I came to meditation and mindfulness through the door of Buddhism, which saved my life. Nothing had lined up for me in college, despite my high hopes. I enrolled with the vague idea of becoming a writer, thinking that everything would just work itself out.
Instead, being an English major with an ambiguous plan to sort of become a bestselling novelist didn't pan out at all. I quickly realized I wasn't interested in a writing career as a journalist or copy writer or editor. I'd just always been good at writing and figured someone would eventually give me money for it.
No real vocation seemed even slightly interesting so, with nothing to aim for, I dropped out.
At age 22, I was stuck in a dead-end job waiting tables, with no money and no dreams. I was adrift, and had no real connection to the world or the people around me. While they were graduating and finding jobs in their field and getting married and moving forward, I was just existing, and I wasn't even particularly interested in that.
It felt utterly hopeless, like I'd been abandoned by society, pushed to the fringe, overlooked and traumatized. I was crushingly depressed, seething with rage, and on the verge of giving up.
When I discovered the philosophy and practice of Buddhism, everything changed. It gave me a framework and a point of view that made sense in a way nothing else ever had. It just clicked, in a deep and atavistic way that instantly relieved some of my misery.
I slowly re-engaged with life and began examining my habits and patterns with a critical, yet compassionate, eye. I began to decipher the many ways in which I deluded myself and contributed to my own anguish. The way I looked at reality wasn't very accurate and it was mostly that inaccuracy that drove my suffering. Buddhism provided plenty of practical tools to address this issue.
I was a pretty bad Buddhist. For years, I studied diligently but meditated sporadically. I gained a lot of technical knowledge but, without committed self-contemplation, it was merely dry, intellectual information. I'd always been nerdy; I was the kid who'd rather learn to swim by reading a book instead of getting in the pool.
Eventually, I got in the pool and realized a lot had to change. My suffering had lessened, no doubt about that, but I still had a long way to go. My meditation habit became assiduous, and I went from the shallow end of the pool to the deep end.
Over the years, I refined my approach, eventually making my way to a secular, universal path of mindfulness that suits me best. At the core of my practice and coaching is an incredibly versatile system called Unified Mindfulness. It emphasizes the commonality of human experience and focuses on pragmatic methods that evolve in concert with modern science. Without dogma or ritual, it provides a means to true self-transformation and a happiness independent of circumstances.
Seeing how much I've benefitted from all this, I felt compelled to help others. I'd long since given up the idea of ever finding a career that spoke to me, something that moved me and inspired me and fulfilled me. And yet here it was. A drive to reach out to people and offer them the skills that drastically minimized my suffering and maximized my happiness. It became the only thing I'd ever wanted to do.
More than twenty years of meditation experience gave me an excellent foundation. On top of that, I worked one-on-one for years with a meditation mentor who helped guide my own practice and prepare me to coach my own clients. I also completed an intensive teacher training program through Unified Mindfulness, which really shaped my skills and honed the abilities I needed to be a successful coach.
That program was arduous. Between the classroom, study, personal practice, and student teaching, it took massive time and effort to graduate. But without it, there's no way I would have been properly prepared to do what I do. And, of course, it was a labor of love, just as much joy as difficulty.
Today, I aim to make mindfulness as available as possible to anyone who needs it. Many people aren't yet aware of its benefits, or feel cut off from it due to finances, oppression, neglect, past trauma, or social standing. I don't feel like any of that should stand in the way, and I want to erase those imaginary boundaries. My primary goals are to advocate, educate, and facilitate.