William Cooper believes that most people are intimidated by the word meditation.



William Cooper believes that most people are intimidated by the word meditation.

The retired psychotherapist has been a practitioner of meditation off and on since 1973 and now leads meditation groups in Mexico Beach, Port St. Joe and Tallahassee.

“In meditation, you just stop and let that stuff go,” Cooper said. “After you let all the stuff that’s not true about you go what’s left is yourself. So you feel more settled, more calm and more at peace.”

Cooper said that almost all of the world’s religions have some sort of connection to meditation.

While the obvious examples would Buddhism and Hinduism, Cooper said that there is a history of meditation in Judaism and Christianity as well.

“Be still, and know that I am God,” Cooper quoted Psalms 46:10, before giving Jesus’ time in the desert as another example.

Cooper is no stranger to Christian theology.

After receiving double bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Art, Cooper spent four years getting his Master’s of Theology (Church of Christ) from the Harding School of Theology in Memphis.

“I was trying to figure things out and it was an incredibly great experience,” Cooper said.

So what did Cooper do after graduating with a degree in theology; investment banking.

For a little over eight years worked his way up through an investment firm, Cooper went down a different path.

Interested in hypnosis since his childhood, Cooper began traveling around the country giving hypnosis seminars.

By the time he finished that path he had seen over 25,000 people for hypnosis either one-on-one or in a group setting.

Cooper settled in Texas, where he became a licensed therapist where he blended his background in hypnosis and traditional therapy techniques.

In 2004, Cooper went to India for the first time and he said his time there deeply changed him.

“India is like walking through the looking glass,” Cooper said. “Everything is backwards from here and to understand India you almost have to go to India.”

Cooper started hosting meditation groups in Texas that began to grow.

While the groups he started in this area have stayed relatively small, he is happy with the results.

“The basic thing is that when people see the results, they just start to get over the word meditation and just think ‘you know maybe I could stop,’ then people are a little bit more prone to come,” Cooper said.

Cooper believes those results are both psychological and physiological.

“Meditation gives a lot of physiological results,” Cooper said. “The body is calming down, the stress is leaving, but then it is also deeper when there’s not so much junk clouding us up, there’s just happiness shining through.”

Cooper uses a non-religious simplified form of meditation in his groups.

"What I've done is I've tried to make a combination of the Eastern and Western processes," Cooper said. "I've done so many (processes) and I've seen what has worked and what hasn't worked. I've tried to narrow it down to just the essence."

Cooper moved permanently to the area in the early summer months this year but he is no stranger to this part of the Gulf Coast.

His great-grandfather built one of the first homes in Beacon Hill over 100 hundred years ago, a house that he now calls home.

The homes surrounding his were also built by family members, the house next to his by his grandfather and others by cousins.

Cooper’s father was in the military, so as a child Cooper didn’t have a steady place to call home.

The closest thing to permanence was family trips to Beacon Hill to visit his grandmother.

Now Cooper splits his time between Beacon Hill and Tallahassee after moving here from Austin, Texas.

“It’s just amazing. I have the best of both worlds,” Cooper said.

The meditation teacher credits help from other people as the reason he is in the position he is now and sees meditation classes as a way to pay it forward.

Cooper doesn’t charge for his groups here along the Gulf and the other charges for his Tallahassee group to cover the rent for the space he uses.

While he acknowledges that meditation may seem out of the norm for Gulf County, he believes that anyone can benefit from the act of being still.

“Everyone likes to be happy,” Cooper said. “Everyone doesn’t want to carry a load of junk that isn’t even them.

Cooper describes meditation as a simple settling and cleaning exercise.

Using a metaphor of glass full of dirty water, Cooper said that with stillness, the dirt in the water will eventually settle to the bottom and can be removed.

According to Cooper, the dirt in the human mind is emotions and worries that we ourselves create.

Cooper believes that through meditation, we can allow those negative thoughts and emotions settle and be removed.

The meditation teacher said that only then can our real selves be revealed, a self at rest and peace.

“It’s just a moment of sitting still, becoming a little bit more clear and getting to know yourself better,” he said. “When that happens you feel better no matter what you do, for whatever endeavor you’re on.”

While Cooper leads the meditation group at Killer Seafood, others have the ability to lead the group as well.

He is hopeful that both groups will continue to grow so that both groups can go on without himself there.

Until then, Cooper will enjoy his two hour morning walks on the beach at Beacon Hill, a practice that he finds very similar to meditation.

After being around the world, the meditation teacher is happy that he has come to this area on a more permanent basis.

"People here are much more connecting and loving then I've met most anywhere in the world," Cooper said. "It's a really interesting thing here.

“I like it a lot."