Sometsuke Sencha Teapot and Cups/ public domain image from The MET

The world today desperately needs a path of practical wisdom. To lead more fulfilling lives, we need to find deeper meaning and ease, what the ancient Greeks called eudaimonia.

Despite having access at our fingertips to more knowledge than ever before, wisdom and well-being have gone missing in action.

This website offers personal insights into the early Buddhist teachings as a source of practical wisdom and happiness anyone can follow no matter how busy and chaotic their lives seem.

We can realistically bring about true happiness, true contentment in our lives just as they are. Now when I say our lives as they are I really do mean just as they are.

Many forms of spiritual practice which have found a home here in the West advocate intensive meditation practice, which is great. But I am often asked the following question about this kind of spiritual cultivation:

Are extended meditation retreats viable or necessary?

One very rich area, which unfortunately I don’t see discussed thoroughly enough, is how practical some of these ideas regarding meditation are for most of us. Some forms of meditation practice have been adapted to our contemporary society from renunciate, ascetic origins in the East.

Many of us first encountering these adapted forms of spiritual and contemplative development understandably may be just a little are put off by the emphasis placed on the value of extended meditation retreats. However, allow this point to settle in:

Our ordinary lives are where the action is

This website strives to offer an alternative to many retreat-focused approaches to contemplative spirituality, as it recognizes that a huge portion of our society simply cannot afford the expense nor the time involved in undertaking retreats.

And it presents the point of view that spiritual development is at times more thorough-going when undertaken in our lives as they are — and for many of us that means living paycheck to paycheck, or raising kids, or taking care of our aging parents.

What I present here are simply my own personal findings of a 40 plus year journey through Buddhist systems of meditation and contemplation. But please know that my approach to teaching is thoroughly secular and contemporary, incorporating poetry and ecology.

No one tradition holds all the answers

I hold very dear the teachings of early Buddhism. I also find the some of the contemplative practiced described in Christian, Islamic, and Jewish mystical traditions especially helpful in illuminating a path for busy “householders.”

I hope that you find something here that makes sense for you.

About me

Hi. My name is Tom Davidson-Marx and I have been teaching Buddhist-inspired meditation in Honolulu since 1998, in our home on the island of O’ahu.

I trained in both the “vipassana” approach to meditation in the USA and Burma and the anapanasati (breath awareness) practice in Sri Lanka. I spent three years training as an ordained Buddhist monk practicing these forms of meditation.

I find the simple breath awareness practice, which leads to a profound, abiding peace, to be the most effective meditative approach in our group meetings.

Over the 30 plus years I have teaching meditation, I have come to settle on a simple set of instructions, well suited for busy people. They point out an accessible way to discover joy and fulfillment in our life just as it is, regardless of external circumstances, and which do not require you to spend long hours on the cushion or go away on retreat somewhere (if your life circumstance permits, these are very valuable).

My story

My first exposure to meditation was with Maezumi Roshi at the Los Angeles Zen Center (ZCLA) in 1980; he was my first teacher. I moved into a local Buddhist center within walking distance to ZCLA in 1981–the International Buddhist Meditation Center. It was there, in 1981, that I met my second teacher, an American using his given Buddhist name, Shinzen Young.

In Shinzen I found a brilliant combination of Buddhist erudition and brass-tacks meditation know-how. It was cut to the chase dharma. Shinzen could clarify the heaps of intentional confusion set up by the Zen training at ZCLA in a single, effortless phrase. He had done hard time in Buddhist monasteries in Japan, and possessed the keen ability to shift through the non-essential aspects of traditional Zen training and present gems of insight that would leave me stunned.

He also introduced me what was to become the all consuming passion for the following 35 years–vipassana meditation and the teachings of the historical Buddha preserved in the suttas of the Pali Canon.

Training in Asia

After attending some 30 or so vipassana retreats of varying lengths (from 10 days to the 3 month retreat in Barre, Massachusetts in 1983) I left the USA to study and practice in Sri Lanka. I was ordained as a Theravada monk in February of 1984 in Sri Lanka, where I spent a year training in anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing) meditation.

I explored further meditation training for two more years in Burma and Thailand, as well as long course of study at Sakya College in Rajpur, India before giving back my robes in December of 1987 and returning to live at the International Buddhist Meditation Center in Los Angeles.

Aloha Sangha founding

In 1990 I moved to Hawaii, where I met my wife Katina the following year. I also went to nursing school here, at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. I have work full-time as an RN at an acute, inpatient forensic psychiatric hospital for the past twenty five years. I also served as the coordinator of the local chapter of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship here on O’ahu for some years. We have two adult children. We founded Aloha Sangha in February of 1998.

here are a few pics


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


    1. Hi Mike-thanks for the kind words. Would be great to meet you. Just a FYI though- we have a scheduling conflict this week, so we will not be hosting meditation this Thursday, June 8–but will be back the following Thursday June 15, 2017. Hope to see you one of these weeks. Aloha, t. & k.

  1. Hi Tom,
    I am a travel physical therapist working on three month contract at Rehab Hospital of Pacific. I practice tibetan meditation techniques at home and with my sangha in Rochester, NY. Would love to join at some point. Do you all start right at 6pm.? Are folks allowed to get there a few minutes late like 6:15 or 6:30pm. I am going to try to make one if I can get out of work early enough as I definitely connect with your website and what it describes.
    Loved the cartoon reminder video on how to connect with mindfulness in daily life!
    Peace and love,

    1. Hi Samana,

      Sure, no problem at all walking in “late.” We are pretty informal. Would love to have you join us!. Just drop in when you can. My cell is (808) 393.6342 if you get lost. Looking forward to meeting you. Tom and Katina

  2. Hi Tom, I am very interesting on doing meditation. I would like to know what dates you have it other then Thursday ?


    1. Hello Walkiria. Unfortunately we only meet once a week on Thursdays. I have a full time job and a family of four and this is as much time as I can realistically commit to teaching. Thank you for you inquiry. Wishing you the best on your journey.