It feels like this book has been waiting in the wings for some time. It covers so many of my interests and subjects I'm deeply fascinated about. I believe without a sense of that ‘something bigger’, general wellbeing is almost impossible to finesse.
The scope of your work shows how busy you are! What’s your favourite activity? Do you prefer writing to TV work, for example?
I prefer writing to anything else. Being an introvert, I adore working on my own and in silence. It feels rare to have that time and space, so I really relish it.
Do you have any advice for someone trying to start living a more spiritual life?
Awareness seems to underpin each of the subjects I've covered. If we have an awareness of the environment around us, the sounds around us, the energy around us, the energy within, the hugeness of life and the tiny details that matter, then we can start to cultivate a relationship with that something that is bigger than us.
Thanks to TV shows and online content, we’re all getting a bit more adventurous and questioning. Do you think this is a positive thing? Can you see any possible negatives we should all think about?
Questioning everything in life is essential for growth. If we stop feeling curious, we just dead end ourselves. We stop learning and have a closed mind. When we believe we know everything we stop experiencing wonder and awe and that's not a world I want to live in.
It’s great that you talk about how difficult it is to meditate at first, and how important it is to you to find that mental space. What advice would you give to a complete newcomer to meditation?
Don't see it as some gruesome chore. If you can’t sit and meditate then do a walking meditation. Leave your phone at home and walk and notice the nature around you, or the sky, or the sounds, and just have awareness rather than cognitively working through things or getting wrapped up in your own story.
What do you hope people discover and take away from the book?
Their own sense of inner peace and wonder at the world around them. For the reader to feel excited about life in a way they didn't before. For the reader to see how expansive and beautiful life can be even in the most mundane of times. Mostly for the reader to feel supported by that something bigger.
Who do you think is your typical reader, if such a person exists? Who would you love to read this book?
I don't mind who reads it. I start the book by welcoming those who might be cynical or sceptical about this subject matter. Anyone is welcome to give it a go. The minute this stuff becomes exclusive then the whole point is missed.
Do you have a favourite genre or author? What books or authors would you say were significant influences on you?
I adore autobiographies. To read someone's life story is a total privilege. I also adore reading books on spiritual subjects. Impactful books in my life have been written by people like Elizabeth Gilbert, Rhonda Byrne, Deepak Chopra, Lisa Taddeo, but I have loved autobiographies by Jenny Boyd, Busy Phillips, David Harewood, and fiction by Taylor Reid Jenkins.
What’s the most relaxing part of your day, usually? Do you have any rituals or routines which help you recover from the ongoing stress of daily life?
Reading in bed. It’s quiet, I forget about the day that's just been and lose myself in someone else's words. Walking on my own is also essential for me to feel balanced in life.
In your book there is an incredible variety of people you interview and spoke with. Which of the many different conversations do you think will stay with you the longest? And which do you think might resonate with your readers the most?
The section on rituals changed my life. I take such pleasure in now marking moments and changes in life with simple rituals. Also, the section on non-religious prayer with Donna has helped me in many ways. I love to go through her advised method each night before bed.
Is there a place you’d really love to visit, and if so, why? Where is your own Happy Place?
My happy place is anywhere by the sea. I go to Dorset a lot and love it there, but I would love to visit some far-flung places and show my kids sea life in its natural habitat. Perhaps Bora Bora one day, where the sea is crystal clear.
Now that we are able to meet up with friends again (fingers crossed it stays that way!) who would be coming to your fantasy dinner party, and why?
I don't love dinner parties so I would go for a lunch instead as I like to use my evenings to wind down fully. At my lunch I would have my best friends in the world. My old school mates, my friends Kye, JJ and Sinead and Giles and Sarah and Clare. I don't love the idea of sitting with my heroes or celebrities I admire as I would be nervous and the whole thing would be potentially awkward.
The COVID-19 situation has affected us all in different ways. How did you manage in the lockdowns? How helpful were your spiritual practices?
The lockdowns were hard. I think robbing us of human connection was harsh especially for our children. I worry about the incremental change in how people view other people now. How slowly people have become wary or untrusting of others. I desperately hope people can see past this and go back to celebrating other humans and trusting each other. That for me was the biggest sadness. On a practical note, home schooling is totally unrealistic especially for those of us working too. The pressure was enormous, and I don't believe fair on any of us. Although it was a very hard juggle, writing this new book during the craziness gave me something else to think about, and I would get very lost in a world of newness working on the different subjects. I’m so grateful the book flew out of me at such a time.
The importance of connection of all kinds comes up many times in the book. How did you stay connected with others, and what advice would you give to someone feeling a bit cut off from people at the moment?
Connection isn't about seeing loads of people all the time and having 10000 Facebook friends. It's about having a real, authentic connection with a few people in your life. It can be in any way you desire as long as you feel it is balanced.
What would your perfect day look like?
I would wake up by the sea. Swim in the water no matter how cold. Drink coffee on the beach with my family. Read books (if my kids allowed such a thing) and do a coastal walk later that day. Bliss.
What are you reading at the moment?
The Artist’s Way. I’m rereading it as I want to creatively expand this year.
What was your favourite book as a child?
The Faraway Tree. I have fond memories of the escapism this book provided.
Thank you very much for speaking with us. We wish you every success with the book.
Order your copy of Bigger Than Us HERE
Author photo credit: Stephanie Sian Smith