Interview with Paul Dallaghan, Samahita Retreat Centre Thailand
12 September 2016
We interviewed Paul Dallaghan
Founder of the Samahita Retreat Centre Thailand
He has had the good fortune to spend many rich years with his main teacher in pranayama and the meditative process, Sri O.P. Tiwari, as well as many joyful years in Mysore with Sri K.Pattabhi Jois. Both personally certified him to teach the yoga methods.
Let’s pretend that we’re thoroughly unfamiliar with contemporary spiritual vocabularies. How would you describe your teaching to us?
So much of life demands our attention on external details that involve the body, thoughts, emotions, interactions with the world and other people. Such a life is so demanding that we may only relate to this external behavior. Yet there is an internal world. Attention needs to be directed there to touch it and benefit from it. It is a part of life. There are spontaneous moments when such connections arise, when one is touched on a deeper level, through love, sound, sight, or practices that internalize one’s focus. Practices with the breath and inner focus are all about touching this inner space and are designed to do so and can bring about quite a personal transformation.
Was there a turning point in your life when you felt you connected to your inner peace?
I was sent away at 16 on my own to work and live on a farm in rural France. Much time was spent in nature, either working or quietly alone. Without me realizing it was a key meditative time. That was the first key transformation for me with a few later key shifts occurring so it is now lived on a daily level.
What does inner peace mean to you?
To know oneself and be centered, balanced, in all situations.
When do you experience Inner peace? And when do you lose that inner peace?
Perhaps too self-involved of a question to comfortably answer – but I feel centered most of the time. I have noticed that when asked “how are you?” I only answer “fine”, never really disturbed by the ups and downs of life. Yet still the burdens and stresses of life need to be handled. If I am around a lot of activity, a lot of people raising the hype and creating a hyperactive environment then I feel disturbed, but more on an overstimulated level than a disruption of inner calm.
What would you advise people as a practical tool to (re)connect to their inner? What is your tip to find inner peace?
You have to make it a priority of focus and practice it each day. There are many methods. One part is practice time, the second part is awareness throughout the day. Important to this is to develop understanding. It is not enough to just practice, practice, practice. Without understanding arising within then the next upset will disturb you again. Understand who you are and the nature of life. Practice techniques to internally stabilize which may involve the breath but also require internal examination without condemnation.
Do you think inner peace influences outer peace? If yes, in what way? If no, why not?
There is no outer peace without inner peace. No political economic system in the history of humanity to date has managed to bring about outer peace. Instead individuals find inner peace and treat others with kindness and respect. The state of the heart must be addressed first. Yet it is usually avoided due to full attention on the external and very smart people offering wonderful material solutions that unfortunately don’t solve the continued crisis of violence and abuse. It is important to change external structures that continue the cycle of poverty and mistreatment but the heart of those in a position to do so must first be really touched and inner peace found. Ironically one may be living in the worst of material conditions but have found inner peace without the promised revolution occurring. And that inner peace enhances their life and has a positive impact on others they meet.
Do you have a ritual?
I have practices with a daily routine regardless of travel and different work focus. This is to continue and deepen the centered state. One should never take the experience of inner peace for granted. Voluminous forces every day come to throw one off-center, out of balance. Yet continued inner effort can thwart that and eventually stabilize inner peace. Effort and connection is required, as is the case with any relationship.
Do you have a spot in Amsterdam where you always feel peaceful?
By one of the quieter canals.