Diving for Pearls with Maggie Kay
Dipping a Toe
First Taste of Meditation
“Did that happen to you too?” I eventually gasped when I opened my eyes after the meditation. I was somewhat startled and embarrassed at what my maiden experience had just delivered. But the other participants in the meditation class simply smiled vaguely at my outburst. Only the twinkle in our teacher’s eyes told me that perhaps my experience wasn’t so strange.
Not that I was able to put it into words anyway. I had just been doing what I was told to do – sit still, close my eyes and focus on my breath. At first it was just nice and quiet and relaxing, but then something else started to happen. With every breath in, I was increasingly filled with a gorgeous sensation that almost had me swooning. Soon my whole body was exploding into smithereens of ecstasy – not what I was expecting from meditation at all!
I looked up at the great golden Buddha statue emanating peace around the room. Surely that wasn’t what his serene smile was all about? I would soon find out, but as yet, I had hardly even registered that I was at a Buddhist center. I wasn’t interested in religion at this time in my life. As a 19-year-old psychology student, I considered myself to be a social scientist. Meditation was only of interest because I wanted to learn more about the power of the human mind. Here in the first floor shrine room of the Glasgow Buddhist Centre the burning incense was doing a decent job of covering up the spicy smells from the Indian restaurant downstairs. I quite liked the faint pulse of Eastern music that made it up through the thick carpet we were sitting on. The rumble of city traffic was also just discernible through the triple glazed windows, yet it seemed we were cocooned in stillness. What an exotic, peaceful sanctuary I had happened upon in the middle of my beloved Scottish home city.
It was January 1984. I was a third year student at university where I was taking a degree in psychology. The last few months had passed in a craze of partying having split up from my first love and left my home town. I relished my own piece of cheap rented freedom in the city, but suddenly, in the middle of a New Year party, I realized I didn’t feel very happy. Looking around at the dingy apartment and lack of attractive men to distract me, it dawned on me that, actually, not far under the surface, I felt empty.
And so, clearing my head during a week’s skiing trip, I made a complete about turn. When I returned, I stopped partying, became vegetarian and was a regular at the gym. The veggie recipe book I found in my student flat mentioned meditation which sparked my curiosity, however, it was my new yoga class that gave me my first taste.
Actually, not quite my first…
I was 11 when I decided to try out all of my local church ‘Sunday Schools’ for children to see what was on offer. I did not find much to inspire me, but the experiment did its job; I concluded that I was not convinced by what was being taught and adopted my dad’s mantle of scientific skepticism. There was always an easy tolerance between the female churchgoing members of my family and the male agnostics, but for now, I had picked my side with the men.
That year, my older brother, Jim, found some instructions for meditation. We tried it out, earnestly holding one ear, then the other and then both for 10 minutes each, breathing quietly. It could have been a yoga practice, or more likely, one of my brother’s typical practical jokes, but the effect was rather good. Whatever it was, an abiding memory of the stillness of that half hour is with me to this day.
Despite my dad’s current intellectual position on religion, I was later to form the opinion that he was suppressing a rather mystical nature – reinforced by discovering that, as a youngster, he had spoken of becoming a Minister of Religion.
Mum went to church every Sunday and prayed at night before sleeping. Like most of the female members of the family, her spiritual principles were down-to-earth, warm and easygoing. Our parents had agreed that my brother, sister and I would have the freedom and opportunity to make up our own minds about what we believed in and practiced.
Dad used to expand our minds with trips to the observatory to see the stars in the night sky, and with fascinating accounts of the evolution of the human species. My imagination was stretched and exhilarated in contemplating such infinite space and time. Having enormous faith in human endeavor, Dad was excited about the scientific and technological breakthroughs of his era and furnished us with a magazine called World of Wonder which we children loved to read every week.
What blew my mind most of all, however, was Dad’s story about his near death experience when he was very sick as a little boy. This is something he had completely forgotten about until he read the Reader’s Digest break-through feature on the subject 35 years later. After reading the magazine article with shocked recognition, he couldn’t wait to share his long buried childhood experience with us.
When Dad was eight years old and very ill with asthma, he had an experience of “floating out of his body” into the corner of the ceiling from where he could see his mother and doctor bending over him in his sick bed. From this vantage point in the ceiling, he was then drawn through a tunnel of light where he felt intense love and peace before returning to his body again. The most striking part of the whole thing, he told us, was an indescribable sense of “understanding everything”.
The fact that my uber-scientific dad could testify to having had this experience gave the phenomenon 100% credibility in my eyes. But even without that, as I listened to his account and read the article for myself, I had a sense of resonance; a deep knowing that such limitless wisdom consciousness was part of me, part of all of us. It was inexplicable and impossible to prove, but I knew it was true.
Known as the Inner Wisdom Coach and formerly an ordained Buddhist, Maggie specialises in meditation, mindfulness, law of attraction, metaphysics and spiritual intelligence for life, love and business.
As well as coaching one-to-one, she trains accredited Thrivecraft life coaches and meditation teachers and runs retreats and workshops for soulful entrepreneurs, coaches and well being professionals.
In 2016, with her son Jamie grown up, Maggie established Thrivecraft Home Hub, a riverside country retreat in Cornwall, UK, where she lives with her soul mate husband, Patrick.
Her new book – Diving for Pearls: A Wise Woman's Guide to Finding Love (O Books) – is a highly readable true love and spiritual adventure story laced with tips and teachings on meditation, Buddhism, inner wisdom and relationships relevant to all.
Maggie's vision for the future includes taking Thrivecraft worldwide via a new online academy; continuing to mentor coaches, well-being professionals and meditation teachers to grow and prosper their businesses; producing audios of her full range of guided meditations; and writing further books to inspire and support everyone to create rich, happy and fulfilling lives.
Buy Diving for Pearls on Amazon.
Thrivecraft with Maggie Kay
Wisdom. Inspiration. Self-belief.