Location: Decatur, GA

When did you first start practicing mindfulness and why were you motivated to do so?

I began practicing mindfulness about 12 years ago, as my wife and I prepared to have our first child. I realized I had lived a lot of my life by either avoiding discomfort or placing my thoughts far from the present moment.  

Did you take a class? If so, what sort of class did you take?

I took introductory meditation classes at the Atlanta Soto Zen Center (around 2000 or 2001) and have since practiced with the Shambhala Center of Atlanta here in Decatur, GA.

How has mindfulness made a difference in your life?

It has given the the capacity to work through concerns, face fears, and focus my thoughts on how I can help others. It has also taught me that I have the ability to be totally present and experience life as it happens. I don't have to try to "change the channels" when I don't like what's on, so to speak.

What do you do for your livelihood (ex: homemaker, teacher, firefighter) and does your practice of mindfulness affect that?

I'm a professional writer and actor, so mindfulness has become an essential tool in my everyday livelihood. I'm also a barefoot runner, and that truly requires mindfulness and awareness in the moment. (When the shoes come off, so does the iPod, so I can be fully present as a runner.) I'm also a father of two, happily married (17 years), a Little League coach and PTA President.

Is there anything else you would want people to know about mindfulness and you?

In the summer of 2009, I was bitten on the foot by a poisonous snake while attending a Native American event. (The event didn't involve snakes—one just showed up and I unknowingly stumbled upon it.) I'm certain that mindfulness helped me not only survive, but turn the experience into one where I actually felt grateful for having gone through it.