If you had told me ten years ago that I was going to end up “life coaching” there is no way that I would have believed you. Self help books, meditations, yoga, personal growth, mindset…..”all for hippies,” I might have said. I have a scientific logical mind, there was no room for anything outside of facts, numbers and what I could see right in front of me. In fact; what I actually had was a very closed mind, I just didn’t know it then. I can pinpoint the time when I finally started opening my mind to the possibility that personal development and growth had a lot more to do with my mindset and emotional health than the pay checks and promotions, I had previously been using to evaluate my success. For me it began with yoga.
My very first yoga class was completely awful. At the time I was a regular at the gym and yoga was becoming really popular so I figured I would give it a try. I remember laying on the mat waiting for class to start and wondering why it was taking so damn long to start moving. When we actually started, I didn’t know what was going on and could barely see the instructor, everything seemed like slow motion and I felt like I was wasting my time not even working up a sweat. When it came to the end, we all laid on our backs and I wanted to run out of the room. I was on my mat wondering why we are all still laying here, class is over, get me out! It was dumb, it was slow, it was boring, and I did not ever want to go back.
Fast forward a few years down the road I became fascinated by the “power yoga” poses I saw posted on Instagram and started practicing them myself. I went to my first hot yoga class and actually enjoyed every minute of it this time. It was more challenging, and the teacher was excellent. I was going through a really difficult time when I “rediscovered” yoga and I completely immersed myself in it after that first class. I found a studio and teachers I liked and got an unlimited membership and went almost every day for month, I couldn’t get enough. I loved how it linked the physical challenge and practice with the mind. It’s called a yoga practice because you continue to always practice, you continue to always develop, learn and grow. At first, I enjoyed the physical part, I wanted to master the poses, I tracked my progress with pictures so I could see if I was getting “better” at a pose. The competitive nature in me felt that mastering a pose meant success. I was wrong.
I signed up for yoga teachers training and began a new chapter in my life that I didn’t even know I was starting. There is so much I took away from this training that I will likely post more about down the road, but for now let’s talk about that moment my mind opened. It was probably four weeks in, we practiced mediation two times a day during an 8-hour class and again for me at first it was awful!!!! Like get me out of here, my butt hurts, my back hurts, why is everyone so still and I am suddenly itchy everywhere, freezing cold and uncomfortable. I could not sit there and be still and quiet my mind, not for a minute, not for a second. At first, I figured I didn’t really need to do that part anyway, what does it really matter, nobody else knows I’m sitting here thinking while they are sitting in silence, but then it occurred to me that I know. I know I can’t do this, why can everyone else do this and I can’t. So, I tried harder; which of course meant thinking harder and failing at mediating harder. Then I started to imagine a book, I sat and held the empty pages open in my hands and if a thought crept in I imagined it wrote itself in that book and the page tore away and floated off. This was the visual that changed my mediation game, it worked better for me than focusing on my breath although I still do come back to that method as well. The more pages that I imagined floating off, the more I realized how badly I needed to just be still without all these intrusive thoughts. To relax, to settle, to let go, to breath deep, to feel all the feelings and let them go. I finally started to actually feel relaxed, and I would cringe to think the cliché, but I felt “at peace”. This is when I finally became aware of the fact that I am the one in control here. I control how things affect me, I control my reaction, I control my mood, I control if I am going to scratch that itch or let it pass, because I am in control of my own life. Anything that comes into my life becomes my choice to let it in or let it go.
This was my first taste at mastering my mindset, it would be years again before I discovered personal development workshops and life coaching, but my mind was ready now. It was open now and ready to receive new possibilities. I felt positive changes stirring inside me, I felt excitement again. I had already taken the path I was told to take, I got the education, I got more education, I got the job and got the better job. Now what? I still didn’t quite feel satisfied. Mastering my mindset had become that next journey for me. The better job, the better pose, the better stuff…..didn’t really matter. The better ME is what I was really seeking.
Want to try meditation? Here are my tips for starting out
- Start with a guided meditation, its so much easier for starting out (try YouTube for free or apps like calm)
- Make sure you are comfortable, if you’re not able to sit for the duration than start laying on your back instead
- Cut yourself some slack; if you suck at it like I did, come back to it again another time
- Do NOT sell yourself short by the limiting belief that “Meditation is not for me”
- Start short and build from there
Are you seeking the better version of YOU too? Coaching might be for you