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Mark Thornton on Meditating
Tell us the big change you made in the last few years?
The biggest change I’ve made is leaving my job as Chief Operating Officer for an investment bank to teach meditation. I left behind security, income, acceptance, prestige and so much of my identity.
The change was dramatic. I remember being at a social event in New York as a “first-time struggling author”. My job had been my calling card, my status symbol, my credibility. Now all I had was a dream. A dream that people would be transformed. Transcended. Absolutely inspired by the dramatic vision of meditation.
How would you like to help change people in their lives?
I’m working to make meditation mainstream. 20 million Americans meditate, which means 380 million don’t.
Meditation, really, is the end of suffering. The end of the traps and tricks that keep you stuck. It is not the end of pain, fear, anger, but resistance to life that causes suffering. It’s the radical embracing of all parts of who you truly are a meeting with all of life, in all its forms, colors and movement.
My own suffering was a life based around externals—interesting bank account, nice job title—but I still had a closed, blocked heart.
I want to help people realize that all of life is conspiring, right now, to wake us up to who you really are.
What's your mission? Your life’s work?
My mission is to “enlighten the planet as quickly as possible.” I try to do this first by embodying presence. From there, I'll let my books, corporate trainings/teachings, blogs and podcasts do this, too.
What do you do nowadays?
I teach meditation courses to CEOs and leaders from companies—McKinsey, New York Times, Deloitte, etc.—and universities such as Harvard Law School, Wharton Business, and NYU.
I’m launching a meditation-certification program, creating a tribe of people committed to helping others with inner transformational tools.
I do free TV web casts every Monday night, where people can connect and create peace in their life. http://www.ustream.tv/channel/Global-Peace-Meditation
Why can meditation be so beneficial for people during these difficult times?
The greater the stress, the more tools you need to balance this.
People confuse symptoms with causes. The deepest roots of stress are resisting life, feeling dislocated from your essence, a closed defended heart, living life from the mind. Meditation gets at these four deep causes, often hidden causes, through the radical mystery of irrational compassion!
What do you tell people who have a hard time meditating or might have tried and given up?
I say “so have I. Many times.” I understand. It's simply that I hadn’t found the right teacher yet. Just like some teachers at school really helped you and others you didn’t get along with. Or that I was trying a practice that closed my heart, rather than opened it. Or I hadn’t found the right “tribe” or community to bring my struggles to. Meditation should make your heart sing, your bliss soar, your insight widen and your hardness soften. If that isn’t happening, become curious as to a different teacher or practice.
How has meditation helped you?
I now feel a sense of Pure Aliveness. True Inspiring Insight. Dramatic Freedom. Deep Alignment. Jaw-dropping Joy.
These are the Top 5! If I was on my deathbed, looking back on my life, it’s the radical insights and experiences in meditation that would have me punching the air with delight! Meditation made everything I did previously seem like I had been in a dark prison. Now I feel I can see the prison, touch its walls and taste the freedom of living beyond its bars.