The idea to try this was conceived during a week long trip to Mexico. My girlfriend had a credit to a retreat in Troncones, Mexico and I begrudgingly accepted the offer to go. I know, poor me. It wasn't that I didn't like the idea of staying in a cabana on the beach in Mexico. I didn't want to go because it was a meditation and yoga retreat. Anyone who knows me knows that I like fast-paced, adrenaline pumping adventure and "go til you can't anymore" exercise. Yoga and meditation are the direct opposite of these. My thought was that I could just skip the hippy stuff and go run around and explore while Jenny was doing her professional sitting and stretching routine.
It was a pleasant trip down to Mexico and we arrived at the retreat around sunset. We took a pleasant stroll down the road to find food. I joked, as we sat at a small table on the beach, that this was the most clique moment of my life. We were the only patrons at this cute little local taqueria on the beach, eating heaping mounds of ceviche and guacamole as the glowing orange sun slowly set over the ocean. We sat underneath a lone palm tree lit up by Christmas lights as sea gulls were heard squawking in the distance. Just as I mentioned the humor of the situation, a Mexican cowboy trotted his horse down the beach as a small colt struggled to catch up. This place was too much.
I wanted to sleep in the next day but, I decided to get up early at 7 for the morning meditation so that I could at least say I tried. The man teaching the meditation was about my age and I was immediately skeptical. He talked slow and methodical, taking a few seconds in between each sentence. He went on for a while about meditation and I slowly tuned him out. We sat on comfy cylindrical pillows as we looked out at the ocean on this beautiful teak wood platform. I did listen some and after about 10 minutes, something happened. I just sank into the pillow, raised my chin, and looked deeply into the horizon. My brain felt slower and I could actually witness myself thinking. The immediate feeling was a bit overwhelming and my eyes began to tickle as my tear ducts filled. I really did feel like I was fully experiencing the present moment as it unfolded before me. It was real and it was magical. Thoughts came and went and my legs fell asleep after a while. A fly kept landing on me and I began to think about how I was going to spend my day. The man's voice came back into my awareness and what he was saying started to make a little bit more sense. "Slowly bring your awareness back to your breath" he whispered over and over again. After 30 minutes, everyone began to slowly rustle and the class was over. It seemed like it had been an hour or even longer yet, it flew by.
Jenny and I got breakfast and talked about our experience. Hers was very similar and she also didn't know how to process it quiet yet. We went about our day and everything flowed very nicely. I noticed myself taking some deep breaths from time to time and I felt a lot less concerned with what I would be "doing" while I was here. You could even say I was more intrigued by the meditation than anything else. The next morning flowed even better and I felt hooked. I just loved the experience of noticing and it was so freeing to spend at least a few minutes a day not fully engulfed in my thoughts. Every day, we ate great food, went on adventures, surfed, meditated, and I even did a couple of yoga classes. We left after 1 week and I was back to work. I did a few shorter meditations here and there but, it wasn't Mexico so I just lost interest.
In April, I noticed that the long Utah winter was wearing on me and that I was feeling stressed about everything I was trying to do in my business. I felt like I would run out of breath while talking to people and I would sweat profusely while on the phone with clients. I was nervous and fearful but, I didn't really notice that I was feeling this way. Waking up early with a head full of thought was becoming more normal. My guess was that this was entrepreneurship and that it was just get better on it's own over time. That however, didn't sound 100% accurate to me. I'm not one to sit around and wait for things to happen nor do I believe that life works like that. I wanted to try something now. As I began to research effective habits of leaders, watch motivational videos, and ponder my situation, one glaring example kept coming up. The experience I had in Mexico was so deep and radical that it must be able to transcend the place I chose to experience it. If not, I figured I would just have to move to Mexico.
Self-accountability is a joke. It isn't even a thing. You can make a promise to yourself, break it, explain it away, forget about it, and no one else will ever know. Even you will forget how many times this has happened. What would make you any more accountable to yourself than you already are now? Nothing. People get results by making commitments to others. It doesn't matter if it's to a child or a grandparent. If anyone you care about knows what you're trying to accomplish then you will are 100 times more likely to make it happen. With that being said, I had to make a commitment. I told my girlfriend that I would be meditating 30 minutes for 30 days straight...no matter what. She thought that this was a great idea and she decided to join in.
We meditated every day for 30 days. There were days where I literally cried from gratitude and joy. There were days when I couldn't sit still and stayed in a negative thought pattern. There were days when I fell into a zen like state and remained there for hours or the entire day. I fell asleep twice and I even meditated for 1 hour, 3 times because I just felt like it. Most importantly though, I didn't give up and I completed the challenge.
It's difficult to explain what I gained from that experience. I had really trippy lucid dreams, realized things I did not know about myself, and gained clarity on how to create a happy life. That all still seems like the surface explanation compared to what it feels like to be completely present. I may only get a few minutes per day of complete presence but, it's so worth it. Today I still meditate 20-30 minutes and I will be attending a meditation retreat this summer. My plan is to do this for the rest of my life because I think it is one of the purest ways to experience life. It's useful in good times and in bad. It gives me energy and allows me to relax. There is real science behind the benefits and it is recommended across just about all the religions, cultures, and philosophies. The most important question you will ever have to answer about starting a meditation practice is "What's stopping you?"