How meditation changed my lifeFeatured
Eight years ago, I looked at my life and realised that even though I had excelled at my job, had a perfect husband, had amazing friends, travelled the world, had experienced the most incredible events, I wasn’t happy. I had reached everything I had dreamed of as a little girl and now I had it all I was subsequently left with an empty feeling. I thought that by achieving even more, such as a promotion at work, a new handbag, or another holiday would make me happy. I soon realised it did not. I got a divorce as I thought that perhaps a new partner is what would make me happy, but it also did not. A close friend told me about meditation. Keep in mind this is eight years ago and back then, meditation was some weird activity that hippies did, not people who had a responsible corporate job. But what was there to lose? So, I signed up for a meditation course in Nepal, packed my bag and left on the pursuit of happiness. After some days in Kathmandu, I travelled to the starting point of the Himalayas where my meditation course was being held. Distracted by the paragliders soaring around in the distance, I had an epiphany and decided that my new goal would be to be the first woman ever to paraglide on the top of the world in the Himalayas. After I found a crazy enough man to take me up there, bought myself some warm clothes, I then left for Jomsom, Nepal. Not knowing yet, that the man I would meet, the helicopter pilot, would change my life forever. I flew to Jomsom by helicopter as all flights were fully booked and now that I had this idea in my mind, a fully booked plane wasn’t going to stop me. So, there I was next to the helicopter pilot who was very curious why a blonde woman in her thirties was by herself on her way to the endless mountains of the Himalayas. I told him about the meditation idea, and that I pivoted that towards paragliding in the Himalayas, which I believed would be life changing.With our headsets on, he looked toward me as if I had lost my mind but continued calmly to tell me more about Buddhism and the importance of our breath as our lifeline. Without fresh air in our lungs, this Buddhist man explained to me, we die within minutes, though we take it for granted. He suggested I start to focus on my breathing. “Become aware of every breath you take, let go of your thoughts and just be in the moment and breath!” Sounded simple enough, although not so simple to put in practice, I found out that evening. He had however triggered something in me. From that evening onwards, I started to pay attention to my new lifeline, the fresh air that was entering my lungs in and out, in and out, it gave me a feeling of gratitude for the life it offered me. Walking up to 3,000 meters, breath in, breath out, 4,000m breath in, breath out. 5,000 meters, feeling the cold air entering my longs and feeling how the warm air would leave my nostrils, while climbing up towards our peak of 5,500 meters. I arrived at the top without altitude sickness or any tiredness. Rather, I felt good, present in myself, but there was one problem: there was a dangerous thermal wind. So, we waited, and waited, and I, in turn, practiced some more: breathing in and out. Finally, we got the change to paraglide down the peak and it was amazing, it was a thrill, but the life changing experience came the next day. When I had to acclimatise at 3,800 meters walking on my own through the beautiful landscape of the Himalayas, I felt this intense happiness from within. A happiness so bright I couldn’t remember having felt it with this intensity. No achievement, no thrill had ever given me this intense feeling of pure joy. And there, in the middle of nowhere, what I have been looking for my whole life, came to me without warning. All of a sudden, I knew that my purpose in life was to support others. That my only true pleasures and joy had come from helping others. Even though not knowing exactly how I would help others, I had found my direction. Being back home, however, I soon lost my glow and realised I wasn’t doing the meditation exercise anymore, so I signed up for a 10-day meditation course and got back in contact with my inner self, my forgotten self, that had overruled for so many years, copying others, doing what I had thought others expected from me. True happiness came to me when I simply was in the moment, no need for any achievement, no need for status, money or power. All I needed was to be in the present moment, feeling myself, hearing others. On the many retreats and lengthy time I had spent in monasteries, I learned that the moment I accept life for what it is in all is beauty, I would find the pathway to my inner source of happiness. What I hadn’t managed yet was to integrate this Eastern wisdom in my Western life. This led me to do in-depth research on habit building. Speaking and listening to the world’s leading experts on habit creation; BJ Fogg, Nir Eyal and Charles Duhigg, I learned that step one was that I needed to set myself a clear motivation. Step two, I needed a trigger to remind me. Step three, I would need to start small to integrate it into my daily routine, even though I had done my weeks in the monasteries. I would have to cut it down to small chunks. And step four, repeat, repeat, repeat. This learned wisdom breathed life into Silatha, a unique meditation method that helps to build a solid meditation habit, to fit in even the busiest of schedules. I quit my job and made Silatha a reality. With our method, we reach a retention rate that is 5 times higher vs competition. And we are working to grow this even more. I decided to focus on working mums, as in these crazy times, I believe mums are the ones that can really need some support toward creating more balance, energy and patience. We started our first funding round, and now have the first investors on board. I’m convinced that if more people meditate, we will be more connected to our core, to who really lives inside of ourselves. Not the identity created by society, parents, friends, thoughts, but our true selves will bloom as we realise that happiness lies in the small things, the little moments where we are present, when we connect with others, when we give, support, and grow. These are the things that will make us happy, that will make us feel fulfilled. Let’s grow together towards a more loving world, where we dare to be our beautiful selves.