Karen Vincent, CMT

About Me and my (formerly) messy life

There are many reasons people come to Meditation and Mindfulness practices. 

It could be in order to strengthen concentration, find more peace in life…or to simply be 10% happier. But usually, it’s because they’ve hit a wall on some sort of stress, struggle, or suffering. Pressures in life…difficult situations, concerning health issues. 

Or all three.

That would be me.

At this stage in my life, I would say I am a minimalist. I don’t like too much of anything. I don’t like to accumulate a lot of possessions. I don’t need a lot of friends. I dislike grocery shopping – there are too many choices. I make my bed in the morning (messy bed = messy head motto)

I like things to be clean …and simple.

But my life has not always been that way. In fact, if I’m brutally honest, it’s been pretty messy at times. It wasn’t until ten years ago that I started to see how I contributed to that messiness. 

You know how they say “Happiness is an inside job”?

Well…so is misery….

In the spirit of full disclosure, but also respecting one of Mindfulness and Meditation’s core practices of not identifying with our “story” here’s a bullet-point rundown of my life before I started meditating:

  • Was an unanchored, aimless teenager and young adult.
  • Struggled with aspects of personal relationships, a contributing factor behind multiple marriages.
  • Have been embroiled in the legal system a few times.
  • Worked in a niche industry that had odd (and stressful) hours and very odd (and stressful) personalities
  • Lost my home and all belongings in a house fire 5 days after moving in.
  • Diagnosed with a chronic, life altering illness.
  • Came to personal crossroads where I could cut loose and run (again)…or finally face things head on and learn how to stop being yanked around by internal and external circumstances.*

 

*Chose the latter!

Twenty years ago, I was introduced to Meditation. And through a regular Meditation practice, I learned how to get comfortable with the discomforts of life. Through Mindfulness, I learned how to stand up for myself in ways that did not cause more damage to myself…or others.

I also realized that there are no Others…there is only Us. This made me a kinder, more compassionate, person.

As I studied everything I could about Meditation, Mindfulness helped me take what I was learning “on the cushion” out into my daily life. These tools were a game-changer for me. Meditation also helped me understand that there was nothing wrong with me…nothing wrong with my life …and that peace, ease and joy are a shift in Awareness away.

I no longer saw myself as a “victim” of my experiences. I understood that I had choices in how I wanted to move through life. Meditation quietened my mind to see these choices, and Mindfulness helped me find the space and inclination to use them.

When life took another unanticipated turn, I found myself immobilized under the weight of the past. But as I was then well into my 50’s, I knew it was time to get serious. I was unwilling to carry that emotional baggage, any further into my life.

One of the best environments to really get a deep understanding of what meditation is all about, is in a silent meditation retreat. So, I travelled to other side of the world to the village of Bogor, Indonesia, where I attended a 10 Day Vipassana Silent Meditation Retreat.

Ten days of silence. 

Ten days of 14 hours in meditation. Ten days of witnessing the hamster wheel of hell, the mind creates.

It was a shocking thing to see how much pain we cause ourselves, just by thinking. It was the hardest thing I have ever done but after continual study, and several more meditation retreats, I’ve found a wiser, lighter, and certainly saner, way of living. 

I felt compelled to share what I learned, so I applied to a two-year Mindfulness & Meditation Teacher Certification program with Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach with the University of California, Berkeley’s Greater Goodness Science Center and the Awareness Training Institute. I also certified through the Mindfulness Teacher Training Program with Sean Fargo, founder of Mindfulness Exercises, and have completed the How to Guide Meditation training with Jeff Warren, co-author of “Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics” with Dan Harris (10% Happier).

I am a life-long learner and I continue to study, train, and certify, so that I can help others find strength and stability in their lives, no matter what the circumstance.

The most important lesson I teach is accepting that stress and struggle are a part of life. But you can be (more) OK with everything in your experience…by learning how to access the peace, ease and wisdom that is already here, through simple shifts in perspective.

Mindfulness & Meditation training awakens your ability to tap into, and use, these new understandings as you move forward in your life.

One caveat:

Just in case you’re thinking Mindfulness and Meditation is going to solve everything for you…there is no “Happily ever after”…but there is definitely “Being OK, right Now” –wherever you happen to be.

And that is enough to change your entire life.

My Training/Courses/Retreats:

Training:

Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification 2-year Program: Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach, University of California, Berkeley’s Greater Goodness Science Center and the Awareness Training Institute

Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification: Mindfulness Exercises with Sean Fargo)

How to Guide Meditation: Jeff Warren

Meditation Teacher Training Level 1: The Lotus Centre – Miranda Squires (Yoga Alliance Approved)

 

Retreats:

10-day Vipassana Retreat, Bogor, Indonesia
5-day Vipassana Retreat, Montebello, Quebec
4-day MMTCP Mindfulness Retreat, Bethesda, Maryland
4-day Consciousness Explorers Club Retreat, Mono Ontario
1-day Mindfulness Retreat Hot Bodies Yoga, Portugal Cove, NL
4-day MMTCP Mindfulness Retreat, On-line
1-day Treat Yourself with Care: Mindfulness Based Retreat: Online – Christine Eaton

Courses:

Introduction to Meditation – Insight Meditation Centre: Gil Fronsdale

The Power of Awareness:  Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach, 

Emptiness: A Practical Course for Meditators: Guy Armstrong

Mindfulness Made Easy: Mindfulness Exercises

The Four Foundations of Mindfulness: Bhikkhu Analayo

The Elements of Meditation: Jeff Warren

Effortless Mindfulness: Loch Kelly

Becoming a Teacher of Presence: Eckhart Tolle

How to Stay Grounded in Troubled Times: Engaging with the Healing Genius in Your Intense Emotions: Karla McClaren

Focusing: Beginners: Annette Dubreuil

Mindfulness for Caregivers:  Zen Caregiving Project