Tomorrow, July 20th, I celebrate two years of sitting down, closing my eyes, and meditating for twenty minutes twice a day.
That's 40 minutes (math) a day sitting and doing nothing, and it has been the most transformative experience of my life.
I would NEVER go back to my life before I started this practice. For one thing, I got migraines in high school (sending me to the hospital twice) and cold sores twice a year on my face since first grade. Every single school picture from first to sixth grade, I'm being upstaged by herpes simplex one, and I got the sores until two years ago. Both of those things were absolutely due to stress, and I don't get either of them anymore.
While these are amazing side effects, they're mere child's play! to the mental transformation I've felt inside my brain. It's as if the volume of my intuition has been dialed WAY up, and my fear voice has been... well it's still screaming but it's not the voice driving the car like it used to be.
Before meditation, I was an actor who felt that my happiness would come from booking a show, doing great work, and being recognized/validated by other people seeing me as important (or something). Once I started meditating, I left an audition and heard so clearly in my head, "I am not being used fully." Now I'm a yoga teacher, too. I was at home this past weekend and read a journal from college that was sprinkled with thoughts like, "Yoga is really helping me. I applied the breathing I learned in yoga class to x, y, z and it made it easier," and "I really love all of this psychology stuff, maybe I should become a yoga teacher." Fast forward four years and here I am teaching yoga.
It's interesting that I had that inclination all along, but it wasn't until meditating that I heard the guidance clearly enough to actually act on it. For so long I was afraid to commit to anything other than acting. I didn't sign up for a yoga teacher training because, "What if I book a show?" WHAT IF I DON'T? Then I just waited around for someone to give me a job instead of empowering myself and doing something that I wanted to do with MY LIFE? It's YOUR life! What do you want to do that you aren't doing? What is pulling your interest in a new direction, and what are you afraid of leaving behind? Move toward the curiosity, and stop being afraid of what you're "leaving behind." You're not leaving anything behind. There is nothing to leave behind. Everything is always there for you to go back to, or to explore in a new way, if you want.
Meditation gives you the ability to actually hear what your next step is supposed to be for your greatest fulfillment.
I personally was unable to commit to a meditation practice before taking the course at Ziva Meditation, where I learned the technique I currently practice. I tried Oprah and Deepak's guided meditations, but it just didn't seem to fit anywhere in my life, and there was no way I was doing it consistently. I struggle with personal integrity as much as anyone. Why do you think I teach yoga? Because I have to! I have to make it a priority, or I'll let the practice slide. Anyway, I went to the intro talk at Ziva on a whim, and it wasn't until I saw sunbeams shooting out of my now teacher Emily Fletcher's face that I literally stared at her and thought, "WHAT THE HECK IS SHE ON. I need this."
I don't want to be on a hamster wheel anymore. I want to feel guided in my specific life, with my specific experiences/tools/point of view/story/gifts, and go forward from there. I got burnt out from working so hard to be an actor without ever even asking myself why I was doing it. I still love acting, and actually had the experience of being on my first TV set last week, but I see that it's part of my expression and not the one source of my fulfillment.
Meditation also reminds me that you are never done. There is never a defining event that is going to make all of your pain and problems go away. It's just never going to happen. There is no destination. Every time you evolve into a new version of yourself, you will always be blooming. If you're trying to stay the same, even when something isn't working, that's when suffering takes place. Make a new choice.
One more thing: when people tell me they have a hard time meditating because they can't stop their mind from thinking, that isn't the point. As Emily says, your mind thinks involuntarily just like your heart beats involuntarily, and we don't meditate to be good meditators, we meditate to be good at life. And yes, I paid to learn how to meditate, but you pay to exercise your body, why are you neglecting your mind? The thing that actually determines your entire life experience? Paying for a course kept me accountable, and gave me a community with which to engage in the practice.
I highly recommend Ziva, Ziva did not ask me to write this, and any technique where you can sit with yourself and just BE is beneficial to your life. If you want help with this, let's chat.
Here's a link to a free intro talk at Ziva: https://www.zivameditation.com/events