My spiritual journey and intellectual curiosity began over 7 years ago. It really started because of a horrible nail picking habit. My nails looked gross and they made me very insecure but nothing (not even my mom’s “I’ll buy you something” bribes) could stop me from this consistent habit. My family friend suggested that I get hypnotized. Like anyone unfamiliar to the topic, I thought hypnosis was a crazy idea and had my doubts. However, hypnosis wasn’t anything like I had imagined. It was like a long deep guided meditation that brought my mind to a still place, what I can only describe as a dream-like trance. That was the first time I felt immense inner peace and connection to my whole being all at the same time. And the hypnosis did in fact serve its intended function, I stopped picking my nails. That isn’t to say that stress hasn’t sometimes triggered me back to some occasional nail picking, but for the most part I became free from a habit that I had desperately been trying to get rid of.
This experience led to me to deepen my understanding of how the mind works. I became fascinated with dreams, dream interpretation and different levels of self-awareness. Consciousness was a huge topic that intrigued me and led me to major in Cognitive Science, a mix of Philosophy, Psychology, Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence. While a lot of people think that my academic studies got me interested in meditation and mindfulness, it was really my personal life and side passions that pointed me in this direction. In college I became more spiritual and turned to my favorite authors such as Kris Carr and Gabby Bernstein for inspiration and guided meditations. I realized that my definition of meditation was misconstrued. Meditation became a way to relax my mind and gave me a source of inspiration and empowerment when I needed it the most, instead of acting as an attempt to sit still and clear my every thought.
People on my college campus knew of my growing appreciation for guided meditation, so they invited me to lead multiple meditations on campus. At first I didn’t really know what I was doing, so I completely winged leading my first guided meditation. I ended up getting praise; people were super relaxed and felt empowered by my messages. If you’ve ever led a guided meditation, then you know it feels amazing because you’re in the meditative state as well. However, it was the feedback that really made me glow inside. Watching people’s daily stress melt away and transform into a clear state of empowerment made me realize that leading guided meditations was a deep passion of mine.
My curiosity of the philosophy of mind and passion for meditation led me to take up an opportunity to be a research assistant at New York University the summer of 2017. I worked with other undergraduates and master students to create and teach mindfulness and empowerment exercises to inner city high school kids. We also did yoga and meditation with them. Some of these kids never experienced a yoga class or a guided meditation before our program. While sometimes they thought our work together was a bit cheesy, they left feeling a greater sense of self and relaxation because of our conversations and yoga/meditation sessions.
My intention to bring meditation and mindfulness to people who weren’t directly seeking it out became clear. As such I interned at a local elementary school my senior year of college. I taught students deep breathing, meditation and yoga one-on-one, in small groups and whole classes. I also got to work with teachers, providing them group meditation classes and one-on-one sessions. Although I love kids (and their cuteness), I realized that my calling was to work with adults. (or at least people old enough not to run and scream everywhere)
Working with the teachers was quite a transformative experience for me because I was giving them tools to help them relax and live a better life. I didn’t want to just give them a little escape from their day to day lives. I wanted to introduce them to methods of reducing their stress and relabeling the events in their lives to give them more purpose, meaning and potential for growth. Most of the teachers I worked with even cried after my short one-on-one session with them. This was a sign that my words really struck an emotional cord with them. That’s what you want, you want people to feel a jolting emotional change, you want people to sense such a shift in perspective they cry. This is the sign that some negative pattern of thought has been temporarily broken. All of those sessions happened in one day and I remember it being such a defining day for me. My intentions became even further crystallized. I felt a need and a burning desire to bring these life changing tools to people who needed it the most.
I manifested the right opportunity. That following summer, I interned at On the Goga, a corporate wellness company in Philadelphia focusing on holistic health. I helped run events, wrote blog posts and led my own meditation and mindfulness session. I loved noticing people’s realizations and transformations during that hybrid session. It was very rewarding to put together a focused yet comprehensive session that really paid off. Throughout the course of 2018 I was working on the recorded meditations that you can find on my site. However, my experience over the summer really augmented my dreams of being an entrepreneur because the company I worked for was a venture started by a woman not too much older than me.
I hope I can spread my meditations and the idea that guided meditation is just a form of personal empowerment. It’s not that different from listening to an emotionally evoking song or watching an inspirational movie. It’s just another form (a pretty relaxing one) in which positive messages can be received. It’s true that with time meditation can really help change your mentality and brain structure long-term, but that doesn’t mean you should force yourself into a practice you’re not comfortable with. Even just a single short guided meditation can be of great benefit and that’s why it’s applicable to a busy and conventional lifestyle.