I used to work in the corporate world, the more hours I could do the more successful I seemed.
My life was 100 miles-an-hour with no time to do anything I enjoyed, it was all work and no play and it had started to cost me my health and not only my quality of life.
I’d read about the wonderful things meditation could do, I wanted to find some quiet in my busy mind and thought it may help me with the burnout I’d started to experience.
But my mind was sceptical, in a world where we’re taught to maximise every second of every day and that being busy is a sign of success, how could doing nothing really provide all these benefits? But when I met others who meditated they looked so happy and peaceful I decided that I had to get myself some of that, so I went to classes and read books and started to practice every morning for 10 minutes before work.
At first it was too difficult, I almost gave up deciding I probably was one of those people who just couldn’t do it, my mind was too busy, I could never imagine a time it would not have thoughts racing through it and the more I tried to concentrate and focus the busier it became. I was told this was a normal part of the process and to stick at it, so I did and slowly I started to notice that between the thoughts appeared these nano seconds of stillness and I got a glimpse of pure peace.
It was like a drug and I became addicted and I noticed I was less stressed, less irritable, less tired and that the distractions had lessened. In the early days I’d need complete quiet to focus on meditation and to find stillness, if a squirrel sneezed in the next town my concentration would be disturbed, but now I can be in the middle of a city and close my eyes and find that place of peace inside myself.
I can still be distracted by thoughts and due to the clarity of my meditating mind these can be flashes of inspiration. I’m glad I noticed, but most of the time it’s random crap like, “I need to buy milk,” or, “It’s my brothers birthday this weekend.”
Once I was hooked and my practice began to improve I found there was so much more to meditation than the initial calm I had searched for and at this point it didn’t just make my busy life manageable it changed it forever. Finding the stillness and peace within myself not only made me feel good, helped calm my mind and made me better able to cope with a busy life, it also made me more aware.
Ram Dass was right when he said the “quieter you become the more you can hear.” I started to hear my inner voice and it was saying, “What the f**k are you doing?” It turns out it had been trying to tell me this for a long time, hence the illness and unhappiness. I was on the wrong track, living the wrong life, no wonder I felt like I was stuck in a rut. I had all the money I could need, a house by the beach, promotions and “success.” From the outside it looked like I was living the dream, but in reality whilst I had a bank account full of money, I had a soul empty of meaning and purpose.
Through meditation I became more aware of what I truly wanted from life; I found my meaning and purpose, but not only that I also developed the strength and courage to take the necessary steps to put myself back on the right track. I quit my job in the corporate world and retrained to become a yoga and meditation teacher in order to share with others the very thing that saved my life.
If you’re thinking of starting a meditation practice yourself, there’s no time like the present. The time is always now and the longer we put it off, who knows what we’re missing out on. For those who have tried meditating and, like me, found it hard, know that everyone can meditate, even those with busy minds—in fact, especially those with busy minds. It’s people like us that need it the most. Keep practising, a little at a time and often, and we begin to find the stillness that could save our life.
Author: Jess Stuart
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Flickr/Quinn Dombrowski