There are so many interesting people involved at Radio Blue Mountains both behind the mic and behind the scenes, that we thought we’d share their stories here on the RBM website.
Caroline Clement presents The Sahaja Yoga Meditation program every Sunday from 10am to 12:00pm. Her life story (so far) is fascinating reading and we cannot thank Caroline enough for sharing this with us. Read on; c’est génial.
Q: Hi Caroline, thanks very much for taking the time out to speak with us.
A: Thank you RBM, it’s a pleasure.
Q: Let’s get straight into it Caroline and start with the obvious question, which I’m sure you have answered many, many times – you’re German right?
A: ha-ha very funny! If you had listened to my programs, you would know that my accent is undeniably NOT German. Somehow the French accent can not be mistaken for any others! But I know you are just kidding me!
Q: Yes, I am, I knew that. So where in France did you grow up?
A: I grew up a little bit everywhere as my Dad (that I love dearly) was a business man for Shell and was posted every few years to a different city.
We even lived in Africa in Libreville Gabon. I was born in the North of France in Picardie (North of Normandie) where my extensive family lives (I have 18 aunties and uncles and over 40 first cousins). Before coming to Australia (23 years ago) I was living in Paris.
Q: And what was life like as a child?
A: Wow, big question! Life was good. We were visiting my grandparents every weekend in Picardie where most people are farmers. This includes my family. I used to get the milk directly from the cows, eat my grand parents vegetables and fruits, make jams and preserves, and run barefoot with the ducks and the chicken. Everybody in my family is still there, I’m the exotic cousin from far, far away land. As I mentioned when I was a teenager my family (parents and brother) relocated to Africa which made me realise that 1- I LOVED Africa, it’s colours, smells, music, happy people and 2- the world was mine to discover and explore and I was not going to let any frontier stop me.
Q: European’s have this education system which sees them learn two or three languages from a young age. I’m thinking more about the Scandinavian countries and Germany, Luxembourg etc. Did you study many languages at school in France?
A: Yes, I studies English as a first language and Italian as a second language. When we moved to Africa my school did not offer Italian as a second language therefore, I picked up on Spanish and had to catch up with the other kids for our Bachaloreat Exam at the end of high School. My teacher in Africa was Spanish. A fantastic lady that was giving me private lessons. I ended-up scoring top marks at my exam thanks to her.
Q: What’s the thing about France that you miss most?
A: A few things. I miss my family and friends and French lifestyle. Humour! It’s hard to be funny in a foreign language. A little bit less today but I felt for a long time that I was losing a bit my sense of humour when I was speaking in English. Humour is a very cultural thing. This being said, I love the Aussie sense of humour!
I also miss outdoors markets. In France you can do your shopping outdoors with fresh produces most days of the week. It’s fun and relaxed. A festival for the senses!
Q: Do you automatically call France “home” when you refer to it in conversation?
A: France is the country where I was born and raised so yes it is home. But Australia is the country that opened its doors to me and welcomed me in every possible way, so it is home too! I now belong to 2 nations and my heart will be split forever. The only time when I have to be French is during the Soccer world cup … Then I’m absolutely solely French 😉
I can understand that, especially as France has won it twice since 1998.
Q: So here we are in the Blue Mountains in NSW. When and how did you come to Australia, where have you lived and how did you end up in the Blue Mountains?
A: OMG! The moment I put a foot in the Blue Mountains I knew I had to live here! I always loved mountains to start with. Many of my winter and summer holidays were in the mountains when I was living in France. Skiing, canoeing, rock climbing in the Alpes, canyoning in the Gorges du Verdon (search it up if you don’t know it, it’s amazing), trekking in the Pyrenes, picking wild blueberries in the Voges… any mountains is a delight. I even climbed La Barre des Ecrin at 4,102m altitude as a teenager; You climb it over 2 days with a night in a mountain “refuge” amongst smelly feet and snoring sounds 😉
The blue mountains are amazing. What a beauty. The combination of the magnificence of nature, the amazing presence of the elements, the beauty of a community that kindly cares about people, children, the respect for the earth, culture, art and sport. What is there not to love in the Blue Mountains! That’s probably why we have so much tourism happening 😉 I live in Leura and love the neighborhood, I visit the lake at Wentworth Falls as many times as I can with my canoe, visit Lawson and Blackheath markets … always a good opportunity to bump into fellow Blue Mountaineers and have a chat. Everyone is so friendly here.
