The *real* story of how I learned to meditate
This High Holiday season marks my 6th anniversary of learning Vedic meditation. It started innocently enough… It was Yom Kippur in Chicago, and a Friday night. I hadn’t been to synagogue in years. I was probably getting over yet another dramatic breakup, and had also been experiencing months of massive, soul-destroying work burnout, so I decided my friend and I should celebrate… by going to a bar. I knew exactly which bar we should go to (The Southern), and I (earmuffs, mom and dad) wanted to sit at the bar and flirt with dudes. Not my usual M.O., but somehow I knew that was definitely the plan.
We walked in, and there they were: two dudes sitting at the bar. They invited us to join them, so we did. The one I was talking to told me he meditated twice a day, and I was instantly captivated. I wanted to know everything. How, why, when, what does it do for you? What is your mantra? (He wouldn’t tell me.) He told me his teacher happened to be coming into town that Sunday to give an introductory talk about Vedic meditation, and he forwarded me the info.
I did absolutely no research on the teacher or the technique itself, but I was hella burned out and thought the guy was cute, so I showed up at this intro talk to learn more. And to see the guy. The guy didn’t show up (huge blessing, on many levels). But I did. And I met my soon-to-be teacher, Light Watkins, who talked about stress, and its effects on our minds and bodies, in a way that I hadn’t previously understood. All of a sudden everything made sense- the way I felt like I was always on the verge of ‘losing it’, my frequent stress reactions, the feeling that I was running on fumes. I was the fancy, skeptical, non-spiritual, Type-A doctor, and this guy from LA was teaching me about human physiology.
I wanted that mantra, and the peace that it offered, so bad. I knew I needed to sign up. But it was a lot of money. And I had strep throat. And I had events planned every night that week when the course was offered. I called my then-therapist at 10pm on Sunday night to run it by her (hint: if you need to call your therapist at 10pm on a Sunday night to ask them if you should take a meditation class, even an expensive one… the answer is ALWAYS gonna be yes. Save yourself the time. Learn to meditate.). She was supportive of the idea.
So I signed up. I took a leap of faith that somehow felt like the rightest thing I had ever done. I was a very highly functional hot mess who desperately needed a meditation practice, and my life hasn’t been the same since.
I’ve spent the last 2 High Holidays (since becoming a meditation teacher) in Chicago, teaching. I never plan it that way; it just always works out that I’m right back where this unexpected, immensely beautiful journey began.
What did it take to get this girl to learn to meditate? A cute guy. Go figure. But the universe brought this practice to me when I was ready for it. On the holiest day of the Jewish year. So even though it wasn’t the ‘typical’ way to observe the holiday (typically we fast, go to synagogue, wear dark uncomfortable dresses, atone for our sins), it ended up bringing me infinite amounts of love, connection, and wonder at the synchronicity of the universe. Not bad for a skeptical, atheist, non-observant, stressed-out, Type A doctor.