Hi there! I’m Heather…
Life can be confusing. Sometimes there are too many choices, so we pick the road most traveled. Or worse, we let someone else pick for us. In a way, that’s how I ended up in the IT (information technology) industry. Not a great reason, but at 18 I didn’t know what I wanted to be, so I let someone else choose. IT (Information Technology) seemed like a good choice. But after years of working in corporate IT as a consultant, I experienced stress, overwhelm, crazy work schedules, adrenal fatigue, depression, and emotional eating.
As a way to de-stress from the chaos of IT, I would travel. In between projects, I took extended vacations of 1-6 months and explored the world. Learning about ancient practices created balance in my life. At least at first, but like most vacations it was only a stop-gap measure.
From Zen to Burnout and Back Again
Those trips helped. But each time I returned to work, my soul ached just a bit. Monday mornings created instant overwhelm. But I didn’t listen. The money was good, and it gave me a nice, comfortable life. But it was just a distraction, the truth was bubbling up, and I did everything to hold it in. I disconnected from the reality, and just held on to bits of sanity.
An encounter with a book changed all that. Funny, I can’t remember the name of the book, it was by an American author who followed Xuanzang’s route of Buddhist events. Xuanzang was a famous Buddhist monk who believed that the Chinese Buddhist scriptures were incorrectly translated. Without permission from his emperor, he travelled from Xian, China to India (following the Northern Silk Road aka Road of Great Buddhist Events). He became even more famous for his seventeen-year overland journey to India, which his journals recorded in detail.
After reading this book, I found my Zen. I would retrace this trip, attending courses, and retreats along the way. This would put my life back on track!
That crazy wonderful trip changed my life. But not in the way I intended. It was the first time I journaled online. My writing during that year garnished me with a Best of MyTripJournal selection by the site’s editors. I found my love, but it wasn’t in IT, it was writing.
When I returned to my IT job after that extended leave, it wasn’t the same. My perspective had finally changed. I wanted my work to mean something – I just didn’t know what! My first client, the RCMP Heritage Centre, gave me that understanding. But it also lead me to my first melt-down.
Consulting firms must make money, and my next client was far from my vision of meaningful work. I remember sitting at the computer, and crying. I would look at my instructions, and back to the screen, and then back to the instructions. I couldn’t make sense of simple computer commands! I was completely overwhelmed. Nothing made sense in my brain. Simple computer commands that I had used for years were just nonsense. I didn’t know it, but my boss did: Burnout. Within a week, he had found me a therapist, but this was only the start. It would take me many years to truly recover.
Finding my Zen Again
I remember my first retreat like it was only yesterday: a 100% silent Insight Meditation with a teacher from Spirit rock. I was too stubborn or vain to sit on a chair so I took my little cushion and sat in the far back of the room. They told us to bring loosefitting clothes and dress in layers. I did this but I didn’t really think it through. It was the 90s and I wore tracksuit pants. You know those crinkly windbreaker type of pants. It was the first time I sat for long periods of time and I didn’t realize how fidgety I really was. The lady who sat in front of me also couldn’t tell me since it was a silent retreat and we couldn’t talk to each other. She did mention after the retreat that I was her meditation; all she heard through the entire weekend was the crinkling of my track pants every time I moved Oops!
I’ve learned a lot since that first retreat. I learned:
- that type of meditation wasn’t for me.
- that sometimes my body just needs a chair, and
- that doesn’t make me any less of a meditator
After that retreat I attended many more and finally I found the Zen that’s right for me: Tibetan mantra meditation. My go-to chant is Green Tara. Eventually I did learn to silence my mind and fidgety body and learn silent breath work. But my go to standard is my Tibetan meditation. With this meditation, there is chanting, music, bells and singing bowls. With Insight, there is nothing: no music, no sound, except the occasional voice of your teacher leading a visualization. With Insight meditation there is just silence (unless I’m sitting behind you with crinkly pants).
There really is a meditation or relaxation practice that’s right for you. We just need to get to know each other, so we can get you on the right path.
What do I do?
That year of travelling changed my life. I realized I was lying to myself about my career. I didn’t love IT, I just loved the money. Even when I switched from development to technical writing, my job still didn’t fulfil me. My main passions and interest has always been meditation and metaphysical self-help.
As a volunteer meditation coordinator, I’ve organized meditation retreats in Saskatchewan over the last 15 years. I’m a certified Yoga Nidra Instructor and Crystal Light Healer. I’ve studied many alternative healing modalities as part of my journey. My background helps me provide access to this community’s senior teachers – many who are good friends.
I’ve found my zen, so I’ve made it my mission, via my books and courses to help you find yours and steer you away from stress, overwhelm and burnout.
Have questions? I’d be happy to answer them. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org
About Soulful Guides
Soulful Guides curates and delivers unique discoveries that nourish your mind, body, and soul.
Our mission is to be the definitive “nourishing” lifestyle guide in the world – to help individuals discover what they need to nourish themselves, both locally and while travelling via curated lists of recommended healthy living options.
With each book, I interview “Soulful Guides” getting their take on the holistic scene of the area. These soulful guides are conscientious owners; they maybe yoga teachers, meditation instructors or business owners – whatever they do, they do it with spirit, caring for the planet and all its inhabitants. They are living an authentic life and I’m honoured to work with them and represent their businesses (as well as their recommendations).
This industry has at its core a true caring for the individual. But for a person interested in this lifestyle, how does one find a good teacher – usually it involves trial and error. Finding your “guru” can be a long road. It’s best to have a guide. But if none of your friends know this community; how do you find out what’s best for you. Do you wander around an expo, check out a yoga class; only to realize it wasn’t for you. My goal is that this book is your key to our world. A good friend who understands the path you are about to explore.
You can’t pay for our love. Our discoveries are places we frequent; they are the places we play, eat, and shop. As the main curator, I personally vet each and every secret in our guides and add the unique stories. Each place is special, and I want you to know why. I hope our special places become yours.
Hope you enjoy our guides.