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  • Meditation has been a part of my life.

  • Ever since I can remember,

  • I personally have been practicing it for the last 5 and a half years.

  • I have been a trainer for the last 8 months.

  • But I will get into that a little bit later.

  • My college career has been unconventional to say the least.

  • I started out as pre-med, got halfway through my freshman year in college,

  • before realizing that really wasn't for me.

  • I switched my major about 4 times

  • before finally landing on international studies

  • and eventually choosing public health.

  • I think it took me a long time to figure out

  • what I want to do with my life, for a few reasons.

  • One, I'd always struggled with self-confidence,

  • and I would set my standards for myself so high,

  • that anytime I failed to reach them,

  • or I felt I wasn't doing what I was supposed to be doing,

  • instead of finding strength from that situation,

  • I would beat myself up in falter.

  • Two - my idea of success, happiness, and satisfaction up until recently

  • was completely misguided.

  • We live in a world that encourages this idea,

  • that in order to be internally satisfied, we have to rely on external circumstances.

  • This is an idea that's been hammered into our heads,

  • probably since we could understand

  • what happiness, success, and satisfaction were.

  • Obviously, these are different concepts for different people at different times.

  • It could be the little things

  • like spending time with friends and family,

  • or curling up with a good book;

  • or getting good grades, getting the job you want,

  • finding the person you're meant to spend the rest of your life with.

  • While all these things are great things,

  • we're still relying on things outside of ourselves to make us happy.

  • This idea of external substance creation has been magnified

  • with the increases in technology and the advent of social media.

  • We can't really exist without our devices anymore,

  • it's almost like our phones have become

  • other body organs that we can't live without.

  • No offense to anybody, but I can guarantee,

  • the second I'm done talking,

  • the majority of you will subconsciously reach for your phone and check your texts.

  • (Laughter)

  • And social media -

  • social media has created this idea of false happiness and satisfaction.

  • Nobody wants to share bad moments of their lives,

  • none wants to share their mistakes or their failures.

  • So social media has made it seem

  • that everyone is always successful, and happy, satisfied all the time.

  • What if things don't go our way?

  • What if don't get the grade we want?

  • What if the person we thought to spend the rest of our lives with

  • breaks up with us?

  • Or we do get the job we want, but there is a negative aspect to it?

  • Like our boss sucks, or we have a horrible co-worker.

  • Suddenly, the concept that was providing us

  • with internal satisfaction, externally is now negative.

  • What I am realizing more and more

  • is that not only is our success temporary but our happiness is conditional.

  • We are only happy or satisfied

  • because something external is making us happy and satisfied.

  • We are never truly satisfied for the sake of being satisfied.

  • That's where I realized I was going wrong.

  • Let me back up a little bit.

  • Anybody who knows me knows

  • my entire life I had been on a one-way path to becoming a doctor.

  • My family is filled with medical professionals,

  • and at age of 5, I declared I was going to be just like them.

  • Of course, my incredible Indian parents let out a huge sigh of relief

  • because they didn't have to convince me to go into medicine.

  • For a long time, that was what I wanted to do

  • until I started learning more about myself, my passions, and interests.

  • Suddenly, becoming a doctor was less of what I wanted to do,

  • and more of what I felt obligated to do.

  • Because my entire life I have been taught

  • that in order to be successful you have to be a doctor.

  • I was always a weirdly compliant kid,

  • I always knew my parents knew what is best for me.

  • So instead of being confident to stand up for myself,

  • I went along with it.

  • Fast forward to my freshman year of college:

  • I was miserable.

  • I was taking classes that I hated, and I was doing poorly in them.

  • The person I thought I'd spend my life with

  • broke up with me the second he went to college.

  • I was still living at home,

  • so I felt like I wasn't having the normal college experience.

  • After years of having a plan and a direction for my life,

  • all of a sudden, I was lost.

  • When you go through hard times or through a break-up,

  • everybody tells you to get out, do things for yourself.

  • And I did, I'd hang out with friends,

  • I would go curl up with a book at a bookstore,

  • I joined our Bollywood Fusion dance team at school,

  • I would get a massage.

  • But those were temporary satisfactions.

  • I would still come home and still feel internally dissatisfied with myself.

  • Social media became the bane of my existence.

  • I'd see my friends, my ex, and all my classmates

  • posting pictures of their college adventures,

  • their dorm rooms, their new friends, all these new things.

  • I felt like a failure for a couple of reasons.

  • One - I didn't have anything to share on social media.

  • I was still living at home,

  • I didn't feel like I was having the conventional college experience.

  • And two - as an Indian,

  • I wasn't meeting the standard of success that had been dictated for me.

  • I wasn't doing well to become a doctor.

  • But because that was all I knew as success, I stuck with it,

  • and my GPA and my self-esteem failed as a reason.

  • So how did I change this? How did I turn my life around?

  • Like I said, meditation has been a part of my life ever since I can remember.

  • My dad has been practicing a form of meditation called Raja yoga,

  • or yoga of the mind, for over 35 years.

  • My mom started shortly after they got married.

  • Just like people go to church, a temple, or a synagogue,

  • meditation is my way of life; it's all I have ever known.

  • I always knew I was going to start practicing meditation at some point;

  • I tried it a couple times at my freshman year of college,

  • but anything at that point that my parents thought would be good for me,

  • or it would help me get out of the rut that I was in,

  • I was completely rebellious against.

  • Thankfully for me, very luckily, I have incredible friends,

  • and I have to show off pictures of them, because they are my whole world.

  • I was very lucky to have friends

  • who were not only starting their college careers,

  • or they were halfway through their college careers,

  • but they were going through similar things that I was,

  • and they hadn't built up the resistance to mediation that I had.

