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.
What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing. I’ve never been to Nepal, or India, or even a meditation retreat, however I discovered the power of meditation. You’re absolutely right that the more you practice, the better the effect. The very best of luck with your venture.
Hi Aileen, Indeed it is not needed to go to a remote country to start your meditation practice, especially with the app development these days. Though I must say that both countries are beautiful and very inspiring. People in Nepal are SO friendly, we can learn from that in our western world. Great to hear that you started with meditation. I believe everyone can find their own fit, but stepping back daily and turn inwards and check in with yourself is so important. Happy you got started. Will do more live meditations, feel free to join 😊😊Love, Veroniek
Hi Silatha,Hopefully, in the future I will get to experience both countries - and many more. I've enjoyed travelling in the past and look forward to being able to travel again. I suspect it won't be this year, or next - for various reasons, not just Covid. It will happen though.Thanks,Aileen
Dear Aileen, I learned that all will come on your path when you’re open to it. So I’m sure you will travel there 😊Also I see that I somehow logged in with our Silatha account, which is my company account. Warmes wishes, Veroniek
Thank you for sharing your experience. I have actually booked my vipassana retreat in India last April, COVID has stopped everything but once travel is again possible, I will definitely try this experience. Would love to hear experiences from other folks as well.Charlene
@CharleneLin have you considered a virtual Vipassana? the team from YogiLab (Bali, Indonesia) do it every month, completely free. haven't tried it but am considering to hop on innApril when I have a little downtime scheduled for myself. If you're looking for an in-person experience that's less intimidating, I highly recommend the self-structured mini vipassana retreats at Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai (north of thailand). You have the option of shorter stays (4, 5, 7 days) up to even 21 days (foundation course). I enjoyed my short stay. The monk leading the guided dharma talks there in 2019 was very personable, wise and kind. Chiang mai is also beautiful city with great nature to explore, delicious food and kind and hospitable locals. I can share some recommendations if and when you plan to visit, travel permitting.
Thank you so much @WenlinT. I already think that In-person vipassana is very hard, not sure I can resist aux temptations around me if I do it online... but I think a shorter version of it will be very good once travel is again allowed.
Hi CharleneLin,Oh yes a Vipassena retreat is an amazing experience. It will be hard (for everyone in a different way) but it’s so worth it. For sure join one when restrictions are gone. Love, Veroniek
I've been a meditator since my early 20s, off and on, mostly "on" lately. It is a powerful method for mental and emotional hygiene, proven by cognitive research to be just that. Nothing weird about it: an ancient and widely proven technology for managing the best hardware and software that we were given by Nature. But for newbies it might be hard just to drop into a Vipassana, right out of the airport. There are mediation techniques for modern humans that start with a lot more active/high energy activities aimed at loosening up "plaques" of our mental habits etc. I would recommend highly this Muitiversity as a bridge to meditation:
Veroniek - what a powerful story! I recently read the book Breath, by James Nestor. It shares the science and history behind mediation and how nasal breathing impacts our health. I 100% agree on the impact it can have, and it's already changed my health and mindset with just a month of regular practice. you don't have time to read, I recommend going to his website to do a few of the exercises:
Oh yes! That’s a great one. Thanks for sharing! And you’re doing amazing as you exceeded the first month, which is when most people quite. So keep going!! ❤️❤️
Interesting that you mention that book as it came up in a class I did yesterday. Thank you.
I love this! <3
Breathe is a great read. I second that.!
Oh yes! That’s a great one. Thanks for sharing!And you’re doing amazing as you exceeded the first month, which is when most people quite.So keep going!! ❤️❤️
Thanks for sharing your meditation journey! I got into mindfulness and meditation this year at the (strong) suggestion of my therapist. I worked my way through The Mindful Way Workbook, and it has really helped me create a meditation practice that works for me. I can't say meditation prevents depressive episodes, but it helps. In case anyone is interested: I also really enjoyed a virtual meditation week hosted by @meg in November 2020. She is a superb meditation facilitator!
