It seems crazy that we started this project five years ago this month. Time has flown in my life, and time has flown with this site. One Mind Dharma is my baby, and I love it deeply. We have so many wonderful people that interact with us daily. From Facebook and Instagram to our daily emails and one-on-one students, we have met and connected with so many AMAZING people across this planet. We’ve built lasting relationships, learned a great deal from you all, and been touched by so many of you. I think I have done this the last couple years, but I like to share where One Mind Dharma came from, how it became what it is today, and what it means to us.
One Mind Dharma started as The Easier Softer Way. Actually, it started as TheEasierSofterWay.wordpress.com. At the time, I was working for an SEO (search engine optimization) and SMM (social media marketing) company. I didn’t know much about marketing and SEO, so I was told to create my own little website to test my skills. The Easier Softer Way was my “Guinea pig,” my test website. I called it The Easier Softer Way in reference to a line from The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous that reads, “We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not.” At the time I was very active in twelve-step recovery and wanted to investigate the relationship between recovery and Buddhism. I named it The Easier Softer Way because that line in the Big Book implies that staying sober and doing work IS the easier, softer way.
The Easier Softer Way was a recovery and meditation blog. I began writing daily inspiration emails every weekday. They weren’t quotes from other people; I wrote a few lines every day, just offering my thoughts and hope. We quickly gained some subscribers (most of whom are still members). In 2012, I was visiting my parents and was at a meditation center looking through malas. They were very expensive, and I jokingly said to my dad that I could make these for cheaper! That day, my mom and I drove to Michael’s craft store and bought a bunch of wooden beads and string. I made a few simple malas, made my own tassels out of embroidery thread, and put them up on the website and Etsy. They sold! All of them! I was pretty impressed.
By this time, The Easier Softer Way was about a year old and I had learned quite a bit about online marketing and started my own company, Prajna SEO. We began to have a bit of a following on social media and our website. We started our daily guided meditation emails and offered them for free. I went through some training and began working intensively with a meditation teacher. I also began dating Elizabeth, who quickly began to play a part in the website. I began ordering gemstone beads online, stringing our malas on stronger wire, and finding pendants. Elizabeth and I bonded over One Mind Dharma, our meditation practice together, and our creativity making jewelry.
Eventually, I decided to start charging for the daily guided meditation emails. We left everyone on the list that was already on there, but I wanted to see if I could make money doing what I love. People began joining. I sold Prajna SEO and took on The Easier Softer Way full time, teaching meditation at a local meditation center. Again, we took our shop more seriously and began going to gem shows, buying only natural beads without dyes, materials that were harvested fairly, and using higher-quality stones. Elizabeth and I grew closer, and she became an integral part of the website. She wrote (and continues to write) the Daily Inspirational Emails. She records meditations sometimes for the emails. She does a lot with our social media.
In early 2015, I began to think about changing the name of The Easier Softer Way. We no longer were a recovery-oriented site (although I am still in recovery), but evolved into a site mostly about Buddhism, meditation, mindfulness, and some general spirituality/self-help. My dharma practice deepened. Although I regularly sat 3 or more weeklong retreats a year, I had never sat a longer retreat. I sat for a silent monthlong retreat in February, which was difficult and beautiful. I was nominated by a couple teachers for a teacher training program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, and was deeply honored. I had taught a bit at a meditation center and at my home. I was ready to take the next step in sharing the dharma. I began the CDL program with a group of 100 other people who also wanted to hone their skills in sharing the dharma, and have built some amazing relationships.
Every July, Elizabeth and I attend the 10 day metta retreat at Spirit Rock. In July 2015, about halfway through the retreat, I broke noble silence (you’re not allowed to communicate on meditation retreats). Elizabeth and I walked up the trail to the woods above Spirit Rock, and I asked her to marry me. During this period of intensive heart practices, it was absolutely perfect. I couldn’t get a word out of my well-planned speech because I was crying. She said yes.
In October, we went for it and changed the name to One Mind Dharma. We chose the name One Mind Dharma because after teaching and working one-on-one with people, we found something interesting. No matter how different circumstances are, the mind responds the same for everyone. We crave, cling, avert, and fall into delusion. It was rough; business slowed down, people were confused, many complained about the name and the logo and the change in general. But we kept with our decision and are so glad we did.
Five years ago, I was living in a small rented bedroom plugging away at a low-paying job where I wasn’t exactly thriving. I had very unhealthy relationships with women in my life, wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my time, and was lacking a deep purpose. I had a small WordPress blog where I shared my experience with others. Today, my life looks completely different. We have a thriving website, blog, store, email lists, and social media. We don’t buy fake followers or advertise, but our Facebook now has over 420,000 fans.
Elizabeth is about to graduate from college summa cum laude. She got into her first choice for graduate school (duh, she’s awesome), and we are moving to Northern California, a place we have been wanting to move to for years. I am no longer on probation or parole. I have a small day job and together with One Mind Dharma, we make enough money to support ourselves. I teach meditation at meditation centers, treatment centers, online, and work one-on-one with many people. I am in one of the most well-respected and thorough training programs in the country for Buddhist teachers and work with a teacher that I have admired and respected for years, Kevin Griffin. And, of course, we are getting married in July at a beautiful venue with a relatively small group of close friends and family.
One Mind Dharma and The Easier Softer Way have always been there for me. When all else seems chaotic, I always know I can return to One Mind Dharma, share my thoughts, connect with others, learn from you all, and hopefully inspire a few along the way. This small project has taken this journey with me through life, growing and changing, subject to impermanence like everything else. Watching it grow and change with me in my life has brought me great joy over these past five years.
Without the support of our wonderful community, we simply wouldn’t be here. Thank you to everyone who helped us learn to blog, who shared their gratitude with us, who conversed with us on Twitter, and who supported us financially through contributions, memberships, and buying our jewelry. I can’t say it enough, but we rely on you to do what we do. I’ve almost given up with this site probably a dozen times. The site has gone down (several times), I once deleted the entire site and its backups and had to start over from scratch, I’ve forgotten to pay the renewal fees, and we once got hacked. But through it all, you all kept us going. Thank you to everyone who is searching, as we are, for awakening.
Your support keeps us going, and as we do every year on our anniversary, we’d like to ask for your continued support. We only beg for support once a year, so bear with me. There are many ways you can support One Mind Dharma and what we do. You may simply donate, you may join One Mind Dharma to receive our daily guided meditation emails and discounts in our store, or you may buy something from our store (in which we are having sale right now). We record every meditation here from home, make malas on our coffee table, and record our Dharma Talk podcast on the couch. One Mind Dharma is our life. Any support is truly appreciated, and please remember that generosity doesn’t just come in the form of money. You can be generous and support One Mind Dharma by liking us on social media, sharing our offerings with someone, or by continuing to stick with us as we make mistakes, let the website payments lapse, and indubitably cause confusion. This crazy experiment we started five years ago with The Easier Softer Way will continue to change, grow, and bring joy to my life. I look forward to watching my baby, One Mind Dharma, grow up.