Unassuming and irreverent, Graham White has been coming to Hawaii for a number of years teaching meditation practice at the Palolo Zen Center and other locales. A native of Sydney, on the surface, this Aussie surfer dude seems an unlikely meditation master. Perhaps that’s just another lesson in why stereotyping doesn’t necessarily work.

Grahame’s great gift is to make Buddhism accessible to Westerners. He has a knack for taking everyday trials and tribulations, say being stuck in traffic, and turning it into a “learning moment”.

I’ve taken several of his retreats and never fail to be impressed with his homespun sagacity.

Last year I decided last year to make a short video, with the idea of distilling the essence of his practice. I wanted people to know who Grahame is and what he does.

Perhaps a thumbnail bio is in order. Grahame began meditating in 1969 while in England on a youthful world tour, which is a rite of passage for Aussies. His spiritual odyssey led him to BodhGaya, India, where in 1971, he spent a year as a Buddhist monk.

He returned to Australia shortly after, determined to integrate himself back into the world. One of his first jobs back in Oz, was at a steel plant, where he soon had his fellow hard hats practicing meditation. Grahame established his own meditation practice (in the tradition of Mahasi Sayadaw) and co-founded the Blue Mountains Insight Meditation Center outside of Sydney.

He currently offers introductory and day long courses in Sydney. Thankfully he also ventures off to Hawaii once or twice a year to lead retreats in the US (and Myanmar).

Grahame sat down with me in Honolulu where he was leading a retreat at the Palolo Zen Center and discussed how he became interested in Buddhism, the practical benefits of mindfulness meditation practice, and what he hopes people gain from his teachings.

You can learn more about this practice and upcoming retreats at VipassanaHawaii.org.