About me: My meditation journey

 About Me: My Meditation Journey


I can’t possibly explain every detail of my 15 year meditation journey on this page so I’ve focussed on the pivotal moments. I’ve tried to show how my meditation journey evolved from solving mental health problems into a full-blown search for enlightenment.

Of course, there are many things that happened along the way that I have left out, such as getting married, getting a dog, moving out of London and going through IVF treatment with my wife. I mention this just so you know that I’ve lived a normal house-holders life alongside the meditation journey. 

So, let’s delve in . . . 

The back story

My story starts back in the late 90’s. I was 18 when the superclubs of London, like Ministry of Sound and Fabric, first opened. These nightclubs, and the dance music played in them, captured my imagination and before I knew it I had a group of friends who loved going out and partying all night. 

This lifestyle continued during my time at University and carried on afterwards during the time I worked for an adventure travel company in London. Travel was another passion of mine and during this period, I lived for exotic trips to far-flung places around the globe which I would take at every opportunity. 

After a while, “burning the candle at both ends” began to take a toll on my mind and body. I suffered a great deal of trouble getting to sleep at night and I struggled at work, frequently arriving late, getting in trouble and underperforming.

Drinking alcohol and taking sleeping pills solved the problem temporarily but came with side-effects. The alcohol and sleeping pill cocktail made me tired and groggy the next day. I didn't want a future filled with anxiety, insomnia, depression and addiction so I turned to Google for help.

I started searching for solutions and I kept seeing meditation listed as a possible cure for insomnia. Meditation appealed to me instantly for two reasons.

Firstly, I wanted something scientifically proven. The idea of alternative medicine sounded like hippy nonsense to me at the time. Meditation seemed to have solid scientific backing.

Secondly, I’d travelled in Asia many times and visited temples. I remembered feeling calm and serene in those places. It didn’t seem far fetched to assume that learning to calm the mind through meditation would have a beneficial effect.

I started small. I ordered a “Meditation for Sleep” CD from Ebay. I listened to it at night and sometimes it actually worked. However, after a while I grew bored of the same voice and instructions. My mind found a way to block it out and think about other things and eventually the CD was relegated to the back of my wardrobe. 

After four years of working in the travel industry I decided that I was done with office life. I enjoyed the perks of working in that place but I disliked the day-to-day grind. I came up with a new dream: online business! 

I wanted to run a business from my laptop and go and live in an exotic location close to a beautiful beach. I was convinced that changing my lifestyle in this way would cure the insomnia and depression and deliver lasting happiness. It never occurred to me that the problem wasn’t just about my external conditions. 

The glamorous “laptop lifestyle” trend is all over Instagram these days but I had this idea years before Instagram was launched. I spent as much time as I could surfing the web trying to figure out how to make money from websites.

A friend of mine (Pete) fell in love with the idea too and we both ended up quitting our day jobs to try our hand at making money from SEO and affiliate marketing. At some point we were introduced to an oil trader who wanted to teach people how to trade online. We went into business with him and tried to figure out how to build an online business. 

I was broke for quite a few years while trying to make this dream a reality. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and I thought about giving up numerous times, but the dream of working from a laptop in an exotic location kept me going. The sleepless nights continued, the drinking got worse, and depression crept in at times. For much of this period I lived on my own and worked from home. It was terribly lonely at times. 

I still had the feeling that meditation could help so I read a few books on mindfulness and signed up for an 8-week mindfulness meditation class. I enjoyed the process and I learned a lot about how my mind works and how to understand myself better. The mindfulness techniques worked well during the course but for some reason I didn’t stick at it. A few weeks after the course finished I settled back into my bad sleeping patterns and used alcohol to fix the problem.

After a few years, despite the mental health problems, the online business did quite well and I decided to fly out to Mexico and run the business from there for a while. This was the realisation of the dream I had come up with years earlier. My friend and business partner (Pete) came along and after some fun traveling around we set up a working space in Tulum (a place known for it’s long white sandy beach and amazing restaurants).   

We stayed in Tulum for a few months, working, partying, doing yoga and I even tried to meditate now and again. We had a great time but something was missing. I remember sitting on the roof terrace of our house, looking down on the beautiful garden with a pool and thinking, is this it?

