My little sister, Jillian is studying to be a lawyer at the University of Miami Law School. She has always been kind of a high strung, A+ personality type that does not rest until she has reached perfection in all that she accomplishes. If I could depend on anyone in this life, it would absolutely be her! She is the best kind of friend anyone could have because she is loyal, honest to a fault, a good listener and problem solver; she will for sure make a great lawyer! However, her downfall lies in finding personal contentment, being happy with the small things in life and smoothing out any unnecessary anxieties that ail her. All of these downfalls are not an uncommon occurrence in the human race, for most of us struggle daily with these same issues.
Ever since I started teaching yoga I have tried to drag Jillian to my classes. She has attended only a few and every time she tells me "yoga is really not my thing". I always respond with something along the lines of, "with an open heart and an open mind, it absolutely can be your thing!" and that response probably wants to make her puke. Recently, Jillian started taking a Mindfulness for Lawyers course at Miami Law. I am so proud that she is opening up to the possibilities of what yoga can do for her mind. She wrote a beautiful excerpt about mindfulness and meditation.... Jillian writes....
"A doctor once told me that anxiety lives in the past and future; once we learn to be in the present, we no longer experience anxiety. I’ve always been a quick thinker, a deep thinker, a critical thinker. I am highly opinionated and unforgiving of myself. In my merciless quest for perfection, I find myself falling short of the qualities I most admire. I used to think there was something wrong with my brain and wrong with me. “[B]eing out of balance in a fundamental way” perfectly captures my recent state of mind and it resonates strongly within me that there is a sincere problem of unhappiness in my chosen profession.
It is true, my problems “cannot be addressed by merely rearranging the furniture” and that was a lesson I had to learn the hard way. It took a long time for me to admit that I had issues to resolve within myself. I did not want to concede imperfection. After coming to terms with the fact that I was not a perfect specimen of a human being, the real work began. I tried different medications and coping techniques. “Rearranging the furniture” did not make me who I wanted to be overnight.
I took a leap of faith out of my comfort zone. I took a semester away from my large, greek-life crazed, football loving university and went traveling through South East Asia, India, and Africa where I first came across the concept of mindfulness meditation. This was the first time that I was really trying to fix myself from the inside, out. It seemed to help.
I’ve never thought about how my dissatisfaction affects others around me. I always assumed my inner suffering was affecting my life alone and never realized that it could affect my relationships with family, friends, and potential clients down the road. It makes logical sense that getting real with yourself will help you get real with others. Learning to see myself without judgment will help me see others without judgment and be a better advocate for clients. It’s a daily struggle, but one I must commit to, to remind myself that “reality is always kinder” than the story we make up in our heads."
By Jillian Kovler