I Meditated for the First Time in a Year…by Leading One at Work
Anyone who knows me even remotely well knows that I like to talk about meditation. It was a huge part of my self-discovery journey in college and something I tried to get anyone I talked to to try out. For context, I started meditating the Fall of my Sophomore Year (which now feels like 2 lifetimes ago), a habit which I built and built over nearly 2 years of committment and dedication. I meditated every weekday and most weekends, always at my college’s meditation center, either as a participant or leader of a session, straight from that Fall in 2017 until the beginning of 2020. Needless to say, it didn’t take long before I became the “meditation guy” at Georgetown and bore the torch of the “mindfulness/self-awareness/mental health” poster child within the business school. It did me a lot of personal good to have a positive reputation to uphold as I embraced more leadership-heavy positions in clubs and programming, and I believe it helped bring a bit of a culture shift within the University that’s hopefully continued since I’ve left.
As much as I loved my ability to bring attention to those topics by personally representing them, I always felt a bit disingenuous whenever I was praised as the gold standard for being in tune with yourself, especially when it came to meditation. I basically stopped meditating once 2020 came around, only leading once a week and barely ever going to the center outside of that. In hindsight, it’s crazy how much convenience played a factor. By my Senior Year, I was living much farther away (about a 15 minute walk) from campus, even farther from the center, which was tucked away near the back-end of it. I also didn’t have a chair or desk in my room, so I couldn’t replicate any of my physical setup there. In the Fall (2019), I was still taking a full course load and recruiting for jobs, so I was plenty stressed and still made my weekday visits to the center regularly. However, by the Spring, I was down a class with a job secured and beyond ready to get on with my life. I thought that I didn’t need meditation anymore because it had served its purpose of helping me avoid any breakdowns or burnout. Without stress, I didn’t see its point. As I got closer to graduation, I actively tried to distance myself from meditation and the center, thinking I wouldn’t be able to escape my self-branded reputation otherwise.
Welp, I was wrong. Life has a funny way of throwing things back at you when you least expect it. The pandemic came, and my senior spring complacency was ratcheted up from an 8 to a 10 on the “oh my god I have nothing to do” scale. My school and career stress was gone, as was any pressure to maintain a social life, but with my newfound time and mental space, I started to focus on other areas of my life I wanted to prioritize, namely my relationships with technology, books, and food. More on those journeys below.
Hey, We’re Trying: Digital Minimalism in Quarantine
My take on screens, from a screen
What Fasting for a Day Taught Me About My Relationship With Food
Spoiler Alert: I take it for granted
What I’m Into — May 2020 Edition
A collection of my favorite books, musical artists, TV shows, and movies from this past May — edition 2 coming soon!
Anyway, meditation continued to lose its place in my life until 2 weeks ago, when I volunteered to lead one at my job’s company-wide meetings. We’d been doing a “show and tell” style presentation about something we’re passionate about, and I made a little deck with pictures of memories from my time at the center. It was a huge nostalgia bomb and a big reminder of how much I have to be grateful for, but what was even more impactful was the actual meditation. It was only 5 minutes (a far cry from the 20 I could easily do in my prime), but the headspace I got into as I guided everyone through the breathing and posture techniques I learned so long ago took me back to the days when meditating would be something I look forward to instead of a chore I had to make time for. Thankfully, it went extremely well, better than I expected given how rusty I was. However, for a while after that, I beat myself up for letting meditation slip out of my daily routine. Even in the 1 and a half weeks since I led, I’ve only meditated twice.
Although I’m undoubtedly more composed and zen than I was when I started meditating, I hate the feeling that I “used” the practice for a particular means, then abandoned it. As someone who’s been on the other end of being used, I know that’s not how any healthy relationship works.
I’m still reconciling with these emotions now as I try to make meditation a more regular part of my life again — it’s a weird place that I’m in. How I currently see things is that above all, meditation taught me the importance of silence, stillness, and presence — something I now intentionally incorporate as key pillars of my life so I don’t need to “make time” to channel it, like I did in school. A lot of my bigger lifestyle changes have come on the back of the realizations I had while meditation. Hell, even this blog is the result of that time spent with myself. It’s definitely subtle, but meditation’s influence is clear in all that I do and a core driver of a lot of my posts — minimalizing my technology use, toying with my eating habits, trying yoga, reflecting on my privilege.
In a way, meditation was my first spiritual love, and part of the healing process is moving on without trying to escape or blur out my past. I know that no matter where I go or what I do, meditation will always be a part of me and at the heart of my continued journey to live mindfully and purposefully.
For that I say: thank you.