I've often been told that your greatest weakness is your greatest teacher. I am only now seeing how true this is. I was always a sad child. I remember sitting in my room, listening to music and crying. In time I learned to hide this part of myself, to put a smile on and never let anyone in to the sadness. It was my secret. Yet later in life, the sadness would keep crashing in. Before a test, after a break-up, during a challenging time in my life, sadness would come and sweep over me like a tidal wave, leaving nothing behind. I began to eat, then diet, then exercise, then achieve. I became a lawyer. I started to plan everything and ensure I was two steps ahead, always. Yet eventually came an unravelling, and I realized that there was something more, something deeper, that I had been avoiding for so long.
The call for me came in my 20s, once I realized that the boyfriend I always wanted, the career I worked so hard for, and the "dream" life I had sought were not enough. The hole was still there. Looking back I was so lucky that I remained unhappy, many people can drift in this surface life for a long time. But I just could not, eventually it would bring me under. So I decided to dive in.
In 2006 I did my first Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Course. I have had a regular mindfulness practice ever since. I was listening to a recording by Jon Kabat-Zinn when I started, and he said -- "You are more than just your thoughts." Really? I had been my thoughts for my whole life! I couldn't imagine there was anything more. I decided to find out who else was there, and I am still in the process of discovering her.
Almost 10 years since, I now know that there is nothing more important than uncovering my deepest self through the practice of living the present moment. I have attended a number of silent meditation retreats; studied with some of the worlds most renowned teachers: Phillip Moffit, Stephen Cope, Shinzen Young, Michael Stone, and Sharon Salzberg among others; became a yoga teacher certified by the Yoga Alliance, and have embarked upon my second yoga teacher training as I maintain a daily Asthanga yoga practice. I now teach yoga and mindfulness classes weekly at my work in the Ontario Public Service, offer personal Mindfulness Coaching, and have also launched a Healthy Workplace, Healthy Mind initiative for the Government of Ontario Cabinet Office and Premier's Office. I do all this while thriving at my full-time job as a Senior Advisor in the Ontario government and spending lots of time with my beautiful family, including a 4- and 1-year-old. I can honestly say that my ability to do all this and maintain a sense of calm and peace in my life rests entirely on my practice of living the present moment as best as I can in every circumstance.
We are like diamonds in the rough, covered so tightly by our habits and personalities that we fail to see the beauty that is already here. As I continue my path of self-discovery, I would love to share it with you. Most of all, I offer you my hand as you set upon your own path. It will be a challenging ride, but the best adventure of your life. There are times in the journey when things get murky, when it is not clear which way to turn or where to go. It is at these times that it helps to reach out to others who have some experience in going within. May we go together, and find the depths of joy that connect us all -- in the present moment.