When I started meditation five years ago, I had trouble even sitting still for more than a minute without opening my eyes. I would wonder who was looking at me doing something so weird (I decided to cultivate this habit in public, but we'll get to that later) and if my body would make me a weirdo the moment I stopped monitoring it. I can hear the theme of control running through my journey of mediation. I find it really surprising that I would decide to meditate in the gaze of others, considering I was very controlling of how I thought others were perceiving me.
I had moved to a new city with very few friends to rely on thrusting me back into childhood feelings when we would move to new areas with regularity. I hit the tarmac in SF ready to make things happen and the unfortunate side effect was my internal voice became a harsh taskmaster. A new high stress job where I constantly felt like an imposter for one of the first times in my professional career added a nice little cherry on top for a stressed to the max spirit. Looking back, I had very few tools to manage it so I accepted this is what life is supposed to feel like.
Then, I started listening to podcasts to ease the toil of an hour plus long commute daily to work. The shuttle bus the company provided bus was as wonderful as it could be. Cushy seats, a quiet and climate controlled environment, plus consistent wifi reduced as much of the anxiety about the ride as possible. I would still felt my heart race from the moment I would step on the bus to start my commute. My mind would play through all the scenarios that would be coming up when I got off that comfy bus, and my body was freaking the fuck out the whole ride. The podcasts became my escape, and I heard about mediation over and over again from the high achiever podcasts I was into at the time like The Tim Ferris Show (still a favorite of mine).
Between ads and guest spots, I ended up on the 7 week trial of Headspace back in 2017. I loved the graphics of the app and the sound of Andy, one of the co-founders, voice as he narrated the guided meditations. I held strong through the trial, and though this could be for me but quickly found that I wasn't ready to hold the practice regularly. I struggled to maintain my idea of what it was to be a new meditator, basically having an immediate daily habit, and quit the practice all together multiple times over the next year.
I don't know what the moment was when it all locked into place. I am starting to find that the moment doesn't matter as much because all the ones preceding it were the base for that instant. I started with my meditation as a way to "cure" the ails I had: stress, anxiety, low self-esteem. I needed to start there. While meditation has not cured any of those, I deeply believe that mediation was another gateway I walked through that allowed me to relax the internal control I was holding over myself up until I really started feeling the words of the practice. That release finally allowed my inner voice to turn from critic to trusted friend. My view of my actions and what I could do slowly started to transform as well allowing me to try harder and harder things. I see it reflected in the hard things I do now that I would have never imagined possible back in 2018.
Ultimately, my journey so far has instilled this deep sense of allowing things to come to their own resolution without always having to push and coerce. Henry of just four years ago wouldn't understand how great things and people can come without "doing" something. It breaks my brain still sometimes how it works when I sit back and marvel at the development of life when you're living it and not always looking to pull strings for the narrow view of results we can imagine for ourselves. My whole ass life as it is now I couldn't have dreamed up and I also wouldn't have known how much I would love it.