In the late ’80’s after a decade as a performing artist and songwriter in the music industry, I was tired, dispirited and wondering what the next phase of my life would be. I was in bad shape. I’d spent my twenties living a wild life, and touring hard with my band. I was physically and mentally exhausted, and disillusioned with much of what I had achieved to that point
To then I’d participated in a few New Age modalities but I really didn’t like what I was finding – they all spun beautiful dreams, but lacked the practical sense I needed. I didn’t want wiffley-waffley dreams or affirmations, and I didn’t want to follow a guru or be anybody’s pawn – I wanted a practical tool I could use to modify the human being I had become. I wanted something whose machinery I could adapt to my own needs and use to navigate my own course through life.
In Vipassana meditation I found such a tool – practical, grounded in common sense, and extremely adaptable to any circumstance, it was exactly what I had been looking for.
So, as with most things I’ve done, once I found a direction there was no half way, and nothing could stop me. I headed for the source, a small meditation center in the rice paddies of South Eastern Thailand, where I found the teacher who, though he died in 1996, still inspires me today – Acharn Thawee, and his assistants, Phra Manfred and Mae Che Brigitte.
Beginning in 1991, I began to spend a few months of each year in silent retreat at Sorn Thawee Meditation Centre.
Then, when Acharn Thawee died, I spent the next decade doing yearly training in a number of monasteries, learning various methods of Vipassana meditation and working under two other teachers – Luang Pu Sangvahn and Acharn Tippakorn.
All in all I’ve spent a large part of the last thirty years training in Vipassana meditation methods, and it’s given me abilities I never dreamed I might have before. Principally it gave me my health back and calmed me down – but most importantly, it gave me the ability to write books. Previous to that my concentration and intellect had been much too scattered to focus long enough to do such a thing.
In 1994 I wrote my first book on meditation, ‘Happy To Burn’ and founded Practical Meditation and Counseling.
Since then I’ve written ‘Love & Imagination’ (extending on ‘Happy to Burn’).
Then I wrote my first novel – ‘Levin’s God’, which was published in 2006.
And recently, I’ve completed and published a new book – ‘Being Still – Meditation That Makes Sense’, my final word on meditation. I’ve also recorded ‘Being Still’ as an audio book, complete with exercises to accompany the main chapters.
I’ve taught meditation and led meditation seminars and retreats throughout Australia and in Bali, and continue to write, with a new novel, “Sweet Emptiness” recently completed, which in March 2018 won the adult fiction NaMo Challenge for unpublished fiction.
I currently live between Australia and Chiang Mai in Thailand, and travel wherever life and my activities take me.
Hello, Thank you for your article on becoming angry when meditating. I can’t even sit for 10 minutes without feeling of extreme boredom, frustration, and finally anger being there. I really appreciate your article and instead of giving up on meditation after years of sporadically trying, I am going to continue with your advice. Thank you for sharing yourself. D’Aun
Excellent … and you’re not alone … I think the biggest source of disturbance the modern mind has to deal with is profound rage. And it makes sense, when you consider the environment we have created for ourselves, where being still is almost totally foreign to us. So it’s important to understand the organism you have become, and accept the way it struggles during meditation, and try to accept the discomfort while relaxing around it. The more you can relax around the appearance of discomfort or pain, or even boredom, the faster it passes away – because a large component of our suffering in life is indeed, our negative reactions to it – and our habits of becoming anxious and tense when we suffer.
And most important of all, keep practicing.
Meditation is a bit like learning a musical instrument. You are training the mind in a whole set of habits which, once fully practiced, will become innate, at which point they sink into the unconscious, and the act of meditating infuses into your life.
Hi Roger, great post and very inspiring. I have been meditating for approx 20 months daily for about 30 minutes on average. I still feel like screaming during maditation due to frustration and anger, not many people tell you this in books and onine. I practice shamatha meditation but many times when I have finished meditating I am flooded with negative thoughts, fear and regrets from past etc.
I am trying to work my way through on my own as there is no teachers round here….
Anyway great that I found your page, I am not alone. Lol.
Hi Steve …you mentioned you’re practicing Samatha meditation. I would suggest you make the switch to a Vipassana method. The reason being, I feel it is more suited to the Western mind, which tends to be more emotionally charged and reactive than Asian mind – so needs to build more of the kinds of habits that Vipassana helps to build.
To that end, I strongly suggest you try to attend one of the ten day courses given by the Goenka organisation – they’re clear, non-religious, and very, very life changing, and they take good care of you for the ten days as you practice.
Give it some thought …https://www.dhamma.org/en-US/about/vipassana
All the best