Dost Meditation was founded by Matthew Ismail, a teacher of meditation, yoga and spiritual exploration.
"Dost" (pronounced like "boost") means "friend" in Persian, but in a Sufi context the word means spiritual friend. This is what Rumi found in his friend, Shams i-Tabriz, in whose spiritual ecstasy Rumi found mirrored his own blissful desire to realize his Truth.
If you want to live in your soul,
find a friend like Shams and stay near.
(Rumi, Big Red Book)
Letting Go and Just Being!
The ancient traditions of meditation and mindfulness seek to bring you to an awareness of who you are when you're not engrossed in your stories about yourself, your memories, physical sensations, beliefs and assumptions.
Meditation ultimately allows you to let go--to let go even of the person who thinks they are meditating! These practices of yoga and mindfulness allow us to settle into that part of ourselves that is calm, free, and easy. Beneath all of the noise and drama of daily life you are perfect just as you are.
Just being. When you're just being, there's nothing to do, nothing to think, nowhere to go, and nothing to gain. Isn't it odd that the most ancient wisdom that we need the most is not to get more, know more, be more, but to let go, let go, let go of it all and just rest in being...
Peeling Away the Layers
Meditation doesn't add something to your life. Meditation peels away layers of social and cultural conditioning and our beliefs about ourselves and the world. The core of who we are is completely untouched by our conditioning, and meditation helps us to rest in that essential core of being and awareness.
It's like finding the heart of an artichoke--pulling away layer after layer of coverings until you realize that, when you come to the heart, it's not an experience of something new, but an easy, joyous, and effortless homecoming.
What's It Like to Practice Yoga Nidra?
People who have come to my classes say that they are both conscious of hearing my voice as I guide them in meditation, but also feel as if they are lightly sleeping or deeply daydreaming. It's not unlike those precious times when we're away from work and home, resting and relaxing on a beach or hiking in a forest, breathing deeply and not trying to solve any problems or find any solutions. Just being.
Relaxed. At ease. Conscious. Settled into the mellow meditative state that was already there before all those layers of identification and conditioning started to cover you up like a pile of leaves.
Yoga nidra is like this. It puts you in touch with that core of being and awareness that helps you to face the challenges of your daily life with ease and equanimity.
Is Meditation for Me?
People practice meditation for a variety of reasons. For some people meditation is relaxing and restorative and helps them to face life with more ease. For others, they practice because they experience the burnout, stress, anxiety, insomnia, boredom or alienation that are common experiences for many of us.
Meditation allows us to stop the patterned and conditioned unfolding of our lives for a while and just rest in being. It allows us to find our own inherent spaciousness and freedom so that we can face life's challenges with equanimity and sense of ease.
Matthew and Dost Meditation
With my favorite yoga teacher, Kim Scott
Mathew Ismail is nothing if not curious. He has four Masters Degrees - ranging from Modern European Intellectual History to Islamic History--and published Wallis Budge: Magic and Mummies in London and Cairo, Revised Edition (Dost Publishing, 2021) a biography of the Egyptologist Sir E. A. Wallis Budge based on research in the archives of the British Museum, British Library, and Oxford University.
Matthew worked at universities in Dubai and Cairo from 1999-2011, which allowed him to get to know long-lost Syrian cousins and to travel throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia. His children were born in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and grew up mostly in Cairo.
Like many people who know exactly what they want from life at age twenty, Matthew discovered after a couple of further decades of experience that he knew absolutely nothing about what makes life worth living. He dove into meditation to learn to relax and discovered--in addition to seriously mellowing out--the spiritual teachings that have transformed his life and which he now loves to share with others.
Taking advantage of being housebound during the pandemic, Matthew has also completed a 200 hour yoga teacher training.
Matthew recently left his job, sold his house, gave his car to his son, and moved to Mexico. Oddly enough, a backpack seems to hold enough stuff to have a nice life.
