I had always encouraged friends to follow their heart, set goals, and climb, climb, climb. In my young 27 years, I knew being at inner peace and feeling calm would set my world afire. But it was not until I began practicing meditation a year ago that my life took a major turn in a new, awesome direction.
At the recommendation of my therapist, I began slow meditative breathing once a day. Ten counts in and one visualized word out. It took me about two to three minutes. The first few times I tried, I hated it and I couldn’t get to breath four. Over a week’s time, I might have practiced only once. The task bore down on me heavily and I avoided meditating like the plague.
My therapist asked me each week how my progress was going. I told her I couldn’t handle it. And then on the days when I could, I didn’t feel any better. It was a stupid practice, I thought. I’d always been told that I was high-strung and intense, and that I should work on my breathing. Now this practice was another failed lesson in a series of practices that I’d been recommended for a long time.
While I gave in over the next month, I continued not understanding the benefit of meditation. But I trusted my therapist, and I wanted to give the practice a fair shot even if I didn’t wholly understand where I was going. The story of how I began meditating underlies the biggest asset I've received after a year’s worth of practice, and that is:
Being able to enjoy the ride without knowing the destination.
Looking back 365 days ago, I was a confused person internally. Attempting to start my own business and leave the corporate world behind was my biggest project. To tackle it, I wrote a business plan, I made a website and I talked to my successful peers. But it didn’t feel right. The business books and advice of friends was conflicting. “You’ll never feel 100% ready, so just start now, ” or, “Find out exactly what you want and then go get it,” I was told.
A sucker for “doing the right thing,” I felt paralyzed. I thought I knew what I wanted. Public relations and communications was my bag from high school. Ultimately though, I knew my career path — it had been set for a long time.
How does this connect back to my practice? Well, 365 days ago I wasn’t into my meditative practice. As months passed, I stayed committed to breathing. Some days were impossible, and I couldn’t begin. Other days, I made it to breath one, which was not an easy feat. Finally, I began making it to breath five, then with more time, breath twenty.
Through the process, I learned that it was not about getting to breath twenty and winning a prize. It was about getting to breath one. Just like in yoga or working out, it’s about getting to the mat or to the gym. The arrival is always the hardest part.
Day to day, I didn’t realize the effect my dedication to breathing was having on my life. As struggles arose, I became aware of my anger and dissonance and I could separate my emotions from my brain. The first time it happened it wasn’t until I looked back in retrospect that I saw meditation’s affect. And it was a feeling akin to how astronauts describe seeing Earth from space for the first time:
I am so much bigger than I give myself credit for.
The power of that realization rocked my world. A sense of glowing joy overcame me and I felt tears well up in my eyes. I stopped being a prisoner in my own box.
Through meditation, I was able to accept the unpleasant as unpleasant and I became more in tune with my soul – and less with reactive with feelings. Life is not a smooth road, and there are questions we will never have answered. But that’s ok. I learned how to love every moment of my life, live into the question and embrace fear. And I while I don’t know where my career is heading, if or when I’ll find deep love, and how long I’ll be blessed with this miracle called life, I do know that I feel full of light, happiness, and positive energy. Returning that back to you and the world around me is the absolute best I can do. And I am more than ok with that.