Finding Zen: A Former Worrywart Speaks Out
FIVE YEARS AGO, I was 30 years old, living in London, England, and working in advertising. My job required long hours, and my co-workers often told me that I looked stressed out. I was in my head a lot, ruminating over conversations, wishing I’d said something differently and wondering what others thought of me.
It was a complete stranger who inspired me to change. A visitor from Australia came to stay with my roommate for a couple of weeks. She had this amazingly calm energy. I asked her what her secret was, and she told me that she practised Vedic meditation, a type of silent transcendental meditation rooted in Ayurvedic tradition in which you repeat a mantra in your mind.
A few months later, when life became even more overwhelming, I started thinking about our Australian guest and her meditation. Coincidentally, she sent me a message out of the blue and asked if I’d ended up trying it. She recommended a local teacher, and I signed up for a weekend course, where I was given a mantra and practised meditating in a group setting.
It took a while to see the effects. In my first meditation, time dragged on as I repeated my mantra. When I opened my eyes, the instructor asked how I felt, but I didn’t notice any change. I stuck with it, practising daily, 20 minutes in the morning and again in the evening. And a few months later, when I visited my family and friends back in Canada, they commented on how much calmer I was.
Today I’m living in Toronto, working in tech and still meditating twice a day. I’ve made other healthy changes, like drinking less alcohol and working out a few times a week. Now time flies when I’m meditating, and I sleep much better than I used to. If I miss a practice, I’m not as alert and I can feel my ruminations returning. My worries aren’t gone, but when I meditate, they seem much more manageable.