When I started meditating in 2008, my life was a contradiction. From the outside, I seemed to have it together. I had moved out to LA from Philly just a couple years earlier with an Ivy league degree and a promising start to a music career. I was on my feet financially and had a relatively stable social life.
But inwardly I was struggling.
I felt socially awkward and lonely in groups. I was too afraid of rejection to say what was true for me or ask for what I wanted in relationships. I spent a lot of time lost in my head, criticizing myself, resenting others, and ruminating over simple decisions.
Meanwhile in my work life, I was stifled by doubt and ambivalence. I couldn’t maintain a consistent schedule with my songwriting. I couldn’t set boundaries with bosses. I wasn't clear about my path, so I'd say yes to any work that came along regardless of whether or not it matched my goals.
My first mindfulness meditation book contained a message I had never heard before but so dearly needed. “You’re already enough.” It was a radical proposition. How would I relate to others if I was more interested in being myself than avoiding rejection? What would my career look like if I was driven by excitement and passion, rather than running from inadequacy? What would growing look like if self-compassion, rather than self-loathing, was the fuel?
I started on my own, practicing meditation on-and-off using the tools I read about. I wasn't always consistent, and it didn't always feel productive, but I pressed on, trusting that there was a slow but growing freedom building in my life.
In 2011, I found some much needed inspiration from two teachers (Shinzen Young and George Haas) and a community of meditators – Against The Stream. I began attending silent retreats regularly, and sitting an hour or two a day. Practice was rich and deep. My familiar life started to seem like a wondrous adventure.
And yet, the interpersonal piece was still touch-and-go. In private I could "bliss out," but in public, the same old social hangups were left painfully untouched. I found it hard to set boundaries. I had difficulty making commitments. Intimacy was uncomfortable. I still couldn't muster the confidence or motivation to pursue more meaningful work.
I wanted a meditation practice that was deep but also practical; relational. I wanted a way of practicing that would help me engage with the world. This was the start of Insight Meditation Support.
I had realized that building a mindful life was more than just sitting meditation. It required me to leverage mindfulness tools throughout my day: applying modified forms of meditation during simple tasks, conversations, work, etc. Often, I also wove in psychological frameworks to help me understand my thinking, my social behavior, and my relationship to my career. Each situation required it's own approach, but the net effect was that mindfulness, finally, was permeating my life the way I wanted.
One of the most potent resources for me has been my work with individual teachers in an ongoing dialog. Through this dialog, I can continually stretch and shape my mindfulness practice to fit the variety of situations I just described. Because of my positive experiences in these one-on-one relationships, I have made this format the primary means through which I work with people.
If this sort of relationship sounds supportive to you, don't hesitate to reach out. I offer a free 30-minute session (either by video-chat or over the phone) to anyone who wants. It's a chance to explore how my teaching format could apply to your life. Most people find these conversations tremendously valuable in themselves. Of course, if the conversation leaves you wanting more, we can discuss making it an ongoing dialog. To connect with me, feel free to send me a message on my contact page or sign up for my mailing list at the link on the right.
A Formal Bio
Jason Ryterband is a mindfulness teacher, meditation mentor, and musician living in Santa Monica, CA. He is the founder of Insight Meditation Support, which offers mindfulness resources and one-on-one mentoring to practitioners across the country. Jason is a certified meditation facilitator through Against The Stream Buddhist Meditation Society, a teacher with LA-based non-profits CompassionLA and Mettagroup, and a facilitation trainee with UCLA's Mindful Awareness Research Center. Jason is fascinated by the intersection of meditation and the relational world, and he specializes in holistic mindfulness tools to help individuals develop emotional intelligence, access their creativity, and deepen their connections to others.