Last week, I worked with a new client on their annual staff retreat. Because I was slated to close the meeting, it seemed prudent to arrive early to observe the session before mine. As I tiptoed into the conference room, I was perplexed by what I saw: thirty completely silent people staring into space.
As I tried to piece together what was going on (the actual invasion of the body snatchers?), the sound of a woman’s voice passed through the overhead speakers: “Focus on your breath and your body. Notice what you are experiencing without judgment or reaction.”
Oh! I realized. They’re meditating.
As I watched my clients show such commitment to this practice, I felt incredibly guilty.
Truth be told, the idea of relaxing into the present moment has always stressed me out. As a Type A person, my nirvana is achieved by checking off all the items on my to-do list. (I’m so addicted to productivity that my husband literally locked my Blackberry in the hotel safe during our honeymoon.)
And while many people who meditate describe it as a tranquil, positive, and imminently enjoyable experience, that has never been the case for me. Very much the opposite, in fact.
After the meditation session wrapped up, I was chatting with one of the gentlemen who was leading it. In a supremely un-self-aware moment, I blurted out, “I think I might hate meditation.” Without skipping a beat, he replied in the most surprising manner possible. “I agree! Meditation is awful!”
He continued amid my profoundly puzzled expression. “It can be uncomfortable and frustrating and scary, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t working.” He likened the experience to going to the gym—many visits are tough, but those are the most important days to go. “And regardless of your experience,” he said, “doing it is what matters.”
Hearing that I was not, in fact, the only person in the world who didn’t love meditation was surprisingly freeing. And almost instantly, I felt more open to getting back on the horse.
After we wrapped up the retreat, I flew to Jacksonville to spend the weekend with a friend. And one morning, as we sat quietly in our shaded beach chairs, koozied beverages in hand, I decided to give it another try. It still wasn’t an entirely comfortable experience, but when I was finished, I felt calmer than I had in a long time.
We live in a world of quick fixes and instant gratification. So many of the things that are good for us in the long run require time, commitment, and courage. They can be annoying at best and excruciating at worst. The point, though, is that we should do them anyway.
Theodore Roosevelt, a great American President who had more than his fair share of challenges, put it so well: “Nothing in this world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty. I have never…envied a human being who led an easy life.”
So if something important is harder than you anticipated, don’t get discouraged. Believe in what you’re doing. Honor the investment you’re making. Your future self will thank you.
About Dr. Tasha Eurich:
Tasha Eurich is an organizational psychologist, researcher, and New York Times best-selling author. She’s built a reputation as a fresh, modern voice in the business world by pairing her scientific grounding in human behavior with a pragmatic approach to solving problems. Over her 15-plus-year career, she’s helped thousands of professionals— from Fortune 500 executives to early stage entrepreneurs—improve their self-awareness and success.
With a PhD in Industrial-Organizational Psychology and a BA in both Theater and Psychology, Dr. Eurich has contributed to The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine and CNBC.com, and has been featured in outlets like Forbes, The New York Times, Fast Company, and Inc. She has been named a “Top 100 Thought Leader” by Trust Across America, a “Leader to Watch” by the American Management Association, and one of Denver Business Journal’s “40 Under 40.” Her 2014 TEDxMileHigh talk has been viewed more than one million times.
To Learn more about Dr. Tasha Eurich contact [email protected]
Derek Sweeney is the Director of Speaker Ideas at The Sweeney Agency. www.thesweeneyagency.com. For 15 years Derek has been helping clients find the right Speakers for their events. Derek can be reached at 1-866 727-7555 or [email protected]