I first encountered meditation and mindfulness through Thich Nhat Hanh’s book The Miracle of Mindfulness. At the time, I was struggling with his second year of high school teaching and adjusting to living on an island in a foreign country. It was overwhelming and emotionally painful. I was willing to try almost anything to survive – even ‘hippy stuff.’ Making an effort to meditate led to a glimpse of a peace that escapism or alcohol couldn’t provide. These early attempts at meditation saved me from certain burnout and deep depression.
Having discovered an alternative to the whirlwind of self-criticism, anger, fear, stress, and shame inside, I began to put more effort into meditating.
Soon, it became a foundation for my everyday life. Over the next few years, I deepened my practice on meditation retreats at Samye Ling temple in Scotland and Plum Village in France. This intensive practice on growing inner calm and peace led to changes in my perspectives on happiness and what it means to live well. I also took refuge as a Buddhist, receiving the dharma name Humble Inspiration of the Heart.
These shifts spread into my language teaching career. To my surprise, I was able to remain calmer in the face of conflict. I was able to be more accepting towards the mistakes and imperfections in myself and others. I could take a minute to mindfully walk down the hall of my school and really relax into it, momentarily free from pressure and stress.
Without doubt or exaggeration, meditation saved my career and my sanity. I was able to get back in touch with my love for teaching and remain calmer when encountering conflict.
I then crossed paths with Zenways, a UK-based organization that practices the Rinzai Zen Buddhist tradition and Zen yoga. Their focus on health and wellbeing as well as deeper insights into life impressed me. I took the leap and trained as a mindfulness and meditation teacher under the guidance of Julian ‘Daizan’ Skinner, the first Englishman to become a Rinzai Zen master in Japan. I also became one of Daizan’s Zen students.
Lately, I have been on retreat in Ireland, England, and Thailand to practice mindfulness, peaceful co-existence, and facing death to develop fearlessness.
My aim is to help others to live healthier, more happily, and more peacefully. We can all rediscover our inner mountain – our inner calm and clarity. It just takes practice. I’m here to help you if I can.