July 28, 2016
On a hot afternoon in July, I have the good fortune to spend a little time chatting with Marta Matarín, a teacher of Raja Yoga meditation and positive thinking, who is also responsible for the coordination of the Brahma Kumaris Centre of Barcelona.
With an affectionate smile, Marta welcomes us in and shows us the centre, an island of silence and peace in the heart of Barcelona city. Soon, the warmth and serenity of her voice and expression embraces us. And I feel that the practice of meditation has forged a special luminosity in her, white as the shirt she wears, which caresses and invites us to follow her into this mysterious world that we all have inside, just as she has done and does each day.
Thank you, Marta, for helping us to remember who we really are. I leave here her beautiful words which are sure to help you as much as they have helped me.
At what age did you start to meditate?
I started with my parents at the age of 14.
Did your friends say anything?
My friends no, but the school yes. Over 30 years ago, meditation was a rare thing. I went to a Christian school and they did not understand it very well. They told me: “Where have you been? Your parents can do whatever they want, but this is not what you should be doing!”
You had to justify yourself…
I tried not to explain too much because they did not understand me. I speak of the school teachers, not of my friends.
And during adolescence, you continued keeping it very clear
Yes, I kept it very clear. When you have a clear thing, you feel secure in what you are doing and above all you think that what you are doing is not harming anyone and you are not doing anything wrong, then what is the problem?
When you have a clear thing, you feel secure in what you are doing and above all you think that what you are doing is not harming anyone and you are not doing anything wrong, then what is the problem?
A young woman with a strong self-esteem…
Yes, strong enough.
Perhaps the meditation also helped you?
Yes, above all my self-esteem grew very much with the meditation. I could not say that I had the same self-esteem before then.
Teenagers would do well to meditate, is that true?
Yes, and more so nowadays. Because being young now is not the same as being young in that time. Then we did not have mobiles, nor social networks… In reality, it is a way of escaping the world. If you take away the mobile of an adolescent, depending on the age, they will be left thinking: “And now what shall I do?”.
They are lost?
Yes. While if a young person practices meditation, they have a space to connect with themselves. It does not get rid of the cares of the world, nor leave behind the relationship with people, that is why we are here, just to have a space for reunion, to be able to disconnect and say: “This stays here, now I am here, now I centre myself on this moment and on what I have to do”. This is crucial.
... if a young person practices meditation, they have a space to connect with themselves
With a crisis of identity, of not knowing well who you are, or wanting to be something you are not, meditation can help you a lot to become more with yourself, to enjoy your own company and to recognise who you are. And above all, so that your thoughts become more your own.
And how do you explain this “to be with oneself?” I´m already with myself now…
Well, we are always looking outwards. We have a lot of contact with the outside and occasionally it is fundamental to stop doing, for just a few minutes. Leave the action to enter into a connection with that which is more meaningful and more real, so you are yourself. And it seems like a paradox because, what does it mean to be myself? If in fact I am me? We look to discover the other parts of the world, but on the other hand, we do not know ourselves!
For example, when a reaction comes out that you do not know… Where has it come out from? How is it that these words have come out with this tone of voice? How have I been able to express myself in this way?
So, I am not my reactions, nor am I my name, trade, career…
It is necessary to stop identifying oneself with such labels and strip yourself bare of all of them: I am not a position in a company, I am not a father, I am not a mother… They are sheets of paper that I represent, they are responsibilities, but they are not me. I cannot always play the role of mother or rather in the family, for example. What happens to many people when they retire? The post-retirement crisis is just a very strong identity crisis because they just dissociate themselves from what has been their identity for many years. And meditation helps us to meet our true identity and to understand that these other things can be ‘roles’, but they are not me. Meditation puts us in contact with the internal Self.
When you are present in what you are doing, you can recognise and discover yourself through observation, silence, the increase in your ability to listen and your ability to make decisions… From a quieter, calmer mind, you can start to see what it is you want to do.
We have a lot of contact with the outside and occasionally it is fundamental to stop doing, for just a few minutes. Leave the action to enter into a connection with that which is more meaningful and more real, so you are yourself
Are there people who do not want to discover that, who are scared to know that they are not what they think they are?
Yes, there are many people running away from it. When a person arrives home and the first thing they do is to switch on the television, what are they doing? They are running away from being with themselves. It’s like an escape, to not look at who they are. There are people who may be sick, or very engrossed with all the personal things that they are living, who would do well to stop, calm themselves, relax, breathe… but consciously. We are always breathing, but we are not always breathing consciously… It is very difficult for many people to disconnect. And meditation is not a medicine, but it is a complement that is very healthy, very good.
