I came to mindfulness and meditation through the door of Buddhism, which saved my life. I was a painfully shy kid who morphed into a surly, obnoxious 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 do. No job or vocation was even slightly interesting 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 foolish enough to offer help. The only thing I'd ever perfected was that sneer.
It seemed hopeless, like I'd been abandoned and shoved to the fringes of society by an unshakeable apathy. I alternated between crushing 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 views and practices clicked in a simple, essential way that nothing else ever had. Buddhism lined up with something in me that had always been there, completing a circuit. It was like coming home. My pain immediately lessened with that homecoming, and I saw a flicker of light in my self-generated gloom.
Over the years, I studied Buddhism and mindfulness and meditated a lot. My discomfort shrank even further and my contentment grow. I tinkered with my approach, constantly examining and refining, until I eventually came to a non-religious, universal path that suits me best. It's constantly evolving, but the core of my practice and teaching is a set of versatile methods that emphasize the wholeness of human experience. It focuses on pragmatic skills meant to empower and awaken, while staying informed by emerging scientific thought. Without dogma or ritual, it provides a means for deepest self-understanding, positive transformation, and a fully authentic life.
Mindfulness had benefitted me so much, I felt compelled to teach. I'd long since given up the idea of finding a career that inspired 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 practice provided an excellent foundation. In 2017, I completed an intensive teacher training program through Unified Mindfulness, which gave me the the abilities I needed to guide and support others.
In 2020, I earned another teaching certification, this one through the Engaged Mindfulness Institute. This course was even more intense and detailed, and it really expanded my capabilities and experience. After nearly a year of expert instruction and study, I emerged feeling that my practice and teaching had both deepened tremendously.
Most recently, I finished up an advanced training program in trauma-sensitive mindfulness with the incomparable David Treleaven. Altogether, I have more than 800 hours of formal teacher training, and I don't plan to stop there. I think continuing education is essential.
Today, my goal is to make mindfulness available to anyone who could benefit from it. At the same time, I'm working diligently on my own practice and progressing on my journey to awakening.