Working Man's Buddha
Come on, say it: this guy does not look like a meditation expert. The plaid shirt. The baggy jeans. The glasses. He could be a professor or a librarian or an insurance agent...frankly, anything but a Zen dude. But Andy Kelley is, in fact, a grade-A guru.
He's been called the blue-collar Buddha and a happiness ambassador, and he's all that and more — the guy you’ve just met but feel like you've known your whole life, the guy who has you doubled over laughing within minutes. And — oh yeah — he's the guy who can teach you how to enjoy life.
But Andy’s path to Zen didn’t begin on a mountaintop or in a monastery. He grew up as one of eight kids in a passionate Irish Catholic family in Norwood, Massachusetts. His dad worked as a manager at the Carter's clothing company in Needham, and his mom was an interior designer when she wasn't managing her substantial brood. Tragedy struck the clan after she passed away from heart disease at the age of 46. Andy, just about to enter college as a freshman, instead devoted the next two years to taking care of his brothers and sisters. Life, he learned, can change in an instant.
He went on to graduate from Roger Williams University (he worked full-time as a bartender to fund college, often studying at the bar). Then came work as a director and producer for various broadcast TV and corporate production outlets. He looked like a successful professional sprinting up the corporate ladder, but on the inside, he felt disengaged from what he knew really mattered — like spending time with his wife, Catharine Uyenoyama, co-owner of DGA Productions, and his son, Hayden. There were other issues, too: he wasn't sleeping and couldn't relax — not the best combo for someone with a family history of heart problems.
Last year, Andy quit his job to launch the Boston Buddha, a self-help company focused on teaching everyday people how to relax and recharge through meditation. The shift might seem rather abrupt, but off-hours, Andy had spent years studying, researching, and finally practicing meditation, after Catharine gave him a book by guru Dr. Deepak Chopra. Andy is a certified instructor of Primordial Sound Meditation for the Chopra Center as well as a graduate of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program founded by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the Center for Mindfulness at UMass Medical School. Meditation had changed his life. It was time to change his life for meditation.
These days, he spends most mornings teaching elementary school children how to meditate and afternoons working with private clients and corporations. No religious preaching or intimidating days of silence needed, Andy tells them all — just a minutes-a-day ritual that can ultimately lead to inner peace. Pretty simple. Very Boston Buddha.