A talk with Marie Kronquist
Marie Kronquist is one of the most respected Buddhist teachers in Denmark who instructs recognized business people on achieving greater calm, well-being, and presence in the present moment. Marie has just opened Sanghaen in Copenhagen, a loving physical sanctuary where you can learn how to meditate and have quiet time. We met Marie for a chat about where to start if we feel like life is running a little too fast and we can't keep up.
We have exceptionally been allowed to give you a free online or physical meditation in the Sangha. It is for both new and experienced in the world of meditation, who would like to treat themselves to a self-loving hour with guidance from Marie.
You can register for a free meditation class here www.sanghaen.dk/gratis
How did your interest in Buddhism start, and what has Buddhism given you?
I think I've always had it in me in some way. As a child, I was very reflective and curious about life, and I often asked big questions. I remember having Mother Teresa and Gandhi hanging in my room as a girl, so there have been elements of it for as long as I remember, but it's not because I come from a spiritual or Buddhist family or anything, on the contrary. But it has always been inside of me.
It's the way I live, see life, and am in life. So it hasn't taught me anything specific, but it's more the mindset I have, which is about living my life sustainably, being a good person, and trying to live awake and aware and constantly train my own qualities. I try to make an effort and relate to myself and the life I live and am part of. I try to do it on both the good days filled with joy and the days that may be challenging and difficult and filled with irritation.
What does meditation give you in your everyday life? And how often do you use it?
Well, I have been meditating every day for almost 16 years now. So it's a natural part of me, just as I brush my teeth and take a shower. And then I have my meditation practice. So for me, it's a concept of health, and it's a way I keep myself healthy, sustainable, and clean. And that's the starting point for being who I am in the world.
What does it mean when you say it's a way to keep yourself clean?
Well, it means that through meditation, I turn my attention inward and strengthen my ability to be in touch with myself and work with myself. Purity in Buddhism is about trying to be free of jealousy, anger, resistance, condemnation, and blame, and meditation is one of the things that helps with that.
What do you do to have a balanced everyday life?
I try to be careful and not have too many projects. I try to live simply. That means I drink water, I get enough sleep, I eat healthily, I feel what's going on inside, and I breathe. I take care of myself and my harmony.
If you meditate continuously over a period, the inherent calm will be within you when you go out and meet the world. When I'm in difficult situations, meet people, or make difficult decisions, I have that calm within me, which gives me balance.
If someone wants to learn to meditate, how do they get started? Where do they start?
In my opinion, it's about getting a teacher and getting some guidance to get started. It's hard training, and many people are surprised because they think that if they just sit down and meditate a few times, everything will be fine. That's not how it works. It's a long and continuous training that requires discipline, perseverance, patience, and steadfastness.
I usually make the parallel that I see it as working out. Whether I go down and do a workout or train my mindset, it's the same thing. If you have never worked out and suddenly just show up at the gym, then a lot of questions arise, and we are completely clueless, and that's where an instructor comes in. It's the same with meditation. You need to get some guidance to start with, and if you only go to the gym once a month, you'll never get in shape. You need some continuity in your gym routine right from the start. The same goes for meditation.
In Sanghaen, you have some classes with quite time. What does it mean specifically? And why is it important?
I think it's important because we live in a noisy world. Both in terms of sound but also in terms of the amount of input and stimuli that we are constantly a part of. So there is something nice about having quite time, and it means that you can go somewhere and be present without having to deal with anything, without being a part of something and without having to interact with anyone. For me, there is a great wisdom in quite time.
What do you do if you feel stressed?
Now, it's incredibly rare that I feel stressed. I think I have such a good knowledge and such a good connection with myself that I know when to stop before I get stressed. I try to be careful with my time and the number of things I have going on and how much I am out. When I can feel that it's starting to get too much, I withdraw. I dare to say that I never get stressed.
I take small breaks and timeouts where I can breathe and relax. Of course, there are many things that I say no to and don't do for the simple reason that I can't handle it. I've just learned that I can take part in much less than I realized before. So if I really want to be present, attentive, and grounded, I can have far fewer things on my calendar. We are constantly a part of something, and I don't think that's natural for us.
Do you have any good advice or recommendations that you live by to be in balance?
I think being careful is very important to me, and that's because the world is as complex as it is, and we can quickly just skate around. Whether it involves me cooking, I am present in the cooking. If it's about drinking a glass of water, I try to be careful with drinking a glass of water. I don't try to drink a glass of water, write an email, eat a meal, and talk at the same time. I do one thing at a time. That's my advice. Think slowly, and do one thing at a time.
We think we can multitask. But we can't. We can't be present and multitask.
We've asked Marie if she could do a guided meditation with us, which you can see below.