A teacher of mine once had us write down everything that was on our mind. After, she said “How are you supposed to pay attention in my class if you are thinking of so many other things?” That was my senior year. Challenging classes, clubs that needed to be managed, laps that needed to be run, and events that needed to be planned. There was always a test or chore slowly emerging as a thought in the back of my mind, turning into a pressing issue.
After a relaxing summer, I energetically showed up in the Redwoods of California and that nagging feeling came back. I could not yet just be in a place and fully enjoy it. My brain was trained to always need to do something. The first moment we had free time, I was running around trying to accomplish imaginary tasks while other Fellows were truly enjoying their free time.
On the first day in the Redwoods we walked through the tall trees and found a spot to start a meditation. Not having prior knowledge or practice with meditating, I was skeptical and not really open to this experience. I sat down on the earth, closed my eyes and was guided to Listen, to Smell, and to Feel the ground around me. I existed in a space using my other senses, focusing on me. After this revolutionary meditation session, I realized it is important to live in the present and to put my mind to rest. With all these manifestations of obligations out of my head I could finally relax. My mindset was done with being preoccupied with tasks that were beyond my control.
I was ready to take in and listen to all the amazing Fellows and staff. I could now fully concentrate on the thoughtful activities and reflections. I was changing how I learned from others and from myself. Understanding didn’t mean memorizing theories or writing formulas over and over again. It was listening, observing, connecting my mind and body. I was learning, and the best part was I knew I wouldn’t forget in a week or two.