At the age of 22 I found myself at such a low point that I hitchhiked to India and became a Buddhist monk. I know. I was a good Catholic boy from the West of England and this wasn’t what my parents had in mind. As mystified as they were, to me it seemed the obvious thing to do. Later on, the first people I shared this with were more interested in why I left than why I joined, so I wrote my memoir, The Novice.
Anyway, here’s why I joined: One: I was uncommonly afraid that my life would turn out to be empty, pointless and devoid of meaning. Why? I don’t know. I just remember growing up that way. I didn’t mind being broke or alone; I just couldn’t face the possibility that my life would mean nothing. Becoming rich or accomplished looked like nothing more than a distraction. Somewhere deep down I guess I was looking to beat death. Two: this desperate mindset so isolated me from my friends and family that I ended utterly alone. I claimed I didn’t care, but I did. What my Tibetan preceptors offered me wasn’t just answers. They validated my questions. This was where I belonged.
That’s how it felt at the time anyway. Eight years later I realized I belonged there even less than where I came from, and left. Now I was doubly alone, a perpetual beginner going nowhere. That’s when necessity taught me to apply what I’d learned. My mindfulness practice took root in a whole new way. It turned out that lots of what I’d been taught was just ideas, of no particular significance. And yet embedded in all that sophistry lay the seeds of simple wisdom. I learned to tell the difference. Thirty years later that distillation continues as I teach mindfulness workshops, coach one-on-one Personal Guided Meditation and write whenever I can find a spare minute.
[Links in the text below lead to ten-minute mindful reflections on the topic underlined. For the full series of recordings see Your Daily Meds]Mindfulness is a natural skill that you can develop to improve your wellbeing, be more present, calm the mind and create more choices in how you respond to life. It fosters empathy and reduces negative thinking. I’ve been doing it for forty years, and it’s unlike anything else I’ve ever learned. Like I say, it’s a natural skill, just like humming. Practice regularly and your hum becomes a full-throated song.
The purpose of mindfulness is to get past your expectations and see how shoulds and shouldn’ts set you up and keep you stuck. The special attention that makes this possible is a natural state of mind that you can cultivate and strengthen.
Mindfulness helps you understand and let go of reactivity. It’s not easy to see yourself clearly because, like everyone, your perception is colored by your own experience. However, you can learn to see through your blind spots and become more objective about your own life.
You do this by becoming less reactive and more conscious. It takes a light touch. The first-hand experience you gain from ongoing practice gives you a more reliable foundation than any theory or moral code. By tapping in to the natural advantages of paying attention you create more choices for yourself and more confidence to choose. This is what it means to find your own way.
Mindfulness is not a belief system or a technique. It’s a personal thing that you can only discover for yourself, but you still need a support system. That’s what I’m here for.
I teach public workshops in the Montreal area. I also give private talks on request and offer corporate mindfulness training.
My specialty is Personal Guide Meditation. In addition to weekly or bi-weekly meetings to explore your specific needs, you’ll follow a daily regimen of tailored, recorded meditations that address your life situation as it is now. These recordings are personally crafted for you and draw on my extensive experience to help you integrate mindfulness into all that you do.