It is strange that we form an identity throughout life and then afterwards have it be removed…
It´s as if being born in this world means that there should be no type of experience of disconnection from it. From the moment you are born you identify yourself as a boy or a girl, you are told that you have to do this or that… The world in which we are born conditions us completely. Until the moment arrives when we say: Oh? But is this the truth? Is this what I want to be doing? When we question ourselves like this, we start to find other alternatives. It´s not to abandon what you have been doing, because there is nothing wrong with doing it, except to find that which gives more meaning to your life. This is very important.
Meditation puts us in contact with the internal Self
If we were conscious of this reality from the start, we would save ourselves a lot of pain…
Possibly. But I do not think it is a bad thing because perhaps when we come “from emptiness”, if I may put it like that, perhaps we would not appreciate it so much. It is about appreciating it, valuing it… From knowing yourself, from the space and from looking inwards…
And with meditation, at the most tangible level, what can I achieve?
More serenity and more mental clarity for making decisions. And from breathing in a more natural manner, you will be calmer. When we breath we are oxygenating our cells, so we are participating in all the wealth of our blood and in all that needs to be done with the oxygen. Nowadays there are many studies on this topic, about how it helps the immune system, how it strengthens it. But also the relationship with others is different, it is not just with oneself. If there can be a way of functioning based on stimuli, impulses, reactions… with meditation it comes to change the reaction for an answer.
If you have to live through an adverse situation, you experience the same, but instead of living it stressed or negatively, with meditation you can live it from a more positive viewpoint and as a learning experience.
And you get to be a better person?
Better than myself, than others?
We are not talking about how others are and how you can be better than them. It is that each person can develop their full potential. It is about becoming a better you. Whatever is your best versión of yourself.
It is very difficult for many people to disconnect. And meditation is not a medicine, but it is a complement that is very healthy, very good
With this improvement you can also help others…
Yes, even though you do not suggest it, because when you change, your environment changes too.
Is there an invisible force which detects that you have changed?
There is a vibrational and energetic level. Maybe you have not told anyone that you meditate, but all the calm energy you reléase, the aura which surrounds you, it has an effect… We are creating something energetically. The self that you are creating, it has its projection.
It is about becoming a better you. Whatever is your best versión of yourself
This energy will be the essence, the soul?
Since the meditation that we practice is the meditation of Raja Yoga, the soul, the essence, the energy, the person… they are the same: the force or energy that gives life to the body. When a person dies, we see that they still have organs in their body that could make it work. But on the other hand, it is as if the spark of light which gives them life is not there. That which gives them the difference is the Being. Then, when we give ourselves an account of what we are and who we are, it is also a way of giving meaning to the life, of understanding death as a part of life. In recognising that, it is not that you have this light which gives you light, but that you are the light which gives life to the body. The idea of spirituality is understood in many ways, but this is the click! It returns to the approach that we are a body and we have a soul or spirit.
In this way we understand why I am now in this body which has life, or that it might not have it. I am the energy and what I have is a body. And in the same way as I am seated on this sofa and this sofa will last for a while, so will this body also last for a time but I will never die.
Then there is something much greater than I…
And who is this I?
And what can be greater than this light?
... it is not that you have this light which gives you light, but that you are the light which gives life to the body... this is the click!
This greater thing, is this light, it is the energy that is you, me, Jan…
So, you can get to see that there is no separation between us, yes?
You come to recognise that the whole world is a living being and that just as you are making an internal search to discover more about yourself, other people are also doing it also. Or it also happens that, sometimes perhaps we demand a lot, but it has to be understood that each person is in this process and you cannot ask them anything. God knows how vital this personal process is! And me? In which process am I? Just like it has taken me a while to change, and I´m still changing, others also need their space and time to be able to do it…
And to enter into this spirituality, through meditation or through a personal change, it helps you to feel like a more complete person?
It is innately human to have qualities such as peace, love, originality… It helps you to reconnect with all such things which give value, if I may put it like that. With all your treasures: qualities, strengths and also with weaknesses, because you discover everything. There are flowers, but there are also weeds… and, everything is inside! It is all part of the self. And we have not only messed up, but we have acted much with defence mechanisms that have done us very well. You know that when you punch a table, the other is silent and thus you learn. Finally, you assimilate it into a pattern of your behaviour, but it is not.
You come to recognise that the whole world is a living being and that just as you are making an internal search to discover more about yourself, other people are also doing it also
It is necessary to accept weaknesses also…
Yes, and to love them, because if you cannot take them on, you cannot transform them.
