I enjoyed a wonderful Uber trip the other day. Surprising in several ways, but particularly because of the questions the driver asked me.

I wonder, what do you say when someone asks you what you do? I typically stumble around my answer, starting with something like … ‘well, I’m a meditation teacher and an executive coach’ … which usually prompts a series of responses like, ‘so, you’re a school teacher then?’, or ‘what sport do you coach?’, or more often a non-committal ‘hmmmm’.

Perhaps you have also experienced the thoughts which follow – ‘am I odd to practice meditation and to teach it?’, ‘Is this an activity best kept to oneself?’, ‘Does anybody value meditation now we are passing beyond the fad stage?’ Etc Etc!

I’m used to this now, and I’m quite comfortable not going into any detail, and on this occasion too, I didn’t expect to get far before we drifted into comfortable silence.

Ha! What followed was the most detailed, thoughtful, curious, and considered questions I have ever been asked, from this humble man driving a car for a living to support his family. We went for a very deep dive into the origins of meditation, the similarities and dissimilarities across religions and cultures; forms of meditation including secular, spiritual, health and wellbeing, and mindfulness were all covered in some detail. We also touched on the personal benefits of meditation, who it might be of assistance too, was it a self-centred activity or a compassionate one, the value of meditation as an antidote to modern life’s pressures and so on.

What did I learn from this?

As a meditation teacher, it made me reflect on how important it is to pay deep attention to the novice in the room, because the novice is quite likely to ask the best, most unfiltered and thoughtful questions of all. Beginners tend to be unencumbered by patterns of thinking which stem from strongly held beliefs or cultural and social habits; they are not yet in the habit of responding automatically to a question or proposition.

It is truly a delight to be in the company of a beginner and to practice Beginner’s Mind in your teaching.

And so my invitation to you is to take a similar approach to your meditation teaching, to come to your teaching with an open and attentive mind – that way you are more likely to engage deeply with those you teach and to let go of your own preconceptions and habits.


– Murray Paterson
Meditation Australia Council member