A quick, informative article on the value of taking private meditation lessons with one of the world's most adept meditation teachers - Me - is order. . My Ego aside, Having run The Higher Haven’s One-Day retreats for a little over a year now, well over a hundred people have heard my overview on the internal skills and abilities developed by establishing a daily meditation practice. While several attendees had some form of practice in place, the majority of the participants have been beginners. And I like to say that meditation, like snowboarding, offers an extremely steep learning curve out of the gate. When I communicate with our growing posse of alumni, I'm quick to ask how their daily practice is coming along. The consensus usually comes to down a need for a some sprucing up to say the least.

All that said, a little guidance goes an awfully long way. Such has been the case with a student of mine whose life was notably roused by recently attending a retreat and taking part in Ceremony. Janine and I first crossed paths in, of all places, the local Wellness Center's Sauna. A local resident of South Haven along with her two canine side-kicks Bear and Brett, she expressed a keen interest in learning to meditate, having learned of its relaxation benefits. Six months later, we crossed paths again at the Meijers check out counter and I invited her back out. After participating in a One-Day mid-summer retreat, she signed up for a six-session meditation series of hour-long meetings.

Working with Janine has been an immense pleasure. She’s delightful – inquisitive, kind, and  hard working. She also speaks French, which has made our communications quite charmant. “Bonjour Paul... de rien... je suis ici (thank heavens for Google translate). I kidded her that this very article should be titled A Tale of Two Janine's - the one who came out a bit unknowing and the one who returned, awake and alive in a new way. At one point during our run together Janine's car wasn’t working well, so we met at South Haven's South Beach. Side by side, relishing the silence between us, we turned my little Volvo C30 into quite the effective mobile meditation Hall, the noon chimes of St. Basil's bells magically ending our session. Amazed by Janine's transformation, I asked her to convey thoughts on her experience:

“I have been so fortunate to meet Paul Tootalian, the founder of Higher Haven Retreat Center, at a very timely moment in my life.  Evidently, the Universe saw fit to intercede and show me a new way of being.  Taking part in Ceremony at a One-Day Retreat lead to a major shift in my outlook on life.  Though I have, generally, understood that our possessions can never provide real happiness, within twenty-four hours of experiencing Ceremony, I began to question, even more intensely, the purpose of my small existence. Instincts told me that a huge transformation was on the horizon.  Paul confirmed that Ceremony can be an impetus for significant growth and change, and I thought that Meditation could provide some sense of tranquility while also focusing on the needed work at hand. I have completed six individual meditation sessions with Paul. 

My words can not sufficiently convey the benefits of this practice.  The calm that pervades the physical is a true blessing, and it permeates the mental aspect of the Self as well. This feeling of peace and oneness, a palpable tranquility, is then with me as I continue through the day. I have found Paul to be a wonderful teacher, with great compassion and skill.  He is able to guide his students to understand that real happiness comes only from within.  I would never have imagined that this ancient practice could be so meaningful in our chaotic world.  Tears of joy do not lie. Meditation will be a part of my life, for the rest of my life.  Imagine if we all were as fortunate to learn this craft.”

And we all are. Merci Beacoup Janine. If attaining a peace that passes understanding from simply sitting down with regularity is of interest to you, contact me for more information on gaining the merits of private meditation lessons.