For Bill and Jean Tiller, “mindfulness” isn’t a passing trend – it’s been their lifestyle for more than 50 years.
The Tiller’s, residents at Vi at Grayhawk, a Vi and Plaza Companies community, decided back in 1966 that mindfulness and meditation would be a daily practice. The idea came during a cross country road trip from Pennsylvania to Palo Alto, California, where Bill had just accepted a job as a professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford.
“As we were driving across the country Jean said, ‘when we’re in California, let’s pull together the spiritual part of our lives,’ and for us that meant we became daily meditators.”
From that day forward, the couple would meditate. “It led us into all kinds of things beyond the normal belief for the time,” Bill said. One of those things was a book Bill picked up on their way to a sabbatical at Oxford in 1971. The book, “Psychic Discoveries behind the Iron Curtain,” pulled Bill into the realm of human psychoenergetic science – an area of science that focuses on harnessing the power of human intention and an area he hadn’t previously considered as an academic.
“After reading the book I thought, ‘how can the universe be constructed to naturally allow this crazy-seeming kind of stuff to coexist with the science I’m teaching my graduate students every day?” Bill said. “I realized this information was very important for human kind and that it had been neglected, because to some people it seemed impossible but it was tremendously important for the human future.”
A new science
Consumed with a new passion to dive deeper into the potentially powerful energy, Bill decided to focus on researching this new area.
“The work was so important I wanted to reserve time for it.” Bill said. “I would teach conventional science with my students at Stanford, and then outside of the university I would research this new kind of science.”
Bill published his first book on the topic, “Science and Human Transformation: Subtle Energies Intentionally and Consciousness,” in 1997. To date, he has published four books in the general area.
Ahead of the curve
Bill and Jean admit it’s hard for many – especially academics – to understand his work, but it hasn’t stopped their passionate pursuit to learn more about what the human heart and brain are capable of doing.
“It’s hard for people in orthodox science and medicine to separate science from religion.” Bill said. “But as humans, we can mentally change the condition of the space of a room; we can change living systems. Today, people are learning to meditate, and to be mindful and are starting to understand that it really changes the world.”
Jean agrees, stating she sees the fluctuations in the current culture toward a more “mindful” way of living – and those changes are even happening at Vi.
“Here at Vi they were teaching a course in mindfulness which was so very well received that there was a waiting list,” Jean said. “Some of our friends have taken it and said it’s the beginning of getting into meditation. So even here at Vi there is a beginning.”
Leaving a legacy
Today, Bill continues to write at home at Vi at Grayhawk as well as at his lab, located about 80 miles north of Grayhawk in Payson, Ariz. He’s largely given up his work in conventional science, and maintains a staff of around three scientists at the Payson lab who continue to work on his theories.
“I think this will be the science of the rest of the century,” Bill said. “It leads to a very interesting world for human kind – much more than many realize.”