Meet the Sangha – Pavel Sidakov

Our Meet the Sangha column continues with Pavel Sidakov, best known to many of us for his jokes. His offering is a little longer than others we’ve posted but it’s a fascinating story. – Michelle Welch, blog editor

Pavel Sidakov

As I reflect upon my life I see a variety of seeds that eventually blossomed in my discovery of Shambhala. While I was born and christened in Russia as an Orthodox Christian, I didn’t really have any sort of ongoing spiritual practice. My parents, during their midlife reevaluation, opened the door for me to seek out alternatives to that upbringing. My mother’s exploration of the alternative healing systems such as hatha yoga and acupuncture gave me an introduction to the vedanic teachings of India. My father’s interest in the spiritual cosmology of the Hindu tradition, offered a further encouragement to become a spiritual seeker.

During my senior years of high school I discovered interest in psychology as a potential life pathway. It offered some of the answers to my perpetual questioning as to “Why people do what they do?” Hence, I sought out my first mentor, Dr. Sanford Cohn. In working with him I discovered Daniel Goleman’s “Emotional Intelligence” and Robert Wright’s “Nonzero.” Furthermore, I am currently discovering that they are Buddhist practitioners, as well. In our conversations I expressed to him that I wanted to help people. To which he suggested, Karate Kid’s Mister Miyagi style, that I learn to make friends with myself by just sitting with myself a few moments, few minutes at a time. This practice grew of its own accord and later I even learned a formal term for it – meditation.

During my psychology studies at ASU, after a fair amount of sitting on my own, I took a tentative step and sat at the Zen center in Tempe. Just like a lot of people, I liked the aesthetic of simplicity and unclutteredness. In addition, my appreciation of mystery books have led me to a lot of fun in exploring koan practice.

Fast forward a few years – I’ve moved to Scottsdale and am living within the walking distance of work. At the time, I was still visiting the Zen center for an evening sit once a week. Eventually, because of the long commute, I started wondering whether there was meditation community closer to home. Serendipitously, as I was making my way through the spring training traffic I saw a Shambhala Meditation Center sign. On that Sunday, even though I was on my way home from work, I decided to take a chance and stop in. There I found a group of people having tea and conversation. Promptly after the introductions, I got a tour of the center and have enjoyed meditating here ever since.

Personally, I really enjoy meditating, whether on my own or with other human beings, whether in the nature or in the waterfall. Meditation might not always be “fun,” but it is always enjoyable. Furthermore, I’m very grateful to have an opportunity to attend the weekend retreats. These few days of meditation have allowed me and others an opportunity to deepen our personal practices in the convenient distance of a short car ride. To be honest, while I was a bit intimidated at first, I was quite happy to have an opportunity to expand my meditation practice.

Furthermore, I really appreciate having an opportunity to participate and learn alongside others as a member of Sharphasana recovery group. I feel that the experiences we share in this group help us all grow as human beings.
These days, through my business, I steadily work towards bringing meditation to society at large. Offering people a way to get to know their own selves is very important. Often, in normal societal perception we experience ourselves as a fixed object rather than an ever changing human being. Meditation is a very potent practice that allows me – and a lot of others – to avoid unnecessary suffering. Having experienced the benefits and the challenges of the practice firsthand, I only wish for more people to try it out for themselves.

Previous Meet the Sangha posts:
LaDawn Haglund
Stuart Rice
Michael Lipscomb
Michelle Welch