Founder of Stillness Center
Hi Byron, thanks for joining me today and being part of the Transformational Interviews series. Byron is the founder of Stillness Center, a meditation teaching and death coaching practice, based in Fort Collins, Colorado.
To begin with, I’m curious to hear what is your opinion on the state of the spiritual entrepreneur community today?
I feel there is growth in the mindfulness industry, there’s a lot of stuff happening out there. Lots more people are interested in yoga and meditation. And couple meditation looks to be a growing trend. But it’s also a very cluttered market.
There are a lot of people who are trying to offer these services, all you have to do is just look on Facebook or Instagram or wherever, and you can see just the amount and the variety of offerings that are out there.
For a beginner who is looking for a spiritual home or where to get started, it can be confusing, you have to trust your inner guidance and listen to your intuition.
You know what Christians might call the holy spirit, use your own discernment to guide you in the right way. But it can be quite confusing, especially when you are yourself confused to begin with.
Covid did surely take away a lot of distractions and give us the gift of time. We all were locked down, with no choice but to be with ourselves.
For me, what has been consistent throughout those two years is daily meditation, afternoon reading with my partner, prayer, and silent contemplation, which has been a lifesaver.
I can’t imagine what we would have done or how we would be feeling right now if we didn’t have those practices.
Covid also gave you the opportunity to focus on your practice since you opened your Stillness Center in 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic.
That’s right. What happened was that I’ve been on a spiritual path, or a path to awakening, for the better part of about 10 years, really serious.
I’ve been part of a meditation teacher training program, a program that teaches meditation teachers. And that led me to start the Stillness Center, which is the website and also the meditation teaching practice.
I set up my website in April of 2020. So just right after the COVID pandemic began, and my original training was designed to teach students meditation in person.
I was forced to shift over to a virtual model teaching via Zoom, which has its limits and challenges of course, but I found it to be useful because you can teach people from all over the world instead of just from your local area.
I found myself facing a cluttered market and it seems to me, the best way that you can grow your meditation teaching business is by word of mouth and by embodying the teaching yourself, so much that people see you and they notice your energy and the difference that you’re making.
Right, It’s all about vibrations. I’m curious, how did you feel teaching your first class over zoom?
It was challenging because as you say, I was teaching in a different format, and for the first time. But, now things have settled a bit and I’ve become comfortable in teaching. And it’s also been helpful that my partner teaches alongside me. We found a lot of resonance with couples who are wanting to learn to meditate for purposes of managing the stress of their daily lives, their parenting activities, and their own relationship.
We found that a lot of couples appreciate the opportunity to learn meditation from another couple and to talk about all the ways they can support each other on that mindfulness path. I think we will eventually get to the point of just offering couples meditation training because it’s so powerful.
We are considering creating an offering for a three-day couple meditation retreat space. So you could come with your partner and stay in a calm and safe place. This allows you to experience the guided couples meditation AND some one-on-one time with your partner on our romantic couple retreat.
This is really powerful, love it! Would make for an incredible experience.
I saw you are already planning on building your own meditation center, right?
Yeah, that’s right. I have a small property and we’ve got permits and things like that. It’s just a matter of waiting until the construction costs go down, and we’re ready to go.
We’ve even considered some other options, but it seems like everybody in the construction business is really, really busy right now. We were also thinking about holding a couple meditation retreat in Mexico, but I think we’re not ready for it just yet. We would make it cost-neutral for a start, but so far I still work full-time and this is my main source of income.
I would like to help others, to be useful. I recognize that when I’m giving service is when I feel the least selfish, the least self-centered, and the least concerned about myself. The least stressful when I’m involved in digging into helping others with some of the same issues I might struggle with or have struggled with, and overcome that feels very, very rewarding.
This is an incredible combination and I resonate 100% with what you said. There is something more I’ curious to hear from you. What’s your daily relationship with abundance?
Abundance is your choice. If you think you are subject to the forces of a world that are mean and evil and seek to destroy you, you will never experience true abundance.
What’s required is to remove your own blocks, that’s a simple way of putting it, but I think that’s absolutely true. People who think that they are lacking anything, whether it is power or money or food or friends, or loved ones need to recognize that they are the ones that hold themselves back, nobody is a victim here. And we can choose to either, you know, stay in the victim mentality, or we can take control of the situation by looking at it more clearly.
And you know, the path I have followed teaches that when you look directly at your fear and darkness, then it can’t stay because it’s like turning on a light in a dark room. Once the light is there, the darkness has to go, the light is more powerful.
Even as you begin to make progress on your spiritual path, you still have frustrations and you feel like you’re not measuring up.
You feel like you got to the top and think, oh, this is wonderful. And then back down to the bottom again, and at the bottom, you think, oh no, I can never take that climb again.
It’s too difficult, you know, experiencing that anticipation of what’s going to happen. And then you get back to the top and then you’re super happy.
And that’s the nature of our life. We live in a world of opposites and you have to learn to be gentle with yourself in the process especially when you are in your greater struggle.
And I have had some experience with that. It’s not easy, but if you truly want to help yourself and others you have to gain that perspective that allows you to see that in the depths of despair, you are simply being prepared for the next wonderful thing that occurs.
It is a lifelong process. It never ends.
Yeah, it’s true. Until we leave this body, these are the circumstances in which we will operate and we get a choice as to how to deal with them. With grace, patience, and kindness toward ourselves, or with judgment, frustration, addiction, difficulty.
Is all this connected to the process you call death coaching?
I’ve lost some loved ones in my life, including my dad when I was younger. And that led me to struggle with the concept of my own mortality. And so I became curious about the death and dying process and how people navigate it. I learned a lot about myself and about my ability to be with people as they’re going through that process, whether they are the person dying themselves or the people who surround the dying person.
I’ve found that to be transformational for me, there have been some profound experiences of working with the dying. That’s when I discovered a death coaching program at the University of Vermont and I immediately signed up to become certified as an end of a life coach.
At some point, I would love to combine meditation teaching and the death coaching practice, especially in the retreat center
I envision those retreats to be a safe space for families with terminally ill family members. Whether it’s cancer or any other sickness, the entire family could come in for a five-day intensive experience to learn how to meditate, reconnect with each other, and talk about death and how to navigate the process.
There will be facilitators, myself included, to help families navigate that process in the best possible way. Because this is something that everyone is going through right? And contemplating our own mortality is key to a happier life.
And I would like to offer those retreats for a very low rate, just enough to cover my costs, to allow more and more families to benefit from this experience.
ed to the process you call death coaching?
Founder of Stillness Center
Byron Laws is a meditation teacher and end-of-life Doula (death & dying coach). Byron has worked for more than 20 years in scholarly publishing and brings a corporate background to his teaching work. He is the founder of Stillness Center, a meditation teaching and death coaching practice, based in Fort Collins, Colorado. Byron is also the founder and organizer of the Warren Lake Sustainable Neighborhoods group and is an involved hospice volunteer. Byron started teaching meditation as a way to deepen his own practice and loves to celebrate the amazing outcomes of helping students to find the Stillness within. Byron is a father of two great kids and loves to cook, read, fish, garden and travel.
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