We had the good fortune of connecting with William Jackson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi William, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
At age 22 I left being an actor as an ADHD and substance abusing kid and became a fully ordained Buddhist monk in Frankfurt, Germany. That means celebate, head shaved, robe, gave away all my possessions the whole deal.
I quickly developed my meditation practice and headed to Myanamar, which is a place, if you are serious about meditation you will find yourself at one point or another. 6 months into a Meditation Retreat where I was meditating 10 to 14 hours a day and just a couple of days before hurricane Nargis hit Mayanmar killing 138000 people, and almost killing me, I had two realizations.
The first is that my once substance infuse, ADHD mind had now transformed into one of the most concentrated wholesome minds that I had ever encountered and I thought to myself, “if I can do this just about anybody that I know can”.
In the second realization I thought about my family and my friends and that I wanted to share this practice with them. I wanted to share that this amazing transformation was possible, that I knew how it worked and that I had found the thing that I believed everybody is looking for. I realized that to get them really interested, to help them to have the same experience, I would have to walk them through the essential method but they’re not going to shave the heads, wear a robe, give away all their possessions and travel to Myanmar. I would have create a program, and organization that spoke to them in a way they’re familiar and create a program and community that they would be interested in with their busy lives, kids and jobs.
I opened my eyes and saw all the monks sitting in the Dharma Hall, peacefully in meditation, surrounded by the verdant jungle, birds and lizards chirping and I thought, “shit”. To do that I will have to take the robs off, go back to school get a PhD in psychology, start a family and then an organization that doesn’t exist yet. That was 13 years ago. I now have two crazy kids, beautiful wife and Doctorate in psychology, I have begun a profitable organization that is doing exactly what I want and I am looking to bring that to a wider audience.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
The engine behind the SkillfulMeans community is helping mindfulness based meditation teachers identify a clear target audience then helping them to build and maintain an engaged online community without the dealing with the complications of the technology. We have realized that there are about 10,000 certified mindfulness based meditation teachers just in the US alone. And a saturation of mindfulness and meditation beginner classes and apps focused on nonspecific general audiences. So we focus on the audience rather than the guru. What are specific audiences like, parents and teachers, advanced practitioners, athletes, those with chronic illness, creative artists or those in the service profession looking for from mindfulness?
We are building a platform where the enthusiast meditation students can find teachers who are experts in their niche and our growing number of teachers can offer live online classes to refresh their students practice on a daily basis and the meditation teachers can host, organize and promote their services and maintain their communities.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well I am from Boston and I love meditation, food and nature. A few nice meditation centers in Boston are the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center, the Cambridge Zen Center. If you are looking for a nice walk or meditation in nature you can check out the Arboretum in Roslindale and Jamacia Plains. If you are looking for good food you have lots of choices but top of the list is Sarma in Somerville or Sofra Bakery in Watertown.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Pa Auk Sayadaw, H.H. the Dalai Lama, Richard Davidson Ph.D., Jon Kabat-Zinn, Thich Naht Hanh, Modern Mindfulness and The Center for Mindfulness and Compassion