My First Piece for Huffington Post

My First Piece for Huffington Post

Going for an AHA Moment: From Manolos to Meditation

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/suze-yalof-schwartz/meditation-practice_b_4948406.html

When I decided I wanted to learn how to meditate, I went on a search to find the perfect place to do it. What I found was that it was not as easy as I thought it would be. Learning to meditate the right way was expensive; time-consuming (often two-hour time slots or six- to eight-week programs); and inconvenient (late-night classes). I wondered why there was no drop-in meditation studio for people like me with young children, jobs and limited time resources. Talk about an AHA moment! Suddenly, I could think of nothing else. In one split second -- goodbye, fashion editor. Hello, spiritual entrepreneur.

The meditation studio I wanted to create would be clean, modern, secular and effortless to attend, with inspirational and user-friendly teachers. It would be a happy, friendly environment for both those who had never before meditated and those who understood it well, but still wanted to learn more. Never mind that I was hardly a yogi -- or that my previous career had been as a fashion editor at VogueElleMarie Claire, and Glamour magazines. True to my optimistic nature, I figured, if I wanted such a place, so would everyone else.

I was on a mission to not only learn to meditate for myself, but to create the perfect place for others as well. Research was the best part. I took a four-day intensive Vedic meditation course, a six-week mindfulness course at UCLA, did four of Deepak and Oprah's 21-day meditation series and took classes anywhere I could. I did one-on-one sessions with superior teachers like Steve Ross and Will Dalton, and consumed every book, blog and podcast I could find.

My meditation went something like this: breathe, focus, let go, fantasize (about how to make the classes better, shorter, more powerful), then back to my focus point.

So, with a limited budget, I gave myself a year to make this happen. I used my career as currency. In exchange for invaluable advice and services from my talented friends, I offered everything from hours of free media training to closet makeovers. Meetings about opening a new business are always stressful, but I sandwiched them in between interviews with prospective meditation instructors (the benefit being free, guided meditation for me). I'm sure I had the equivalent of two MBA degrees and a master's in construction, but it was all worth it.

Unplug Meditation is the tangible result of a whirlwind year of planning and working to make an "AHA Moment" a reality. But the intangible results are immeasurable. I am much calmer than I ever was in my previous fashion life and far more passionate about what I am doing. And even though another side effect from meditation has been a lessening of my desire to shop, I can't deny that I still appreciate a pretty pair of Manolo's.

Unplug meditation studio opens next month. Check it out at unplugmeditation.com.

Follow Suze Yalof Schwartz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/UnplugMeditati

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