Success is the product of daily habits–not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.”James Clear, Atomic Habits
How microsteps to group meditation led to a personal transformation.
Have you ever hit a wall? Have you ever realized that you simply can’t continue doing what you are doing any longer? These moments are few (hopefully) and far between. However the striking take away from moments like these are that to make the change, you simply have to make microsteps toward the desired change. James Clear is right about this idea of “success”.
A few years ago, I found myself completely depleted after completing a cycle of six months of planning for a community event that tested many of my best skills. Many things went into a second tier status, including my family, I hate to admit. What had happened is that my ego shifted into high gear as I took on too many parts of this event while leading an all-volunteer-ran event for my children’s public school. As things needed to be done and folks were not stepping up to do them, I took those things on. I did this to allow space for team leaders to do their work in the very best ways.
In the end, it was a wildly successful event and we raised more money that year than this annual event had ever raised! That was a wonderful climax to this half-year of intense planning. Ding! We won.
We won with costs. I was taxed emotionally and physically. I became ill after this event and my immunity suffered. My family were proud of me and relieved this was over, but I was basically a nerve ending and really had to take steps to recharge and reflect. It became clearer to me than ever before that I needed to work on my personal boundaries. I also needed to check my ego — how did I let that come in first over family?
This was my biggest wall: ego. As I recovered from that 3 week “cold”, I used this time to come up with a way to begin to nurture my spirit.
When the ego dies, the soul awakes.Mahatma Ghandi
For many years prior, I did yoga. However, at this wall of ego, I questioned myself — “have I ever truly done yoga?” It was a good question, considering how out of balance I had become. Yoga in Sanskrit means “union”. I decided to use this healing practice to bring union back to my body. Meditation was part of yoga that I was really having trouble settling into. I decided to try a meditation group to have the guided support. I tried out different meditation groups and landed in a magical space that felt like a buoyant supportive space in the sea of confusion where I had found myself. The community was right for me and I was ready to settle in to begin the shift toward a daily meditation practice.
For me, I had to take these microsteps of reflecting and recharging. Even researching where to go meditate in a group to learn how to do it well was a microstep. These microsteps toward creating the space and personal boundary in my life to allocate necessary time to this self-care were deeply impactful.
With this wall behind me, I find that I sometimes come back to this wall of EGO and with my new practice of meditation, I am able to simply go around it. The microsteps taken to get to this point are those of daily habits that led to a personal transformation for which I am grateful. I did all of this on my own and that gave me strength. Coincidentally, as I have continued with this group for the past five years, I do see the lessons of letting go of the EGO to be the deepest and almost always a part of every dharma talk that I take in.
Moving toward a group guided meditation practice helped me to establish my own personal meditation experience in my daily life. The energetic support of a group is like an accelerator toward imprinting this new skill as a habit. Now, I lead guided meditations and have folks who reach out to me to learn how to meditate. This is deeply satisfying and truly one of the best gifts to be given and to share it with others.
For the outcome, I am so grateful for this lesson of letting go of my ego and was able to re-shape my leadership skills to continue to benefit our children’s school community. Through the practice of letting go, I have gained and given so much.