How I Became More Mindful in the First Place

Five years ago or so, I came up with the idea that I would help a friend quit smoking and I wondered if a natural method of quitting would be more appealing to my friend than the standard fare. (Mind you, neither had my friend asked for my help with quitting, nor had my friend ever expressed any serious interest in giving up smoking in the first place. But still, I persisted.) The first thing I did was type “quit smoking naturally” into the Google bar. The three top methods that came up were two different natural supplements and Transcendental Meditation. I couldn’t believe it – Transcendental Meditation! I had been vaguely curious about TM for decades and had even looked into it on a few occasions. But I had never gone beyond slight curiosity and made the commitment to learn for two distinct reasons: one, it costs money and, two, even if I had been willing to spend what I felt was a significant amount of money, spending money on myself has always been a tough thing for me to do.

I pressed the play button for a seven-minute introductory video on the TM homepage featuring the filmmaker David Lynch (a person whose work I worship and adore) and down the TM meditation rabbit hole I finally went. When the video finished, as directed, I typed my zip code in and was directed to local teachers, Don & Donna Klein, who live close by in Niles, New York. I spent a few more months after that rationalizing and explaining to myself why I shouldn’t contact them, judging them in advance and doing everything I could think of to sabotage myself and my long, long, long desire to learn TM. But, in the end, some Greater Force won out and contact them I did and learn I did and a TM meditator I became. And now, for the past four-and-a-half years or so, I have gratefully meditated just about every morning and every afternoon for twenty minutes at a time.

Do you know someone who, in conversation, asks a question and, just as you are getting into answering it, interrupts you and either answers the question her/himself or begins to talk about something else? In the most important relationship of my life, I was that person before I learned to meditate. I would talk to God in prayer but never pause long enough or get quiet enough to hear God’s answers. In meditation, I have learned a better way.

In all of the new found peace and serenity, there was only one small problem. Over the years, my beloved teachers Donna & Don would offer group meditations on days and at times that never seemed to work with my schedule. I had been to a few of them, though, enough to know their exquisiteness, and enough to know what I was missing out by not attending them.

And then my friend Tom Seeley came along and said, “I’d like to create a sangha. Where do you think I could host it?” I gave him the answer I have given everyone I know for the last eleven years when they ask just about any question on any topic: Auburn Public Theater. Tom and I compared schedules and Sunday mornings at 10:00am were open on both of our calendars for the foreseeable future and so off into the spiritual community building sunset we rode. Our first meeting was on March 6th, 2016. And the weird and wonderful thing of it was that people showed up, other than the two of us, that is. And they kept showing up, week after week, Sunday morning after Sunday morning after Sunday morning.

Then Tom had another great idea, to invite Karen Maezen Miller to come and give a mindfulness talk and to build a day of mindfulness around that talk. Back to our calendars we went. Saturday, October 22nd was chosen and, once again, the events of the day fell gracefully into place.

I look forward to the Mindfulness Conference at Auburn Public Theater the way I now look forward to every Sunday morning at 10:00am, with a sense of peace and calmness and the hope of getting together with friends to sit still and go deep and breathe in and breathe out and realize that I am, that we are.