When I introduce myself as a Monk and Coach, I often smile at the reaction. Quizzical, curious, nonplussed, occasionally, discomfort. Sometimes it passes without comment, only for someone to swing back.
You mentioned you’re a…. Er what does that actually mean?
It’s a big question. So, let me help by sharing more about my journey to Monkiness as my Dad calls it.
- I first learnt to meditate in 2009. I have meditated almost every single day since. Eleven years.
- It’s changed my life in ways I can’t even begin to describe. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without it. Fact.
- I have been more committed to my practice than to anything else in my life. Including family, friends and my relationships. Funny given I wasn’t interested in even learning to meditate. I thought it was for hippy folks or certainly not people like me who liked money and nice things.
- I went to the weekend course as a buddy. I had no idea that a small ask from a dear friend would change my life. The moment I met the monks something started to shift within me.
- When they asked us what our highest desire was? Many said peace. That sounded dull to me. I loved my fast paced full on life; peace felt boring. Many said; happiness, joy, better sleep. I remember someone said more money.
- I looked into the monk’s eyes and was mesmerised. Though I didn’t know the words, I knew I wanted what they “had”. Their experience. The best way I could describe it was contentment. They had a fulfilment that seemed to come from the inside. An inner knowing. They glowed. I wanted THAT.
- Until then I hadn’t experienced lasting contentment. I’d had moments, it passed. Sometimes it was so momentary, I was left with only a deep longing that it would return. It was heart breaking at times. Like tasting something, you couldn’t have access to.
- I see now that many of my behaviours and addictions (to working, people pleasing, unhealthy relationships, being busy, binge drinking, even cleaning at times) came from numbing out, chasing that experience. Not the aliveness – the running AWAY from myself. Being a Monk has me turn in, REVEAL my true self.
- Despite a great life I knew I was striving, trying, controlling. 24/7. Relentlessly. My environment, my relationships, my experiences. All of it. It was exhausting.
- I worked hard; I had the life in many ways growing up would have been my dream. Money, independence, security, success. My parents were proud. Some moments I was – when I allowed myself to stop. The endless treadmill created a different experience than pride. Internally I was empty. Dead.
- I now see I was depressed. I’d chased the dream, got it and had never felt lonelier in my life. And that’s was no small thing; the Ghost of Lonely had haunted me for as long as I could remember.
- I’d go to bed physically and mentally exhausted. My head would hit the pillow and literally it would be like show-time in my mind. I could weep with tiredness and nothing seemed to stop the voice in my head. It was incessant, violent, self-judging and loud. Sometimes deafeningly so. It often wasn’t a voice – it was a whole arena of them. Critics, judges, mockers, shame seekers, guilt goaders. Their chorus could take me from a great day to feeling paralysed. I looked externally for ways out.
- I’ve traded, hustled, betrayed my own values, and worse, simply to quieten those voices or appease them. It never worked. It left me feeling worthless. At times riddled with guilt and shame for the actions I had taken or the person I’d become.
- I learnt Ascension Meditation with those Monks over a weekend and by the Sunday evening, something was already different. With regular consistent practice it has totally transformed my relationship with that voice. Is it still there? Often yes. I now see it for what it is. Noise.
So, you became a MONK??
- I wanted more, a consistent experience, a way of Being, a way of living that felt EASY. I wanted to be PRESENT. I also had a burning desire to share my experience with others. The level of pain created in our heads is literally mind boggling. I now knew it didn’t need to be that way. It felt like there was a whole new adventure waiting, a bigger impact in the world. I started my training to be an Ishaya monk in 2010, graduating in 2013. This allows me to teach Ascension meditation. I bring all that I know to my work as a Coach.
- The Ishayas’ Teaching has its roots in both the East and the West. In the East it stems from the Vedic Tradition of India, in the west it has roots in the Judeo-Christian culture of the early first century. The Ishaya tradition itself is actually thousands of years old and has been shared through an unbroken lineage of teachers. I have a Teacher, a Maharishi. The mind is a tricky thing – even the idea of being Enlightened can be a concept to the Ego. I spend time with him each year, 3 weeks minimum in a retreat environment. You don’t get to be a monk half assed.
- One of the translations of Ishaya is “For Higher Consciousness”. The Ishaya Tradition has deep spiritual roots. It is NOT a religion. Many monks, including Ishayas, come from all backgrounds and do have their own faiths, beliefs and practices. If you’re wondering, yes, I do believe in God. I don’t describe myself as a Christian. I do believe there is a Bigger Picture and that the world is starting to really wake up to that. I believe I have a role to play, I am willing to show up and play it. It’s my ONE thing.
- Our Ascension meditation techniques don’t require any beliefs “to work”. None. They are based on Praise, Gratitude, Love and Compassion. They are simple, beautiful and impactful.