Q: So you are an active, outdoors, bushwalking and hiking member of the Blue Mountains community?
A: Yes, definitely. Although in my family (My husband Rodolphe, Daughter Aurea (15) and son Mohan (18)) I’m the keenest bush walker, they always end-up joining me. We especially love walks with water holes and waterfalls as we love a dip in the water (even in winter would you believe!). We are all big sport fans and well known at the Katoomba Sport Centre: Volleyball, Badminton, pickleball, swimming and anything else fun. At the lake we also play Spike ball. Try it, it’s an amazing fun sport.
Q: Was it in Australia that you first discovered meditation?
A: Yes. I was always interested in meditation so when my boyfriend (now my husband) and I moved to Australia I thought I should use the opportunity to be in this new country to do things I always wanted to do, and never had a chance to do. So, I made a list and on top was Meditation. I discovered Sahaja Meditation “by chance” and started a course in Newtown as I was living in Chippendale close to the city at the time. The course was free which I thought was an amazing sign of being genuine. I loved it straight away. I knew it was for me from the first program. I could sense this absolute sincerity, the natural kindness of the people and also their humble strength. I remember thinking at the time “I want to be like them”. I also left completely attracted by Shri Mataji’s personality, the founder of Sahaja Yoga. I’ve been meditating every day since. It’s been 23 years and I find so many benefits in my life. A sense of purpose, the tool to help me introspect and correct myself and become a better version of myself. My whole family meditates. It’s not a fashion or a lifestyle for us. It’s a priority as I know I would not be fully myself without it. That’s why I want to share it and running weekly programs on Sundays on RBM.
Q: Was meditation something your lifestyle naturally led you to, or was there a specific life event that made you seek out meditation?
A: What an amazing question. I was born a seeker. What I mean by that is I always knew that life had a greater purpose, and that human being were spiritual beings. That we needed to become the spirit. But I did not know how.
In France most people are Catholic so I thought I will find spirituality in Catholicism to my mum’s great wonder! Once she told me “Where are you coming from” meaning “you are not like the rest of us”. I kept searching though the years until I find Sahaja Yoga Meditation. I still have lots of questioning (as this is my nature) but most of my questions have now been answered. And all these answers are integrated as the world and the truth is one.
Q: Is meditation a daily activity for you, and if so, can you tell us a little bit about your daily routine? Reason we ask is that it seems that having the time, to take time, to just sit and relax for a moment of peace and spirituality is often well beyond many peoples daily schedule.
A: Yes, Meditation is absolutely a daily routine. Just like I brush my teeth twice a day I meditate twice a day. And everything in life is a matter of priority. If you know how important it is for you, you don’t miss it.
So, first thing in the morning (before the day gets busy) I sit down and close my eyes for about 20 min, sometimes longer. It’s not about how long you meditate but more the quality of your meditation that matters. To be in meditation you have to be thoughtless. Meditation is completely effortless. You need to switch-off your mind but at the same time you still need to be alert and be aware when a thought is coming, not to react to it but to make it go and remain in a state called “thoughtless awareness”. It’s very simple and spontaneous. It’s for everyone regardless of our believes, gender, age or education.
Q: How exactly does one learn about themselves through meditation?
