Once upon a time I was a Buddhist monk.
It’s true! Through my twenties I lived a strangely alternative life. My dad would have preferred I take the vow of Saint-Francis but damn, it was the sixties. I went to India instead and took vows that made no sense to him. Eight years later I was ready to begin my career as a senior and respected teacher. My new life was all figured out and what do you think? I threw it all up, moved to Canada and started writing.
Why did I do all that to myself? Hard to say. I was dazed and confused. To find out, I wrote my memoir The Novice. The mindfulness I learned from my Tibetan teachers helped me dig through all the pain. Writing helped me let it go.
Every life’s a tragedy, but my Mum taught me to laugh at the stuff life throws at you. One day she called to tell me she’d been diagnosed with something, “but I forget what it’s called…,” she paused, “…oh yes, Alzheimer’s!” She shrieked with laughter. Not funny really, but gutsy.
A Team You Can Trust
Mindfulness Live is lovingly created by husband & wife team Stephen, a mindfulness trainer and former Buddhist monk, and Caroline, a certified relationship life coach.
We've worked closely together for over twenty years. Stephen teaches groups, and Caroline coaches individuals. Both our practices are rooted in classical mindfulness and all our workshops, recordings and weekly teachings are a joint production.
We're proud to offer this unique opportunity to explore and deepen your mindfulness practice in a group setting and if you so desire, address personal challenges one-on-one with Caroline, as our clients have been doing for years.
Caroline and I put our heads together and asked, "What, more than anything else, gets in the way of your mindfulness practice? After all, tons of people try it, love it, think it's a great idea and want to do it regularly—but they just don't. Keeping up motivation is hard when you're on your own.
So what would make continuity easy? What special ingredient enables you to develop a committed, self-motivating mindfulness practice?
The answer: Support. We created Mindfulness Live to provide a welcoming, enjoyable experience that grows on you naturally. I commit to showing up three times a week; you show up when you can, or listen afterwards if you can't.
After class you have the opportunity to chat with Stephen or Caroline, and if you wish, to book a free one-hour consult with Caroline. Either way, you have regular access to a live, experienced teacher and a skilled and caring life-coach.
MindfulnessLive is nourishing. Ongoing practice leaves you less reactive, more reflective. Each session includes a story or discourse connecting that week's themes to the everyday struggles of life. We discuss conflict and loss, fear and anxiety as well as curiosity and equanimity, energy and joy. We’re working towards objective, clear thinking, knowing that it’s not a given. We look at the whole person, not just the bits.
Your Dad was a What?
Dad was a lion-tamer and Mum was an acrobatic dancer. They inspired me to live the life I wanted, so I was faced with the momentous decision to become a Buddhist monk, I didn't hesitate. I hitch-hiked to India and became a Buddhist monk, staying with the Tibetans for eight years, learning their language and philosophy, and publishing my memoir in 2009.
Mindfulness lies at the heart of Buddhism, and to me is not so much a spiritual practice as an incredibly useful tool. THree times a week I teach Mindfulness Live, and twice a week I help cancer patients manage their anxiety and live to the full.
I teach at the West Island Cancer Wellness Centre in Montreal, and at Cedars CanSupport in Montreal’s McGill University Health Centre. Some of these patients are learning to care for themselves (truly) for the very first time.
When I met my wife Caroline I found out she had multiple sclerosis. She seemed to think that would stop me falling in love with her, but what did she know? Some people say I’ve never been very practical—and I admit it—but meeting her changed my life. Imagine missing that?
I love her passionately and romantically and maritally—but what beats all is our conversation. Every single day there are new insights and new directions. In my experience, the advantages of being practical are relative. I believe that if all of us took a little time each day to do nothing at all, the world would be a better place.
Caroline and I live in a little house in a small town in Quebec with our cats, Sam and Ziggy. She's not just a real life coach, but also an MS Warrior who depends on diet and exercise, not drugs, to stay on her feet. More about Caroline HERE.