Meditation pro Light Watkins’ new class A Meditation Expert’s 14-Day Guide to Creating a Daily Practice kicks off this week, so we’re taking a closer look at the transformative power of meditation and how it changes people’s lives for the better through personal stories—here’s his.
We each have something about us that people ask questions about more than anything else. For instance, tall people are asked, "How tall are you?" more than any other question. If you have a knot protruding from your forehead, an inordinate amount of people will ask, "What happened there?" While pointing to their forehead. If you're really skinny, everyone will probably want to know how much you weigh.
I've been asked each of those questions repeatedly throughout my life. I'm tall, I have a knot on my forehead, and I used to be abnormally skinny. But in my current phase, I have a new most-asked question: "Is 'Light' your real name?"
Unlike my knot, my height, and my weight, I actually chose to be called "Light." So in that sense, I brought it upon myself. And depending on who is asking, I have different variations of the answer, which, to put it simply, is "no—Light is not my real name."
Where my name came from
I'll save you the suspense. The name Light was actually born out of a lunchtime conversation I was having with a good friend about people who took on LA-sounding names. This was 12 years ago. And at the time, I was telling my buddy about people I'd met in the City of Angels with airy-fairy-sounding names, such as Truth, Conscious, Tree, Sky, Mother, or Pineapple.
Next, I spontaneously challenged my friend to come up with an LA-sounding name for himself, and he decided on Ocean. Then he asked me to choose one, and I drew a blank. He insisted that I think of one. And still, nothing came. So he began counting down: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and I blurted out, "Light."
And for reasons I still can't explain, the idea to adopt Light as my new name following that chance conversation wouldn't go away. It just kept percolating, laced with the undertones of a deeper calling—the kind that I imagine ministers receive before dedicating their lives to preaching the word of God. Something from within was nudging me to commit to doing this thing that was not just inconvenient but wildly outside my comfort zone.
Looking back, the old me would have resisted the notion as a temporary lapse in judgment and may have even been offended by the internal suggestion to do something so ridiculous. How could I just change my name to Light?! But I had been meditating every day, and the version of me that meditated took it very seriously.
Meditation helped me create an internal spam filter
Beginning a daily meditation practice activated what I can only describe as an internal spam filter. The nonsensical, half-baked thoughts that used to clog up my focus and weaken my resolve to follow through on the most basic of tasks was replaced by a level of clarity that I had never before experienced. It was as if I could see well beyond the horizon line—not necessarily to specifics but to a knowingness that I should follow my inner guidance. Everything was going to turn out for the best. And that my job was not to know precisely what was going to happen next but to just keep saying "yes." Relentlessly.
I believe that this pure sense of direction is built-in for all of us. But without our internal spam filter turned on through meditation, it can be exhausting to sift through the irrelevant content in order to find the gold. Same as if we didn't have a spam filter on our emails and had to manually filter out all of the inkjet, Viagra, and Nigerian wire transfer messages to get to the relevant messages.
Because of my meditation practice, my clarity of purpose has been enhanced—to the point where I not only see the value in the relevant messages but have enough mental (and physical) rest and internal trust to see them through, past the inevitable resistance.
The change-your-name internal message resulted in one of those "f*#k-it" moments, when I knew that I couldn't maintain the status quo and continue sleeping well at night. So I decided to take the leap, change my name, and allow the net to appear. After all, it's not about dipping your toe in. It's a leap! You have to commit. You know both feet have to leave the ground, and you must gain momentum, and a part of you will probably be scared as hell because you have no idea what's going to happen next. And only then will the metaphorical net appear.
Opportunity growing out of change
The net certainly appeared for me. I can't count the number of opportunities that have been afforded me simply because of my name. Light has also helped remind me how I want to show up in the world. You can't be named "Light" and be a rude or mean person. It forces me to be more conscious of my choices, which can feel like a hassle sometimes, but I think it's an overall good thing.
In hindsight, it looks as though Light was the obvious name, considering what I now do for a living. But I honestly didn't know my life was going to go in that direction at the time. I guess you could call it fortuitous. And I have to give meditation all the credit for allowing me to feel what I couldn't see at the time and for giving me the balls to take the leap.
Now, when people hear the name Light and trivialize it or grill me to find out my birth name, I don't let it faze me. Because I know I did what I was supposed to do. And that's where I draw my sense of satisfaction.
Many people think meditation makes you gullible. But I would argue that it's the opposite. Meditation makes you bold. You may not end up changing your name, but you may quit a job that is not in alignment with what's in your heart. Or, you may stand up for an injustice. You may decide to finally start your company, even though you have no idea how it will all turn out. Whatever it is, you will inevitably find yourself in many situations, over many stages of your life, when you wonder with amazement, "How the hell did I get here?"
And that's also the fun of it.