by Julia Gibson, Certified Meditation Instructor

My journey began on September 09th 2001. The opening ceremony for the upcoming meditation course, the ceremony was to introduce the group now named “Willow Group” to our Master Teacher Phra Dhammamongkolyarn (Luangphor Viriyang Sirintharo) and the Willpower Institute.

It was a very exciting experience and quite beautiful, the ceremony being quite different from anything I had experienced before. In Thailand teachers are revered and respected by the population.

The next evening the course began, the class was quite large to begin with and some of the students chose not to stay for the full 6 months, I felt the commitment was large every evening Monday through Friday for 6 months at the time I was living in Devon which is a 30 minute drive to Edmonton.

After the first few weeks I realized how much benefit I was feeling from taking the course, my life seemed to be more balanced and calm, I felt so alive and full of energy the 5 nights a week came and went with ease. Throughout the course our group became very close, the light and friendly atmosphere at the sessions just kept me coming back. During the course I made a commitment to help Luangphor to further his goal of world peace through meditation, I knew I would teach when the time was right.

The more I meditated the happier my life became with such a feeling of inner peace you cannot describe to anyone the benefits gained.

After the course the group was invited to take a trip to Thailand to complete the meditation course with a 4 day 3 night  trek through the jungle, the jungle turned out to be less like a Tarzan movie and more like a walk in the park, not that it was not grueling in the 38 degree humid temperatures. As the trip was taken in March of 2002 the jungle was not in full growth more like spring when things are just starting to open up to a new year of growth, somewhat like the students that now walked the ground.

The trip also was an opening experience; my heart was full as was my body, mind and soul I was forever changed by this wonderful trip, and the people both Thai and Canadian. The common goal shared by people of all walks of life seemed to coalesce into a single feeling that was so overwhelming and so beautiful it was one of the most extraordinary, amazing trips one could ever be so fortunate to take part in.

On our return to Canada my future plans involved meditation and the Willpower Institute, I continued to attend the meditation evenings whenever possible which was most nights, eventually I was invited to take the instructor exam, my goal was realized I started to teach 1 or 2 classes a week to help out.

In the fall of 2003 I decided to make a career change and take a 17 week intensive course to become a nursing attendant, I was 56 years old and yes I was worried about returning to school after 40 years, again I found meditation to be a huge asset finishing the course with 96% and also teaching at the meditation course that had started the week before my own course. During my schooling I found that my concentration and focus were increased measurably, I could assimilate information, and recall what important information I needed ready for the exams.  Not being a scholar ever in my life this was amazing to me, being able to balance work, class and life in general without stress is the single most important benefit for me from meditation.  It is all encompassing. My mind feels clearer, my body feels lighter and my soul feels freer to reach out to others. The meditation course and the ability to teach has given me the opportunity to encourage others to achieve balance in their lives.

As we all know life is too busy, meditation helps to slow down the fast pace and to allow us to enjoy the journey without the added stress which plagues the human race.

I wish to thank Luangphor for his patience and wisdom, for giving this most perfect of gifts to all who would partake. To receive this gift freely offered is a decision one will never regret, it is something that impacts your whole life and will be carried throughout your life, a constant companion.