, U-Connect etc., and their impact so far.
A limited number of free seats to the Heartfulness conferences are available to contributors and fans of World Moms Blog. You can register here!: http://conference.heartfulnessinstitute.org/register/
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Senior Editor, Purnima Ramakrishnan.
Photo credit to the author.