I’d dreamt of this moment for so long and now it was here it was an anticlimax. I didn’t feel different from how I felt back home. I had a strange feeling in my stomach, like I was missing someone I’d never met. I decided to fly home and get serious with meditation. 

Finding mantra meditation

Once home, I found a meditation teacher and went along to a 4-day course. This style of meditation was different to what I had been experimenting with before. It’s was the classic style of mantra meditation from India.

I got a bit of a shock on the first day because it was more spiritual than I was expecting. There was a picture of an Indian Guru on the wall and the teacher sang a song in Sanskrit while we gave an offering of fruits and flowers (as instructed). 

I found this off-putting at first because I considered myself to be a scientifically minded rational thinking atheist. I shared the Godless view of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris and believed religious/spiritual people to be deluded. But I kept this to myself because I was desperate for a solution to my mental health woes.

When we finally got down to the meditation instruction it was very straight forward. She showed us how to meditate on a mantra and answered our questions.

Something about this style of meditation clicked with me. I felt deep relaxation in my body and my mind went completely blank for a short time. A feeling of happiness arose spontaneously, I felt like my whole body was smiling. 

I went home feeling so relaxed that I fell into bed at 9:30pm and slept like a baby for 12 hours. I woke up the next day feeling energised and alert. I hoped this wasn’t a one-off event. The course came to an end and my insomnia was cured. My entire mind and body felt renewed. 

I kept the effortless mantra meditation going over the following months (for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the afternoon or evening). The meditation experience wasn’t always peaceful and blissful. At times I would feel strong emotions or see vivid memories. I didn’t mind these side-effects because it felt like I was letting go of years of deeply embedded stress (unprocessed emotions). It was nice to know that I was purging emotional baggage.
As the months wore on I noticed a significant decrease in anxiety and my general enjoyment of life improved beyond measure. I stopped drinking alcohol (without any effort) to soothe depression and became more productive, creative, energised, resilient and emotionally balanced.


I continued to meditate using the mantra for 20 minutes, twice a day, for the next couple of years while working on the online business with Pete. Meditation felt like such a massive upgrade in my enjoyment of life that, after a couple of years, I decided to try a meditation retreat. I didn’t have any specific problem to solve, I just wanted more peace, tranquility and bliss. 

It felt strange signing up for the retreat because I still saw myself as the cool DJ type and now I was going on a meditation retreat even though I had no particular problem to cure. I just wanted to know how I would feel if I spent entire days meditating. I loved the clear-headed blissed-out feeling the mantra meditation delivered and I wanted to see if I could install that as a permanent state. I couldn’t see it back then but I was chasing a particular state of mind, trying to make sure it never left.  

The first meditation retreat I went to involved Yoga postures, breathing practices and meditating on the mantra. This is known as a Rounding retreat and they are only available to people who have learned mantra meditation through a teacher.

I came home from this retreat feeling amazing - relaxed, energised, blissed-out. But there was also something different in my experience that I couldn’t easily explain. I found myself spontaneously staring up at the clouds and taking deep breaths, a subtle natural high seemed to always be in the background of my mind. 

Over the next couple of years I did more of the these retreats and found them useful but I never felt the effect as strongly again after that first one. 

I also tried retreats in other styles of meditation such as the famous silent 10-day Vipassana (S.N. Goenka teacher). This involved living like a monk. We did 10 hours of sitting with crossed legs on a cushion focussing on breath or body sensations everyday. I can’t deny that it was a powerful experience. My ability to focus, concentrate and sit still was transformed. I found the experience beneficial overall but the set up was a bit strict and austere for my tastes. I couldn’t wait to go back to my enjoyable and blissed-out Rounding retreats. 

During this period I also signed up for expensive advanced Vedic meditation courses. These ran for a full year and involved multiple weekend retreats and gatherings designed to help attendees infuse their lives with powerful knowledge from Ancient India. I spent thousands of pounds attending these courses and filled multiple notebooks with all kinds of knowledge. In the end, although I found this useful to some extent, I decided I was filling my head with more and more ideas rather than discovering any kind of truth about myself. I decided it was time for the next step.  

