When did you become a Buddhist and why? I identified with Buddhism in my teens—I was interested in meditation as a way of reducing the suffering I was experiencing, and I was also looking for a sense of meaning in my life. I started practicing a couple of years later when I attended my first meditation class at the Glasgow Buddhist Center.
Is your family Buddhist? Not at all! My parents have no interest in religion or spirituality. My partner wouldn’t describe herself as Buddhist either, but she very naturally uses the language of mindfulness and kindness.
What’s your favorite breakfast on retreat? A gluten sensitivity is keeping me from eating my favorite retreat breakfast: whole wheat toast with peanut butter or yeast extract.
What’s your daily practice? How long I can sit (anywhere from ten minutes to an hour) depends on my parenting schedule. I’ll typically do whatever practice I’m sharing with my students. “Mindfulness of breathing” is my default.
Who is your teacher? I’m a member of the Triratna Buddhist Order, which was founded by Sangharakshita. His outlook has profoundly shaped mine in many ways, but because his sexual ethics were highly dubious I wouldn’t describe myself as his disciple.
Favorite aphorism? “Don’t follow in the footsteps of the wise; seek what they sought.”—Basho.
Favorite musician? David Bowie.
How do you get back on track when you’ve gone without meditating? I’ve used the affirmation “I meditate every day. It’s just what I do. It’s part of who I am.”
Longest retreat? Four months.
Book on your nightstand? Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dreyer.
Coffee or tea? Mostly tea: Scottish blend, taken strong, with soy milk.
Favorite subject in school? Biology.
Most used emoji?😘
What would you do if you weren’t a Buddhist teacher? My first degree was in veterinary medicine, and I’d probably have gone into some kind of scientific research.
This January, watch Bodhipaksa’s Dharma Talk series, “Digital Detox: Reclaim Your Mind from Social Media Addiction,” at tricycle.org/dharmatalks.
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