Meditation and Mindfulness are cornerstones of New Life, but what exactly is it and how can it aid us in our daily lives? Scott Rowe, the new resident meditation instructor, offers his take on it and how it led him back from the brink of self-destruction.
Could you start by introducing yourself?
I am from Adelaide, and my role is to teach Meditation and Mindfulness, something I am very passionate about because of the effect it has had on my life.
What led you to start practising meditation?
I was a daily drug user for 20 years, as well as suffering from anxiety and depression. About 8 or 9 years ago, I decided to stop taking drugs and moved into supported housing for the homeless, where I was lucky enough to meet this amazing counsellor. She offered a combination of counselling and meditation that helped me move through all the issues that I needed to.
How has it helped you?
In the beginning, it introduced some calm to my over-active mind. As I went deeper into meditation, I saw how my mind worked and stopped thinking about things so much. I started to notice that I felt heavy when I was depressed. So, I dragged my heavy body around and slowly started doing things by myself again. It totally changed what I felt depression was. Now, if there is anything I am having trouble with I meditate and a lot of the thinking just falls away. It enables me to see the reality of what the thinking is and whether it is useful or not.
What led you to New Life?
About three years into my recovery, a friend of mine (a recovering alcoholic) brought me here, as at that stage I wasn’t functioning too well. I wanted to explore spiritual avenues, but I wasn’t sure how. I never realised that spiritual practice was just that – practice. It is the same as playing the guitar; the more you do it the further you can go with it. I just knew from the moment I looked at the website that it was going to be a part of my life.
What was the turning point for you?
During a silent retreat at New Life, the monk talked about how pain in the body is very different when the mind gets out of the way. I always had this continual dialogue about my shoulder problems, and why I couldn’t sleep. So, I imagined what it would be like without it. The next morning I woke up at 4 am with this sense of calm; the pain was still there, but there was no dialogue around it. From that point, I have meditated daily.
Could you describe what meditation and mindfulness are?
It is about paying attention to what you are doing, with no expectations and a friendly level of awareness. However, your mind will want to turn this into a concept and create stories around it. What we really want to do is go beyond the mind, and get in contact with this quiet part that observes thinking. The mind is a beautiful thing, but there are times when it is unhelpful, and meditation helps us to see this. We are not thoughts, we are the one who observes the thoughts.
What are the benefits?
From my personal experience, it helps with anxiety and depression. You can start to live your life in this space where you still may have anxiety and depression, but you are also in contact with this part of you that is fine. You fully experience these feelings and emotions for what they are without them controlling you. Therefore, I decided to become a meditation teacher and share this knowledge, especially to addicts who often turn to drugs because they can’t live with their mind.
What can you offer members of the New Life community?
I offer a variety of sessions looking at different areas of meditation and mindfulness, such as short, daily afternoon practices, practical workshops and one-to-one sessions to address any areas of personal need.
What advice would you offer people considering joining the community?
When you come here, and your mind tells you not to do something, put it aside and do it no matter what. My mind was very negative and resistant to everything, but I did it anyway and had many positive experiences.