Narissa hails from Melbourne, Australia, and currently splits her time between there and Thailand, the country she considers her spiritual home. She was born in Sydney, Australia, into a family built on diversity and tolerance; her ancestral roots stretch back to Thailand, China, Lebanon, Scotland and England.
She was labeled an academically ‘gifted child’ at a relatively young age, but found it a burdensome title. At school she always felt she was jumping through academic hoops without a sense of purpose.
Narissa went on to obtain a Bachelor of Science from the University of Melbourne—halfheartedly, it must be said—and although she is still sometimes asked why she never put it to use, she feels she has used her education in the best possible way: as a foundation for her personal search for meaning and fulfilment.
Narissa is now happily the student of a reclusive Thai Buddhist yogi she calls Luang Pu (a term of address meaning Venerable Grandfather). Luang Pu was living in a cave in the forest at the time she met him, and before she even formally considered him her teacher, she found him a powerful source of inspiration and guidance for her spiritual practice.
It was with Luang Pu’s approval that she undertook the challenge of writing her memoir, with the aspiration to benefit others interested in meditation, mindfulness, and using their life in the world to cultivate the kind of insight that leads to lasting happiness. When the book was first published, Luang Pu wrote to her: ‘Sadhu, sadhu, sadhu’. It was one of the happiest moments of her life so far.
Click to view image gallery, including scenes from A Spacious Life
Narissa has worked as an English teacher as well as a commercial model and presenter, and done all sorts of odd jobs to support her creative pursuits too. She has appeared in a variety of Australian TV commercials and photographic ad campaigns, which now and again leads people to ask her how she can consider herself a ‘spiritual person’ and yet have worked in such a seemingly superficial industry as advertising. But she is adamant that everyone can use their present circumstances to start cultivating inner stability, a heart of loving-kindness, and compassion for others.
On the topic of everyday worldly activities, it bears mentioning that Narissa is an avid appreciator of desserts and is known to take requests from friends (for her chocolate chip cookies, lavender shortbread, sticky date pudding…oh, and she makes a mean pavlova). The making and sharing of food has always been an expression of love and creativity in her family, and some of her fondest childhood memories are of baking in her Grandma’s country kitchen.
She also adores a good book, of course, and is fascinated by the transformative power of story telling. You can check out some of her favourite reads on GoodReads or Pinterest.
As a young child, Narissa was baptised Orthodox in accordance with the wishes of her late paternal grandfather, although she never particularly felt the Christian faith was for her. While she has come to consider herself a Buddhist, she respects sincere truth seekers and spiritual practitioners of all persuasions.
For over a decade she has been practising meditation and mindfulness, using the circumstances of her everyday to life to cultivate insight and contentment. Now in her memoir, A Spacious Life, she invites you to share her journey in intimate detail.