Clinical psychologist Eric López Maya discovered meditation in the wake of a devastating loss during college. Since then, the postdoctoral scholar at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center has been working to share mindfulness-based interventions adapted for Spanish-speaking audiences, founding the Mexican Institute for Mindfulness (MIM) to advance his mission.
Why did you start meditating?
It was around 1999, in college. My father became ill and died withina year. It was a huge blow, and I explored different alternatives to alleviate my suffering. Somehow I discovered a book on Buddhist meditation. I read a couple of paragraphs and did a simple meditation exercise, and that was it: Something clicked inside me. Those first practices gave me the possibility of having a silent mind for a little bit, of quieting the turmoil I was going through.
And you made a career of it?
Yes. Around 2002, I spoke with a professor who oversaw a relaxation techniques program. I told him about my meditative experiences, and his response was, “Why don’t you teacha meditation course?” I was terrified and excited at the same time. But I started teaching a free 10-week meditation course for psychology students. We would put up posters around school,…