Oldriska Balouskova, 1
Interview with Oldriska Balouskova
Do you meditate? If so, what is your preferred meditation method?
I love to listen to all that is– become silent and listen to everything as if I was listening to my own self– because it is all my own self. Listen to silence, to birds, to cars, to trees– to space and everything in it. I love to feel the life force of my body– to put my attention on that– on what Eckhart Tolle calls the inner body and what in Chinese is called the Chi.
I love following breath with my attention. And I love to breathe into different parts of my body. I used to love going to formal Vipassana retreats at Spirit Rock in Northern California but now my meditation practice has become more informal– I meditate/bring awareness to what is every time I think of it.
It sounds as if you have some experience with meditation. I am interested in hearing more about your current practice of listening meditation and following breath– and want to return to that. However, I would first like to hear about when you first began to meditate. How were you introduced to it?
I was first introduced to meditation when I was 14 and started practicing yoga (I am 36 now). In my early 20's, I fell in love with the practice of following my breath with my attention. At the same time, I also started working with a shaman. For years, I would give my attention to both formal Vipassana meditation and to shamanic journeys.
Do you mind going into your first experience in detail, if you can recall it? What about it managed to keep the interest of a fourteen year old?
I was drawn to "spirituality" as a teenager; I was 16 when the communist government in Czechoslovakia finally went down. When I started practicing yoga, the spiritual aspect of it was basically illegal. I was drawn to stillness in it and at the same time, it was hard to be still at that age– but I was drawn to it nevertheless. Now I realize that my whole life, I could feel presence just around the corner (perhaps it is that way for everyone).
I was looking for my true self and I could sense it in yoga and meditation, even though I felt restless when I was practicing them as well. The fact that it was something almost forbidden was attractive as well. As a child and teenager, always knew that there was more to life than what people around me were telling me. Please let me know if you need me to be more specific about any of this.
Was there anyone who encouraged you? Did you have any yoga and meditation peers? Also, were there any books or other forms of media that nudged you in this direction?
A couple friends signed up for a yoga class when it first opened (the first yoga class in my hometown ever, probably)– they soon stopped going but I continued. No one encouraged me– no one really knew anything about it. There were initially no books and no media coverage at all. Eventually, I got a book written by the yoga teacher whose direction we were following.
I was growing up in a small town (14,000 people) in a country occupied by the Soviet Union. The media never talked about yoga. It only talked about socialism, communism, work, and the Soviet Union. When the opportunity arose, I was immediately drawn to it but all my encouragement and motivation were completely from my inner self. My parents still to this day have never meditated or practiced yoga.
When I was growing up, people's spirits were crushed by the occupation and everyone was basically emotionally and spiritually hiding. In high school, I also considered writing a thesis about clinical death but people were afraid to discuss the subject and it was also hinted that I may have to leave the school if I persevere with it. Eventually, I lost interest.
Can you tell me about any significant "inner events" while meditating where you were surprised at the level of peace, beauty or bliss– that may have led to a deeper commitment to the practice?