Updated: Sep 30, 2018
I didn't go to my first meditation class because I was a hippy, a vegan, a non drinker or because I even wanted to. I went because it was a last resort.
It was 1997. I was travelling 9 months of the year across the USA and internationally for work, which was my dream job. But each time I landed home to my little flat in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I felt lonely, exhausted, frustrated, anxious and unproductive -- rather than elated that I was finally living my dream.
Though my job with Boston University, I found a life coach through their Employee Assistance Program. After a few sessions, my coach suggested I try meditation, "...but I don't know if it will work on you...with the way you are wired".
The only workshop I could find that fit into my travel schedule was through Harvard. I signed up for a Sunday 4-hour workshop. My friends and I joked that I would get to the class and it would led by a tall imposing man with a beard and turbin, sitting on a sheepskin rug and making us chant in sanskrit for four hours.
When I arrived to the workshop, it was exactly that: a six foot five tall yogi, with a long beard, dressed all in white, sitting on a sheepskin rug with a large gong next to him.
I wanted to run to the nearest Irish pub and grab a pint, a cigarette and a charming Galway boy.
Somehow, I found the courage to stay.
Over the next four hours, this 6 foot 5 imposing figure of a man (I am 4 foot 9) taught us how to breath, stretch and chant. More importantly, he provided clear instruction as to how these three key ingredients impacted our brain and our bodies, creating new pathways and eventually lasting changes. He removed any hocus pocus from meditation and mantra. He made it all seem so normal and....well...obvious that it was something we were born to do. Through the noise of life, we had just forgotten how to do it.
What surprised me the most was the chanting. For that time in my life, silence made my mind dump, dump, dump. But chanting -- which I DREADED doing -- gave my brain something to focus on. It was like I found a natural high, which was definitely a new experience for a party girl like me.
When I finished the class and went home, my boyfriend took one look at me and said, "Where have you been today? You look like a completely different person!". And I was. From that moment on, while I have struggled with embedding a steady practice in my life, I still always found ways to do a class, train to become a teacher, or sing mantras to my daughter when she was a baby to lull her to sleep.
What I resisted the most -- mantra -- is what I needed the most.
So when you find yourself resisting a new idea, a new possibility, and new way of doing or being, try going towards it instead. At worst you will be able to eliminate something you figured didn't suit you and can congratulate yourself at being right.
At best, you will find a new found friend, tool, or a skill that you can incorporate into your life for the rest of your life... and for the better of it.