Former New York City Detective Michael O’Sullivan Brings Zen Buddhist Meditation to Mystic Heart

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Michael O’Sullivan tripped ankle-first into Zen Buddhist meditation.

A longtime New York City detective, O’Sullivan sprained his ankle walking one day about 35 years ago. While in the hospital for the injury, the doctor told him he had high blood pressure and went to write him a prescription. But when he left the room, the nurse told him not to take the drugs, but learn how to meditate instead.

“I’m sure she probably would have gotten in trouble if the doctor would have heard her,” O’Sullivan said. “But she was right.”

Well, mostly right. O’Sullivan did have to take the prescription to reduce his high blood pressure, but more than three and a half decades later, the former detective is still meditating.

This week O’Sullivan will lead meditations for the Mystic Heart Meditation Program from 7:15 to 8 a.m. Monday through Friday at the Main Gate Welcome Center. O’Sullivan said he will focus on how everyone is connected to all creation, and how everyone should live only in the moment.

Although O’Sullivan took up meditation late in his career, he said those lessons helped him cope with the grisly crimes he saw as a New York City detective. For years, he said, he carried around the images of horrific assaults and murders he had worked on.

But meditation, O’Sullivan said, taught him to focus on the moment and to realize that when such thoughts arise, there’s nothing he can do about them, and they have nothing to do with what’s happening right now.

“[Meditation] helped me put stuff down that I really didn’t need to keep in mind,” O’Sullivan said. “It taught me to live a better, happier, more compassionate and loving life.”

O’Sullivan said he wants to teach Chautauquans how to do the same. Through meditation, he said, people realize that only the present moment matters and they can choose if that moment is happy or not. They can then handle situations as they arise, he said. Suffering comes from constantly striving for something, and all Chautauquans have to do is be able to put down the desire.

“I want to teach Chautauquans to be able to the moment and see if they’re suffering or not, and show them a way to live a loving, compassionate life, simply by meditating every day and seeing your mind, seeing how you’re suffering,” O’Sullivan said.

Jason Mast

The author Jason Mast

Jason Mast covers the Interfaith Lecture Series, Mystic Heart Program and Abrahamic Program for Young Adults. Northwestern University class of ’18.