- I have spent months of my life, (it’s probably years by now) in a monastery in Spain. Think hours of closed (and open) eyes meditation, some fasting, many days in silence. All so that I could prioritise going Inwards and my experience of an inner stillness was constant and solid.
- In this environment, we often rise before dawn and meditate all day, only “stopping” for meals. Even sleep becomes less necessary. In a deep meditative state, it’s said that the body can get more rest in 20 mins than 7 hours sleep.
- The longest I have meditated for is 18 hours in a 24-hour period. I played with the idea that “I am tired’ was a thought and practiced being more and more alert. It surprised me that even dropping the labels “day” and “night” had an impact on my experience.
- When I “became” a monk, I made commitments, vows. It seems funny to think in terms of becoming a monk – in many ways it didn’t feel like a decision. It felt simply like a Calling. And no, I didn’t need to shave my head or wear a robe.
- I was gifted a Sanskrit name, Mahita Ishaya. It means the Praised Goddess, the Cherished, Goddess, the Honoured Goddess. To this day I am still growing into it. I also use my more “normal” name, Nic.
What do you DO?
- I read my vows every day. I see them as guidelines for being able to live my very best life. They’re almost like an Inner GPS. You’d recognise many of the qualities; truthfulness, surrender, humility, useful boundaries.
- I meditate daily usually for 2 hours. When I tune in, there’s an inner wisdom that’s revealed. Especially when I listen 🙂. I take action from there.
- “I live a very normal life. No not in a cave or on a cloud. I simply choose to live it as consciously and intentionally as I can”.
- One of my commitments is to profound service. It took me a while to learn that’s very different from helping.
- I see so clearly when I hold something back, I’ve made it about ME. What I think. Now, I choose to speak my truth. It’s not always comfortable to do this; I still keep choosing to. Why? What if I was the person who saw something you were meant to hear or know? It’s not my role to get in the way of YOUR path. It’s not important whether I’m right. If I have something, I’ll share it. Endlessly I see that when I do this, we both grow.
- To be clear it’s not even comfortable sometimes to reveal the truth to myself. Many of us would rather poke a pin in our eyes. Its why we spend so much effort distracting ourselves. As a Monk I’m choosing to step out of what’s comfortable. Choosing to make THIS moment, and what’s HERE, to be more important than the Commentator in my head. Choosing to LIVE.
- This also means letting go of control and how it might look. Of course, I still have desires and intentions, and a strong will sometimes! Old patterns linger. When they do, I catch them faster. Forever a student. This means that sometimes the journey looks different to what I might have expected or in the moment, have wanted. Yet without exception, each time I trust, my life continues to unfold beyond my wildest dreams.
- The contrast between when I go into my head and “try” and when I simply show up and Be is breath taking. Ask Danielle!
- One of my big break throughs was when I decided I would meditate even when I didn’t feel like it. It’s not a thing I do. It’s thething I do. Difference? Huge. I’ve walked away from people, jobs, friends, relationships – without any Plan B. I can’t imagine EVER walking away from being a monk. This is who I am. I guess it might be like being a parent. You just ARE. There’s no back door. I’m ALL IN.
- I did try to hide it. It felt weird, unacceptable to some (family included), drew attention. The “Me” felt awkward. I’ve dropped that. I know I am a Beacon, people I hardly know see something in me. It seems my presence shifts something within them. It’s a stillness we can share and incredible “things” happen.
- My passion is to “Wake Up”, to become enlightened. That E word often feels like a big one that’s hard to get your “head” around. For me it simply means living beyond the paradigm of my mind. The internal computer with its default programmes – “it” decides what I see, hear and believe. It even decides who I am. Well it used to.
- I have many moments where that programming has fallen away and all that is left is a deeper freedom. A Knowing, A truth. You might liken it to when you go to the opticians and put on the correct prescription – the world seems brighter, clearer. Its way beyond that though. Like entering a whole new Playground, there’s an ALIVENESS. I want that. For me AND for YOU.
We talk about “purpose like it’s a “thing”, a place to get to. Instead I believe it’s a CHOICE. A choice to commit to discovering who you can become. Maybe who you ALWAYS WERE underneath all of the stories.
Who would you be without YOUR story?
I’m unwilling to get to the end of my life and see that the only thing standing in my way was me. Even the idea of that brings tears as I type. It would miss the entire point of being a Human.
Right now, literally right NOW, the whole Globe is inhaling and exhaling in a very different way.
It’s TIME for a step change. I think we all knew that.
Mahita Ishaya, also known as Nic Devlin.
PS If you’re interested in what meditation even is read this;
Stop Talking about Meditation I can’t do it!