I’m so fortunate to be part of this incredible team,
whose mission is to bring mindfulness to the world.
If you were to view a photo of me from back in 1985, you likely wouldn’t recognize me.
I was an angry punk rocker with black lipstick, combat boots, and a purple mohawk. My childhood wasn’t an easy one so by my teenage years I was rebellious and full of angst. My personal heros were Lou Reed, Sid Vicious and Siouxsie Sioux. I was agnostic, nonconformist, and essentially anti-everything.
So looking back, given how closed and defiant I was, it’s kind of a miracle that just a few years later, I had an openness to attending an 8-week mindfulness meditation course at an Eating Disorders centre. Maybe I was tired of experiencing mood swings and depression. Maybe I was frustrated living at the mercy of my eating disorder. Maybe I was desperate for a bit of healing.
So on one spring day in 1991, along with 9 other girls, I waited in a small room for our instructor to arrive. I knew little about meditation at the time. There were no mentions of it on the cover of Time magazine as there are today. My only reference point was the mental image of monks from the east who wore robes and chanted.
Our instructor arrived, a thin, unassuming man with brown hair and a soft demeanor. He quickly put us all to ease. “I’m not here to convince you of anything,” he assured us. “Meditation isn’t a strange or cultish activity. It’s a practice of developing moment to moment awareness, which leads to insight and peace.”
I raised an eyebrow, still skeptical, but decided to give it a try. The idea of peace was too alluring to pass up.
He guided us through a brief practice, and by the end, I felt some of my tension relax. It wasn’t as though my life had changed; there was no huge epiphany or instant healing. But I was able to taste a few moments of rare and elusive stillness. For me, that was enough to keep coming back.
There was no way of knowing it at the time, but this entry to meditation would set off a decades-long pursuit that has defined much of my life. Since that first sit over 25 years ago, I’ve continued to explore meditation practices and traditions, such as Mindfulness meditation, Vipassana/Insight, Shambhala, Zen, and Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist teachings. I’m grateful to Pema Chodron, S.N. Goenka, Thich Naht Hanh and Anne Lamott for guiding my path.
I’ve studied with meditation teachers such as Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Gen Kelsang Zopa, Lama Catherine Rathburn, Virginia Hamilton, Michael Stone, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Shinzen Young, Jeff Foster, Jim Bedard, Randy Baker, Venerable Hwasun Yangil Sunim, Philip Starkman, Matthew Brensilver, Vinny Ferraro, Sharon Salzberg and many more.
I’ve always been a questioner, seeking answers to help navigate this rollercoaster of a world we live in. Mindfulness provided answers to some of those questions. And of course, this path of deepening in insight and equanimity is what led me to Calm, the meditation app where I currently work as Head of Content. Over the past three years I’ve built Calm’s content library and written and recorded the company’s meditations. It’s been one of the most rewarding professional experiences of my life. In my role with Calm, my goal is to make wisdom teachings accessible and relatable. I’m immensely grateful to be able to share the teachings that have assisted me in own path with millions of people all over the world.
And while I’d never claim that meditation fixes everything, I can honestly say it’s transformed my life. Over time, mindfulness helped me resolve my eating disorder, alleviate depression and reduce anxiety. It’s softened old trauma, and helped me cope through periods of chronic pain and insomnia. And though I still have a ways to go, habitual tendencies to release, and challenges to overcome, meditation has taught me to move through life’s discomforts with greater ease. In the darkest dark, I now trust that no matter how difficult or scary life feels, there’s a beginning and an ending to all challenge. Mindfulness inspires me to live more gently, openly, courageously and compassionately.
Life, in all it’s complexity, continues to be my greatest teacher; meditation, my home base.
As Elizabeth Lesser said, “One does not practice meditation to become a great meditator. We meditate to wake up and live, to become skilled at the art of living.”
I’m so grateful that we live in a world today, where meditation is no longer a taboo word. And that through books and teachings and apps like Calm, we can all wake up together.