“The mind, when you look, it’s like the house on fire, but we don’t know how to put out the fire… the cooling waters of mindfulness, it’s like putting a hose on the fire of the mind.”

As an awkward teenager who went through a painful ugly duckling phase, it was the teachings of the Buddha and the art of mindfulness meditation practice that taught me how to love myself, how to stop putting my happiness on hold for a boyfriend or popularity (or some magical Hollywood style makeover). Through this practice I understood that happiness was available right here, right now, in this very moment, no matter what my present circumstances.

From 1985 until 2012, my parents opened up our home each Sunday to anyone in the community who wanted to attend weekly meditation sittings lead by not only our wonderful local teachers Steven Smith and Michele McDonald but visiting monks and leaders in the Vipassana (Insight Meditation) community from all around the world. One of these visiting teachers was an Australian surfer named Grahame White. From his Vipassana Hawai’i bio:

Grahame White has been involved in Buddhist meditation practice for over 40 years. He began his study in England in 1969 before being ordained as a Buddhist monk for one year in BodhGaya, India in 1971. He took a primary role in the establishment of Vipassana meditation in the tradition of Mahasi Sayadaw in Australia and co-founded the Blue Mountains Insight Meditation Center outside Sydney. Now, Grahame leads introductory and day long courses in Sydney and regularly teaches longer intensive retreats in the US. Grahame has been leading and co-teaching retreats with Sayadw U Lakkhana, Steven Smith and Michele McDonald, as well as helping to guide the Hawai’i sangha in its ongoing practice. He has also helped pioneer a workshop format that enhances the transfer of mindfulness from the formal sitting practice into daily life. Grahame returns to Myanmar (Burma) each year in order to deepen his practice and study of the Buddha’s teachings and at times assist in the teaching of Vipassana retreats for foreigners. Grahame teaches a classical tradition of insight meditation with a relaxed, accessible style.

Grahame sat down with us in Honolulu where he was leading a retreat at the Palolo Zen Center and discussed how he became interested in Buddhism, the practical benefits of mindfulness meditation practice, and what he hopes people gain from his teachings. You can learn more about this practice and upcoming retreats at

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