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How meditation is teaching me not to give up on my goals

I grew up in the '80s and '90s when Special K commercials were 'pinching inches' and low-fat diets were all the rage. From an early age I was very aware of weight and was interested in knowing the 'right' way to eat to ensure I would be ...

Sometimes looking backward can help you find your path forward

When I started out on my walk this morning, I had a clear vision of where I was going: Leave my house, walk to Lobster Cove, continue on to Burnt Head and then back home. I have hiked this route many times before and figured it would take a bit longer today due to the snow but less than an hour for sure, getting me home in time for a little work before lunch.

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The walk started out just as expected. Monhegan had a small snowfall overnight, and I was the first one on the paths — not a footprint in sight. There were a few clouds in the sky but enough sun to need sunglasses, and there was not a breath of wind. It was a perfect morning for a walk.

Like I said, I had my walk all planned out in my head — had a clear idea of where I was going, how long it should take and how it would all go. I was enjoying the scenery and silence very much. Around Gull Rock area, I paused to do a short meditation on the silence and taking in the variations on gray and white that the day had to offer. I even recorded a short video of my meditation so others could enjoy the beauty and silence of the day.

Sometimes looking backward can help you find your path forward
Image: Tara Hire/SheKnows

Shortly after, I continued past Gull Rock on to Burnt Head and came across a fallen tree on the path. This happens often enough, and I can usually find my way under or around the obstacle, but not today. The tree effectively prevented me from continuing on my course.

As I stood there contemplating what to do, I reflected on my reaction. Before I started meditation practice, I probably would have gotten angry, felt deeply annoyed and let this tree in my way ruin the rest of my walk and possibly my day. I felt grateful for having just taken the time for meditation and grateful for the practice that helps me to deal with obstacles and challenges in a healthier, calmer way.

After accepting I would not be making it to my destination today and turning around to retrace my steps, I started to see how today’s walk was a direct metaphor for my life at this time.

A few years ago, I lost my brick-and-mortar business and had no other employment opportunities readily available. I chose to take a leap and pursue a career as a wellness coach, food blogger and yoga-retreat facilitator. I had a very clear idea of where I wanted to go and how I should get there, but just like the tree that blocked my path today, obstacles kept me from reaching my goal.

More: How meditation can help ease your anxiety

I have been frustrated, angry and feeling defeated. This walk helped me to see that I need to shift my perception of the obstacles. Obstacles don’t necessarily need to be perceived as "stop, don’t go further" or "I should just give up, this is harder than I thought it would be." Instead, with a shift in perception, I started seeing the obstacles as blessings and feeling gratitude for them.

One of the reasons I chose the route I took today is it makes a loop. For some reason, I hate retracing my steps. I like forward movement and prefer not to turn around and go over ground I have already covered.

Today, with the help of my meditation and my new perspective on obstacles, I saw the value in going back over ground already covered. Sometimes retracing steps both in the form of a walk and in life can be really helpful. For instance, on my walk back, I had opportunities to see the landscape from a different perspective. I had the opportunity to see things I had missed before. There was one especially beautiful spot I didn’t notice earlier because my back was to it, and if I hadn’t turned around, I would never have seen it.

I also took the opportunity to try a different path that I chose not to take earlier. Along this path, I paused as a light wind blew the snow from the tops of the trees, and I enjoyed the sight as the flakes drifted slowly down. With my face uplifted to the sky, the flakes gently landed. Retracing my steps and going over old ground also gave me the opportunity to try things I didn’t get to try before.

The obstacle, both today on my walk and in life, forced me to slow down, reflect, review, update my course and adjust my destination or goal based on all I had learned on my journey so far.

I am grateful for my meditation practice. Without it, I may not have been able to see the obstacle in this light. Without it, I would have probably either muscled through and continued on to my original destination — probably hurting myself along the way — or I would have held anger, resentment and blame toward the obstacle, which would have kept me frozen, not moving and not growing.

Instead, I will take the time to reflect, review and update my course in regard to my business and life goals. As I look back and retrace some steps, I hope to find some real gems from this new perspective and continue to grow, learn and build my business as a wellness coach, food blogger and yoga instructor, making adjustments to my route, where I am going and how to get there.

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