Spotlight on Claire Thompson

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Spotlight on Claire Thompson – Interviewed by Alicia Tolbert

In French “claire” means “clear”, “light”, and “bright”.  Read on to see why this name is so fitting for ACI-LA’s own Claire Thompson, dharma and yoga practitioner.

On the origins of her yoga practice:

In San Francisco I worked for a massage place that was also a yoga studio.  They considered yoga a part of self-care for the massage therapists, so we were allowed to take classes in exchange for massage.  This happened when I was in New York as well!  We got to take yoga classes for $5.  Can’t argue with that.  I had already studied dance so it had a bit of familiarity.  Then I met Darin [her partner] and he was doing yoga every day which quickly motivated me to strengthen my practice.

On finding ACI-LA

[Lama] Cindy Lee did music and video back in England with Darin.  She was encouraging us to go see Venerable Marut when he came to town, so we did and then a week later Course 5 [How Karma Works] began with Lama Lauren.  We asked ourselves whether we were going to be dilettantes or were we going to study it.

On Los Angeles dharma:

It’s easier to have a spiritual life here.  People here are so accepting of it.  It’s so much more available.  There is so much more healing and dharma and yoga and health food.  In New York you have to find nooks and crannies.  It’s an indoor life and nightlife.  Here there seems to be more of an appreciation of nature and spirituality.

On the proverbial turning of the corner in her meditation practice:

Course 3 [Applied Meditation] really helped me.  I had been to guided meditation classes here and in other centers, but Course 3 was the first time anyone told me what I should be expecting; the obstacles, that other people had had them, and that there were things to do about them.  Bok Jinpa classes [Setting Your Meditation on Fire] took all of that and gave me even more tools and a structure of a regular practice in which I apply those things: the antidotes, keeping track of when my mind goes off the object.  It catches me on all my little things.  It’s increased my confidence as a meditator to be guided like that.

On the link between reining in the mind and meditation:

The meditation training is helping me hone in on this.  I didn’t recognize that I was being indulgent by just thinking, because that’s something my mind is just doing.  I am attempting to exert control over my mind, something I have not done much of in the past.  It’s now leaving my meditation practice and coming into my real life.

On her favorite classes

Tibetan Heart Yoga Series 2 is brilliant.  Though it seems that dharma centers are the only place you can really do the emptiness teaching in it full justice.  I also love Series 7, the five Buddha families, the transforming of mental affliction.  For dharma I love Lo-Jong, Developing the Good Heart, Course 14.  I believe whole-heartedly in a life of service and that course drives it home.  All of these courses, and the example of our wonderful teachers, say the same thing to me:  At present I don’t have the ability to change the perception so I have to change the conception.  I have to habituate myself to seeing the things in my life as teachings.  The bad stuff we see is the fodder, what we have to work with, it’s not just going away.  That’s the battlefield.  We get easy before life does.

On her motivation to become a teacher:

What better way to save my loved ones than to teach them, even informally?  And in a more formal setting I want do what I can to help expand the Mahasukha Center, to reach more people.

Claire Thompson currently teaches noontime yoga every Friday 12 – 1p at Mahasukha Center.

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