A piece of peace

Simone Camps:
Simone Camps: "I would like to help people get a taste of the peace and calm that already exists in themselves. That they could dip into, and bring into all aspects of their lives, if they would just give it a chance." - Mark Lyndersay


My name is Simone Camps and I would like to bring peace to people.

I was born in Cascade but moved very young, about three years old, so I consider myself as coming from Petit Valley.

I’ve lived in Fort George, St James, longer than Valley, but consider both places home.

I come from a family of five children, a pretty big family. In our time it was an average one.

I was married for 20 years and have three adult children, my biggest achievement in life. My ex and I are lucky we have tremendous love and respect for each other.

I have a partner now, but we live apart. We spend weekends and holidays together.

After many years of living alone I have gotten to really value my own space.

I went to Holy Name Prep. And then Holy Name Convent.

Our neighbourhood had many empty lots growing up, so we had great places to play. We used to spend hours in the Diego Martin River, although now it just looks like a big drain. We would cross the highway, climb down into the river and catch guabine. I have a memory of seeing an eel once.

We would collect hog plums from a big tree up the road to serve at half-time at the many home-made concerts we put on. I can’t remember who would be in the audience. Neighbours?

We pulled in neighbourhood kids to have our own Carnival competition, the costumes made from pieces of costumes we collected from masqueraders when Mum would take us in town on Carnival Monday and Tuesday.

I remember roaming up the main road to what is now Don’s Roti Shop to buy guava sweets normal-normal.

Something I wouldn’t have let my children ever do. There were a lot less cars on the road back then and they didn’t drive so fast.

Gosh, I really had a wonderful childhood!

I was raised Catholic, but was never really. The dogma of judging people – gay, adulterer, etc – didn’t seem right.

I started bringing up my children as Catholic. But the day of my first son’s confirmation, they had one reading for the males – “I am proud of you” and another for the females – “Try not to embarrass your parents.” And I decided not to go back.

Now I only go for funerals and weddings.

I always thought this life was it and, when we die, it’s the long cold sleep.

However, I have begun to see we are all energy and therefore will continue.

Simone Camps - Mark Lyndersay

But since I have no sense of that “energy” me, I have to be as kind, compassionate and giving as I can be in this life.

I can’t change poverty, starvation, war, abuse in the whole world, so no sense in beating up on that. I concentrate on how I treat people.

I am not afraid of dying. I have lived a wonderful life.

Of course, I may change my tune if faced with a death sentence.

I have a terrible memory. Actually it’s more that I simply don’t pay attention.

I love music but prefer silence.

I studied ballet and my first-ever job at age 19 was with a travelling contemporary company. We danced in France, Switzerland, Italy, Korea and Japan. It was a wonderful experience.

When I moved back to Trinidad I danced with Noble Douglas.

But then my body got lazy and didn’t feel like putting in the hard work. Now I dance Latin dance.

I had plans to go to Spain to learn flamenco once, but instead went to Colombia and learned Spanish.

I haven’t met a vegetable that I didn’t like yet!

I have the gift of sleep and rarely stay awake at night with worry. I am usually asleep within one minute of my head hitting the pillow.

I would like to help people get a taste of the peace and calm that already exists in themselves that they could dip into, and bring into all aspects of their lives, if they would just give it a chance.

A more peaceful, calm person generally becomes a more compassionate person.

We could change the world bit by bit, person by person. It’s a really big ask, but it doesn’t hurt to start the ball rolling in my own small way.

I never considered myself a spiritual person. Way too practical for that!

But I made a 2020 New Year’s resolution, something I never did before, to be a more loving person.

I didn’t think what that meant really – but it brought about a whole seeking thing. I began meditating, something I had never even considered before. I was never a very introspective nor a very emotional person. And emotions started coming up.

I spent an uncomfortable three months while those were processed through meditation. Meditation brought them up – but then also, paradoxically, calmed them down.

Usually a spiritual seeker journeys to gurus in Nepal or India; I journeyed to the internet. I found an eight-week course called mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) that taught (one) to respond rather than react.

After the course, I wanted to convert everyone to a life of meditating. I wanted MBSR taught in primary schools. I felt a really strong desire to give back in life. Because of the meditating? Because of covid lockdown? I really don’t know.

Over the next year, I was certified and started giving the MBSR course.

My impulse to bring peace to people has nothing to do with religion. The best way to describe it is as simple altruism.

Recently I discovered the Access Bars technique, which more or less empties your mind of thoughts for the hour it is being done. For the whole hour, I went into a deep meditative relaxed state.

The day after, I was singing and dancing around the house. I couldn’t believe it! I did another session and had the same experience, not the same euphoria, but the same calmness. And I thought, “I would love to be able to share this with people.” So that’s what I am trying to do now.

The Access Bars technique more or less empties our minds of thoughts and allows our energies to flow more freely. (So) we can get rid of stored blockages, be they physical, mental or emotional.

It is, for the very least, an hour of respite from the constant and mostly negative or stressful loops of thought that go through our minds.

In meditation – and I count prayer as a form of meditation – we watch the thoughts come and go. We notice the emotions they bring and we let them go by. And we place our awareness on a single thing, our breath, or the body contact with the ground, or sounds or a mantra.

But in all there is the space between the thoughts that brings a sense of peace. I remember a hymn we used to sing in school, The Peace that Passeth Understanding. It was only when I felt that peace that I understood the hymn.

I suppose religion would offer the same kind of thing for believers. But for me religions seem to be tied to too many rules. What you should or shouldn’t do or be.

All of which are manmade. And I do mean MAN-made.

It took four days of constant meditation to finally get to a quiet mind with long periods of that calm peaceful feeling. It’s hard to explain ’cause it really isn’t a feeling – it’s just being. And it is an amazing thing.

Meditation is a way of getting to know ourselves. If we learned to love ourselves and treat ourselves with more compassion, we might find life a bit easier.

Trinidadians are becoming more and more willing to consider approaches we might call “alternative.”

Only we have the answers for ourselves. We just don’t sometimes ask the right questions.

When I’m away from good ole TT, I don’t miss anything. I am enjoying being in another country.

And I know I’m coming back.

To me, a Trini enjoys laughing and partying. And is easy to talk to and tolerant of differences.

To me, Trinidad and Tobago is home.

Read the full version of this feature on Friday evening at www.BCPires.com



"A piece of peace"

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