All right. Well, you know, my name is George Beecher, and I’m from originally from Columbus, Georgia. But I grew up there. Then I spent a number of years living on the road with a rock band. And then I when I when I got done with that, I moved to Atlanta. And I’ve lived in Atlanta ever since, probably my my mid twenties on. So it’s been a long time, almost 30 years. And growing up, I, my my mother, my family was Catholic because my mother was Catholic. So we didn’t choose Catholicism. You know, we didn’t choose the thug life. The thug life chose us. But we my my mom was Catholic and kind of forced all of us kids to go to Catholic Church in Columbus, Georgia, and and she was really she she felt really deep, deeply connected with Catholicism, but none of us did. And we kind of revolted at a young age. And I was the youngest by far. My brother was ten years older than me and my sister’s about six years older than me. And so I guess when my brother was probably 16 or so, he said, I’m not doing this anymore, and he was too old for her to stop. And then as soon as he bailed on Catholicism, then, then my sister did as well. And then as soon as my sister did, I was just a little kid. But I said, I’m not doing that either. And my mom just kind of gave up. And and so I was done with the church. But there was still something in me that kind of sought the spiritual life. And I just knew that Catholic Catholics or Catholicism and Baptists was not for me, because in my town, the big Catholic Church and the big Baptist Church were on the same property. And I remember my first impression of that being that they shared a parking lot, or they they didn’t share a parking lot. 

They they had two parking lots that touched each other. And so I remember at an early age on Sundays, the the people would be fighting over the parking lots. And and I remember seeing like Baptists and Catholics like saying terrible things to each other. And I asked my mom, like, aren’t these supposed to be, you know, religious folks? And and so that was my impression then. And when I was about 19, I went on the road with this band. And so kind of the, the fun band life. But I was I’ve always been an early riser and when the band would sleep late every day till two, three, 4:00 in the afternoon and I would get up at 8 a.m. and I’d be going around town and I would go visit different kinds of churches, you know, anything I could find synagogues, you know, anything that I could find. And I would explore these different religions and different, different flavors of religion as well. So I might go to, you know, 50 different Christian churches that were all a little different from one another, you know, and and just explored them all over the southeast where we traveled and and each time I felt like it wasn’t for me, you know, each time I kind of got a bad impression from every one of them. And and keep in mind, I was young. So at that young age, I kind of decided that religion was bad and and I kind of gave up on it. I said, Well, none of them suit me. So I gave up on that. And I over the years, I had kind of found certain things I liked about different practices and, and took those and, and let go of all the rest of it. And I just decided church as a building was definitely not for me. And so I kind of had my own practice. Yeah. It’s past 1/2 church just going to. Yeah, you had the monks pick them up all you got to just, you know, anticipated that. Yeah, that happens. Yeah. Yeah, great. Okay. Sorry. Yeah, no worries. That happens. Noticeable. Yeah. I was like, what is that? I’ve, I’ve had that happen before. I should have thought of that. Yeah. Do we need to start over. Is it okay to pick up? Okay, cool. Yeah. Talking about. Yeah, yeah. So by like 22 to 25, I had kind of found certain things I liked and certain things I didn’t. And I knew church and religion wasn’t for me, but spiritual life I did like and and so I kind of like came up with my own, you know, I don’t want to say I came up with my own religion, but I came up with my own spiritual practices that work for me. And I could boil the whole thing down. At that time, if you’d asked me at age 25, I would have boiled the whole thing down to sort of being like a battery.

And it also was my first introduction to mindful eating,
which ended up, I’m convinced, ended up saving my life.