  • One of my friends convinced me to go to a mediation retreat one weekend.

  • At first, I cribbed, and I fussed,

  • I wanted to stay in my own little bubble of self-pity and misery.

  • But in the end, I am so glad I went,

  • because it was probably the best thing that could happen to me.

  • So what is meditation?

  • I'm sure everybody here has a general idea in their head of what it is,

  • but just to give a few more definitions.

  • "Meditation is an exercise that trains your mind to regulate itself.

  • It's the ability to focus on one thing continuously without break.

  • If practiced properly and diligently,

  • it's a consistent reconnection with your true inner self."

  • A lot of people brush the concept of meditation aside

  • because we think, "How do we function without our thoughts?"

  • "How do we get through our day without thinking?"

  • Other thing people don't realize

  • is just like our bodies require physical activity

  • to keep it strong, healthy, and active,

  • our minds are muscles that also require exercise and regulation

  • to keep it strong, happy, healthy, and active.

  • A lot of times, people neglect their minds because they forget this point.

  • If you think meditation is hard, you are absolutely right.

  • It is very difficult to get your brain to shut up

  • for longer five seconds and not think about something else.

  • That is another reason why people don't try it out.

  • The first time I sat down to meditate,

  • it felt like every single thought I had ever had in my 18 years of existence

  • decided to come into my head at that exact moment.

  • No matter how many times I tried to push them away,

  • ignore my thoughts, or try to get into a state of thoughtlessness,

  • they kept coming back.

  • I thought, "Why am I doing this?

  • Another thing in life I am failing at; why am I even trying?"

  • The second time I sat down to meditate during that retreat,

  • my thoughts decreased by a quarter.

  • The third time I sat down to meditate during that retreat,

  • they decreased by half.

  • Gradually, it was as though I was starting to see the world in High-Definiton.

  • Not only could I see my external circumstances very clearly

  • but I was finally starting to see my true inner self

  • with the objectivity and clarity that I not had ever before.

  • The practice of meditation that I am a part of prescribes

  • meditating twice a day for one hour each time.

  • Once in the morning for an hour, once in the evening for an hour.

  • I will be totally honest, it took me a very long time

  • to get to a point where I was consistent with this.

  • Some days I was doing a really great job.

  • I get up, I meditate, I go to bed, and I meditate.

  • Before I went bed I would meditate, and I'd be fine.

  • But other days, more bad days than good days,

  • I would just be downright lazy,

  • and I would stay up all night watching Ellen videos,

  • and then wake up late the next morning instead of meditating.

  • My rationale for this was,

  • "I'm young, I have the rest of my life to work on my meditation practice,

  • I don't have more time to watch Ellen videos."

  • (Laughter)

  • But I think it took me a long time to connect with my meditation practice

  • because I wasn't accustomed to the silence that came with meditation.

  • I think. as humans, we thrive on noise

  • because it makes us feel as we're doing something.

  • So I sit to meditate, and about 5 to 10 minutes in,

  • I would realize I was craving noise, I needed some sort of distraction.

  • So I'd give up on meditating,

  • and I immediately reached for my phone or for my laptop.

  • What this taught me was I had come to point where I hated silence.

  • This also taught me how loud my world was.

  • Noise is not just sound or cacophony,

  • noise is the frustration you feel with a family member or a friend.

  • It's writer's block,

  • it's not understanding a concept at school.

  • Anything is noise if it is loud enough to distract us.

  • When I realized that I'd come to hate silence,

  • it made me examine my routine; I realized I couldn't get through a day

  • without sound, or noise, or distractions of some sort.

  • I would wake up in the morning, and I would meditate half-heartedly

  • before giving up because it got too hard.

  • I would immediately reach for my phone of for my laptop,

  • and I would play music and videos

  • while I was getting ready for school or while I was eating breakfast.

  • I'd drive to school with music on, I'd get to class, I'd be fine;

  • about halfway through class I'd zone out thinking about the video I watched.

  • There would be so much chaos coming around me and in me

  • because of my thoughts and distractions

  • that I'd come home and feel frustrated,

  • and let out that frustration on my family members

  • not knowing what to do with it.

  • I'd start my homework and feel frustrated

  • because I wasn't understanding the concepts,

  • but that's because I had music on the background.

  • I try to sit down and meditate at the end of the day,

  • and I'd give up again because there was so much going on in my head.

  • I get annoyed when I couldn't fall asleep, and I get frustrated,

  • because I felt like I wasn't progressing in my meditation practice.

  • What this taught me was in order to create a true connection with my inner self,

  • I had to learn how to love silence.

  • In order to learn how to love silence,

  • I had to really use my willpower and commit to my meditation practice.

  • In order to sustain the love for silence that I cultivated internally,

  • my internal environment had to interact with my external environment.

  • The more and more I meditated,

  • the more I started to learn how to love silence internally,

  • the more my internal environment began to reflect my external environment.

  • That's when I started to see the changes in myself that I wanted to see.

  • So here are a few,

  • "How meditation creates interaction - the internal with the external."

  • Confidence --

  • like I said earlier, I've always lacked in self-confidence,

  • but creating a consistent reconnection with my inner self

  • drove that fear of confidence away.

  • Suddenly, I was able to stand up for myself,

  • I was feeling more confident within myself,

  • and it gave me the courage

  • to eventually switch my major to International Studies,

  • and get rid of this idea

  • that in order to be successful, I have to do something big.

  • Replacing the positive with the negative --

  • like I said before, we may get the job that we want,

  • but there is always going to be something about it that is negative,

  • or something, we don't want to deal with.

  • All of a sudden, the entire environment becomes negative.

  • Cultivating a connection with my internal self through meditation