Peter Ford, 4

Interview with Peter Ford

Peter:

Mostly these days I wait for e-mails or comments from the web site telling me about changes or new centers to list. In the past I was more proactive. Sometimes I would send out e-mails to a hundred centers at a time asking for updates. (There are now 2241 centers in the database.) Sometimes I would check against listings in magazines or other web sites. Also, I’ve tested the links to meditation centers in the database to make sure they are still accessible. In order to get a listing, a center generally needs to offer group meditation practice, classes or retreats. Although I started with a concentration on Buddhist centers, requests for any type of meditation are listed.

MP:

Meditation is such a personal experience, and there is an element of participation needed for people to share comments. Still the database itself offers valuable information. Is the site used often for those seeking information, and can you tell when people query your database and find answers they need? I suppose the more people visiting the site the more likely the comments will grow. The more the comments grow, the more value it has for those visiting.

Peter:

Thanks for the positive feedback on GoSit.org. Although the site gets 2000-3000 visitors per month, very few leave comments (per year!). I suspect the site would need 100 times more visitors to get a significant number of comments. I've tried a number of methods to encourage more comments, and maybe will try some again in the future, but I've mostly resigned myself to the situation, that the site will not generate the comments that I hoped for.

It's been active for 7 years, so I do not expect a huge increase in usage at this point. I think visitors to the site are probably normal in terms of response rate. Sites like Amazon get useful Internet feedback, but the percentage of those who write reviews is undoubtedly very small. I used to track user actions on GoSit.org pretty closely, and am satisfied that most users are able to search and find what they are looking for in the database. I certainly agree that more independent comments on meditation centers would make the site more beneficial, so if you have any suggestions, please feel free. Maybe this interview will inspire a few.

MP:

Perhaps it will. Peter, it feels to me that this interview is starting to wind down, and before it does entirely I wanted to ask you if you had any advice to offer those who may just be beginning to meditate.

Peter:

My advice for anybody starting to practice meditation is to not have any expectations. I think sometimes we get confused or dissatisfied with our practice if we expect something special to happen. Or if we get the idea that there’s a right way and a wrong way to meditate, it can hurt our practice. The main thing is to sit still and see what happens. Not to try to achieve any special state of mind, but to naturally develop a regular schedule of sitting. To have an understanding that once we are sitting still, we are already meditating.

MP:

This is wonderful advice. I really admire what you are doing with GoSit.org and recognize its tremendous value both as a wealth of information and an opportunity to share experiences which could inform further. Thank you on behalf of those of us who meditate and look for places to sit and do just that. It has been a pleasure interviewing you.

Peter:

Thank you for doing this; it’s been interesting.

Meditation Practices

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