When a person lives in a survivalist way, it must be very difficult to live spiritually…
Yes. You can talk to a person about spirituality or meditation, but if they have not eaten for 3 days, what they want is a plate on the table. Such is their requirement and you cannot tell them anything more. Of course it is very difficult when you have not lived in a situation of such a pain limit, but a person who knows where spirituality comes from, they have many more resources for coping with these chaotic situations. So there would be two different approaches from the same reality. If you have been meditating and you live in a chaotic situation, you can observe and say to yourself: “So, now the situation is like this. I have never gone through this before, but now I find myself in this situation, but I have tools.”
You are a teacher of positive thinking and you do workshops, I just need to be positive and that´s it?
Here it serves as a method for starting the subject of meditation. There are people who start directly with meditation. Others have not even had it raised, but they still see that the internal negativity is doing them a lot of harm. So it serves them as a gateway to having an inward look, more deeply. To think positively is not to want to say that everything is good, everything is fantastic… because that would be an escape from reality. It is a way of recognising that there are things that are not so positive and to try to be resolute with what is happening. That can make you face your situation, whatever it is…
What would be the routine for starting meditation?
Creating an adequate space is fundamental. You can meditate anywhere and you will continue to meditate anywhere, while going by car or being at home. But having a concrete space, a meditation corner where you can put a candle or a picture of a dawn, is important because it is like saying: “Look, I physically need to be in this space because it helps me to disconnect from everything else and to focus myself in this moment, this instant.” It is not a question of making a ritual, just for having certain elements which perhaps remind us of the reason for meditating: putting out some incense, gentle music or silence. It is not to say that you have to depend on this environment because you can be in any other place and have the same meditative ability, but at least that this space will be very important for you…
It is innately human to have qualities such as peace, love, originality… It helps you to reconnect with all such things which give value
You can meditate looking at a sunset…
When you are with the natural elements, looking at the beauty outside, it is a reflection of the beauty within… it is very nice. It might be that we have the ability to meditate in any place, including in a big city.
And in the silence of meditation, the mind just calms itself down, it also you also see that there is someone else watching all of this, right?
Yes, it works like this. At the moment in which you connect with this quiet that you have inside, afterwards it produces an identification: I, who am I? And you give yourself an account of who you see through these eyes that I am, what you hear through these ears that I am… Above all, who is this that observes? I! This is how you go about making a distinction between all that is external: elements, objects, people, your own body… and who observes. As if we could see like spectators of a play. In a play you are not judging the role of the others, you are observing. And you make sense of this role, because otherwise you would not make sense of the role of the other…
At the moment in which you connect with this quiet that you have inside, afterwards it produces an identification: I, who am I? And you give yourself an account of who you see through these eyes that I am, what you hear through these ears that I am…
The observer, would be the light we were talking about before?
Clear as the light!
Yes. Being spiritual and talking about spirituality means talking about the origin of the true experience of being human. Such a thing gives you the condition of being human, beyond any religion…
Now there are more people looking for all this?
Yes, there is a wave, a very positive vibration, very constructive… People are also lost, they do not very well know where they are looking or what they are doing, but they are not content with such things that the world offers them and they are looking for something more…
And from the centre of Brahma Kumaris, how do you help them?
All that we do is focused on allowing people to realize their potential with the practice of meditation. We carry out courses in positive thinking, of self-esteem, stress prevention… We organise weekend courses, retreats, spiritual breaks… We collaborate with penitentiary centres, universities, companies, patient groups, companies who want to incorporate the practice of meditation with their associates. And we are all volunteers. Each has a way of earning a living, but all that we have throughout the centre is thanks to volunteering. For example, here we have a group of teachers, and we are organising: “I have Tuesdays,” “I have Saturdays,” “I another…” and between us all we make a puzzle. It is great! Even in the shop, it is all voluntary!
Yes, in all of them. Brahma Kumaris belongs to the Red International group of meditation centres which is present in 120 countries. We have almost 9000 centres. And in Spain, we are present in 15 cites, and in others where there are not centres there are still activities. Barcelona is the national seat, with the first centre which was opened in Spain in 1980.
You also do live broadcasts…
Yes. Since there is this issue of social networks and the Internet, we have Youtube channels… We have recorded lectures from a website called Mindalia.com and some are broadcast live. People have to register to see them, but they can continue later.
And you publish books, CDs..?
There are some which have been published here, but basically they are translations of other things which already exist. We don´t so many volunteers, nor authors, nor writers! We have guided meditations which accompany many people in the process of starting. At the beginning they are very useful.
Thank you very much Marta for this wonderful time. It must be very inspiring to be able to help so many people around the world…
Yes. It is lovely to travel and to have other people say to you: “I meditate with you!”
Each time you must certainly make a larger network of “meditators”…
Yes, it is great to go taking root in this way!
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Gràcies al Jan Pintó que ha assistit com a fotògraf