Sunday, March 23, 2014

Finding Clarity, Indian Style

As my first year of teaching comes to a close, I find myself at a crossroads. Where exactly do I go from here? Would the business side of education better suit my strengths? Is my heart in the right place with the children? Or is my passion back in the startup community? Should I seek entrepreneurial endeavors here in Houston or move back to Chicago? Or do I get all twenty-something-soul-searchy and move internationally if the opportunity presents itself?

With various cities and potential opportunities on the map, I started to feel paralyzed by the options and what ifs. The opinions and viewpoints of everyone I confided in seemed to only clutter my thought process. How could I find the clarity I needed to figure out what to do next?

So I decided to start meditating. After reading about Liz Gilbert’s soul searching tale in Eat Pray Love, sitting silently and thinking about nothing sounded like a pretty lax tactic to deal with my millennial stress. If it worked for Liz while studying at an ashram in India, it could work for me in my living room, right?

I set the intention and a 5 AM alarm to prioritize my new hobby before the school day got the best of me.

Here’s how it went.

Day 1: Wakes up at 5 AM. Decides bed feels more enticing so I sit up and practice “meditating” while still in it. Pretty sure the only thing I actually practiced is the art of vertical sleeping. Classic mix up.

Day 2: Moves to living room. Now I just need to sit and think about nothing. Oh my gosh, why do I have all these thoughts this early in the morning? The old adage creeps into my mind…
You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour

Day 4: Discovers I can actually sit still for 20 minutes. I’m genuinely surprised by how close my mental clock can time that window, even though my mind still fights the silence.

Day 6: Finds another meditation book with intention-specific exercises. Cool, something to mix it up.

Day 12: Feeling more zen about it and a bit more at ease with the unpredictability of potential life paths.

Day 16: Wakes up in a beach house with spring breakers. Feeling so excited about making my way to the beach for some alone time before the next party starts. Listening to the ocean rocks. 

Day 19: I’m not sure how one describes meditation on a biological level, but I’m starting to feel a real sense of confidence in my situation. I decide it’s time to finally come to terms with the thoughts that pollute my mind (can you tell I've been reading up on this stuff or what), so I sit and write down everything about this uncertainty that scares me.  

As I sift through each of these fears, the same fears I've been pondering day after day, I realize they no longer scare me like they used to. Maybe this is what clarity feels like.

Maybe all this hype about meditation has some truth to it. Perhaps the right decision for me really does have nothing to do with listening to the voices of those around me, and everything to do with listening to the voice of my own inner silence.

At first, I found it ironic that silence could bring you an answer. But maybe it’s not about finding an answer at all. Perhaps passively listening with an open heart and mind is all you can do to accept the uncertainty that is life. After all, as Doris Day used to say, Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be. The futures not ours to see. Que sera, sera.

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