I Quit My $75K Job & Became A Meditation Teacher. Here's Why I Don't Regret It

Photo: Instagram @juliorivera.nyc

Missed our new meditation teacher training the first time around? You’re in luck because this month you have another chance to sign up for our 200-hour course with Charlie Knoles. You’ll learn all about the art of meditation, deepen your practice, and become equipped with the tools you need to become a teacher. To secure your spot, be sure to enroll before Monday, May 15.

It was early in the morning of January 28 of this year. I wrapped up my morning routine of meditation, gym, shower, and breakfast and was now staring at my laptop screen and sipping green tea. I was sweating bullets. The night before, I had decided I'd had enough wavering back and forth. I was going to sign up for mindbodygreen’s online meditation teacher training with Charlie Knoles.

For the previous few weeks, I was plagued by self doubt as I constantly refreshed the mbg site. I had left my full-time gig the week before. I felt lost and I was paralyzed by the thought of making any serious decisions. I was also ruminating on what people would think of me. It’s not every day that a 27-year-old leaves his well-paying job in the tech space to become a meditation teacher. But regardless of the reactions of others, deep down I knew spreading meditation was my true purpose.

I started meditating daily back in November of 2015. On that day, a fire started to brew inside me. I saw the profound impact meditation had on my life, not only with how I dealt with my chronic stress and anxiety but how I treated myself and others. I thought there must be tons of millennials going through the same experiences as me—especially in New York. I had to share this effective tool somehow.

As I stared at the "submit payment" button, hesitation started to rise again. To power through it, I visualized myself making an impact on people's lives. I also visualized my own fulfillment through helping others. Reflecting on my motivation, I found the courage to follow through on my commitment.

Instagram @juliorivera.nyc

I’m grateful that I pushed myself to sign up because of the major changes it has brought to my life. Here are the three biggest ones:

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1. I deepened my meditation practice.

Going into the program, I had already made meditation a daily routine, but I felt as if my progress was plateauing. Through Charlie’s teachings and reading a book he recommended, I found a resurgence of inspiration and growth. I learned about diligence, positive reinforcement, and realized how much further I had to go.

I’m currently in the "intention" pillar of the course, and I am practicing a "compassionate and loving practice" meditation. It is a visualization technique in which you show compassion to yourself and others. I am pretty critical about myself so this was something I needed.

I knew it was going to be difficult to show myself compassion, but I was surprised how challenging it really was. I decided to focus on self-compassion and return to visually spreading it to others once I worked out the kinks. I’m not only deepening my meditation practice, but I’m also learning more about myself. As they say, you need to be your own biggest fan!

2. I learned more about myself and learned to teach with confidence.

Through the program, I also gained a new skill: The ability to teach meditation with confidence. Little did I know the first class I would teach would be at the company I had left to do the program.

I had spent the past couple years building iPhone apps at Prolific Interactive. I had worked with big brands like BaubleBar, Equinox, David’s Bridal, and more. It had been a fun ride, and I left the company on good terms. Since leaving, I had been in constant communication with them to figure out how to bring mindfulness to the workplace. On April 25, I returned not as an engineer or product manager but as a meditation teacher in training. I taught an introduction to meditation to 15 of my former colleagues.

This was a surreal experience for me because we used to build apps together. Now I was giving out this tool that helped me transform my life. After the class was over, I left the office with an organic high like no other.

3. I stumbled upon a new business idea.

From teaching, I saw some of the challenges of learning how to meditate through a different lens. Leveraging my programming background, I conceived of a way to teach in a much more scalable way. I went in curious about whether there was a way I could use my existing skills and stumbled upon a point in the crossroads. In parallel to teaching, I will be starting a company ZNCO, a meditation experience you can get through your iPhone.

I took a break from the tech industry to pursue something more fulfilling for myself, and along the way I learned that we don’t need to leave our pasts completely behind to pursue something new. Coming from a culinary background? Delight your future students with a post-meditation crepe or cupcake (and send me one, too!).

Pursuing a certification in teaching brought unexpected positive changes into my life. At the very least, I can say I learned more about myself, which is the way to live a happier life. Starting this journey with an open mind, patience, and with the motivation to make an impact on others has propelled me to new heights.

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