Teacher training

A few years passed and I had transformed into an advocate for meditation. I told anyone who would listen that meditation changed my life. 

The online business with Pete was still going but we were both looking for something new at that point. We were bored of the current set up. I liked the idea of being a meditation teacher and enrolled onto a 4 month training course offered by Charlie Knowles based in Bali. Charlie is the son of a man named Thom Knowles who was personally trained by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Indian Guru who brought mantra meditation to the west. Thom had been one of Maharishi’s top teacher trainers so this felt like a good move. 

Pete and I had experience selling online courses and so we thought online meditation courses or an app might be our next venture. However, for me it was much more than another business. Meditation had become my passion and I wanted to do the training to immerse myself further into practise. 

I completed the course and started teaching but I felt like something was missing. I understood the techniques and how to teach them but but I didn’t know enough about some other aspects of practice, such as yogic philosophy and the mantras.

I immediately enrolled onto another 6 month teacher training course offered by David Frawley at the Institute of Vedic Studies based in India. He’s a well known Vedic scholar and has written more than 40 books. This was an in-depth, often academic, course that involved huge amounts of study and reading. Upon completion of this course I felt more confident and dove headfirst into teaching. 

Discovering mindfulness (Shinzen style)

To this day, I still love teaching people how to effortlessly meditate on a mantra in the same way that changed my life years years ago, and I still keep up the practice myself. It is just as soothing and medicinal as it always was. 

However, over time my curiosity shifted. I started reading books on every aspect of meditation and spirituality that I could get my hands on. I looked into mindfulness (duel and non-duel), Dzogchen, Vipassana, Zen, Kundalini and so on.

I also become interested in the scientific research, particularly the field of neuroscience and neuroplasticity. It was fascinating. Around 5 years ago I started posting about my findings on Instagram and it got traction pretty quickly. I think people liked that I was sharing from a place of genuine interest and discovery rather than just trying to sell courses. 

But then one day, I came across a book that changed my life: The Science of Enlightenment by Shinzen Young. Shinzen’s book connected the dots between the different traditions and practices. It helped me see the unifying principals that all contemplative traditions have in common. It also helped me to see that awakening and enlightenment are real things that can actually happen to so-called "normal people." These are not special experiences reserved only for saints and yogis. 
There was only one thing to do. I enrolled onto Shinzen Young’s teacher training and, despite already being a full time meditation teacher, I once again become a student. Upon completion of this training I started teaching meditation in Shinzen’s style (which I call Deep Insight) alongside my already successful mantra meditation course (Deep Calm). 

My Deep Insight course (inspired by Shinzen’s teachings) works on two levels. The techniques  can be used to improve mental health and general enjoyment of life. There are strategies for working with stress, anxiety, pain and similar issues. However, it doesn’t stop there. This course is also about getting to know yourself at the deepest level. It involves looking deeply at the nature of who and what you are underneath thoughts, conditioning and beliefs.

Traditionally, this is known as Kensho, Satori, Awakening or Enlightenment. I love to demystify these exotic sounding terms and show my students how these experiences are natural and can happen to anyone when conditions are right. I will forever be grateful to Shinzen for opening me up to this aspect of life.  


As well as teaching meditation I have always made my own practise a priority. As practise progressed over the years I began to notice shifts in my experience of life. Some shifts were subtle and some were huge. Many bad habits fell away, I became less reactive, my mind felt peaceful and tranquil and a general sense of wanting to help people and live a life of service emerged. 

I noticed energetic shifts and spiritual experiences became more frequent. But after a while I got used to this kind of thing and it became ordinary. I lost interest in pursuing peak experiences. What captured my attention was awakening and enlightenment, as described in Shinzen’s book and also classics like The 3 Pillars of Zen by Phillip Kapleau. I also studied  teachers such as Adyashanti.  

I could tell from listening to certain teachers that there was a special shift in consciousness that could happen that went far beyond the transcendent experiences I had already had. They often described this as a shift in identity or waking up from the illusion of separation. As I understood it, this wasn’t just another special state or profound experience but a complete and lasting shift out of the normal sense of self - genuine classical enlightenment! 

