Once upon a time I was a Buddhist monk.
It’s true! Through my twenties I lived a totally 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.
Seriously? Yes. 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 shit 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.
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 don't. Motivation is hard when you're on your own.
So what would make continuity easy? What one thing 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. Either way, you have regular access to a live, experienced teacher. If you already know mindfulness you'll learn more. If you don’t, no worry. It’s easy.
WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT HOW I TEACH?
• It’s LIVE—not a set of recordings
• You can actually talk to me
• It's structured around themes
• I'm there 3x a week for your convenience
• It costs less than a coffee a day
• I spent 8 years as a Buddhist monk
• I've been writing & teaching for 40 years
• My approach to Buddhism is historical, scientific & objective
• I don't have all the answers, but do have some great questions
MindfulnessLive is nourishing. Ongoing practice leaves you less reactive and more deliberate. 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 strive for objective, clear thinking. We look at the whole person, not just the bits.
Unlike calming meditation, the point of mindfulness is not to feel good and relaxed but to feel whatever you're feeling, pleasant or unpleasant. It's work, and it requires a certain courage. It pays off in confidence, peace and independence of thought.
MindfulnessLive is different. It’s live—not a set of recordings—and structured around themes that help you locate mindfulness in everyday life. After all, sitting quietly is just the beginning. We give you new angles on old issues, challenge your thinking and sometimes remind you of things so obvious you forget they're there.
We bring mindfulness to life. You'll be amazed at how many ways there are to explore the breath, and how it reflects your every mood. You're going to learn from your own body. mind and experience. We're here to nurture your motivation as much as your mindfulness.
We have Q&A afterwards, entirely optional, and of course email support. For more info or to sign up, VISIT THIS PAGE RIGHT HERE, or take the FREE TRIAL to check us out.
What can I say about mindfulness? It started trending at the turn of the millennium and now it’s big business. That’s not a bad thing, but I can’t help feeling that it’s not fully appreciated. Stress reduction is just the tip of the iceberg.
First of all, mindfulness isn’t a ‘method.’ You don’t have to learn it—it’s a mental factor that you’ve already got. What hones it into a powerful tool is training, and how you train is a matter of character. You might say you are what you’re mindful of.
I’ve been teaching mindfulness for a long time, and find that most people love it. The trouble is, very few succeed in building it into their lives. They always blame themselves—but it’s not their fault.
The missing ingredient is not willpower; it’s support. You need a teacher who inspires, a method that works and ongoing conversations with people like you.
That’s what we’re building here—not just a selection of recordings but a live half-hour of pure mindfulness, with continuity from class to class. Together, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, we meet to establish mindfulness in our lives. If you miss one you can listen later. Your commitment to this simple schedule becomes the backbone of your practice. Soon mindful attention appears even in those perilous real-world situations when you really need to be non-judgy and non-reactive. Practice regularly and you’ll be ready.
I’ve always loved books. As a boy I used to write for fun. My first story was about my parents’ life in the circus during the Second World War. Dad was a lion-tamer and Mum was an acrobatic dancer. I had great material!
I went to school and kept writing, but it was all a bit tame. To gain experience 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.
As a monk I was trained in mindfulness. It’s at the heart of Buddhist training and is an incredibly useful tool. Twice a week, I teach cancer patients, helping them manage their anxiety and live to the full. Also, mindfulness helps put me in my clients’ shoes, and bring their story to life. You can’t take this for granted. Good storytelling doesn’t simply tell you what happened—it makes you feel like you were there.
I teach at the West Island Cancer Wellness Centre in Montreal, and at Cedars CanSupport in Montreal’s McGill University Health Centre. These patients are finding out how mindfulness can bring peace. Many have even said they enjoy life now more than ever. That’s what happens when you decide to take care of yourself.
When I met my wife Caroline, the first thing I learned was that she had multiple sclerosis. She seemed to think that would stop me falling in love with her, but it didn’t. Some people say I’ve never been very practical, and I can see what they mean. However, meeting her changed my life and I love it—plus we have the best conversations ever—so maybe practical is relative.
We live in a little house in a small town in Quebec with our cats, Sam and Ziggy. My wife Caroline Courey is a life coach and an MS warrior who stays on her feet with diet and exercise. More about Caroline HERE.