Hello, I’m Neil McKinlay

I was introduced to meditation as a teenager. While perched on a rolled-up sleeping bag, a swim coach taught me how to sit still, close my eyes, and recite a mantra. Intrigued, I passed the next few years exploring a range of contemplative traditions. Meditation always beckoned, though, and I have today spent more than twenty years immersed in somatic or body-based practice.

My Story

My sources of support and inspiration in this work have been many. The writings of Shunryu Suzuki and Chogyam Trungpa. The City Retreat teachings of Pema Chodron. A long apprenticeship with Reggie Ray. Working with others has also been impactful in this regard. As a teacher, I have had the privilege of instructing both online and in-person. I have been able to explore the teachings and practices of embodied meditation with small groups near my home in the Pacific Northwest and larger groups around the globe.

Through all this, I have also been a parent and partner, author and competitive swim coach. Each of these roles has, in their own way, shown me that meditation specifically and spirituality more generally, is not something to be left on the cushion or stored in the shrine room. This work lives and breathes and thrives when it is brought into the world, allowed to touch and be touched by the stuff of everyday life.

In meditation we learn how to be deeply and simply here, in this moment, in this body, and in this life.

 

When I am present with an aspect of myself that needs only witness. When I see through the numbing storm of my opinions to realize someone else is suggesting the most appropriate way forward. When I suddenly know the struggles of a friend as intimately as I know my own or when I pause to welcome the radiance of a rain-dropped flower. These are the ordinary moments in which my many years of somatic practice seem most resonant and fruitful.

Affording opportunities for us to connect with and appreciate this ordinariness has always inspired me as a student and teacher. With this website and all it offers, I am thrilled there are now even more ways for us to do this with one another. I am also humbled and grateful. If you had asked me all those years ago, as I sat with my eyes closed on a rolled-up sleeping bag, I would have never imagined my relationship with meditation coming to this.

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I have been thinking for days about the most deeply meaningful things I can say about Neil as a teacher and as a principled human being. I think the two words that first come to mind are honesty and integrity. And an ability to hold the space, whether it is with one person or many. His many years of study and immersion have given him the skills to be a very very fine teacher.  I treasure my connection with Neil and recommend him often to folks looking for a meditation teacher.

— Babs O’Brien

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