On Saturday I had the privilege of attending my first all-day meditation retreat. Prior to this retreat I had never meditated for more than 25 minutes. Now, I can proudly say that I spent 6 hours alternating between seated and walking meditation. I won't tell you that I'm suddenly incredibly enlightened or an expert meditator. In fact, I distinctly remember spending about 10 minutes during one meditation session trying to decide if a shark with the arms of a bear or a bear with the face of a shark (there's a difference, trust me) would win in a fight.
Overall, I do think my meditation practice is much stronger and I felt like I did an admirable job for essentially being a beginner. I've spent the last month or so meditating consistently but I was worried I hadn't "trained" enough to be able to handle a 6-hour retreat. I was worried that I'd lose my mind a couple hours in and have to leave early. Instead, the exact opposite happened. I enjoyed it immensely and was disappointed when it ended.
One of my favorite parts was the short discussion we had at the end of the retreat. We each took a turn talking about what we experienced and had an opportunity to bring anything up that we wanted to discuss. I said something along the lines of what I already wrote. However, the lady directly to my left said something that I found particularly profound:
"START WHERE YOU ARE."
For some reason, that really hit me. I've spent a ridiculous amount of time worrying about what I haven't accomplished yet, about how everyone is ahead of me, and how I'm somehow not good enough. Accepting the fact that you just have to start is liberating. Everyone started at some point. Some people just didn't stop. We all start with differing experiences, skills, and aptitudes but that doesn't mean we have to stay where we start.
A start is just a point in time, not the path we must follow.
MY STORY OF STARTING.
It made me think about why I never started a serious blog before October of 2009. I've been reading blogs consistently and dabbling in my own writing since about 2006 but I never took the plunge into publishing my writing online. I would look at blogs I admired, and convince myself that starting a blog was pointless. How was I supposed to compete with the likes of those huge A-listers? Who was I to think that people would want to read my writing? Starting just seemed so daunting.
For whatever reason I finally decided to launch my first "real" blog, The Simpler Life, a couple years ago. I decided to stop worrying about where everyone else was in relation to me and just start. Once I got started it became a lot easier to move in the right direction. Eventually, a year passed. And then two (actually, I just realized as I was writing this article that I passed my two-year blogging anniversary five days ago). And now, even though it boggles my mind sometimes, people email me for advice about starting a blog. That never would have happened if I didn't decide to just start where I was two years ago (firstname.lastname@example.org -- go for it).
I'm a little bit surprised I've written so much about such a simple sentence, but I really do think it's one of the most important pieces of advice that people (including myself) need to hear. There's always someone more advanced than you. There's always someone who is less advanced than you. It doesn't matter -- just start where you are.
Start where you are and you'll end up where you want to be.