Image of a pair of glasses

How I became a Meditation Monk

Image of a pair of glasses

Ever wished you could switch your head off? Or better yet put it at the side of your bed at night and finally get a decent night’s sleep? Oh, how I used to ache for that.

I can still remember so clearly how it all changed. It was pure magic. Like all the best things, it didn’t come from planning and controlling.

“Will you come to this weekend course with me?”“Sure – what is it?”

“Meditation.”

Silence. Hmmm.

“Me? Meditate? Isn’t that for people who do yoga, have dreadlocks and light incense sticks? Jeez, I can’t even sit cross legged.” 

‘I don’t think that’s what it’s about’

Hmmm.

‘I’ll come if you want me to. Are you REALLY sure it would work for me? Oh who cares…I need something and I can’t seem to find the answer in a book’ 

I had ALL the books. I’d spend hours in Waterstones every weekend in the self-help, psychology, might as well be called “losing hope” section.

I’d pick them up and start surreptitiously scanning the first few pages, devouring each word. Before you know it, I’d be at the counter, credit card handed over and another tome or three of wisdom in my carrier bag.

I’d head home and eagerly sit down, ready for the moment. 

The one that would make all the bits and pieces fall into place. The one that would join it together like a golden thread and make this crazy life seem orderly and the way it should be.

Because right then nothing made sense. Nothing.

I was happy.

I had a great life. The most amazing job with a brilliant team. One of those roles that you dream about. With a company that really put people at the heart of its world. It was fun too. Creativity, imagination and a desire to go all in. Make it big, bold, break the mould. We did.

Sometimes when I think about what we pulled off it was incredible. Live roadshows for hundreds across the UK, leadership programmes with fire walks, coaching and breakthrough projects, intimate retreats with senior leadership teams that had them cooking Christmas dinner. It was remarkable.

People who had been written off as “not right for the role” were being transformed. Almost overnight. It felt like popcorn. Pop! Leaders who’d had a fixed way of seeing things were becoming more curious, more open.

This great work had become a drug. The perfect way to avoid the missing in my own life.

The gaps were easily filled working. I could get a sense of fulfilment, validation and on some days, simply numb out. Except it was a one dimensional life.
Friends stopped asking me to come out during the week – little point. I’d either be late, cancel last minute or bring along my blackberry as my date.

I had become dull.

I looked round. Others seemed to be living “the dream” too. We had money. We could have what we wanted.

I bought a new car. And then another vintage one. Two cars just for me – one was purely for fun.
I had handbags. Lovely ones. And clothes – lots of them from those shops that bring you the perfect shoes to match and before you know it you’re walking out with a whole outfit.
I had fabulous holidays. 5 star every time. Hey, I deserved it and I was a solo traveller (Princess). It was my hard-earned money and I was WORTH IT.

I NEEDED it.

Because the moment I got there, I slept. And slept. And slept. I was exhausted.

It wasn’t just that I wasn’t getting enough sleep at home. (I wasn’t). It was that when my head hit the pillow, the gremlins woke up and it was PARTY TIME! 

Everything that needed to be planned, thought about, mulled over all came out at once. Often simultaneously. Like standing right next to the motorway at peak traffic and literally being pummelled. I’d sleep and wake up feeling like I’d done 10 rounds in the boxing ring.

We were doing “big work”. Which meant that often we were carrying a lot of peoples “stuff”. As they unloaded and broke free from limited beliefs, we caught it.

I carried it.

I had no one at home to share it with.

No way of letting it pass through me. Release it.

I became a sponge, constantly helping others and processing.

I loved it. I was living my purpose. The dream.

And I was lonely. I had zillions of people around me and yet felt totally alone.

There were days I felt if I screamed no one would even notice.

The material possessions I had bought as a reward, a comfort, seemed worthless and empty. They goaded me.
You have everything you ever wanted. You’re never satisfied. 
Why can’t you settle like everyone else does?

This isn’t a life. It’s an existence.You don’t fit in.  You never have.

You got lucky. Wait till they find out.

I went to bed every night with heavy bones and full make up on, too exhausted to even get under the covers.

Then the dawn chorus would start. SHOW TIME!

No pillow on my head would stop it.  No books. Exercise. Alcohol.  The Crazy Lady would chatter on, scream away relentlessly.  She had plenty to go at.

