Headspace's Eve Lewis on Becoming a Meditation TeacherSep 22, 2021
Meditation invites us to let go of our rigid ways of thinking and learn to collaborate with life by surrendering to the present. When our stubbornness gets in the way of our practice, we meet resistance. When we develop an awareness of the now, we harness a center of gravity that allows us to get back up when life knocks us down. In a mindless state, we can allow things that arise in life to keep us down as the moments pass by without us. Perhaps no one understands this better than Eve Lewis, Director of Meditation at Headspace and certified mindfulness meditation teacher.
In this interview, Eve shares her personal experience with meditation, from initially dismissing it to establishing a regular practice and eventually earning her meditation teacher certification with David Nichtern under Dharma Moon’s Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training program. Read on to learn about the impact meditation has had on her life and her advice for those looking to develop a daily practice.
What brought you to explore mindfulness meditation?
Eve Lewis: My journey into meditation began 10 years ago. I was living in London and working in advertising. I was in my late 20s which was a difficult time in my life. My dad was struggling with some health issues, I was in an unhealthy relationship and I was working incredibly long hours. Needless to say, I wasn’t in a particularly good place. A friend of mine suggested that I try meditation. Initially, I was dismissive of the idea because I didn’t understand what it was about. I immediately associated it with being very religious or spiritual. After nudging me again, I attended an in-person meditation session where I learned that everything that I believed about meditation was wrong.
After a few months of attending these sessions, I tried Headspace which was unique because it was a digital offering. I joined the team at Headspace in 2013 and now work as Director of Meditation. Meditation is a regular part of my daily life—I work at a meditation company, I’ve trained as a meditation teacher with David Nichtern and I’m happy to say that my health and happiness has significantly improved along the way.
Why did you decide to take the step and become a certified mindfulness meditation teacher with Dharma Moon?
Eve Lewis: Ever since I did my first meditation session 10 years ago and I learned more about the philosophy and the history behind meditation, I had this real curiosity to learn more about what had helped me so much. Over the years, my curiosity grew and grew. When I found David Nichtern’s teacher training program, I wasn't actually looking to become a meditation teacher. I was looking for a training program to dive deeper into my practice to learn more about the history and philosophy of meditation. Within the first evening that I took the course with David, I realized this is what I want to do.
David made the sessions feel so approachable. He really took the time to relate to all the different reasons why folks might be coming to meditation and mindfulness. Everyone has their own experience and their own journey. He helped me to see that in taking this training, not only was I committing to deepen my own practice and learn more about myself, but I would then be able to take that to other folks. That was my way in. I haven't looked back.
How would you describe your experience with Dharma Moon’s teacher training program?
Eve Lewis: One word I’d use to describe Dharma Moon’s teacher training program would be “joyful.” David is skilled at making sure the spaces that he facilitates are always grounded in discipline. It’s easy for us to go down rabbit holes in practice, but David was always there to put us back on track. He also makes the training fun and he has a great sense of humor in his style of teaching. I enjoyed the stories he shared while teaching. Overall, the training was joyful, curious and exciting, but challenging.
How has what you learned from Dharma Moon’s teacher training impacted your work at Headspace? How has it impacted your life in general?
Eve Lewis: What I learned from Dharma Moon helped me develop a regular meditation practice on a daily basis; prior to that I was meditating every other day. Getting to sit with my mind helped me confront the grief I felt after the loss of my father. Meditation helped foster a deep sense of kindness, patience and gratitude in me. Also, meditation helps me stay grounded in times that feel unstable or turbulent. In terms of my work at Headspace my training has really helped me to open up to new perspectives, to listen more and to be less judgemental. We spend so much of our working hours working with other people so if we can listen more and invite and welcome other thoughts and opinions in it helps to foster stronger connections.
Two common misconceptions about meditation is that the purpose of it is to “transcend the ego” and achieve a “state of thoughtlessness.” Why do you think these ideas are misguided? In your opinion, what is the true goal of meditation?
Eve Lewis: Many folks who are new to meditation arrive with this idea that to meditate, you have to completely clear the mind to achieve a state of bliss. These folks are often told that if they can’t do that then they’re doing something wrong and they become frustrated as a result. What folks need to understand is that meditation is about sitting with your mind, thoughts, feelings and whatever arises. Sometimes people second guess their practice because some of the thoughts one can sit with during meditation are not thoughts they like. But the value in sitting with them is that, through mindfulness, we gain a deeper perspective on how they impact us.
Rather than point toward a “goal,” I like to use the word “intention” when thinking about meditation. The idea that meditation strives to accomplish a goal goes against the philosophy of practice. Life is often difficult and challenging and we have a choice to develop a greater understanding of the mind and body both for ourselves and others. What meditation offers is a commitment to stability and balance no matter what is happening. Through being grounded in mindfulness, we learn to be present through the good, the challenging and mundane parts of life – which is important because we only have each moment and then it’s gone. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how many moments we miss, even the most mundane ones are moments we can’t ever get back.
What are some of the challenges you’ve experienced in your journey into mindfulness practice? What advice would you offer someone who is just getting started and feeling frustrated?
Eve Lewis: When I first began meditating, I felt overwhelmed by the things that I came to sit with and I almost gave up on my practice. Some days it didn’t feel like I was accomplishing anything. After my dad died, I didn’t meditate for at least six weeks. Meditation can be a powerful tool to help carry us through the most challenging parts of our lives –the shock of grief being one of them.
We're not always going to feel like we're winning at something all of the time. Some people have this expectation that meditation will always make you feel good. Meditation is like exercise—you’re not always going to feel good about it but if you stick to it, you will see the benefits. If you give up on meditation, you will also notice how easily it is for us to fall back into old behavior patterns. Part of practice is being kind to yourself. Let go of the rigidness we often expect of our experiences and take breaks if you need. Get a drink of water, stretch, go for a walk and then come back to it when you’re ready.