The Focus On series is where we celebrate the beauty and diversity of meditation journeys .. gathering to share stories, practices and insights, to listen and learn from each other. Welcome!

A few months ago I met Marieke when she was preparing an immersive installation at the Albert Street Art Gallery titled The Waiting Room. Inspired by her own meditation journey, Marieke was looking for meditation teachers to install themselves in the space, providing free lunchtime guided meditations to gallery visitors.

Which seemed like .. a wild idea!

Marieke Hardy is a writer, broadcaster and television producer, and until last year, the artistic director of Melbourne Writers Festival. Currently, among other creative projects, Marieke is in Melbourne steering a series of live events with poet Emily Zoey Baker called Better Off Said: Eulogies for the Living and Dead .. if your lucky you might still be able to find a ticket for the March showing at the The Melba Spiegeltent (Melbourne).

Busy. Creative. Life.

You can read about The Waiting Room and what unfolded in that meditative space HERE .. and I am really thrilled to share a little of Marieke’s meditation journey in this months Focus On series.

Marieke Hardy


1. Marieke, could you share a little about your meditation ‘journey’
I clawed my way to the end of a garbage fire year in 2015 and knew I had to find better coping strategies and skills to survive in the world, because being alive is hard!  

I made learning to meditate like part of my job – I set aside time each day to do it, even though I REALLY wasn’t into it and sat begrudgingly.  

I think instinctively I knew it would help me but it seemed so hard and inaccessible so I just added it to my ‘to-do’ list every day and treated it like a chore that needed to be ticked off.  Eventually it started changing my brain and making my life infinitely better, and all the work became worth it.

2. How did you find meditation, the when/where/how? 
I still can’t recall how I knew in my bones meditation would be the Thing that kept me alive and gently steer me towards a better way of living.  You always know it’s there, don’t you?  You see people banging on about it and you’re sure it’s good but you never quite think it’s ‘for you’.  It’s like yoga, or therapy, or regular exercise generally.  It just seems inaccessible.  But you find your way in.  

My way in at first was YouTube clips – I’d find whatever topic I needed to steer me through a particular crisis (self-love, grief, letting go, loneliness) and do whatever I had time for (five minutes, ten minutes, twenty).  Then I moved on to Headspace and dear Andy. Eventually, I got the skills to meditate where and whenever I needed to, but I still love a guided and I still love Headspace!

3. Do you have a particular technique(s) that resonates with you?
No, that connection to breath can happen anywhere and everywhere – particularly in stressful situations, once you’ve figured out the umbilical link.  I’m a fairly diligent worker so as long as I set a practice as part of my daily routine I can get it done anywhere – in bed before I wake up, on a train on my way to work, a relaxation later in the afternoon.  

I now have an understanding of the benefits it’s washed over my life so I will always make time for it.

4. Do you have a regular practice and what does that look like: daily, weekly, other?
As mentioned above, not at all!  It’s an anywhere and everywhere thing.  Whatever time I have in a day – 5, 10, 15, 40 minutes! – I’ll take it.  And even that stolen pocket doesn’t end once you’ve opened your eyes.  Meditation is an ongoing practice, that helps you in situations even when you’re not sitting.  There have been so many times in the last few years I’ve reached to access that breathwork and re-anchoring to Self.  

The more you practice, the more accessible it is.  It’s building muscle.

5. What is it that inspires you to keep meditation .. returning to your practice? because this is a key challenge for almost everyone!
The palpable, vivid way my life has improved since I began learning (on my knees!). Putting on your sneakers and going to the gym (or yoga, or whatever) is hard and sometimes tedious but ultimately it benefits our body.  Meditation is the same.  On the days I don’t feel like doing it I try to do it anyway, and I forgive myself on the days I don’t!  It’s helped me make space for all the emotional fluidity and thought chaos that dominates
the cranial realm and slowly separate it from driving the narrative.

It’s freedom!

6. Could you share what benefits you have observed from your practice?
Self-love, self-care, self-parenting, self-partnering, knowing you can get through any complex and challenging situation because everything is finite and the way you feel changes within seconds, resilience, bravery …. the list goes on.

7. Do you have a dedicated space for your practice, or elements that support you?  
No!  bed, train, couch, floor, yoga mat, forest …. it’s always there. 

8. Have you attended a meditation retreat or additional learning opportunities that have inspired you?
I haven’t. I’m intrigued by the idea of Vipassana but think I’m still on my L plates with my meditation practice to attempt it – which is so fine; this is just where I’m at.  I love making time to reconnect with myself every day and see that what exists within me is a safe thing.  That’s all it needs to be for now, if it changes it changes.

9. Any wise words to share with those who are new to meditation?
I’m sure I have a fully evangelist energy about meditation which I assume is tedious but you get to it when you get to it.  I was 39 when I began practicing and I was torn to shreds – it was time for me. You find it when you find it, no stress. You commit to it when you’re ready to commit to it, no stress.  

If you stop thinking of it as goal-oriented (I have to GET somewhere, ACHIEVE something) and simply a beautiful practice and a way to spend time with such a lovely, trying person – yourself! – it becomes easier.  

11. 7 Random things about you?

*I am incredibly punctual and get stressed when I’m late (which is EXACTLY when I need to meditate!)
*I like going out to dinner with a book probably better than going out to dinner with people
*My superpower is ordering at restaurants
*I once mud-wrestled in a music video for Peaches
*My dearly departed dog’s ashes are mixed into the ink on one of my tattoos *The Beastie Boys dedicated the song ‘Heart Attack Man’ to me on stage at Rod Laver Arena
*My best friend is a witch and we got married in a symbolic and beautiful ceremony

Thank you, Marieke. This will always be the magical story I share when asked, ‘the most unusual place to guide a meditation class’.