So, when I got to this meditation course and the first question they asked was;

“What would you love to have more of in your life” my first words were:

“sleep”. 

Not quite how everyone else was answering…

“Peace”. 

“Happiness”.

“Purpose”

“Contentment”

“Fulfilment”

“Connection”

I started to cry.

Oh man what’s happening. This is the first hour. I can’t do this. Here.

The teachers saw me and just held the space, sitting quietly.

I looked into their eyes and felt the most amazing feeling of love, connection, acceptance. The only way to describe it was Home.

Not my home. Or a building with walls and a roof. Home. Like slipping into a hot bath. Letting the heat warm my bones from the inside.

I could feel a shift. Like my body was remembering something important.

There’s more to life than this.

My shoulders seemed to drop and the tension in my back eased.

There wasn’t anywhere to get to. I was here in this moment.  It was perfect.

I stopped. I just stopped. It felt like time stopped too. There were no thoughts or even awareness of it. There was just space. 

This was different. Because space had scared me a little up to that point. Space meant feelings. Space had led me to depression. We’d cut space off with Doing. Crammed full. Avoiding. Busy. No gaps.

This felt expansive. Safe, complete and yet empty.  Endless in a good way.  Like I could stay here forever and never be missed or miss a thing.

I felt myself opening up.

It was beautiful.  A magical experience.

I’d lost my belief in magic. I’d been so focused on trying and controlling that everything else had faded away. If I couldn’t see it or plan it, it wasn’t real or important. An angel could have stood right next to my desk and I would have missed it.

I saw in that weekend the sheer amount of effort it took to maintain my life.

How half empty I’d become. Happy yes, and still so easily drawn to what needed to be done or was wrong. Even perfection wasn’t enough. Appreciation was a town I screeched through. Offered to others and yet never accepted for myself.I saw how little gratitude I really had for life. I loved my things and my life. But the sheer mind-blowing beauty and grace of the Planet was passing me by. I didn’t notice the leaves changing colour, I didn’t even know the seasons.

I’d forgotten how lucky I was to have so many amazing people around me who loved me despite my distraction. They’d become names not hearts, living souls. With this new awareness, I felt a new deep connection.And so much compassion.

The biggest surprise was how much was aimed at myself.
I saw how brutal my mind was.
The level of self-violence that revealed itself was shocking.

My new tools showed me a simple way to bypass it. At times to not even notice it. The relief was incredible.

In just a few hours I felt like I’d been unplugged from an over worked generator. It felt strange. I felt relaxed, calm and at ease and so much lighter.

It felt like a fast track detox programme. And all I had to do was sit. In a super comfy chair. With pillows. And a blanket.

Why hadn’t I heard about this before?!

They say when the student is ready, the teacher appears. I believe that’s true.

I know magic exists.

I know there was a reason I was on that course.

I know that my life is unfolding one moment after another. No matter how it looks it’s perfect.I know I have everything I need to be ok. To make it easy.

Of course sometimes life is a crazy wild ride. White knuckles and beating heart. Right on the edge. And at others, there’s a gentle flow. A consistent heartbeat, a grace. 

Always a knowing. An appreciation that there’s so much more than we can see.

That weekend changed my life.

Why?

Because of what I learnt? Yes and because it allowed me to see differently.

To turn everything I thought I knew inside out.   That the life I had chosen wasn’t all there was.  It could be way easier with a little practice.

It’s a pure joy to live like this. From this space, no matter what happens externally there’s a contentment underneath that nothing can touch. 

The constant desire or need to get it right has dispersed and with it, the Crazy Lady has quietened.

She still has her moments of course.

And now I have a focus and simple techniques that bring me back moment by moment to praise, gratitude, love and compassion.

I get that many feel meditation or even mindfulness isn’t for them. I’m not one to preach or say it should be.

I can only say it totally transformed my life. And I already had an awesome life.

Imagine being able to live the life you want, free from those voices.

To sleep soundly, letting the body and mind get the rest it needs.

To lean in to the “hard” conversations and life events that you’d rather avoid. And even make them easy.

To just be happy. No matter what.  However it looks on the outside.

To know that you are enough.

Because you are.

You always have been.

Promise*

Are you ready to believe in magic?

Nic xxx

*And I’m a monk now. Don’t over think that. Just know I don’t tell fibs.

(I’ll be writing very soon about what meditation is and importantly, what is isn’t. Stay open.)

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