My path to mindfulness

I have always been interested in my mind. It’s the place where I spend every waking hour. It’s where I might spend some dream time. It can generate thoughts of elation, greed, lust, gratitude, anger, fear, terror all within an instant. It’s very open to suggestion, yet there are self-imposed permanencies. A scent can evoke a vivid memory. A place can spark an echo of childhood. There’s the occasional deja vu, and increasingly frequent failure to recall. It’s an amazing machine but it isn’t free from errors. It can get tired. It can completely fail you when you need it the most. It can be your best friend or your worst enemy.

When I was a kid, I loved to lie in bed and imagine what my life might be like in the future. I would think about things I wanted to do, things I wanted to have, create scenarios that I would picture myself in. It was kind of an escape, a way to have an adventure without leaving the comfort of being under the covers. I vaguely remember doing breathing exercises in my teens, but I don’t remember why I was doing them. Maybe I read an article in a magazine, maybe it just came naturally. Either way, it was something that I enjoyed doing because it brought some sort of contentment that I remember vividly.

As I got busier with more intense education from undergrad to veterinary school, I lost touch with my mindfulness. As new technologies like email and cell phones became a necessity in every day life, the frequency of being alone with my mind dropped off. I could always read a magazine, contact a friend, play a video game, or study. Opportunities to “just be” were few and far between.

At the end of 2013, I had reignited the fire of my vision for opening a veterinary clinic from the startup phase. I had purchased an existing vet hospital in 2002 and I inherited the culture that was already there. Culture change is not easy. Though I worked hard at it, I never really had a handle on it. I wondered what it would be like to start a clinic with a deliberate culture, having a specific raison d’etre, and that dream came a reality in October of 2014. But the steps that got me to that point are what lead me back to the mysteries of my own mind.

I hired a coach to help direct and guide me on my path to starting the business. He recommended some books that triggered a whole new realm of thinking about business and entrepreneurship. I read Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art, which was an eye-opening look into the tendency of the mind. Next I was told to read Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Workweek, which was right up my alley. That lead me to his blog and then to the goldmine of his podcasts, The Tim Ferriss Show. I could not get enough of them. My shower time and commute time were filled with Tim’s voice and his awesome guests. And a recurring theme that came up was meditation. I was easily convinced I needed to make this part of my routine. After a few sessions using the Buddhify app, I was hooked. I was back in my mind, cleaning up years and years of debris that hadn’t been addressed. I went through some very emotional experiences, but I pushed through because I was feeling great, in unexpected ways. Veterinary medicine is an extremely emotion-driven profession and I never had really addressed that. I just thought I was doing the job. A lot of the emotional junk was accumulating someplace within me, without me even knowing it.

From there I began my journey into my mind, and this blog is a direct result of my need to share with other veterinarians as well as anyone who gets frustrated, lost, scared, or generally disgruntled with everyday life. I don’t have a cure, but a very helpful treatment exists in the form of mindfulness.

Please comment if you would like to share your own journey and what works well for you to center and steady yourself.

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