Education and Professional Experience
Meditation Teacher Training
Inner Yoga Mastery Teacher Training with David Harshada Wagner
Harshada describes this training as "Nine months on the soul." The foundation of the course was 30 minutes a day of meditation and monthly meetings with Harshada. We read teachers such as Swami Muktananda and Ram Das and undertook spiritual exercises that took us deep into our contracted identifications and associations. And as our practice took us deeper, we also learned practical matters about teaching Harshada's Living Meditation.
Yoga Nidra Teacher Training with Sagel Urlacher
A 35 hour teacher training program that allows us to deepen our understanding and personal exploration of yoga nidra, a profoundly transformative and holistic healing practice, Program teaches us how to offer safe, effective, and compassionate yoga nidra sessions.
iRest Yoga Nidra Meditation Teacher Training
Certified iRest Yoga Nidra Teacher
With Clearlight Gerald, Mentor.
A certified iRest teacher possesses a thorough understanding of the principles and teachings that underlie iRest, and has accomplished the highest level of teacher training iRest Institute provides.
iRest Yoga Nidra Level 2 Teacher Training
With Stephanie Lopez. Dayton, Ohio
This training provides a deeper understanding of the principles underlying the theory, practice, and delivery of iRest Yoga Nidra Meditation, so that you can hone your delivery of iRest to groups and individuals, in public and professional settings.
iRest Yoga Nidra Level 1 Teacher Training
With Richard C. Miller and Stephanie Lopez.
This training provides the basic principles, history, theory, practice, and delivery of iRest. This will allow you to incorporate the simple 10-step iRest protocol into your personal life, professional teaching, and/or clinical practice.
Yoga Teacher Training
200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training, with My Vinyasa Practice
"Our training covers the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the history and philosophy of yoga and Ayurveda through the lens of Tantra Yoga, dharma and karma, anatomy and physiology, sequencing and cuing, along with chakras, energetics and traditional practices to elevate consciousness."
Meditation and Yoga Teaching Experience
Individual Yoga Nidra Meditation Sessions
Work with clients to support them as they explore their experiences of thoughts, emotions, and beliefs about ourselves and the world, while also being connected to a deeper spiritual ground.
Weekly Meditation Class, The Yoga Place, Midland, MI
Teaching a variety of classes and workshops, including sitting meditation, yoga nidra meditation, and spiritual talks.
Weekly Meditation Class, Midland Country Club, Midland, MI
A series of sitting meditation and mindfulness classes for busy executives and business owners.
Meditation Workshops (half-day), The Yoga Cave, Petoskey, MI
Combined sitting meditation and spiritual talks and conversation in half-day workshops.
Weekend Retreat, Song of the Morning Yoga Retreat, Vanderbilt, MI
Worked with a yoga instructor to present a weekend retreat that included seated meditation and yoga instruction.
Yoga Break--Chair Yoga to Start the Day! (In Person and Virtual Event). The Charleston Conference 2021
Taught two chair yoga sessions for The Charleston Conference (Sponsored by Clarivate Analytics and AIP Publishing).
Teaching Virtual Chair Yoga, 11/21
Other Education and Professional History
B.A. Near Eastern Studies, Hiram College
M.A. Islamic History and Religious Studies, Ohio State University
M.A. Comparative Studies in Discourse and Society, University of Minnesota
M.A. Modern European Intellectual History, The University of Chicago
MLS Library Science, Kent State University
Collections Librarian, The American University in Sharjah (UAE) 2001-2006
Head of Collections, The American University in Cairo (Egypt) 2006-2011
Director of Collection Development, Central Michigan University, 2011--2021
Conference Director, The Charleston Conference, Charleston, SC, 2019-present
Author of Wallis Budge: Mummies and Magic in London and Cairo, Revised Edition (Dost Publishing, 2021)
Editor in Chief, The Charleston Briefings Trending Topics for Information Professionals (2016-present)
Founded Dost Publishing, 2021 (www.dostpublishing.co)