Thanks for your kind words and for sharing this workbook, will check it out. So great to hear the positive effects everyone has from starting their practice. I believe by spreading the word of how meditation can help, we can slowly support more and more people. So big thanks to you all 🙏💗
Thank you for the kind words ❤️I equally loved having you co-create the space @amrosnik
Thanks for sharing this beautiful story. I LOVED reading it and I couldn't agree more with your last paragraph.
Thank you Teresa! Let's share the love <3
I wrote a little piece about why MEANING is my word this 2021 (for me and for my company) that it is very aligned with your thoughts and that you may like :)Sharing it here in case you want to read it:
Beautiful! Think COVID helped us to look more to the meaning of things and let go of what doesn't have a meaning. Great concept you have!
Thanks! :)
So inspiring @Veroniek! I am a life long meditator and professional Executive coach. I appreciate the tools of meditation, mindfulness and using intention to restructure daily habits and systems to support your happiness.I write to emphasize that no matter what religious faith you may have, or perhaps no religious practice at all - meditation is a tool humans can use to improve their daily life experience. Adding a faith component: prayer, fasting, scriptures can augment the effect but are not necessary. Thank you for the way you are giving back to our world!
Dear Myrna, many thanks for your kind words and agree with you: it doesn't matter if you are religious and which religion. It's a connection within with the god(ess) in yourself. And it will bring out the best in you :) happy to hear from another 'fan' :)
Thanks for sharing your story! I started practicing meditation 3 years ago and it has also changed my life! I moved back to my parent's house for a a few months due to covid-related changes and I made it a priority to help my mom get started in this practice. Since we were living together, it was easier to help her make it a routine. I really believe in your mission of helping moms find more balance. I am a freelance product designer and it would be a dream to work on a product like Silatha. If you are ever in need of product design work or improvements I would love to connect!
Hi Marianah, how amazing you got your mom into meditation! Great job! I haven't managed that so far. And yes, it really helps when you build a routine together. At the moment not, but please connect to me in LinkedIn (Veroniek Vermeulen) and maybe in the future. We're building a team with people that are passionate about meditation and know the benefits it has. So it's a fit for that :)
Thank you for sharing your story. I had tears in my eyes while reading it. I found mindfulness and meditation at the depths of postpartum depression and have also made it my life mission to teach women all over the world how to get in sips of self-care where they can. We are united in this initiative and it's a pleasure to read your why.
Dear Terra,Thank you for sharing and I'm so glad that you did find meditation. We are actually building a series to get through postpartum depression, as it happens so much more than we are aware off. It's still a taboo, which it shouldn't be. So really great that you did find meditation when you needed it the most and are sharing this, so others can maybe find the same path. ❤
Thank you for sharing your story! I am from Nepal and when I was there, I never explored meditation. I have been living in the US for six years now and since last year, in the pursuit of finding myself, I found meditation. I am still learning and I share similar values as you do. Nothing makes me happier than realizing that I have helped someone. It is nice to meet you here! I am excited to check out Silatha!
Hahaha yes isn't it funny, I (and I think many more) go to your beautiful home country to find meditation and you find it in the US, thanks to people who came in contact in Nepal, India or elsewhere. A beautiful circle. I believe it is a never ending journey, luckily, as it is all about the journey. Growing together. Please let me know if you have any questions about Silatha.My warmest wishes to the warmest and most beautiful people that I met in Nepal. We can learn a lot from that in the West.
