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Buddhist meditation subject of Charlotte talk

In 1986, after seven years as editor-in-chief of Esquire, Phillip Moffitt gave it all up to pursue his inner life.

Even as he was turning the men’s magazine from a money loser into an award-winning success, and becoming friends with such illustrious writers as Gay Talese and Truman Capote, Moffitt felt nagged by a question: “Is this really what I want to be doing with my life?”

“Was I going to accumulate magazines?” he asked himself. “Was I going to accumulate money? Was I going to accumulate fame? None of those things appealed to me. What I really wanted was a sense of meaningfulness in my life.”

So Moffitt sold the magazine and became a Buddhist meditation teacher.

Today, Moffitt, 68, lives in the San Francisco Bay area, where he is co-guiding teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. He travels the country teaching meditation at retreat centers, such as Southern Dharma in the North Carolina mountain town of Hot Springs.

This month, he’ll speak in Charlotte and lead a guided meditation at a special meeting of the Insight Meditation Community of Charlotte. The free event is at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 17 at Park Road Baptist Church, 3900 Park Road. (See

Even before he came to Esquire, Moffitt had been practicing yoga, and while there, he added Buddhist meditation to his routine. What he wanted, he said, was to focus on his inner life.

“I sold Esquire at the age of 40 and stepped into a completely different world,” said Moffitt, who has written two books, “Emotional Chaos to Clarity” and “Dancing With Life.” (See

When he left the magazine, he said other people in leadership positions came to him and said, “I want to make changes in my life. How did you do that?” So he began offering workshops and created the Life Balance Institute, where he trains professionals how to skillfully make transitions in their lives.

In Charlotte, he said, he’ll focus on “how we can choose non-suffering in life rather than doing things that make ourselves miserable. … Life is hard enough on its own. But our relationship to life’s challenges adds so much suffering.”

Among the tools for achieving this peaceful state is “mindfulness” – the act of being present in the moment and observing situations or feelings without judging them.

For example, he said, one can choose how to respond to pressure on the job or to a difficult boss. People can “let loose of stress” by adopting an attitude of “loving kindness” toward that boss or that situation, instead of holding on to stress and anxiety.

“Stress is the mind’s reaction to pressure,” he said. “Sometimes we can’t change the pressure in our life, but we can change how we react to it.”