Human beings are capable of limitless kindness, if only they can tap into it.
Once a high-powered banker, Emma Slade is now a Buddhist nun who founded Opening Your Heart to Bhutan, a charity that brings children with special needs joy and the opportunity to build meaningful lives. Here, she talks finding inspirational teachers, taking a practical approach to her practice, and what people misunderstand about meditation. Q: How did you first discover meditation? A: From a young age, I found myself fascinated by the question of what meditation is and by images of the Buddha sitting peacefully in meditation. So a core interest was definitely there. To help this interest come alive, I was lucky enough to encounter inspirational teachers both in the West and the East. These teachers continue to help me discover and explore what meditation is.
Q: What’s your top tip for a beginning meditator? A: Cultivate kindness within your mind toward whatever is going on and be gentle with yourself as you are learning a new skill — this will go better if you move carefully and with kindness.
Q: What are your favorite topics to focus on in your classes?
A: Whatever topic I am focusing on, my role as a guide and teacher is to listen to the needs of students and skillfully support them. In all my teaching, there will be an emphasis on the practical and the compassionate.
Q: What are some common misunderstandings about meditation?
A: Both from a yogic and a Buddhist perspective, meditation is a formal practice of knowing the mind and deliberately cultivating states of mind that lead to happiness. This can be done in many ways, formally and informally. The purpose of meditation ultimately is not to turn off all thought as if we have prematurely died but to bring to the surface the limitless kindness and wisdom a human is capable of.
Q: Other than meditation, what daily tools do you use to feel your best?
A: I believe in a life built on simplicity and of caring for others. With these two qualities, everything else comes easily.