John Kwaku Miller
In celebration of Meditation Month at Earth YogaNYC, DV Blog recently spoke to John Kwaku Miller, a New York acupuncturist with an athletic past.
Born and raised in Massachusetts, John Kwaku Miller is a graduate of Dartmouth College. His youth was spent playing competitive basketball and after an opportunity to try out for the Boston Celtics, he pursued a professional basketball career in Europe. Playing all over Europe led to a decade in India from the mid 90's, offering service at an international not-for-profit Charitable Trust. During this time in India, his interest in healing and medicine was piqued, and he returned to the U.S.A. to attend The New England School of Acupuncture in Boston where he earned a Masters in Oriental Medicine. He has been practicing in New York and Massachusetts since 2007.
1. Can you tell us a bit about your normal meditation practice?
I meditate for an hour daily. I have practiced Siddha Yoga Meditation since I met an Indian Guru, Swami Muktananda, when I was 15, but it wasn't until I was 21 that I began a regular meditation practice.
2. What benefits do you feel from the practice?
I have experienced a tremendous amount over the years, most of it subtle. It's hard to encapsulate it, but the experience of meditation is like polishing tarnished silver - it's hard work, but the more you do it, the clearer you become.
3. If you were advising a newcomer, what would be the top 3 things to remember in order to start and stick with it?
Practice - The only way to learn to meditate, or become "good" at it is to do it. You have to commit to a regular practice. Never ever judge your experience or compare it to others'.
Remembrance - Equally important is to keep a journal. There are so many profound and transforming experiences. When you're going through a tough time, it's easy to forget and slip into bad habits. Remembering and focusing on positive experiences will keep you on track.
Community - It's good to establish a rapport with fellow meditators. A support group, good company, is invaluable.
4. What do you tell your friends when they fall off the wagon and find it hard to start again?
This comes back to Community. I share my experiences of meditation and ask them about their experiences and reasons for adopting a meditation practice. Usually after reflection, people realize that they want to re-establish a practice.
Sometimes though, people decide that it's not for them and that's fine, too.
5. What other things about lifestyle do you think are important? (food, nutrition, sleep?)
Of course you have to cover the bases - exercise, wholesome food, proper rest, but really everything in moderation. The middle path wins the day, within reason. Obviously in the short term one may have to adopt "extreme" diets or regimens to regain balance. You have to test and find out what leads to your best sense of well-being.
6. How do you think meditation would have helped you when you were playing basketball seriously?
I was meditating daily when I played basketball professionally. I wished that I had meditated in college.
7. Any other comments/thoughts?
I love meditation, but I honestly think that I had the hardest time, of anyone I know, in the beginning. At the start I could only meditate for 5-10 minutes. My mind was wild and out of control; it was torturous to sit still. Don't be afraid of a little difficulty at first.
Relax and have fun. Live naturally and easily, without judgment. You don't have to give up or relinquish anything. Just start a practice and watch the process unfold.
Story by Yanti Amos. Photos from John Kwaku Miller archive.