On July 16, 2017 we lost an inspirational person, Michael Stone---a Buddhist teacher, yogi, psychotherapist, author and activist, devoted family man and friend. To me he was a great teacher and his passing is heart breaking. He used Buddhist and yoga practices to teach how to transform habits, cultivate more intimate relationships, and promote a deeper compassion for our world.
After learning of his passing I felt disbelief, confusion and a deep sadness. But then I slowly came to the realization that we did not lose him. He gave so much of himself during his short 42 years that his legacy will live on. His teachings will continue through the 5 books he wrote, hundreds of podcasts of his public talks, on-line courses, through the students who studied with him, and more importantly, through all the people around the world who learned from him and were inspired to follow his example.
I was lucky to haven taken one of his on-line courses, I’ve read 4 of his books, listened to dozens of podcasts and am training under one of his students. While I only met him once via the on-line course, I felt I knew him because he shared himself so authentically. It’s really quite amazing to experience someone who is so open, honest and real.
I strongly feel that those of us who have been touched by this incredible teacher will be inspired to continue his legacy by sharing his wisdom. That is why I felt compelled to share with you a few of his teachings that moved me. In turn, I hope this will inspire you to learn more from Michael, feel the positive effects of his teachings and share them with your community.
Lessons from Michael Stone
Meditation – is political. I appreciate how he focuses on inner transformation as the cornerstone to affecting change. He said that inner transformation and social change go hand in hand. When we cultivate positive thoughts we take positive actions. With a consistent meditation practice we learn to have a more open and flexible attitude which allows us to be less judgmental of ourselves and others. This embodies ahimsā, non-harming, which helps us to be less reactive and respond with more lovingkindness and compassion.
Michael recommended meditating daily first thing each morning for 30-45 minutes. This is a time when you don’t have to be anyone or have any expectations---just breathe. This is such a beautiful way to describe the practice----it sounds so peaceful and is what made me realize that meditation is a treat I give myself. This was the turning point for me to maintain a consistent practice.
Community – The importance of community was interwoven in all of his teachings and really is the core for many religions and spiritual practices. In my notes from his course on Embodying Ethics he even said “Good friendship is the entirety of a spiritual practice.” We need each other----we are all interconnected. So he encouraged us to cultivate intimate relationships. To be more present with each other and to recognize that we are not separate. When we understand that concept we are naturally inclined treat each other with more respect and compassion.
I image his background in psychotherapy influenced his teaching style as he developed assignments where students would breakup in small groups to discuss sensitive issues---totally reminding me of past counseling sessions! I always got nervous during those encounters (just like I did in my counseling sessions), but always found them insightful and beneficial. Aside from the lessons learned through talking about a specific subject, you realize the importance of simply sharing yourself with others and truly listening to them in return. This type of honesty creates intimacy, trust and deepens our relationships. We need to practice having those conversations because we aren’t used to it and it can be scary---do it anyway.
Situational Ethics – involves trusting that you know what to do in any situation. We need the spirit behind the rules so that we want to embody ethics and not feel forced to follow them. His teachings made me really want to be a better person. No guilt trip or judgement comes from him. His teachings are based on love, compassion and honesty. Life is not black and white, right or wrong---it is messy, beautiful, and emotional. Through studying the yoga and Buddhist philosophies and maintaining a consistent meditation practice we train ourselves to react less and respond more skillfully to life situations. You are encouraged to drop fixed perceptions and meet each moment fully without prejudice.
Thank you Michael and the Michael Stone Team for the generosity of your time, wisdom, patience and kindness. Your legacy will live on!
I truly hope you are motivated to learn more about Michael Stone’s teachings and encourage you to visit his website for more information: www.michaelstoneteaching.com.