I stumbled into meditation more than 20 years ago, in the most unexpected way. I was working the night shift in a hospital while going to nursing school. I worked on a heart care unit where patients wore telemetry devices to monitor their hearts. My friend was working at the telemetry station, monitoring heart waves, and she decided to spice up the long night. She dared me to see if I could drop my heart rate by focusing on my breathing.
Being 20 and cocky, I ﬁgured: absolutely! So, she hooked me up to a telemetry device, and I proceeded to drop my heart rate from 80s to 50s in about a minute.
I had no idea what deep breathing or meditation was at that point, but I would go on to become a student of meditation three years later. It might be a bit like the discovery of Penicillin — a happy accident with unexpected outcomes!
I ﬁrst learned to meditate in my early twenties when I became obsessed with all things related to energy healing. First, I trained in breath techniques, then Reiki, and other stress-management techniques, including self-hypnosis. Meditation was taught in every single training in different ways, so I was exposed to several different forms.
As is true with many students of meditation, my early attempts were trying. Sitting for extended periods of time was challenging. My mind had a lot to say, and I had no interest in being still long enough to listen to that incessant chatter! I couldn’t really understand why people would meditate at all. It felt like a form of torture to me.
Yet, I persisted and continued to practice. Guided meditations were an easy way to start, because it gave my mind something to do while I learned how to be with the constant activity of my mind. In time, with further training in advanced levels of energy healing, I learned Transcendental Meditation (TM). This is the practice I still engage in to this day.
A funny thing began to happen the longer I practiced. My mind became quieter during my regular day. My constant anxiety wasn’t blaring loudly all the time. And I ﬁgured out that my ability to focus throughout my day was improved.
I mostly noticed that when I didn’t meditate, my mind was noisier and my ability to focus faltered.
In time, with continued practice, I went through a phase of deepening self-awareness. I learned how to be more comfortable in the stillness and sit with all of my thoughts without needing to change them.
And then crazy things started happening in my life at work. I remember that, suddenly, I felt like I was in an alternate reality than other people in my work environment. Other nurses would be stressed to the max, and I would have a certain sense of calm despite really trying circumstances. I could focus when I needed to, even when the situation was highly overwhelming.
As time passed and my meditation practice continued, I felt deeper and deeper layers unfolding for me. Some of the other beneﬁts of meditation for me have been more subtle and profound. I have uncovered deep layers of self-acceptance. I have learned how to be more patient with myself, and in turn, with others. I have felt a profound sense of peace and calm wash over me.
My connection with the Universe has grown by leaps and bounds. My inner critic has become quieter and more manageable. I feel more open-hearted and open-minded. My life has more meaning and purpose. I feel more connected and compassionate with others in my personal life and community. I have weathered some really rocky storms of my life with far greater ease than I could have without the gift of meditation.
I am so grateful for the gift of meditation, no matter how unexpectedly it entered my life. Without it, I would not have the joy of knowing a quiet mind, a sense of inner strength, the ability to focus, and ever-emerging personal clarity.