I am originally from the Midlands but have lived in Cardiff for thirty years and been married to my Welsh husband for 25 years. I have two grown-up sons, both currently at university. I have been a Buddhist since 1980 and am ordained as a ngakma – a non-celibate ordination within the householder lineage of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. I have always been interested in writing and the English language. I have had articles published in our Buddhist magazines and posted on our websites since 1994. My first book, Spacious Passion, was published in 2006.
What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.
My new book is called Relaxing into Meditation. Published 13th August 2010. The wish to learn to meditate is commonly expressed, but people often have little understanding of what meditation is. They want to meditate to feel more relaxed, but struggle to establish a regular practice because they find that meditation actually requires effort and application, and can be challenging. In this book I offer exercises to help people relax the body and calm the mind before introducing meditation practices. I discuss how meditation ultimately leads to complete relaxation of mind and body, and offer a practical approach to how this can be achieved.
What inspired you to write this book?
I feel there is a lot of confusion around meditation and meditation practice. People seem to think that meditation is a natural activity that spontaneously occurs if we sit in the correct ‘spiritual position’ or chant certain sounds. They may also believe that meditation will cure their stress-related problems and make them happier – yet those who do try to meditate are often unclear about what they should be doing or experiencing. Often meditation is misunderstood as a trance-like state. I wanted to clear up a few confusions about meditation and offer people a way to try it with a clear understanding of what they are doing and why.
Who is the book aimed at?
Relaxing into Meditation draws on my experience teaching relaxation and meditation through community education. Every year a new group of people would arrive wanting to learn meditation and nearly every one of them would say that they thought meditation would help with stress. Meditation will help with stress – but not immediately and only once one has sufficient experience to bring one’s meditation practice into all areas of life. We need to relax – in the ordinary sense of the word – to deal with stress, and then engage with meditation so that its many benefits can be discovered. So this book is for those who want to start to meditate, or who have tried it and not got on very well, or who are unclear about whether they are practising correctly. It is a beginners book in one sense, but is not shallow or superficial in its approach.
How did you publish this book?
We set up our own publishing branch of our charity last year (February 2009) called Aro Books worldwide, and we use Lulu Publishing. This has enabled us to produce professional publications with complete control over their content and appearance.
What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?
The hardest part for me of bringing a book or an article into being is pulling together all the threads into a coherent structure. There is always a stage that I go through where I have written all the material but it lacks a sense of being a complete work. I have to keep returning to the principle and function of the writing – and then the structure gradually arises on its own.
What are you reading now?
A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner. This is the fourth book in the series and I have so enjoyed the previous three. Her writing is exciting, clever and beautiful.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
I like to read books that are well written and have good dialogue – such as Jane Austen. I like fantasy books such as the Abhorsen series by Garth Nix. I read for relaxation and pleasure, so I do not like to read things that are too grim – Kite Runner was excellent, but a bit too raw for me. I like to be entertained and intrigued.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
There is always the next book! I have two that I have already worked on quite a bit. One is looking at our attitudes to health and well-being in a Buddhist context, and the second is a novel. I am finding it harder to write the fiction novel though I think the idea is promising. I also have a third book bubbling away in the background, but I have not started writing this as yet.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Accept that your first book may not be very good, but do it anyway because you will learn such a lot from it. Take a slow pace and do not assume that the reader understands where you are coming from. If you are self-publishing, still have the book edited and rigorously checked and ensure that your presentation is professional.
What are you doing to promote your latest book?
I leave that to my husband! I find it impossible to promote my own work.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
At Aro Books worldwide: http://bit.ly/nrprim
My blogs: http://ngakma-nordzin.blogspot.com, http://ceffylau.blogspot.com, http://transport-of-delight.blogspot.com