One day I was listening to a podcast by Angelo Dilullo. He was talking to Daniel Schmidt, a documentary maker and retreat owner based in Canada. The two men talked about a 10-day retreat in Canada with a great track record of triggering genuine awakening (known as stream entry, kensho or satori). These retreats are known as Enlightenment Intensives. They utilise a technique called Dyads. You sit opposite another person making eye contact and meditate on the question “who am I” for many hours a day. The retreat seems to be a mixture of Zen and Advaita style self-inquiry. Something about this conversation sparked a fire in me.  

I immediately contacted the retreat centre, booked my spot and started looking into flights from the UK to Calgary. I also found a place in the UK that offered a 4-day retreat using the same methodology as the place in Canada. Perfect! I decided to do the 4-day retreat as a warm up. I booked my spot there too. 

I arrived at the retreat centre in the UK for the 4-day “warm up” retreat with one of my mantra meditation students who has become a good friend over the years. The retreat was intense. We worked from 6am to 10pm on the question "who am I.” I had an easier time than most people because the years of meditation had cleared out layers of stress and trauma and the mindfulness training gave me the skills to look deep inside and search for the answer. 

However, as the retreat wore on nothing happened. Where was my big awakening? I felt tired and exhausted but I kept looking, determined to find the answer and trigger the awakening. They say in Zen that to trigger this kind of awakening is to “die before you die.” It’s a poetic way of saying you’ll come into direct contact with the infinite, impersonal and unborn nature of consciousness itself. Could this be true? I kept pushing forward. 

Towards the end of the last day of the retreat I had the feeling that I was running out of time. I wanted the awakening but maybe I would have to wait until the Canada retreat. I kept on looking and hoping. At some point a profound sense of calm and relaxation came over me. The question suddenly seemed unimportant and meaningless. My desperate desire to awaken fell away. I felt a strange sensation at the top of my head like warm water being poured gently onto me. It felt nice. The retreat finished and there was no awakening but I felt content. Time for bed. 

As I was leaving the meditation hall, the Zen master leading the retreat asked to speak to me. We sat down and he looked at me and said: “tell me who you are!” 

Suddenly, there it was. In a moment seemingly outside of space and time the self-illusion fell away and unfiltered reality became apparent. There are no words to explain. Beyond all concepts. For the next 3 days it felt like, when I walked, the universe walked, when I talked, the universe talked. Around 3 days later I started to feel a bit more normal but life was profoundly altered in ways I couldn’t begin to explain.  

On arrival home I called the retreat centre in Canada and cancelled my reservation. The seeking part of the journey was over. 


I spoke to Shinzen Young (my mindfulness teacher) on a Zoom call and explained what had happened. He confirmed this was satori, a genuine moment of enlightenment, and he gave me some advice on how to integrate and teach from this new place.

He told me that this isn’t the end of the journey completely. It’s the end of seeking Awakening but it’s just the beginning of a new journey: learning how to bring this realisation into ordinary everyday life. 

Teaching meditation post-awakening makes a lot more sense. I can see how these techniques are more than just tools for making life easier. That’s where the journey starts but for those who want to go further, meditation can also lead to shifts far beyond anything a finite mind can imagine.

I still practice meditation everyday and I love it more than ever. The seeking element has fallen away and I now meditate only for the joy of it. I also love teaching more than ever, although I need to work on being a bit more down-to-earth at times. Getting over-excited and bringing up enlightenment on day one of a beginners course isn’t a good idea (haha). I’m still a work-in-progress despite everything you’ve read here.    

I also still attend retreats because it turns out that enlightenment is a multi faceted jewel. It can be explored from many angles and in many ways. Continuing down this path “cleans up” the Jimmy character by “uninstalling” outdated habits, beliefs and conditioning. The overall effect is to slowly but surely become more free, liberated and in contact with reality. 

One last thing...

If you’ve read this far then I want to say thank you and I hope we meet online or in-person one day. If you have a question about my courses or about your own journey then feel free to send an email. I'll be happy to steer you in the right direction to the best of my ability. 




P.S. Here is a link if you want to know more about our courses...

Information on Courses