Peace Begins with Me

My life is busy. I thrive on busy. And if I’m not busy, sometimes I really don’t know what to do with myself. I’m sure some of you reading this can relate. As a Communications Specialist here at Modernizing Medicine, a mom to two busy young kids and a yoga teacher in my free time, there often aren’t enough hours in the day. I used to think ‘I don’t have time for meditation in my life,’ but a busy life is exactly why I need to meditate.

Modernizing Medicine’s corporate health and wellness initiative, MMfit, a branch of Modernizing Medicine’s Women in Innovation Technology (MMwit) brought in Kathi Sharp, a certified RYT 200 yoga teacher and certified meditation coach through the Chopra Center (she’s also our resident yoga teacher!), to host a four-part meditation workshop series for Modernizing Medicine employees. Karen O’Byrne, Modernizing Medicine’s Chief Financial and Operating Officer kicked off the first meditation workshop and spoke first hand about the benefits a meditation practice can bring. She shared that giving yourself just 5 to 10 minutes to stop, visit the Zen Room (one of our employee perks) and breathe, gives us the ability to clear our heads during the day, which can lead to finding a healthier, happier and more productive work experience. Regardless of your role at the office or at home, meditation can have a positive impact on your life. In this post, I’ll share with you some of the key takeaways from our meditation workshops that I think anyone can learn from.

The Journey from an Active State to Stillness
“Meditation is a journey from activity to silence. Settling into quieter and quieter levels of awareness.”

Kathi’s first workshop was such a great experience. She imparted her wisdom on how meditation is much more than the hippie-dippy connotation many of us may think of.

Kathi began by sharing with us that it’s about creating your best life now, and the steps one can take to quiet the mind. By using breathing techniques and meditation, we can learn to live our best life in every moment, rather than waiting for our best life to come to us.

As some may think, meditation is not a bunch of people sitting around on cushions in strange postures with transcendental music playing in the background.  Nope, it’s really quite simple. It’s taking time to be in the moment, cultivate awareness or presence using your breath, and allowing your thoughts to pass without attaching any emotion on an outcome. Such a simple concept, but one that is challenging to accomplish in our busy lives. Being mindful was one of the themes from this year’s eMerge Americas conference as well.

Loving Kindness Meditation
Kathi then guided us through a loving-kindness meditation where we sat quietly, and used a series of mudras (which means “mark” or “gesture”) which is a symbolic or ritual gesture in Hinduism and Buddhism. While some mudras involve the entire body, most are performed with the hands and fingers. Our mudra involved touching our thumb to each fingertip as we repeated a mantra: “Peace Begins with Me.” This meditation tool of a combination of mantra and mudra (yoga finger positioning) paired with breath is now my go-to when trying to balance chaos.

The beautiful thing about this meditation is you can do it anywhere – in the office, during a meeting, during a crazy commute, even when your kids are throwing tantrums – truly anywhere at any time. Within minutes this tool can bring peace and stillness and connect you back to your center.

Raising our Office Vibration
With each following meditation workshop, Kathi provided us with more tools and breathing exercises to help us settle our minds and give us intentions to focus on – not outcomes. It was remarkable on how much more relaxed I felt after each session.  I also enjoyed how as a collective community, my fellow co-workers and I were able to relax and spread our happy, relaxed vibration throughout the office. I was able to carry my happy vibes home with me to share with my family. Side note — I taught my kids the “Peace Begins with Me” and they loved it too!

Regardless of age or where you are in your journey of life, there are takeaways that apply to everyone at some point.

Work it Like a Muscle
Just like you work out at the gym, you have to work out and train your brain too. Meditation is not easy. In the past, I have usually given up and had my peaceful intentions thrown off track, when thoughts of my to-do lists, schedules, obligations, past conversations, emotions and all those other thoughts bombard my brain. As I discovered through the meditation workshops, I’m not the only one to experience these side effects as you start a meditation practice.  Remember, it’s about the intention, not the outcome.

Meditation? There’s an App for That!
Since I work for a technology company, it was only fitting to share how technology can help in your meditation journey. Here are some helpful apps you can access in the palm of your hand to help you incorporate meditation in your daily life.

  • Insight Timer – This app features over 4,000 guided meditations from over 1,000 teachers – talk about a collective raising the vibration! Additionally, I had the pleasure of listening to them present on a mindfulness panel at eMerge Americas recently.
  • Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s 21 Day Meditation – Dr. Deepak Chopra is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism and was recently ranked by the Huffington Post’s global internet survey as #17 influential thinker in the world and #1 in Medicine, and well Oprah, is Oprah – need I say more?!
  • Headspace – This app was created by a British meditation teacher and Tibetan Buddhist monk.  The app teaches meditation and mindfulness techniques.
  • Buddhify – This inspiring app will help you learn practical and playful modern meditation techniques.

No matter where you are in this journey called life, squeezing in a bit of meditation can make a world of difference. As a company Modernizing Medicine certainly focuses on employee wellness, and it is one of the many reasons I enjoy working for this innovative company.

Aaron Stoklosa
Aaron Stoklosa

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