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Finally finding freedom


West Linn man's Jan. 10 meditation class will open up a path from unhappiness to joy

Photo Credit: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Surja Tjahaha has devoted his life to showing people how to take the wonderful journey to Mindfulness Meditation.Surja Tjahaha was once a miserable man, despite possessing everything that he thought would make him happy.

“I was a successful businessman,” Tjahaha says. “I had a lot of financial success. I had a wonderful family. I went to Europe to experience total freedom. I could afford anything I needed so I didn’t have to make any plans ahead. I was going to spend two months there.”

Instead, he gave up after only 10 days and returned home to the U.S. in utter discouragement.

“I thought, ‘This is horrible. Is this all I worked for?’” Tjahaha says.

Then things got worse. Tjahaha suffered a great personal loss, and his morale was at rock bottom in 1999 when he went for a long, sad walk along a street in Palo Alto, Calif., and noticed a book in a bookstore window called “The Art of Happiness” by the Dalai Lama.

Tjahaha wasn’t familiar with the author, and he was not encouraged when he looked at his photo on the book jacket.

“He was bald and wearing funny-looking robes,” Tjahaha says. “I thought he might be a cult leader.”

But Tjahada was so down emotionally that he decided to give the book a try. Now he laughs about it and says, “It was the best $10 I ever spent.”

He compares the experience to a Phoenix rising out of the ashes. The book started Tjahaha on the road to happiness and freedom, and for years now he has been teaching people how to follow that road, too. He calls his method Mindfulness Meditation, and he’s scheduled his next class for Jan. 10 at the West Linn Public Library.

Tjahaha’s presentation will be held from 2-3:30 p.m. at the library, which is located at 1595 Burns St. The event is free.

In his classes, Tjahaha teaches participants that the source of happiness is found right inside themselves. He accomplishes this by showing others how to retrain their minds, replacing negative thinking with positive thinking.

The idea can be hard for some people to grasp, but Tjahaha says he himself is proof that it works.

“I’m happy 90 percent of the time,” Tjahaha says now. “I think that’s pretty good. Others have the same experience.

“The brain is quite plastic,” he explains. “You realize you can shift the mind so you can look at the positive aspects of things. Many things are transformed. You can train your mind so you can see how things really are and not the way you think they are. It has been a wonderful journey sharing these skills.”

Tjahaha says meditation has enjoyed a huge upsurge in popularity in the last couple of years. The best example of this, he says, is the story of CNN journalist Anderson Cooper, as recently documented on a “60 Minutes” segment called “The Newly Mindful Anderson Cooper.” Cooper’s transformation was the result of going on a mindfulness retreat

“He started out as a skeptic, but it changed his life,” Tjahaha says, and the testimony of Cooper and many others has taken away many barriers to people accepting meditation.

“You don’t have to wait to go to heaven,” Tjahaha says. “You can have heaven on earth.”

For more about Mindfulness Meditation classes taught by Surja Tjahaha, go to www.mindfulnessmeditation.us.

Contact Cliff Newell at 503-636-1281 ext. 105 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..