A: Another great question. All religions and spiritual movement are speaking about “know thyself”. What does is mean exactly? It means to understand that our true self is not that body or that mind, these emotions nor the fruit of our past, but it is the spirit, this eternal infinite part of us that is the reflection of the energy that surrounds everything and that connect us all. I know it sound complex and abstract, but the best is just not to think to much about it and to experience it. Inside everyone of us there is an energy called the Kundalini which is benevolent and nourishing. This energy can be awakened through our own desire through a guided meditation going through simple affirmations. When this energy awakens, she rises up the spike and crosses energy centers (the chakras) and cleanses them. When the Kundalini goes through the Agnya Chakra (The energy centre in the forehead) she helps stopping the thoughts. See for yourself and feel the peace that goes with it. There is no peace if we keep thinking. Our thoughts agitate us because they remind us constantly of the past, which is gone and does not exist anymore, or they push us in the future that does not exist yet. The only way to enjoy, here and now and appreciate all subtleties of life is to be in the present with no thoughts.
Q: Can meditation assist people with medical issues like chronic pain, stress, anxiety, or even mental health conditions?
A: Absolutely. Mediation has a great effect on health and many of my friends that have been meditating for years came to Sahaja Yoga classes because of health issues. Inside ourselves there is a system that is more of an energy system. We call it the subtle system; it maps our physical body especially our nervous system. It is made of channels and centers. There are 3 channels and 7 main chakras. These are responsible for our wellbeing physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. Chakras have great a impact on our physical but also mental health. When the channel and chakras get blocked, they affect our organs and create issue in our body. Meditation creates a space where the Kundalini rises and become stronger and this helps remove the blockages, especially if we do it regularly. It does not happen over night but just like a healthy diet the results and positive benefit become obvious rapidly.
I always recommend committing to meditate for 2 weeks morning and evening and to watch for yourself the positive effect unfold. Someone told me that 23 years ago, and 2 weeks was enough for me to undeniably notice the difference. I was happier, lighter, more connected and engaged with others, less angry or negative inside my head and so many more positive changes. After a year I realized that my health had improved a lot too.
Q: Moving on from meditation and more back to you – What was your favourite Saturday afternoon activity as a teen in France? Were you out playing sport or were you smoking Gitanes, sipping coffee in cafes? With a baguette, naturally.
A: In my teens I was not smoking Gitanes but rollies. Coffee was not my thing at the time as my mum was very health conscious and somehow managed to keep me away from coffee.
My big favorite thing ever was to travel. So, when I was 19 I went to India backpacking for 2 months from Cashmere to Ladakh. From Varanasi and Rajasthan to Jaisalmer in the Thar Desert. That was my first big trip on my own without mum and dad. I completely fall in love with India: it’s spirituality, collectivity, unique culture. India is like a clear mirror. If you give it a chance it will reflect all of your corner and angularities…a great place to introspect and reflect. It is also so much fun with it’s rich diversity and bubbly buzz. Then I spent 3 months in Greece and went a year in the US to learn English. I knew I had to do that to be a global citizen and in France my English would have no chance to become fluent.
Something else we’ve always done in my family is board games. My uncles were creating their own and I’ve always been playing many types of games. We are all very competitive in the family in a sweet but ruthless way 😉
That is such an hilarious family trait!
Q: Moving on to music.
Can you remember the first record you bought?
A: Ziggy Stardust from David Bowie.
I loved Bowie’s 70s music and must have watched “Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence” at least 10 times.
Q: What French artist should we be listening to but are not aware of?
A: Do you know Soprano? He is a French rapper with great text and melodies.
One of his songs called “roule” gives me goose bumps every time I listen to it. I wish you could understand the depth of his pain. So beautiful, row, … open heart surgery really.
I would also recommend MB14 a world champion in Beatbox. Mind blowing! A great fusion of voice, beat with a flair of middle easter magic.
Q: What subjects did you like in your studies? When did you leave High School and what happened next? University, travel, a job?
A: In my last 2 years of high school (in Africa) one of my electives was philosophy. I loved philosophy – the science of ideas – unfolding big questions like “what is the value of art” or “what is beauty” and digging deep in the many facets of meaning behind the worlds.
