It was towards the end of that first year that my coach offered me the possibility of attending a meditation class. I was pleased that he made this offer via email. I would have felt as though I had to say yes if he had asked me in person, and there was no way that I was saying yes.
I replied to the email with a suitably feeble excuse. My reply was such an obvious avoidance that I was certain that my coach would read it, understand that I was not interested, and never mention meditation again.
I underestimated my coach.
When I read his non-judgmental, kind, reassuring reply, I think I swore. How on earth was I going to say no to that? OK, I needed a Plan B.
I decided that three classes would be enough for me to attend before politely coming up with a valid excuse. I replied and said that I would do the meditation class. Right. I now had three classes to come up with an excuse for not getting permanently involved in meditation. Easy. I could do that.
As I replied, it occurred to me that my coach was usually pretty spot on with his offers, even if I didn’t understand his reasons at the time. Maybe he had a point, and there was something in this that I just wasn’t seeing? I could feel some curiosity stirring. I was still adamant that meditation would not be a permanent part of my life, however I was starting to be curious about what it had to offer.
That first meditation class felt like a place of love and warmth. It felt safe; as though I could leave the challenges of my work day behind me and simply be me. At the end of the class, I felt amazing and at peace and well, content. Woah, Deanne. How are you going to come up with an excuse with an attitude like that?
It took two classes before I was totally hooked. The classes were on Mondays, so I would go to the class after work and come away with such an amazing, calm peace within me that the rest of the week seemed much more manageable. As Friday arrived, I would start to feel as though maybe my next meditation class was nearly due, however that simply reassured me that I had something in place to help me deal with whatever was coming my way.
On the few occasions that I was unable to go to my meditation class, I was devastated; the classes really had come to mean so much to me. I was now the person who recommended meditation to everyone.
I became incredibly grateful that it had felt so important to me to find a reason to say no to that initial offer of attending a meditation class. My assessment is that, if it hadn’t felt important, if I had said no without a reason (or if I had actually found a reason to say no), I would have missed out on so much.
My experience with the meditation class taught me that I sometimes have a tendency to say no because it is easier, and this led me to asking myself “For the sake of what am I saying no?” or “What am I taking care of by saying no?” What I realised is that I often say no to things to take care of my own anxiety. For example, I had no idea of what was involved in a meditation class. I didn’t know how to “get it right” or what to take to the class, or what would be expected of me. The whole thought of going created so much uncertainty for me. By opposing that uncertainty, I became anxious, which led to me wanting to say no as a self-protection mechanism. So basically, I was saying no because there was uncertainty and I didn’t know how to “get it right”. I realised that this was a consistent pattern with me. I would say no when I was uncertain, and it could be uncertainty over the simplest thing.
Wow! I could have missed out on an amazing experience because I was too scared to say yes! What else was I missing out on because I was too scared to say yes? This learning led me to making the following declaration: I will say yes to more opportunities.
I have to be honest. My next piece of learning was: Never make a declaration that you will say yes to more opportunities five minutes before a friend asks you to join an adult ballet class with her. Even though I laugh and joke about that, I did learn a lot from adult ballet. I also chose to risk the absence of more learning after a term and withdrew from the class. That’s ok, because it was still learning.
Another piece of learning, although I have to admit that it took three years before I really came to understand it, was that it is important to take care of ourselves. I sometimes found this whole learning process quite challenging, because it felt as thought I was the only person learning from my interactions and trying to make changes (which probably says more about my moods and where I was at than it does anyone else). I also think that, back then, a lot of my changes were being made from a point of self-judgement; now I feel as though I observe myself and make changes from a point of care for myself and others, rather than self-judgement. Meditation became my way of taking care of me; of telling myself that it would be all ok, and of giving myself the strength and courage to keep going.
Points to Ponder…
- For the sake of what are you saying no?
- For the sake of what are you saying yes?
- How is this serving you?
- How are you taking care of yourself?
I am a leadership and life coach, available for coaching and facilitation services. If you feel that it would be useful to have a conversation with me, please feel free to view my services on the Leading and Being website.