So this is why people meditate

A confession: when I embarked on Meditation March, it was one of those “because I should” kind of endeavors. I didn’t actually think I needed meditation, and I was skeptical that I would get anything out of the month.

I’ve surprised myself by actually needing, and relying on, my new meditation techniques. Not once, but twice. Did the universe align just so? Did some higher power look out and say, March is a great time to throw these things in Jill’s path, because she is armed with meditation and will be equipped to handle them?

I’m being overly dramatic. But just slightly.

So, what were these two incidents?

First, I had a very high-stakes meeting — the rough equivalent of the most important interview of my life. I had spent a few days preparing, and I even rehearsed some of my thoughts on the drive down. Arriving one hour early, I ducked into a Starbucks, which turned out to be a bad idea, because now I was nervous *and* hopped up on caffeine.¹

When I arrived at the building, I had about 7 minutes to spare. I was extremely nervous, so I decided to meditate for a few minutes before going in. This would never have occurred to me in the past. I probably would have just sat there with my nerves, perhaps reviewing my notes, or scrolling through Facebook to take my mind off things. Instead, a few minutes of “focusing on my breath” brought me to a state of composure that I sorely needed. The meeting went fairly well- I won’t know the real impact for another month or two- but in any case, the meditation seemed to help.

Fast forward to last week, one of the most challenging weeks in my work life to date. I was embroiled in a very stressful situation, one that kept me from sleeping at night and absorbed all my focus during the day. I’m not good enough at meditating (yet) to have been able to banish all thoughts of this situation from my mind; instead, I would start to meditate and my mind would immediately go to what was happening at work. So: a meditation failure.

However, when the week culminated in a confrontation, I saw the power of my meditation practice. During the encounter, I focused on my breathing, and I allowed negative comments to pass me by. Later, I even tried a “loving kindness” meditation, in which I sent positive thoughts out to a person who doesn’t like me. The result? I have moved on. I don’t let that person, and that situation, occupy my mind any more. I am able to focus on the present and future, rather than being stuck in what has transpired. And I am sleeping much better as a result.

Going into March, neither the high-stakes meeting, nor the impending confrontation, were on my radar at all. But then: there they were. And I sailed past them. This was my small meditation victory, and I’ll take it. I have to imagine that people who meditate regularly, not just during Meditation March, must have these small victories all the time. And that makes meditation a kind of secret superpower. Who knew?

* * * * *
¹Not really. It was decaf. But that sounds so lame in the retelling, doesn’t it?

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