When I graduated, I then went to Rouen in Normandie (The city where Joan of Arc was burnt) by myself as my parents were still living in Libreville. I did a preparation to Business Management school. The exams are so competitive that you need a year to prepare to get a chance to be admitted in these schools. I was then admitted in a school in Paris and chose international studies with Marketing and Communications major. These studies lasted for 4 years. After my graduation I decided to travel and learn English starting with Greece and America.
Q: Where did you first work?
A: My first job was in Paris for an American company. Working for a multinational full of young dynamic people from all over the world was heaps of fun, and to this day, I have very fond memories of that time. That’s also the company that sent me to Australia supposedly on a 1 year expatriation contract, and as you can see, I’m still here.
Q: Coming back to the Blue Mountains now, when do you think you first became aware of RBM? And how did it come about that you became a presenter at the station?
A: 22 years ago, one of my French meditation friends, Jean-Michel, a presenter at 2SER, called me “I’m presenting a radio program on Sunday, you want to come?” I said “Yeah” happily thinking it was great to be in a studio and watch how it’s all done. When I got to the studio Jean Michel told me how to behave with the mic and what type of questions I’ll get. I blushed and said, “oh no, I’m not speaking”. But in the heat of the moment, I did accept to speak and that’s how I became a presenter. I loved the joy of the moment, the connection with the Ether element, the opportunity to share with the audience … After a few years at 2SER, I joined WOW FM for 4 years. I then recently I joined RBM as I wanted a chance to speak to my community. The Sahaja Yoga Meditation program is every Sunday from 10:10am to 12:00pm.
Q: In all seriousness – how do you manage to avoid “dead air” on a meditation radio show? Surely there must be time when you ask listeners to close their eyes, relax and breathe in, breathe out . . . in these moments how do you avid there being total silence on air?
A: Haha! Yes silence is the goal, very funny to use radio as a media, isn’t it! When I guide a mediation on air I put peaceful background music to avoid “dead air”.
Q: On your show page on this website, it says you have live and recorded music performed by local artists on your show. Who have you had on?
A: I’m very lucky that a lot of my friends in the mountains are very good musicians. Some are professional musicians. One of our CD was recorded in Katoomba and in the Megalong Valley. Just last week I invited 3 Sahaja yogis, professional musicians, Rithom Sarkar (Slide Guitar), Asmira Woodward-Page (Violon) and Lene Jeffrey (Voice, Guitar, and Harmonium) who share their personal experience about the positive effect of music on the chakras and also performed live in the studio. The program also featured a short workshop on the meaning and power of the AUM sound.
Now, like all of our interviews Caroline, it’s time for some rapid fire questions. Ready?
Q: Johnny Halliday or Johnny O’Keefe?
A: Both great.
Q: Vanessa Paradis or Kylie Minogue?
A: Definitely Vanessa as a singer and as an actrice!
Q: MC Solar or the MCG?
A: MC Solar. He has a song “Caroline” 😉
Q: Crispy Boulangerie Baguette or Hominy Sourdough?
A: Ah the baguette of my childhood! Unfortunately today, none I I became Gluten intolerant in Australia.
Q: PSG or WSW?
A: Too easy, you all know the answer if you read the interview.
Q: Favourite night out 30 years ago?
A: Attending Starmania musical in Paris
Q: Favourite night out today?
A: Play music with my friends with a good meal anywhere.
Q: Favourite Film?
A: Too many great films to choose from:
The Mission. Birdy. Kingdom of Heaven.
Thelma & Louise.
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.
And recently I loved The Women King.
Q: Favourite food?
A: Everything Japanese.
Q: Favourite Drink?
A: Water (especially from the springs in the Blue Mountains)
Q: Favourite holiday destination?
A: The world.
Thanks very much for giving us your time.
Thank you for listening 😊