August 23, 2017 :: VICTOR SHIRAEV


  • Distinguishing pain from unbearable "I-can't-stand-it!" discomfort.
  • Equanimizing the interference in life -- body sensations spreading into mindspace.
  • Letting the doing happen anyway, even when interference is also present.


Russian-born Victor Shiraev was standing on the rooftop of the highrise apartment building where he lived in Wenzhou, China. He had written a letter to Nature, folded the paper into an airplane, and launched it into space.

In that letter, I wrote a request: I wanted to find a teacher, and I wanted to work in a good place that went along with my values.
Literally, by the time I returned to my apartment on the 7th floor, there was an incoming e-mail from a Russian group describing a job assisting a qi-gong master who lived near me, and their desire for me to fill the position.
I was uniquely qualified since I spoke Russian and Chinese, and because I had an interest in esoteric practices, which they discovered by reading my blog. I would be responsible to receive the students. I would also be able to study with this teacher, swim in waterfalls, walk around the mountains, and travel around telling stories about Chinese culture. It was a dream job.

Prior to that, as young as 9th grade, Victor dabbled in exploring different facets that various cultures offered in regard to the question of human purpose and potential, but these were more intellectual pursuits at the time. At university he completed a bachelor’s degree in Oriental Studies and had secured a job as a cross-cultural consultant and business manager in a Chinese factory. However, these life events were more as a result of his family’s wishes--“not against my will, but I also didn’t exclusively choose these on my own accord.”

Although the job with the qigong master didn’t last beyond the economic crisis of 2008, that paper airplane can be thought of as a turning point.

I’m not so much a believer in True Nature; I’m more a believer in potentials. In developmental psychology they call it the self-authoring stage. This is where a person actually begins to take responsibility for one’s own life. “Authoring” has both meanings: (1) authorizing yourself to do this and that, and (2) writing your own story.

Victor completed a master’s degree in Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory and developed a daily practice in Shinzen’s Unified Mindfulness paradigm. He made a lot of other life changes, too – a new relationship, returning to Russia, and becoming a father.

In 2013, Victor transitioned to teaching attentional skills full-time. He coaches groups and individuals; leads seminars, retreats, and workshops; and he has online platforms at and Depending on the context, he can code-switch among approaches--mainly Buddhist language of awakening, human potential and psycho-spiritual transformation, and more business-oriented terms of productivity and emotional intelligence.

Shinzen provided a framework where I can speak about these things in different contexts. I am also passionate about weaving together these seemingly disparate contexts in pragmatic and deep ways.
For example, how can I speak about the big awakening at a business conference without sounding scary? How do I speak at Buddhist gatherings about being more productive and more effective?

Victor cited many benefits he’s seen from mindfulness meditation, the chief of which is the ability to be of service to others.

Everything depends on how much attention we invest into this or that, how we do that, and how sustained that attention is.  Attention is the fundamental basis of everything else we do.  

You can learn more about Victor at

Emily Barrett1 Comment