Firstly, hello! I ‘ve been pretty quiet on this blog of late, due to the demands of a job I took in the not-for-profit sector.
For others who have worked in this sector it would be no surprise that my days and nights have become consumed with a range of activities aimed at supporting positive change in the community.
I still work in communications but my key stakeholders are vastly different to those in the world of TV journalism and production – and fantastically interesting and it’s busier than I could have ever imagined.
So, I’m eating my veggies and running to meditation and yoga classes as often as I can!
Meditation class is actually where I met this month’s TENANT interviewee and I’m really pleased to introduce you all to Matthew Young, Founder of the Melbourne Mediation Centre (MMC).
I met Matt earlier this year – at the end of a 6-week mediation course I did with MMC. It was an introductory course, which is mandatory for those who wish to do their teacher’s training course.
Initially I felt some frustration that it was required, having been a regular meditator for some time. (I try to meditate daily and lead mediation practice in my work place.) It was however money and time well spent.
I learned so much more than I ever expected from the teachers and the other participants – who were delightfully varied in their experience and backgrounds.
Some had been recommended to attend the course by health practitioners, some were suffering work fatigue, one had been in a work accident and was suffering from chronic tinnitus and there was a young mother was looking for tools to manage life’s new found pressures.
Together we experienced and practiced different styles of meditation and then discussed personal reactions and insights which made for really interesting ‘group-think’ discussions.
The more I reflected on the practice of meditation, the more convinced I was that we all meditate naturally, and that most of us start a practice in childhood. But as adults the thought of what it is, or the way we we are told we should do it makes it seem harder than the actual practice is, or more than it should be.
I think there are mediation practices and approaches to suit everyone, something that Matt also strongly advocates.
Hi Matt, thanks for your time and for being part of TENANT – I am really thrilled to have a chance to talk to you about meditation today. Firstly, some Melbourne questions:
What Melbourne postcode do you currently call home?
What do you like about living there?
The lovely, leafy green streets and the proximity to the beach and bay. I’m particularly fond of Elwood during autumn, when I can walk along the footpath through mounds of dry leaves.
Are you from Melbourne?
I was born in Coffs Harbour and grew up in South-East Queensland. I moved to Melbourne following my return to Australia after an extended backpacking trip. After living in L.A and London my small country town seemed a bit too small.
How long have you been a meditation teacher?
I’ve been teaching meditation since around 2002 and I set up the Melbourne Mediation Centre in 2004.
I have been meditating since 1997 after being introduced to it whilst in Varanasi, India. I wouldn’t call it a professional pathway. More like a very unexpected journey.
What do you like dislike about your industry?
I don’t see meditation and mindfulness as part of an industry. It’s more of a tradition. There are two things I get frustrated with:
- People over-hyping or over-selling the practice and the benefits.
- Teachers mired in tradition / the lack of innovation, and teachers who are experts in social media and self-promotion rather than meditation and mindfulness.
What tips would you give to those new to meditating?
- Don’t make any effort to stop thinking
- Don’t try to stay focused
- Don’t worry if you can’t sit still
- Don’t worry if you fall asleep
- Let yourself feel angry, restless, cranky, bored, peaceful, still or whatever
- Know that distractions are the most useful moments in a meditation practice.
What tips would you give to experienced meditators?
Trust your instincts. Make up your own style of meditation, even if it completely contradicts the standard ‘rules’ of meditation.
I love this advice Matt! It is so empowering – which is, in of itself, one of fundamental benefits of meditation practice.
What are you currently most proud of professionally?
I am humbled by the trust people have in sharing their inner worlds with me, and in allowing me to share my understanding of meditation and mindfulness with them.
I love that people appreciate my unique, counter-intuitive and somewhat radical approaches to meditation and mindfulness and I’m very grateful that I’ve had teachers that have shown and encouraged me to adopt these relatively unusual approaches.
I know I appreciated it – throwing out the ‘rule-book’ so to speak and being given permission to choose your own meditation adventure, along with access to wisdom that only years of practice and learning can bring.
Do you have a dream project now, or for the future?
I would love to build my own off-the-grid home / retreat centre.
Where would you like to build your dream retreat?
The dream location would be within walking distance of the beach. There would be a creek running through the property, a lovely garden and a forested area. Oh, and a good-sized mountain out the back for hiking and climbing.
What makes you proud (or perhaps fond) of Melbourne…the city, the people, etc?
Even fond is a bit of a stretch for me right now… I loved Melbourne when I first arrived because you could get a vegetarian option at almost any eatery. At that time, in practically every other part of Australia, a vegetarian was usually regarded with disbelief or barely concealed disdain.
There are even better vegetarian options available now, but there’s something else very important to me that’s missing.
Many years ago, whilst living in London, I promised that I’d never live in a place where I couldn’t see the horizon out my window.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t been possible for me in Melbourne. Over recent months I’ve felt a stronger and stronger pull towards rural living, though it will probably be years before that becomes a reality.
At least I’ll get to enjoy a few more MIFF’s, which was another thing I really enjoyed when I first arrived in Melbourne.
So, is there a change that you would like to see in Melbourne?
I wish the city could be more like the country, with parks and green corridors, with malls and other areas for pedestrians and cyclists rather than for cars and traffic.
Do you think Melbourne might look like this in 20 years?
I hope it looks a little more like the country but I fear it will be more densely populated and built up. I’m optimistic that solar power and self-driving electric cars will become the norm.
What is a place (anywhere in the world) that reminds you of Melbourne – but is not?
When I first moved to Melbourne I found it similar to London, mostly on account of its ‘borough’ like collection of suburbs, each with their own unique vibe. Perhaps also on account of its relative flatness.
I am surprised that you are one of the first TENANT interviewees that has picked London in response to this (regular) question. I think there are many similarities, which is not at all surprising given our history.
Do you have favourite Melbourne “borough” (if it is not where you currently live)? And why?
I can’t not live near the coast, but I do like the grunge and quirk of Smith and Brunswick Streets, Collingwood and Fitzroy.
I’ve noticed how good you are with words. Your descriptions of inner worlds in meditation class were lovely to listen to. Having travelled quite a bit is there “Australian” word or expression (or anything else that strikes you as particularly Melbourne) that jumps out at you in conversation?
I first met Melburnians when I was living in London and that’s where I first heard ‘grouse’ used when not referring to a large bird!
I found it very perplexing because I thought it sounded like something gross, but it was being used to describe something wonderful! I still snigger inside when I hear it used.
If you weren’t running a meditation centre what would you like to be doing for work?
I would like to be involved in developing electric cars or solar powered solutions to all kinds of energy problems.
Thanks Matt – and thank you again for your time, I really appreciate your insights and approach to meditation and Melbourne.
Finally, can you recommend a Melburnian (that you know and admire) that you would like to introduce to be interviewed by TENANT?
My friend David Collett is such an unassuming chap and a great friend. His ordinariness and thoughtfulness make him exceptional.
I look forward to meeting him one day! Thanks for your time Matt. I look forward to catching up at workshop or retreat soon.
*If you know a person who is curious about meditation courses in Melbourne and who might enjoy (or benefit from) reading this post please do pass it on!