Nevsah Karamehmet is a meditation teacher, breath coach and founding president of the Breath Coaching Federation, as well as an author, educator and speaker. She is a certified 1 Giant Mind meditation teacher and co-creator of the Breath Coaching system, and she teaches a multidisciplinary technique which combines breath work, breathing therapy, meditation, respiratory science, behavioural science and coaching. Clay Hamilton interviewed Nevsah in the summer of 2019.
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Briefly describe yourself as a meditation teacher.
I am a certified One Giant Mind Meditation Teacher, part of a very sweet group of popular meditation teachers around the world. I live and teach meditation groups mostly in London, but I travel and teach in more than 20 cities around the world (New York, LA, Istanbul, Zurich, Antwerp, Baku and many more). I also lead online meditation courses every 2 months for my students in Turkey.
How did you first learn to meditate and why/how did you become a meditation teacher?
I started meditating 20 years ago when I got my training as a yoga teacher from The Vivekananda University in India. I was practicing and teaching yoga and breath therapy as well as meditation in those days. Then I got more interested in breath, so I got breath work training from different schools and created my own system. I am the founding president of the Breath Coaching Federation, which leads and trains thousands of breath coaches globally. I am the co-creator of Breath Coaching System which is a multidisciplinary system, a combination of breath work, breathing therapy, meditation, respiratory science, behavioural science and coaching.
After 20 years of practicing and teaching meditation I absolutely loved the simplicity and effect of One Giant Mind Meditation, so got certified and I started teaching that as well.
What types of meditations have you studied or practised, and what method do you mainly use or teach now?
I have practiced TM, other mantra meditations, vipassana, focusing meditations and have been using breath as a “being” meditation technique for many years. Even though I practice many different meditation techniques, I suggest that my students start with a BEING meditation technique because without connecting to your BEING, it is almost impossible to meditate comfortably. Many people have a hard time meditating because they do not know how to leave their HUMAN self behind and connect with their BEING. I believe being is the core of meditation. That is why I have been using breath a way to connect people to their being and am using the One Giant Mind Meditation method, because they both support my students to connect with their being. That is the way to go.
What is the greatest benefit you personally get from meditation?
I would say CLARITY. We live in a wild world. Our daily lives are packed with meetings, appointments, projects, to do lists, and if you are a business women like me with four companies, books, lectures, training courses, on top of that if you have family and kids to take care of it gets really, really wild. I don’t know how I could manage my life if I did not meditate. I am so happy that after years of working on my breathing habits, with a functional breath and mind my life is very simple even if it is packed with all of these, because I do not hesitate, think twice, have different ideas about different situations. BEING CLEAR has helped me with everything. It does not take me hours to decide on something because I am clear about what I want and where life is leading me. Life is very easy when you are clear. All seems to fall into place and I just flow with it. That is what I call REAL LUXURY! Of course health, a shining skin, looking great, feeling great, the ability to take responsibilities and the creative energy that comes with meditation is always a plus. I have been very clear, creative, positive, full of energy, thanks to my functional breathing habit and daily meditations.
Is it more useful for people to know many meditation techniques, or to learn one/few and focus efforts on practising that one?
I think it depends on which stage you are in. If you are a beginner, and most of my students are, BEING MEDITATION techniques are good for you. If you are more advanced, you can try FOCUSING MEDITATION techniques or WITNESSING techniques. Many people go into mindfulness practices of witnessing techniques without building a consciousness around their being and then they say ‘’I cannot meditate’’. Of course you cannot. You first need to connect with your BEING in order to go into meditation. Witnessing would always be the next step. I made the mistake of going to a vipassana course 20 years ago, without connecting with my BEING on a deeper level and it was a disaster! It was really tough. I was able go through the whole process but I do not suggest that to anyone. Vipassana should be the last thing you try, maybe after 5 years of disciplined meditation practice.
What do most students struggle with or get wrong?
