Meditation and Mindfulness
Our students arrive at Red Mountain Sedona (RMS) with the desire to make positive changes in their lives, but changing years of behaving in habitual ways can be frightening and can cause new levels of stress. Developing a regular meditation and mindfulness practice has been proven to help ease the anxiety brought on by these circumstances.
Meditation is the practice of quietly noticing our thoughts and feelings, and remaining fresh and open to the present moment. Mindfulness is the ability to do so while engaged in activity or interacting with others.
Daily meditation has been proven to offer neuroplasticity benefits and improvements in brain chemistry. For those coming to us having suffered from trauma or substance abuse, the maturation of their prefrontal cortex, or frontal lobe, may have been stunted, and meditation can aid in its repair. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for making mature decisions, so it is imperative that it is allowed to fully mature, thereby giving our students the best possible chance of getting better.
For all of these reasons, we begin each day at Red Mountain meditating as a group, led by one of our staff who are long-time meditation teachers. We also encourage our residents to expand their meditation practice on their own. Our staff are always available and willing to provide guidance to those students who are interested in deepening their practice.
We teach the basic tenets of Buddhist meditation:
• Being present,
• Caring for others,
• Recognizing the impermanence of all things,
• Ability to change,
• Getting out of your head and into the moment,
• Not believing all of your “story lines,” and
• Not acting out of anger.
You do not have to be a Buddhist to experience the benefits of meditation and mindfulness; anybody can meditate effectively, regardless of their religious or spiritual beliefs.
Many programs teach meditation once or twice a week as an adjunct to other programming. While this approach will offer some benefits, we find that it is not adequate to achieve the changes we seek for our students. We believe that having trained teachers on site every day, and engaging in the practice of meditation every day, is the only way to help our students affect true change through meditation.
The level of instruction that students receive at Red Mountain is unparalleled. Our co-founders, Maureen White and Josh White, bring a combined 50 years of meditation training to their work at Red Mountain.
Maureen has served as core staff in seven separate month-long meditation retreats and worked in one of the preeminent meditation centers in the world. She has spent a total of two years living residentially in meditation centers and is sanctioned to teach six different styles in a system focusing on making friends with oneself and taming one’s mind.
She is among a selective group qualified to teach the Five Wisdom Energies, a revolutionary system of Tibetan yoga that helps practitioners get in touch with the wisdom inherent in even the most challenging situations and extreme states of mind.
Josh is a Sensei (sanctioned teacher) in the White Plum tradition of Zen meditation, and lived in a meditation center for three years. He completed koan study after 19 years of practice and study and incorporates koans (paradoxical riddles meant to cultivate kindness toward others and an appreciation of the present moment), into his teaching at Red Mountain.
At RMS, both beginners and experienced meditators are welcome. If you do not know how to meditate, our staff will teach you this valuable skill. And if you are already an advanced practitioner, we can take you even further in your practice.
Our teachers will meet you where you are, and they are careful not to force the practice on anyone. For some students, meditation is “one tool in the tool belt,” and for others, it becomes a lifelong practice.
We honor all of our students’ backgrounds, and use meditation as a complement to what is already working in each person’s spiritual life. Interestingly, Maureen and Josh both majored in Religious Studies as undergraduates, and have a deep respect and appreciation for the application of mediation to virtually any spiritual path.
Virtually all of the world’s wisdom traditions incorporate mediation in some way. At Red Mountain, students learn how to utilize this valuable practice to deepen their spiritual lives and respect for themselves and others, and we have helped students from many walks of life and spiritual orientations to find deeper peace, reduced symptomology, spiritual connection, and closer relationships with others through meditation.