When and how did you discover mindfulness?
A few years ago, when I was still working in development aid and I often carried out difficult missions in various French-speaking African countries, I was close to experiencing a kind of burn-out, whereas I I was not yet thirty years old. That's when a friend told me about the benefits of meditation. When we are revolted and angry, and do not listen to and honor these feelings of pain that we experience, we become more fragile and less available to those we meet. . Meditation allows you to take care of your interiority, but also to connect with others. Hummingbirds ". When we connect to these fruitful and positive alternatives, we feel the energy rising within ourselves.
What has meditation done for you?
It was a radical transformation. I realized that by taking care of yourself, you take care of the world. Spending even fifteen minutes each morning on a cushion is not an egotistical act. It's not cutting yourself off from the world, it's a way to observe what is happening within us and to free ourselves, little by little, from some of its conditioning. In this world that tends to separate us, to alienate us from others and from ourselves, pausing and doing nothing allows us to look away, to see things differently. It is therefore in my opinion a deeply subversive and revolutionary act, which is not enough, but which can be a first step towards other forms of commitment.
What are your other practices?
I spoke before about formal practice, but informal practice, that is to say what we do with our actions in line with our values, seems to me just as important. In this regard, my two “masters” of meditation are my daughter, now six years old, and family life more generally. Children can be our best teachers. When they arrive in the world, they live in tune with the living, without make-up or prejudice. I have values, but also a lot of inconsistencies that my daughter is the first to point out. The challenge is to be able to observe them and apprehend them with love and gentleness in order to be able to love yourself more and do more good around you. I also learn a lot from everyday life which constantly pushes us to our limits. How to make this, sometimes very repetitive, and the contractions that life imposes on you, a springboard towards change? Living everyday life with the eyes of mindfulness allows us to magnify it and infuse it with meaning. But let's not forget that meditation remains a training of the mind. Doing it on a regular basis is essential if you want to get short and long term benefits from it. Sitting on the cushion when nothing is going is not enough and may even be counterproductive.
How was the Émergences association, which you co-founded with your partner Ilios Kotsou, born?
It's in the mind of my lover, back from a summer university of the association Mind & Life, that the idea germinated first. After having exchanged, in particular with the Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard, on the need to make scientific discoveries in meditation more accessible to the general public. From the beginning, we have been keen to participate in a change of consciousness, so necessary in our time. The idea was to combine personal development, social commitment and scientific rigour.
What is the objective of Emergence Days?
During this annual event, we seek first of all to connect and inspire those present with the hope that they will get moving, that they will feel nourished, useful... But also to bring out research in laboratory humanities. Ilios, who is a researcher in the psychology of emotions, has often told me how much he regrets the treatment given in the press to fascinating research. These meetings are non-profit. The sums collected are dedicated to solidarity projects such as those of the association such as Karuna Shechen, co-founded by Matthieu Ricard, which implements humanitarian projects in favor of underprivileged populations in India, Nepal and Tibet. We also support associations established in Belgium such as the Samu social de Bruxelles or the Citizen Support Platform for Refugees.
“In this world that tends to separate us, to alienate us from others and from ourselves, the fact of pausing and doing nothing allows us to look away, to see things differently. It is therefore in my opinion a deeply subversive and revolutionary act, which is not enough, but which can be a first step towards other forms of commitment. »
Another form of commitment that is close to our hearts is to offer meditation classes to other audiences, in prisons, for example, but also to people who take care of others and who also need to take care of themselves.
You define yourself as a citizen of the world and an activist. What other areas do you work on?
Ever since I was very young, I have felt sadness and anger at the injustices I witnessed. An internal change took place during a trip that I had the chance to do in Brazil in the final year. In the favelas, I was struck to see, in the street, single mothers of fifteen or sixteen with, at their side, children breathing glue in an attempt to escape an inhuman daily life. Seeing that these human distresses moved me a lot, one of the guides encouraged me to hold on during the trip to get involved in the field as we had planned, and to use the strength of what we had experienced. to be able to testify on return, share, raise awareness. This was my first lesson in mindfulness, and I saw the benefits of being able to be with these feelings, not fight them, and then act on my level. Today, I get involved and I act within different networks, while also transmitting tools, such as caring mindfulness or work that connects, to help everyone take care of the living. and to feel like an actor, an actor of change.
What is the “Mères au front” movement that you introduced in Belgium?
This movement was born in Quebec at the beginning of March 2020. It was initiated by Laure Waridel, an ecosociologist friend and author, who is a figure of the transition in the Belle Province. This movement initiated by mothers wants to make heard the voice of all the citizens and all the citizens who feel concerned by the state of the world. The children of today will be the adults of tomorrow, it is important to support them in other paradigms. Also, by relying on the archetypal image of the mother who is ready to do anything to save life and make it gain, everyone can feel included and contaminated by this energy at the service of life. The mothers who gave birth do not want their children and those of future generations to live in a completely denatured environment. We do not hear enough of the voices of young parents, who nevertheless play an essential role. The first action took place in May, on Mother's Day, which coincided in Belgium and Quebec. The idea is to emphasize that the Earth is the mother of all of us. We have a responsibility to take care of it. It is a very horizontal movement. Everyone can initiate actions as long as they respect the values of the movement. We need to reach a critical mass. Researchers point out that it would be enough for 3,5% of the population to work in favor of change for the shift to take place. Let's all work together to achieve this.
What form of commitment do you think is most urgent today?
Hundreds of thousands of people are working around the world for the transition. To achieve a shift towards the paradigm shift to which more and more of us aspire, we need a change of outlook, of imagination. There is nothing more energizing and inspiring than feeling part of a movement that is building the world of tomorrow. Rob Hopkins, one of the main initiators of the Cities in Transition movement, has just written a book (1) that encourages putting the imagination back in power. Everyone in their sector of activity or commitment should imagine with all their might the world they want to see happen. We also need to connect with each other on a higher level, that of love for the living, as Matthieu Ricard points out. This is how we can make the difference.