Most people think meditating is about stopping the mind or relaxation. It is not. It is only about PRACTICING EFFORTLESSNESS. It is all about letting go, surrendering to what is, and not trying to change anything. That can be done with BEING practices. I have come to realise that learning to breathe more functionally, learning to let go in your breathing habit helps and accelerates the connection with our being. That is why I work on people’s dysfunctional breathing habits and help them to learn EFFORTLESSNESS in their breathing first, then lead them into meditation. If you cannot let go and JUST BE as you are, if you are fighting with life and who you are (your BEING), you cannot meditate.
How many times and how much time per day do you recommend students to meditate?
I recommend 20 minutes in the morning before breakfast, coffee or exercise, and 20 minutes in the evening before dinner, alcohol or sleep. Evening meditations should not be very close to sleep time though.
What misconceptions about meditation do you hear in the media or popular culture?
I see that there is a whole misconception about what positive energy is. That leads to misconceptions about meditation as well. Positivity does not mean being happy and energetic or having fun all the time. It means being able to accept who you are and not fighting with yourself even in painful times and when you experience dark emotions. You cannot meditate if you are trying to run away from yourself. You cannot go into deep relaxation if you are trying to be happy, calm, and relaxed all the time. Meditation is not about relaxation, it’s about working on your ability to accept who you are and just be, be where you are. It is not about trying to create an alternative self which is more relaxed or positive, it is about not trying to change at all. It is about acceptance, love, being, it is not about achievement.
What advice do you give people who struggle to maintain a consistent practice?
I advise breath coaching. We need functional, natural breathing to go deep into our being. If we don’t have that, we struggle a lot. So I suggest for anyone who is interested in going deep into meditation to go onto the Breath Coaching Federation web site and schedule a private breath session. If you cannot do that, I suggest that you have the willingness to experience all emotions, pain, sorrow, even tears during a meditation practice, that’s the only way you can meditate easily. As I said before, if you cannot accept your human self with everything you have, you cannot meditate. Acceptance is the key to meditation. Learning to sit with whatever is going on with ourselves, that intention makes the whole difference.
What meditation books have you read and admired, re-read, or do you recommend to others (they can be directly or indirectly related to meditation)?
I recommend Light Watkins’s books, for instance “Bliss More” and “The Inner Gym,” he is a great meditation teacher. I admire all Vedic meditation books, Vedic meditation methods are the real practice.
What books/courses/resources do you have available? What makes them special and how can they benefit a reader?
I lead Introductions every week in Richmond, London and I give 3-day meditation courses every two months. I have weekly retreats on the coast of Turkey at a very special resort every two months where we work on dysfunctional breathing and thinking habits. People who finish those courses and who come to my retreats can easily make meditation a habit and keep on meditating every day. After all the emotional, mental and spiritual release, they all finish the course or the week-long retreat in full silence.
I have 9 books, mostly about breathing, healing and meditation. People can reach me from my website, www.nevsah.com, learn about my courses, go to my youtube account and watch my videos. My commitment to meditation and silence makes the whole difference. When you meditate with a teacher, the energy of the teacher is all that matters. I am a teacher who has been meditating for 20 years and who has a functional breathing habit, who can go directly into deep silence and carry her students there, and I think that makes a difference. So if you meditate with me or come to one of my courses in London, you will for sure have a deep, healing meditation experience. What makes me unique is also my knowledge on breathing, behavioural science and coaching. I know what it takes to connect with our being and silence and how to get there as fast as possible. If you work on your breathing with the breath coaching system, you will go deep into silence every time you close your eyes, whereas if you don’t you will have a hard time in the beginning. I teach functional breathing, work on people’s dysfunctional breathing habits that keep them from meditating and healing, and get amazing results.
My next book, “Awakening”, is scheduled for release in August 2019. It is about awakening and staying awake in your daily life—every day, every moment, and every situation. It is about acceptance and being a real human being.
How can readers get in contact with you or find out more?
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[This interview is an extract. You can see Nevsah’s full interview, plus 29 more interviews, in the book How Do You Meditate? Interviews with 30 Meditation Teachers. Available from Amazon.]