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Written by Von Cartwright

Okay, so let's get one thing out of the way. This is a real-life account of a person who is new to meditation. I'm not some guru or some hippie hipster (well, maybe a little bit of a hippie hipster) trying to impress you by finding “my center”. For the longest time, meditation was code for a long a$$ nap and I thought the only people who could actually meditate were monks who left the real world to live in the mountains.

I’ll be honest (and I’m sure by now you’ve noticed my straight talk has no filter) and say that even though I have a personal relationship with the founders of Black Zen and thought what they were doing was all well and good, I still felt meditation was a bunch of bull. How can closing my eyes and focusing on not focusing to find focus in my life be beneficial? See. Confusing. I’m dealing with problems that need answers and felt meditation would be wasting my time. So for the longest time I fought it. I fought the idea that this could actually help, but you know what's funny about fighting something? You either win or lose and in every victory or defeat there is a lesson to be learned.

Let me give you a bit of context and you’ll see why the lesson I learned was a real game changer. Since about the age of fourteen I've had to be an adult and I've developed certain behaviors to get problems solved the best way I could. And in doing that for the past twelve years, turns out I’ve established some terrible habits. Habits like being horrible with money, planning for just the next day, and relying on other people’s opinions to make choices. And since I’m on an honest kick here, I may as well say out loud what I’ve been thinking for a while. Those behaviors, in a way, ruined my life. Yes, at the time of this article I am clawing my way out of the ruins that I once called my life.

Having once been blessed with a life changing amount of money, living by myself, and having everything going for me, I now have nothing to show for it and was still trying to live my life the same way I did when I was younger. I knew I needed to do something different and much like kids my age, drinking and drugs was a way to change things up …but that didn't work. My body was literally like, “B%#*% what are YOU doing?” It wouldn't allow me to destroy my life in that way.

I didn't realize until I started to try it that meditation is a mental exercise and not in the way you think. Meditation is about allowing your mind to release. We’ve taught ourselves that our mind needs to be strong by constantly in-taking, always analyzing, always solving multiple things at once. We never take the time to just allow ourselves to just solve one thing at a time and we’ve been doing it since the moment we were able to comprehend the smallest things. Now I understand what meditation does. It opens your mind and it slows downs your thought process, allowing you to prioritize what's really important to you in your life. Or at least in my case, that’s exactly what happened.

Before, when I tried to meditate I would fall asleep. After laughing at how my beliefs about it being a long a%$ nap were confirmed, I kinda just gave up. It took me hitting rock bottom with one of my best friends to discover what I needed to finally figure out. The both of us were stranded in Vegas with no money and we had just slept in her car for the second night in a row. We both would smoke (weed in case you’re curious) just to not have to think about our current situation. So there I was, in her car and had just smoked. I was starting to fade out to that place where stuff wouldn't matter but something told me to close my eyes and meditate. So that's what I did, and as I closed my eyes I tried to find that inner quiet. What I experienced was something I can't exactly put into words but I'll try my best to paint a picture for you. Once I closed my eyes, I first tuned out everything. I tuned out the city, the music we were playing, the sadness and the tension between us at the time. It was just me. Then I started to focus and it was like all the problems I had were just rushing past until I picked one that I needed to work on for right now. When I picked the one I needed to work on, it was almost like a million people working on getting the answer for 2+2. I had what felt like 100 different answers to that one problem. I know to some of you what I'm describing sounds like a drug trip, but if you're a visual person like me this will help. As all this was happening it felt like I finally had a way out of the sea of sorrow I was sinking in. Like all of a sudden there was a map to get where I was trying to go.

I sat there in my own head, allowing my brain to work on one thing. I started this self-dialogue. Once I finally truly meditated, I was able to dive a little bit into my own subconscious. And it's so interesting to have a conversation with the purest part of yourself. The conversation I had with me, let me see some of the things I was doing wrong in my life and even shed light on some of the things that I thought I was doing right. Being able to talk to myself in a deeper way allowed me to come up with a plan of action and it helped me to clearly see an obtainable goal.

Now that I have this goal and drive, I finally get what Black Zen is trying to accomplish. Even though I still have a hard time meditating, I rely on it more and more. I'm not saying you have to smoke to meditate, in fact that would be the exact wrong impression to get from my story. What I am saying is, meditate to relax and open your mind. For me, it's such a great tool in finally getting my sh%t together. Another piece of advice - meditate when you're ready! Don't try it out like you're trying on jeans. Try it when you keep hitting a brick wall doing things your way. It doesn't matter if you're an executive at a fortune 500 company or a student in high school. You don't have to be like me and wait till you hit rock bottom either. Try meditation when you are stuck on a term paper or when you can’t make a decision for a baby name. Meditation is a step towards self-exploration and gives you the much needed room to make some thoughtful choices and clear next steps. Everyone should get that experience.