We sat down with Caitlin Cady of Heavily Meditated about how to connect to Self and what meditation means to her
1. TELL US THE STORY THAT LED TO WHERE YOU ARE TODAY?
I’ve been a reader, writer and lover of books for my entire life - some of my most treasured memories from childhood have to do with words and books. As a little girl, I remember writing and illustrating little handmade books with my dad. He would write out the words and bind the sheets of paper together and I’d illustrate each page with chalky soft pastels. My dad would read stories aloud to my little brother and me - complete with distinct voices for each character. He had lines of poetry taped to the windows of his studio and had shelves stacked with books. I’d pull down tattered paperbacks to read - I was dog-earring things like Siddhartha by Herman Hesse and Be Here Now by Ram Das when I was quite small. So from a very young age I was exposed to spirituality, prose, poetry and the magic of marrying word and image together.
I always kept journals and wrote poems - it was always the way I could digest or alchemise a feeling or experience. Later, in University I had the opportunity to study creative writing or fine arts. I ended up going to art school and getting a Bachelor of Fine Arts in printmaking and book arts. I found myself, once again, marrying word and image.
Through the years, I always wrote on the side, either blogging, journaling or freelance copywriting. Writing has been a through line throughout my life, but it’s something I’ve committed myself to more formally in the last 5 years. It’s funny how our life leaves us a little breadcrumb trail that in retrospect is so incredibly obtuse… and yet it took me more than 30 years to finally get the memo: I’m here to write.
2. WHAT DOES MEDITATION MEAN TO YOU?
Long story short: Meditation saved me from a life-sentence of chronic illness and the misery of perfectionism. I dish on the full story in my book, Heavily Meditated, but the gist of it is that I was a perfectionistic over-achiever and struggled with illnesses like Lyme Disease. Through meditation, I learned how to slow down and be, which allowed my nervous system and in turn, my immune system to reset. I went from burned out, sick and fearful to happy, healthy and living to my full potential.
Meditation literally changed my life and I want to help others discover the healing and transformative effects. Learning how to do it (and actually get my tush on the cush’ on a regular basis) took some doing. I wrote Heavily Meditated because I want to make it easy for others to learn meditation and get high on life. I really believe that meditation is medicine and has something to offer everyone.
3. HOW CAN WE CONNECT BACK TO OURSELVES MORE / FIND A MEDITATION PRACTICE THAT FITS IN WITH OUR LIFESTYLE?
Meditation offers so many gifts in terms of connecting with ourselves.
The truth is most of us have successfully engineered our lives to avoid stillness and silence. Why? Because of what’s waiting for us there. The discomfort. The pain. The sadness. The anxiety. The emptiness. Memories. Regrets. The familiar jab of ‘I am not enough’.
These cavernous hollows within us become apparent when we aren’t stuffing them full of achievements, accomplishments, distractions and productivity. Through busyness, we get that sweet hit of feeling temporarily whole. It won’t last long. We know that, so we just make our to-do list longer, overfill our calendars, keep our hands full of devices and keep our playlists primed. That way, we successfully keep stillness and silence just out of reach.
But here’s the rub: the key to your wholeness is buried in the depths of stillness and silence, waiting to be excavated.
For example, meditation helps us awaken to the wisdom and inner guidance that already reside within us. By meditating regularly, you consistently receive the the offerings of your wild, knowing nature. What this translates to in a practical sense is less self-doubt and more self-trust, which renders decision-making almost effortless. When you’re aligned with your intuition, the answers just come.
In terms of finding a practice that fits in with your lifestyle, make this your motto: Start where you are. Done is better than perfect. There are so many myths around meditation that are simply not true…. that you need a quiet mind. Not true! That you need 40-60 minutes a day to have a practice with impact. Not true! That you have to pay someone $1000 or go to a 10 day retreat to learn how to do it. Also not the case. If you can commit to 5 or 10 minutes a day, and you can do it regularly, that’s going to have a huge impact on your life. Much more than the 20 minute session you never get to.
Also, I don’t think there is a one right style or school of meditation for everyone. In my book I offer 5 different techniques to try (with guided meditations for each type) because I think it’s beautiful to experiment with a few techniques to see what resonates for you (meditation speed dating is one way to think of it!) Then, when you find something that clicks for you, do a deep dive and go steady with that technique for 30 days.
4. WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST LESSON OR CHALLENGE IN YOUR LIFE / RUNNING A BUSINESS?
I think life is a series of opportunities for expansion. Whether it’s illness, the loss of beloveds, failures, misfortunes or misalignments (all of which have been a part of my journey) challenges are a given. We don’t get to choose that. But how we meet these experiences is the choice we get to make.
We can meet these challenges by contracting, by shrinking, by laying down, curling up, giving in. Or we can expand. We can expand our capacity for life by dancing courageously with the challenges that come our way.
Even having our dreams come true is something that we sometimes hide from. To stay safe, we shrink. So I think everything that comes our way is a call to rise, to expand, to see what we’re capable of.
I, for one, want to live a brave life. I want to do everything in my power to live to my potential and use my gifts fully. So when I feel resistance, I call in courage and show up more. Because I know I’m on my way to the next expanded incarnation of myself in this lifetime.
In terms of business, I’m a mother of three and in addition to my career as a writer and teacher, I am also co-owner and creative director of two other businesses. So my plate is very full. My passion has driven my commitment to do the work that matters most to me (writing), but my next goal is to simplify and narrow my focus and to have the financial freedom to do that.
One piece that has been critical for me in my work and in growing this business is to understand my strengths and to call in support for the areas where I’m not strong. I think there is such a misconception about entrepreneurship - that entrepreneurs are jack-of-all-trades-good-at-everything types.
I read a book called Rocket Fuel which suggests an ideal business partnership of a Visionary personality type and an Integrator personality. This book gave me the permission to own that I am a Visionary - and that while creativity, ideas, and inspiration are always at hand for me I’m really not so jazzed about the maintenance, implementation and details. This helped me call in the right kind of support to help me execute in those areas. It’s been a game-changer for me to just give myself permission to do me… and to enlist someone with a different area of genius to compliment my own.
To follow Caitlin’s journey, you can find her here: @caitlincady or www.caitlincady.com
Words by Alex Carroll