I recently had the pleasure of joining Anne Muhlethaler on her podcast Out Of The Clouds where she discusses work at the crossroads of mindfulness and business. For this week’s post, I thought I might share a small excerpt talking about how I got into mindfulness meditation. You can listen to the full episode on the Out Of The Clouds website, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts.
Anne Muhlethaler: Can we go back one step, how and when did you get introduced to meditation? I have to tell you, as an outsider, not knowing everything about California, I can see California hippies, although I’m thinking that’s more the Southern side, not the Northern.
April Davila: Oh, it’s both.
Anne Muhlethaler: It’s not surprising to me that a Californian is meditating. But so how did you get started?
April Davila: I think if you ask Californians, they would tell you it’s more of a Northern California thing, because that’s where more of the hippies ended up, like UC Berkeley is up there. And you had the whole movement in San Francisco of free love and all of that. Yes, California has kind of a reputation for new age thinking. And there’s good reason for that. A lot of the first westerners who seriously studied [meditation in Asia] came back to New York and California.
And so, there’s a contingent in New York. But there’s also Jack Kornfield, who came back to California and founded this group called Spirit Rock up in Northern California, which is the first place I ever sat to meditate. It’s so beautiful out there, all these rolling, grassy hills, it just feels peaceful. You walk into the grounds and think: this place is amazing.
My husband and I, we were newly married and were just curious. Spirit Rock was offering – once a month they do a free day long with whatever teacher is available to do it. I went online and signed up, I was like, “Oh, this guy Jack Kornfield seems nice.” I did a free day along with Jack Kornfield without even realizing what a big deal Jack Kornfield was.
Anne Muhlethaler: I’m so jealous.
April Davila: It was pretty great. And I had just a really kind of amazing experience. I think a lot of early meditators have that experience where you get super blissed out, and you’re like: “This is the best, I’m going to do this every day.” And then you go home and you meditate, and you’re like, “It’s not happening. Why isn’t it happening? I’m doing it wrong. Why aren’t I feeling blissful?”
And then you come to realize that actually, meditation isn’t just about having your mind clear and feeling super blissful, there’s a lot to it. I think that I found that kind of discouraging, as many beginning meditators do.
So, for years, I was very off again on again. My husband and I did a Wednesday night class series once where we went [to Spirit Rock] for a few Wednesdays or something. But I was not that serious about it. And it wasn’t until I really hit a rough patch in my life where I was just so down and really struggling [that I got serious about meditation].
I think that’s how a lot of people come to meditation – when we need help with something. We’re struggling with something and we’re looking for answers. For me, it was very helpful.
There was a program here [in Los Angeles] called The Meaningful Life. And it was, I guess, stringent isn’t quite the word because it was meditation and it came from a place of deep caring, but the teacher took no nonsense. And when you signed up for this class, you were going to meditate every morning, you called in. It was a 25-minute meditation every morning.
And then we met every other weekend as a group, and there were probably 30 of us. And I think I just needed that discipline. And then once I started meditating every day, I started to really understand more what I was experiencing. You have the goods but you also have the bads. And you start to feel some of your emotions in ways that you didn’t understand before. And then some understanding creeps in…
To listen to the interview in its entirety, visit the Out Of The Clouds website.