Thank you so much for sharing your story and your journey! @Veroniek, I was so excited reading the title and the content of your story that I was not able to read this writeup at a proper reading pace. I read it multiple times, rapidly, and then finally I was calm enough to read it with mindfulness. What resonated with me the most was your candid description on how you felt empty in spite of such a full life. I'd like to share my story with you and the other readers. I'm from India. I've been living in the USA since last 14 years. The very first time, I came to know about Vipassana was when I met my husband, in the USA. We did our first 10 day retreat in 2010 when we were pregnant with our first child. The purpose and the motivation behind it to get some answer to the question of why there was so much misery and suffering around me and within me. After the retreat, both of us did not practice for many years. A full time job, having a second baby and the other self-created responsibilities and excuses in the life took over. My husband has started the practice sincerely since the last few weeks. Till today, I struggle with feeling of emptiness, fear of losing loved ones and lack of joy. It has been 10 years and even though I know that THIS IS the path, I struggle with regularity and habit creation. The only difference is, now I've at least started making an effort of sitting down criss-cross through the guided meditation.I've recently done a career switch into UX Design from Software Engineering, with the aim of creating experiences that have a positive impact in the life of living beings and reduce their suffering. If you need any design work done for Silatha, please do give me a shout. Your story has given me hope that I MUST continue with the Vipassana mediation and MUST make it a habit. May all beings be happy. 🙏🏽
Dear Aditioza, thank you for sharing your story! I love the Vipassana retreat, it's so powerful. And yes, we are brilliant in making up reasons why we have no time to meditate. Though to get back into the routine, you can also start small. Integrate short meditations into your day, even 2 minutes help. Slowly bring back the routine. If you want you can try the Silatha app. Actually everyone here can, let me create some codes that you can use.If you download the Silatha meditation app in your app store. Go to the settings (little wheel in the top right corner) and click Active Access. Give in name: Elpha Password: Silatha. I will activate some codes, so you can try the full app for free. And please feel free to link to me (Veroniek Vermeulen) on LinkedIn and let’s stay connected if we have some more UX design to do. We just hired someone for this, but maybe in the future. ❤
Thank you for sharing your story! We use breath and meditation for everyone in the house. When my kids are overwhelmed - breath. When someone is upset - breath. When it is hard to sleep - breath (we listen to Headspace. When I need a little more patience - breath. We're not perfect at it all the time. As you mentioned it requires building a habit. When you love the way something makes you feel it does turn into habit. Congrats on your venture! Best of luck to you.
Thank you TC, and great that you involve your kids on a young age. Make them aware of the breath and how it can release stress, love that!
I’ve been focused on meditation and breathe awareness for the past few months. It was easier while I was on a break from work but after I resumed work a month ago, it’s been tough keeping up. Any creative suggestions on triggers to make it a stronger habit?
Hi Rochelle, thank you for sharing your struggle and your question! First of all: you are not alone, most people stop within a month, so you did well compared to the average. :)And yes of course, what about linking your meditation to a habit you already do? For example after brushing your teeth in the morning, you meditate for 5 minutes. Or maybe even when you boil water for a cup of tea, you use the time to focus on your breath. You can create a small space in your home, ideally a space you see often. Make it nice, a place where you like to be. put some flowers or candles and it will trigger you to meditate there. You can also find a buddy, and you promise each other to keep each other accountable. And keep it small, whatever first in your day, if it is 1 minute, then that's what it is. Maybe you want to stay longer when you sit, but 'you don't have to'.Have an object (we also have Silatha jewelry), meditate with it and make it your reminder. Wear it daily, so it reminds you of your intention. Hope these tips help. Happy to talk more. Warm wishes,Veroniek
Truly appreciate you taking time to share these wonderful suggestions. I read ‘Peace is every step’ recently which amplifies the same philosophy of incorporating meditation in to day to day activities. I will definitely give this a sincere try.
Love to hear how it's going :)
Thank you for sharing such a powerful story and message! I just started transcendental meditation and it has truly made an impact on my anxiety levels that were almost unmanageable just a month ago. This part in particular really resonated with 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." I've felt the same feelings from meditation and the pure bliss and happiness is indescribable. I love that you focused on habit building and long term sustainability for Silatha. I can't wait to check it ou :) If you need any product work I'd be happy to help!
Thank you Joanna! Enjoy your path! Love to stay connected.
Feel free to add me on linkedin! :)