That Time I Attempted To Meditate

Saturday, February 1, 2014

It's no secret that I'm a busy bee, and that I love my lifestyle. But sometimes after trekking home from the longest day of class, work, meetings, what-have-you, I wonder if I'm putting myself through too much. Am I going to be able to put my best foot forward in everything? What if I don't get everything I need to get done on time? Is this going to burn me out before I hit my 30's? (The latter is a real concern, since I was born to be in my 30's.)

After stressing and worrying all throughout my six-week break - in Hawaii, nonetheless - I realized that I needed to make a change. At first, it seemed I should just cut more things out of my life, but then I thought, that won't make me happy! I love having things to do, places to go and people to see! I was the most upset when I had nothing to do and no commitments. So I looked for an alternative: meditation.

I know it's stereotypical for college students to suddenly switch to a different religion, and Buddhism is probably at the top of the charts. The soothing idea of meditiaton, self-discovery and wise quotes is a haven for a student struggling with a heavy course load, social life and competing for jobs/internships. And while I've never been one to follow the crowd, I figured it might not hurt to try to live more introspectively.

After attending an event where Lodro Rinzler gave a talk on incorporating meditation into our daily lives, I was inspired. He started with a fifteen minute mini-meditation session, where everyone sat with our feet on the floor, hands on knees, backs straight and eyes forward while we focused on breathing - it's tougher than you might think! Interestingly enough, Rinzler encouraged keeping eyes open while meditation, because the end goal is being more aware of oneself and one's surroundings. (Plus, if you close your eyes, you will fall asleep. Believe me, I've been there.)

That short, quarter of an hour was the most astounding thing I've experienced in a while. I couldn't believe how many thoughts were flying through my head - reminders, ideas, observations, the list goes on. It was wretched, and Rinzler's method of silently telling yourself "you're thinking" each time you wander off into a daydream was excruciatingly difficult. But there was a glimpse of a peaceful moment somewhere in this and I knew I had to continue.

 I bought both of his books and have been reading them a little each day - his writing style is so down-to-earth, it's like having a conversation with my best friend! And I'm trying the meditation thing every once in a while until it becomes more natural. I can only get to 10 minutes before I have to get back to work on my ever-mounting to-do list, but hey, it's a start, right?

Rinzler also talked about the use of mandalas and putting a value at the center of your life, which hit home with me. I always have so much going on that I lose sight of what is grounding me and how it affects the people around me. The last topic he delved into was relationships, at which point he delivered my favorite message of the evening:

"We can be whoever we want to be, but let's not make that into the sum of who we are" 

I've already started to become more aware of my intentions and even put up some reminders on my mirror so I start and end the day right! (If you think that's cheesy, I'm sorry, but mirror messages will never get old.) Essentially, I don't know what I'm doing, but I'm trying my best to figure it out, be more present in my every day life, and become a little more compassionate along the way. 

Have you ever dipped into Buddhism or meditation? What was your experience?


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