I thought, okay, you know, you have positive and negative on on a battery and there’s, you know, you have both and they both coexist, you know. So I kind of thought we have the bad and we have the good. It has to be a balance. And and and my my my sort of overall outlook was that I wanted I wanted to live my life doing as much positive as I could so that like when that time came that the majority of it was positive and, and the least amount was negative, and that to me was, was spiritual life, you know, and and I kind of quit searching at that point and I felt like, okay, this is it for me. This is where I am. Well, then, you know, I ended up getting married and and had had a child and my daughter and my wife and I, when we went to on a trip to Canada to visit her family, I was at the highest weight that I had ever been. I’ve always been a big guy. I’ve always been overweight, six foot four, you know. So I’ve always been big no matter what. And and by the time I had gone through marriage and all of this stuff, I kind of had gained a lot of weight. And I was as big as I’d ever been. And I, I felt really unhealthy, and I felt like my days were numbered. You know, and and when we went to this on this trip to Canada was a vacation. It was in the summer, believe it or not. A lot of people think Canada’s cold. It’s hot in the summer. No, we we went and and everything about the trip was was a problem for me. You know, everything about the trip highlighted the fact that I was unhealthy. I was hot constantly. I was I was uncomfortable constantly. You know, the flight I could barely fit in the plane seat. I had to ask for the seatbelt extender. And, you know, all of these things that made me really unhappy about my size and and plus, I just didn’t feel good either, you know, I felt unhealthy. And my dad died at age 59 from cancer and other health issues as well to do with weight as well. My my mom also died later on but but also from health issues and and so I kind of felt like I was on a I was on a very short timetable and I felt like I’d be lucky if I lived a few more years. But I had a really young daughter and I, I didn’t know what else to do. I had tried everything and nothing had ever worked. And and it also wasn’t on my mind, like I wasn’t looking for anything. I had kind of resigned myself to the fact that I was probably going to die young. And and on that trip, I woke up one day and I went to a bookstore, and there’s a whole story with my family about making me mad with that. But my mother in law would not give me a ride to the bookstore. She said, You need the exercise, you know. And she she was right. Was also wasn’t the nice way to do it. And um, and I went to, I went, I said, okay. And I walked down to this bookstore in August and and I was just, you know, drenched with sweat by the time I got there. And for me, like, kind of like my lowest point in life ever that I felt bad about myself. And I don’t I’m not a kind of person who typically feels bad about himself. So for me, this was unusual. But I went to this bookstore, I got there and I was soaking wet with sweat, and I went to the bathroom and I’m standing in the stall and I’m take off my clothes and I’m flapping my clothes trying to dry them off, you know, and and I was like, God, this is just not a way to live, you know? And and the reason I was going to this, bookstores, I love books, but also they had a Starbucks and I was going to get my Frappuccino and my chocolate chip cookie, you know, and as I came out of the bathroom and headed for that Starbucks there, as I passed by an end cap of books, and there was this white cover book with a slice of an orange on it, and it just said, savor mindful eating, mindful living. And I don’t know why that caught my attention. I don’t know why I even bothered picking it up. And, you know, I don’t know. But I picked up that book and I saw it was by this Buddhist monk and a Harvard nutritionist. And and I took it to the table with me, got my Frappuccino and my chocolate chip cookie. And then I sat down and I read half of the book during that set. The next day I came back and did it all over again and read the other half. Then I bought the book and took it home with me. And that book saver by Tickner Hahn and Dr. Lillian Cheung was my first introduction to mindfulness and the Dharma. And it also was my first introduction to mindful eating, which ended up, I’m convinced, ended up saving my life. I think I would have been dead already had it not been for that. So that was my first foray into it. And not only did it introduce me to mindful eating and mindful living, but but it introduced me to the four noble truths and the Eightfold Path and all of that. And, and unrelated to the food. When I read the Four Noble Truths, which essentially puts it, put it in the frame of food, but it said something like, you know, there’s a root, there’s a problem, acknowledge the problem. And then I said, you know, there’s a there’s a root cause for this problem. Find that root cause and identify that. And then it says, and there’s a solution, recognize that there’s a solution. And the root of the path for that solution is the eightfold path. And I kind of read that and I went, you know, my whole life, except for when I was on the road with a band. I’ve always worked in the technology world and and I’ve always been a tech support type person solving technical problems. And I read The Four Noble Truths, and I was like, This is a problem solving recipe. You know, it’s a it’s a it’s a a framework for solving problems. And I was like, this is what I’ve been doing my whole life. I’ve been doing this. So I felt like I had found a name, Buddhism, for what I had been my whole life and that thing that I had been seeking my whole life, that spiritual ity that I had been seeking when I was going to all those churches and all of that, it was already something I was doing. I just didn’t know that it was a thing, you know, and and finding that name for it and finding kind of the explanation of how it works, like what I’m doing is already a successful thing. I just need to learn more about it. And, and I felt like I had found that and that was, that was my introduction to the Dharma. And I just fell hook, line and sinker for it. And, and I’ve been practicing the Dharma ever since. That was 2010. That was July 3rd, 2010. And I remember the day of that trip, you know, but and been practicing ever since. So so I guess we’re coming up on 13 years now. My first year of practice was out horn style because that was my introduction to it, maybe almost two years and then and then slowly in that second year, I sort of discovered the Dharma punk scene and all of that, which is used to be called the Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society. 


And I kind of discovered that that sangha, which at that time was pretty big and growing quickly and and when I went there and I love the horn, you know, sangha, the whole the whole thing was very beautiful, very lovely and sweet and kind and gentle and all these wonderful qualities and, you know, I loved that. But at the same time, when I walked in to and against the Stream Sangha at that time, and it was a bunch of people who looked the way that I felt, you know, like in the rock and roll music or punk rock music and things like that, rap and all that. People who cussed, people who are who dress the way that I dress, you know, and stuff like that. It just, it just had a whole different flavor to it. And then I really like that. And I started getting into Theravada and teachings and, and for a long time I kind of cherry picked the things I liked from those kind of the way I did from spirituality in my early life. And, and eventually I kind of understood this, this idea that I kind of understood this idea that if you you can cherry pick those things if you want to, and that’s fine. But but that if you really, really want to learn the most, you kind of it’s helpful if you go deep with one tradition. And the way that I learned that was basically someone said, you know, it was a teacher that said it’s okay to cherry pick, but if you pick and go deep with one, you’re going to learn things that you won’t learn any other way. And and it’s also a way of like honoring that tradition and keeping that tradition alive, you know? And so the way that I picked it up was it doesn’t even matter which tradition you choose. Choose the one that you feel the most identified with, but really, really go deep. And then if you still want to cherry pick things from other practices, do that. And that’s kind of what I’ve done. I, I consider myself Theravada and I practice primarily to serve out in practices, but when I like something from another tradition, I’ll practice that as well. Recently and I’ve been going through this training program called the Dharma Chariot Program with Heartwood Refuge in North Carolina. And they they’re sort of a triple lineage training. The the teachers. There have been ordained in all three traditions. So so they kind of teach from all three and one of the things that we did was we did a month where we practice the long phrases from Tibetan, Tibetan mind training and and I really, really loved it. And now I do that every day, even though it’s not Tibetan is not my practice, you know, so.

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