I was first introduced to meditation many years ago by a yoga teacher whose combined yoga and meditation class fit best into my working mom schedule. I was transformed by her introduction of Metta. I read Sharon’s book, Lovingkindness and was moved. My teacher gave each of her students a coffee mug with the Metta phrases printed on it. I cherished it until the words had all washed away by the dishwasher. By the time my third child was born, my practice had withered away, but the metta phrases remained etched in my heart.
I spent a year at home after the birth of my third child and returned to work in a new position – I had been promoted into management. During that first year back at work, I saw the signs and symptoms of my stress affecting me. I enrolled in an 8 week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program and once again, brought meditation back into my life.
The classes were in the evening after a full day of work. The first night, we did a body scan and I fell asleep. I still remember the kind, nonjudgmental words of Dr. Frank stating that maybe I needed the sleep more than I needed the bodyscan. I did my daily meditation homework in the mornings. I retreated into our finished basement to avoid the chaos of an active household. One morning, my youngest who was not yet two, climbed into my lap while I was sitting cross legged on the floor. I held her in silence, feeling the warmth of her body while breathing in the moment. It was a gift to be truly present in such a beautiful moment.
Once the course was over, I returned to my old habits and once again got caught up in all the busyness of life. Another promotion brought new challenges and frustrations. Whenever I could, I continued to take yoga classes but my meditation cushion sat untouched in a cupboard.
My life continued in a whirl of activity – always running but never stopping to catch my breath. The high standards I set for myself and my desire to meet the needs of everyone I cared for took its toll and my well ran dry. Burnout forced me to stop everything and return to my breath.
All the little pieces of my life had tumbled over and it was now my job to thoughtfully put them back together again into a more solid and sustainable structure. I began my journey on a new path of mindful self-compassion.
I have stepped away from my management position and reduced my hours of work. I told a friend that I am still broken. “No,” she said, “you’re not broken, just bent.”
As I begin this journey with Sharon, my intention is to discover, connect and heal. Her words summarize my story, “that’s life: starting over, one breath at a time.”