6 Questions: Meditation

Meet our friends:

Nico Kaandorp, 54, retreat center owner and entrepreneur.
Joe Barnett, 48, yin yoga and chakra meditation instructor (fellow assistant to Paul and Suzee Grilley).
Claudia Telkamp, 37, Flight Attendant.

1. How long have you been meditating for?

Nico: I started meditation 6 years ago when I was 46. I was very lucky to have my first Vipassana course of 10 days in beautiful Nepal with a view of the Himalayan mountain range (although I never realised you had to sit and meditate so much and that it would be so painful 🙂

Joe: 30 years ago I was interested, fascinated really, by the idea. 20 years ago I started. 10 years ago I became truly dedicated and regular in my practice.

Claudia: I have been meditating on a daily basis for 6 months now.

2. What kind of meditation do you practice?

Nico: Vipassana meditation.

Joe: Chakra meditation.

Claudia: The first 5 months I was just sitting still for 20 minutes a day. 3 weeks ago I started practicing chakra meditation: nyasa yang and yin pranayama every day between 15-30 min.

3. What motivates you to meditate?

Nico: The results from meditation have been remarkable. I became way more patient, I can love almost everyone, it gives me great insights every day, I evaluate my days in terms of “did I speak wise and not judgmental, did I insult someone consciously or unconsciously. I see all the madness around us very clearly… accept the permanent change that unfolds every minute…

Joe: I hope to be a better human for myself and all humankind. I hope to transition from this world (die) calmly and consciously.

Claudia: Meditating gives me that 30 min. calmness in my yang lifestyle. After meditation I feel more relaxed and it places everything in daily life in a different context. This motivates me to meditate every day!

4. Has meditation changed you and/or your life? If so how?

Nico: My career has been in business since I was very young but it became clear to me over the years that happiness was not achieved by more money or more “things”. With that developing awareness came the attraction to a more spiritual approach. And after six years of meditation I finally start to realise that after all, it’s a practice to achieve an equanimous, balanced and pure mind.

Joe: Yes, both. I have become much more aware of the conflicts between my desires driven by my likes/dislikes versus my hopes to discover and fight for truth, justice and love for all of humanity.

Claudia: Yes, it has changed my life. Especially since I started with the nyasa yang and yin pranayama. It helps me to focus on my breath. When it gets busy during daily life and I feel stressed, I can go back to that moment of breathing and it calms me down immediately.

5. What is the hardest thing about meditation?

Nico: My meditation practice is 2 hours a day and one yearly course of 10 days. The first few months it was difficult to establish a meditation practice but it became a routine, to “roll” out of bed and sit and before dinner or just before sleeping to sit. Fun anecdote: Although I wanted to run away for the first 6 days of my first Vipassana, from the first moment I felt a kind of home coming and peace.

Joe: Realizing how I have been working against myself and fellow humans.

Claudia: To practice every day. Especially being a flight attendant as I don’t have a regular schedule.

6. What is the best thing about meditation?

Nico: I guess I already answered that in all of the previous questions but adding to it… Sometimes it feels like a long path. What I want to achieve is a path without any intoxicants but caffeine and red wine are sometimes hard to beat (LOL) but sugar, nicotine and other types of drugs are done.

Joe: Knowing that I can change, that I can be better for the people I love, and that I can find love for those who I am challenged by. I have a long way to go. But I know a bigger love is possible.

Claudia: The rebound. Fun fact: My beanie is my biggest friend during meditation. I’m taking him all over the world. When I am wearing it, I am in my own world again (my happy place).

Cover photo: Clem Onojeghuo

The author:

Marcel van de Vis Heil is based in Amsterdam and one of The Fat Yogis founders.

Marcel has been practicing yoga for over two decades, starting his journey with Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga and Vipassana meditation, moving into more static, alignment-based styles.

He continued his practice and path with yin yoga’s founders Paul and Suzee Grilley and is now spreading the message of functional yoga and his knowledge of the human body across the world as both a personal trainer as well as a yoga teacher.