Rose Elliot MBE is Britain’s foremost vegetarian cookery writer and her books have won her popular acclaim all over the world. Rose has written over 60 vegetarian and vegan books, with sales of around three and a half million worldwide. Rose contributes to a variety of magazines and newspapers; she successfully pioneered the popular vegetarian column in the guardian weekend magazine. In addition to her cookery work, Rose is an accomplished astrologer and a fellow of the International Association for Professional Astrologers.
Watkins: Which books and authors inspired you to get started writing?
Rose: I was inspired by the Buddhist monk who gave a series of talks about mindfulness meditation in my home. He was teaching mindfulness in the context of the teaching of the Buddha – which is reasonable, since the Buddha invented it! – and he said two things that really intrigued me and stopped me in my tracks.
The first was that everything we need in order to be happy and peaceful in our lives can be found in the basic principles of the Buddha’s teaching, and that these are so simple ‘you can write them on a postcard’. I thought, ‘wow! how amazing to have all the teaching I need for happiness on a postcard’. That is why, with the book, we are giving away a postcard with the principles written on it.
The second was when the monk was leading us in a meditation. At the beginning he told us to notice any feelings of stress. ‘of wanting, or not wanting, of trying to make things different from the way they are … notice it and allow everything to be the way it is …’, then he added: ‘What happens when you do that, when you let go of your desires, and the emotions attached to them, when you let it all be exactly as it is? Well, you try it and see…’ I was so intrigued by this! I thought that by doing the mindfulness meditation he was teaching us, everything in my life would get better, as if by magic… so I thought I would really try it.
And it proved to be right – though perhaps not in the way I thought at the time. I was thinking of improving my home, doing exciting things in my career, having more money… But the main thing that happened was that I felt calmer, more peaceful, happier inside; and doors began to open for me, including the idea for writing I MET A MONK that changed me, and my life, profoundly.
W: What are your goals and intentions as a writer?
R: Whether I am writing about cookery, astrology, or mindfulness meditation, my motivation is always the desire to share with my readers things that are inspiring and helpful (or in the case of my cookery books, good to eat…) That is my raison d’etre… I absolutely love it.
W: What empowers you in your daily work and life?
R: My meditation, and the inner core of peace, light, happiness and love that I learnt to tap into, if that doesn’t sound too presumptuous. This began when I was a little girl – my grandmother started a spiritual organisation with a retreat centre where I lived, so I grew up with a spiritual approach to life, angels, my ‘inner light’, and so on, as I explained in the book. But the discovery of mindfulness meditation and its practice truly changed my life.
Of course I still get upset, worried, stressed, but the right moment I notice these things happening, I can tap right into the inner peace. Buddha’s mindfulness meditation is so wonderful, because you can do it any time and in any place, instantly and secretly. It is, as the monk says in the book, ‘like a secret power’.
This has made all the difference in the world to me. I have truly found happiness, freedom and peace. I have certainly put the monk’s teachings to the test because of recent challenges due to my beloved husband’s sudden rapid-onset dementia and all the stress, change, sadness, and worry that this has brought. Mindfulness meditation, and all that I learnt from the monk, has helped me more than I can ever say.
W: What is your next project?
R: I am not sure at the moment; I’d love to develop further some of the themes in I MET A MONK…ideas are beginning to form in my mind but it’s still at the very early stage… watch this space!
W: Is there anything you would say to your readers?
R: I hope that anyone who reads the book will enjoy it and feel part of the group who listened to the monk’s teaching. I hope they will find it as helpful in their life as I did.
I Met a Monk
Available from Watkins Publishing