I admit that I enjoy and actually look for a good challenge. I thrive in challenging environments. I make the best of a given situation and feel comfortable assessing and navigating rough waters. Therefore when I saw Universal Partnership’s #30daysUP meditation challenge, I thought – why not? A challenge to sit, meditate, and clear my mind – let’s go! I knew I needed it, my mind was running game all over me!
I will admit, this challenge came in a good time for me – I was prime to do something to better manage my emotional and professional state of mind. I had just undergone quite a brutal beatdown when having to deal with extremely untrustworthy individuals and hoping they would do what is best for the people they represent. Unfortunately, my hopes were set too high and I entered full body, heart, mind and soul without the appropriate gear to manage it all. In the past, I had used meditation as a tool to help me cope with the daily strain on my body and heart when the daily job of LIFE took a toll on me. I will admit that during this time I had some other kinds of support. A friend of mine – let’s call him Smarty, really kicked into gear during this time. He helped me by listening, informally coaching, and highlighting aspects of my thought-process and communication skills that I had overlooked needed major work. Just imagine – I got two gifts from him, a book called Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity and the Mind-Map Book. Now, if that’s not an indication of the “troubles” he saw in my flow, than I’m not sure what else could be.
Along comes the #30daysUP challenge and I will admit – it really took me to the next level of my evolution. I started on April 7th and I am still going strong. I can’t lie, there was a moment that I sat up to 18 minutes…then I had to go back down to 3 minutes! I’m now back up to 11 minutes and every day working my way up to my goal of 15 minutes daily. I can see things in a way that I never had before. I’m more open and less reactive. I have noticed that when something is triggering me, I know that breathing can get me through it – so I inhale, take in the moment – and exhale. I then am ready to either respond, or simply let it go until I can really handle the reaction that will follow in a productive way.
Just last week, I knew that if I didn’t meditate every day, I wasn’t going to get through it all – but it was more than just the meditation. Its as if I started paying attention and being more present in all aspects of my life. I have not only kept meditating beyond the 30 days (sometimes more than once a day when I feel the need to reboot), but when I do miss a day – I’m not as hard on myself and immediately get back to it the next day. I have also started to write in my journal, listen to music, and read. It’s as if I’ve slowed down – but not necessarily my work flow or productivity, just what I prioritize and emphasize as needing immediate and stressful attention. Sometimes, my days are jammed with non-stop activity, but I can now stop, take a moment to take-in what is happening, and assess my next steps.
For example, one of the ways I used to manage relationships was going straight to the point without too much fluff or thought on who I was speaking to. So much so that at times I had no filter and it was as if I was interacting with objects that didn’t feel or react as a result of what I was saying and doing. My self-awareness was a bit off…to say the least. Am I 100% aware now? Not 100%, but definitely much more aware than I have ever been and working towards a much clearer and purpose-driven self. The #30daysUP challenge wasn’t the only time I started meditating. I had been doing it on and off for about two years. Yet, seeing the UP’s mind the gap video, the structure, the posts and the tweets got me excited to be a part of something with a community of individuals who were striving to simply become better for the sake of helping others be better. It’s what got me motivated to really try to stick to it and stay on course.
The idea that a daily practice could help re-train my mind to reconnect with my heart, my breath, my body, and ultimately with others is truly fascinating to me. So simple, yet it took me this long to get here.
Meditation was not like other stress-coping mechanisms like when I choose to write in my journal or swim, but it has helped me reflect and re-train my eyes to see, my heart to feel, and my mind to think about what is there in that present moment. I’ve learned to identify in much less time the things that make me happy, mad and those that take me off course and ultimately procrastinate. My mood is much less random, and I can actually feel and understand what is going on with my body and where my mind is. I value the present so much more than I ever have, and I know it can only get better. Thank you Rusia, #30daysUp and all who participated. Let’s keep it going!
Lucia is the Executive Director of La Fuente