Interview: Aliki Komps, mindful co-founder
Aliki Komps is a mindful co-founder of A City With Quirk, an online platform for homegrown activities, events and experiences. This is her story:
I have been a keen meditator for seven years. I am currently the Melbourne Player Liaison for the Big Issue Street Soccer Initiative and I also have an eight-year history in nongovernment organisations, both at a grassroots level and also in managing vocational rehabilitation services. After studying psychology at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels earlier on, I transitioned into a Master’s in Philosophy, which is where my unrelenting academic passion resides. My particular philosophical interests lie in existentialism and feminist, psychoanalytic writers.
And last, but certainly not least, I am the Co-founder of A City With Quirk. A City With Quirk will be sprouting shortly in Melbourne and is aimed at offering Melbournians a simple and engaging online platform to list homegrown, left-of-center Melbourne-based activities, events, and experiences. It’s all about trying something new and experiencing things that take you into the moment. A City With Quirk is essentially supposed to encourage mindfulness. When we are doing something different and novel we are often right in the moment, engaging with the new experience and all it has to offer!
1. What led you to meditation?
I was drawn to meditation seven years ago when I was experiencing significant chaos in my mind. At the time, I was completing the last year of my Postgraduate in Psychology and I recall sitting in the front seat of my car sucking in and out of a paper bag in an attempt to calm my breath and my anxiety. Not a stranger to anxiety, I hopped out of the car, and thought, there must be a better way…and my journey with meditation and mindfulness commenced…
2. What value has practising meditation brought to your life?
On a daily basis, meditation has brought me the ability to stay still when everything continues to move around me. It has assisted me with staying in the moment, but more than that, it has provided me with the insight to appreciate everything that moves around me, including my own movement in the world. It has encouraged me to connect with my body and mind on another level. In the world we live in, it can be difficult to stay objective, whilst we feel like we’re in the thick of it so to speak.
When we move so fast every day, we forget to listen to what our bodies tell us, we are often on automatic following the wild monkey mind that often leads us away from the present moment. Meditation has allowed me to see the beauty in the simple things in life. The things that we take for granted. Breath. Sensations. Our movements in the world. There has been many a time I have laid down at the end of a long day, breathing mindfully, keenly observing my breath flow in and out, and it has provided me with a stillness that grounds me.
3. How has meditation supported you in your professional life?
Meditation has supported me in my professional life in brilliant ways. I have used it both personally and professionally to stay grounded and also espoused the techniques and benefits to others. Working for organisations that have service users that often come from marginalised and disadvantaged backgrounds, they have limited access to the concept of mindfulness. Once their basic needs (e.g. shelter, food, safety, etc) are fulfilled however, there can be an excellent space for meditation. The beauty of meditation is that it is accessible by anyone that indicates an interest in engaging with it.
4. What are the biggest obstacles to your practice?
The biggest obstacle to my practice has been the ever elusive factor of time. My perception of the concept of time has often made me feeling as if I’m running against it. Often writing to do lists, and feeling defeated when I can’t complete all the items on there. But in fact, this is where meditation has been most significant. It has allowed me to stop and listen. Time is what we make it. We can feel like we are running against it (and believe me, I still do feel like this occasionally) or we can run with it in a productive way. Meditation has fostered this sense of just being human within the human construct of time.
5. What is a quote that most inspires you and why?
“There is only one day left, always starting over: it is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre, The Devil and the Good Lord.
This quote is one of many that inspires me. I have a fondness for the great existential philosophers. And this particular quote is a reminder to me to make the most of today and the moment. To harness and nourish the beauty of what today brings. We only have one day left, always starting over. It is literally given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk. This reminds me that we have one moment in any given time. So in this moment, in writing this, I try to stay mindful because this is the moment I am experiencing. There are other thoughts swirling around in my head, but for the most part, I attempt to allow them to sway, and try to be here, in the now.
6. What is a book that has opened you to new ideas and inspired your growth and why?
Wow…this is a difficult one. I will write Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. I was introduced to Tolle’s writing when his first book became popular, The Power of Now. At that point in my life, his writing opened my mind up to other forms of perceiving life events and this was a refreshing realisation that I needed.
Tolle writes that “the most significant thing that can happen to a human being [is] the separation process of thinking and awareness” and that awareness is “the space in which thoughts exist…the primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it“. (Tolle, 2005, p. 261-262 & p. 96)
7. What Mindful Music do you listen to (ie. music that grabs your full attention and brings you into the moment)?
Music is beautiful. It can do amazing things. It can match your sadness, it can lift your spirits, it can bring a room of strangers together to share in something universally understood – sound. I have an eclectic taste in music, but when I feel like I need some real grounding I always turn to Deva Premal for her amazing mantras and I’m also a fan of the kirtan as performed by Satyananda Yoga, an ashram in Rocklyn, Victoria (great ashram in Victoria that hosts some excellent yoga and meditation retreats). Both provide me with an amazing path to being in the moment. Interestingly, when my mind is most chaotic, it resists music. Put more simply, when I feel full in the head, I don’t wish to listen to music. It’s as if any more content will create further chaos. When in fact, sounds such as the ones I have listed, can sometimes be exactly what I need.
Want to connect with Aliki Komps? Click here to find out more about Mindful In May and join us for the next round of meditation.