I came to meditation and mindfulness through the door of Buddhism, which saved my life. I'd been a shy kid who morphed into a surly teenager who became a spectacular disaster by age 20.
As a sophomore, I dropped out of college because I had no idea what I wanted to be. No job or vocation was even slightly interesting. Nothing called to me and I couldn't imagine settling for something tolerable just to make a living. I sort of wanted to be a best-selling horror novelist but Stephen King had that nailed down and there didn't seem to be any openings.
By 22, I was adrift. I waited tables, partied like a rock star, and barreled toward self-destruction. With no money, no dreams, and no passion, I felt zero connection to the world or the people around me. I wallowed in drugs and alcohol and sneered at anyone who tried to help. Really, the only thing I'd perfected was that sneer.
It seemed hopeless, like I'd been abandoned and pushed to the fringes of society by an unshakable apathy. I alternated between overwhelming depression and seething rage, which pushed me right to the verge of giving up.
I would have given up, had I not discovered Buddhism. Its view and practices clicked in a deeply essential way that nothing else ever had. They lined up with something in me that had always been there. It was like coming home. My pain immediately lessened just by that homecoming, and I saw a flicker of light in my self-generated gloom.
Over the years, I studied Buddhism and practiced mindfulness, watching my discomfort shrink further and my contentment grow. I tinkered with my approach, always examining and refining, until I eventually came to a non-religious, universal path 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 of true self-transformation and happiness independent of circumstances.
Seeing how much mindfulness has benefitted me, 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 mindfulness 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.
I'm currently enrolled in two other extensive training courses that are greatly expanding my capabilities and expertise. One is through the amazing Engaged Mindfulness Institute and the other comes from the incomparable David Treleaven and his Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness program. I'll graduate from both of these sometime in July, which will give me over 1000 hours of education and instruction under my belt.
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. At the same time, I'm always deepening my own practice and continuing on my personal path to peace and awakening.