Interview: Matt Young, mindful meditation teacher
Matt Young is the Director of the Melbourne Meditation Centre. He’s been teaching meditation for about a decade, endeavouring to demystify the practice and to update the stereotypical impressions of meditation that many still hold. He loves playing squash and finding places free of human habitation. His mobile phone is over 12 years old. People often comment on how calm he seems — but most of them haven’t seen him on the golf course.
What led you to meditation?
I stumbled, almost literally, into meditation whilst backpacking around India. A fellow backpacker convinced me to try yoga, which, up until that point, I had considered fit only for circus freaks. Only days later I was hooked, not so much with the postures, but with the strangely compelling meditation sessions we did each afternoon, without any instruction and amidst the chaos of life in Varanasi.
What value has practicing meditation brought to your life?
Meditation changed the entire trajectory of my life. Always something of a rebel, meditation helped to further free my mind from the tyranny of my own beliefs and to open it to a wider, more curious and less judgmental way of being.
How has meditation supported you in your professional life?
Meditation is my professional life. I consider myself amazingly fortunate to have stumbled into a career where to head off to work is relaxing, enjoyable and rewarding.
What are the biggest obstacles to your practice?
There have been many obstacles: confusion, discomfort, a perceived lack of progress, boredom, scepticism, hopelessness. My guess is that obstacles of various kinds will continue to arise. Right now, my main concern is with finding a new purpose for my meditation practice. Obstacles, though, are no longer obstacles. Instead they are the challenges I look forward to with relish.
What is a quote that most inspires you and why?
Q: Do you want to know what the secret [to life] is?
A: There is no secret.
I’ve found myself, at various times, looking for the quick fix, the magic recipe, the true path, the panacea, the elixir, the blue pill, or maybe just the next book, to fix me up for good. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s this very search — for some secret ingredient — that causes much of my anguish and disappointment with life. Much better, it is, I believe, to focus on the realities, than to wander lost amongst dreams and hopes. This little saying, from Dorothy Rowe, reminds me to look for satisfaction with what I have, rather than to search for satisfaction with what I haven’t.
What is a book that has opened you to new ideas and inspired your growth and why?
In recent years, Jason Siff’s Unlearning Meditation has proved to be a delightfully reassuring companion. It’s one of very few truly fresh, helpful and insightful books on meditation available. Jason invites us to question the many assumptions that we hold about ourselves and our meditation practices, and paves the way for a much more honest and authentic meditation practice to develop. If that sounds a bit like an endorsement written for the back cover of a book, you’re right! (I’d happily endorse it).
What Mindful Music do you listen to (ie. music that grabs your full attention and brings you into the moment.)
This changes almost from week to week. Here are a few songs, albums and artists that jump to mind:
1. Beatles & The Stones by The House Of Love
2. Anything by David Parsons or Sky
3. Soundtrack to the films ‘Moon’ and ‘American Beauty’
4. Night Song by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
5. Popular artists such as Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, Brian Eno etc.
Has Matt Young inspired you towards mindfulness? Click here to find out more about the next round of Mindful In May.