by Brian Orloff
Let me introduce myself – I’m Denise’s hubby, Seth and Gabe’s dad, and a California native in love with the ocean and the mountains. I love being outdoors, biking, hiking, snowboarding, kayaking, fly fishing. I have worked in the fast-paced IT industry for 30 years, starting in LA, moving to Sydney in 1992, then to Philadelphia in 1997, and then to Melbourne in 2016. I have a love-hate relationship with my job; I love that I continue to learn and be amazed; it’s exciting how technology continues to help us evolve. I hate the bullshit, the games that you must play, the stress of quarterly targets, the bogus reality. I am not a yogi, however I do meditate daily.
Like an estimated 45% of people, I struggle with anxiety. When I have deadlines, when I am relying on others to complete tasks that are required for deadlines, when I am putting myself into a new stressful situation, like presenting in front of 500 senior executives. I often have trouble sleeping, with breathing, with being present for my loved ones. I have a tendency to get stressed, then not sleep, and then a cyclical pattern of crazy begins.
Even when I recognise what triggers it, or I remind myself of tools to help keep me from running away to hide in the nearest cave, the anxiety is real. I think for anyone who has experienced anxiety and panic attacks it’s really hard to manage, unless you’re on holiday sipping tequila on the beach in Mexico (not a full time reality for me, yet – although I love Holiday Brian).
I’ve thought about quitting my job. The IT industry is in constant change, with fulfilment of sales quotas looming every financial quarter. Recently I forged a new role for myself, focusing on innovation and partnering with other leaders in the marketplace, however it still has high expectations and targets. As I write this I’m the lead influencer with a team of statisticians, software engineers, and marketing pioneers that are providing interactive information to participants and spectators of a global sporting event. Super interesting team, super interesting project, exciting to be on the forefront on how we engage with information and technology, but there’s still deadlines, and relying on others to complete tasks, and then the event which is LIVE, in front of thousands. Oh, and by the way, this is only one of the projects I am responsible for at the moment.
This time last year I hit a major downward spiral. Consumed with anxiety, unable to sleep, feelings of inadequacy, and emotionally disconnected from my loved ones. I couldn’t function, what's’ the expression... basket case? Yeah, kinda like that. I finally found professional help to navigate those dark waters, and I continue to see a physcology professional on a regular basis. In addition to the loving embrace of my family, the other major investment in my wellness was dedicating myself to a daily meditation practice.
I had dabbled with mediation over the years, without valuing the effects. Mostly I thought I didn’t have enough time each day to spare, and partly not truly believing in the outcome. I knew that 80% of the most successful people in the world have a daily meditation practice. I had spoken to many doctors who recommended meditation. I saw how Denise and her mentor Sue Elkind helped hundreds of adults and kids find harmony through meditation and mindfulness practices. I had tried meditating with Denise on and off, but it took me hitting rock bottom, to be in pain, hurting, to make a commitment to myself.
Being a “tech guy” I decided to give an App a try, and started with a free trial with an app called Headspace. It’s what is referred to as guided meditation, where a voice guides you through the mediation. In the case of the Headspace app, the voice is that of Andy, a soft, calm, friendly voice with an English accent.
I started mediatitation on a daily basis, well almost. I would do a few days, then miss a day here and there, and did this over the course of a few months. Then in December 2017, I made a commitment to myself to mediate everyday for 30 days. I even enlisted the help of a good friend of mine back in the States; Jamie is a long time meditation advocate and CEO of one of the USA’s top 200 fasting growing small businesses. Given the time difference we would simply text each other daily to encourage each other. It was fantastic to have this support from a friend, even one in Oregon who texted you at odd hours. It was mutually beneficial.
Over the course of the next 30 days, I did slowly start to notice subtle shifts in my thinking. It didn’t happen overnight, and the anxiety is still present, but somewhere along the journey it does shift. I have good days and bad days, great meditations and so so meditations, though I firmly believe meditation is a tremendous gift and I’m grateful that I started a daily practice.
I started to feel different, better, happier, and more present within 30 days. I decided to see if I could do it for the next 100 days and see how I felt.
I am happy to tell you that I just finished 365 consecutive days doing a 15 minute daily meditation. It feels great! It feels great to commit to something. It feels great to acknowledge some days are better than others. It feels great to have a tool that helps me start each day; with perspective, with intention that helps me navigate those challenges and darker places.
Denise and I usually walk after meditating, and often talk about our experiences; what was the focus, how it was valuable, was the mind wandering, and even if it was how I feel better anyhows. I value these opportunities to digest how I feel, because even though my logical brain understands the benefit of meditation the overall effects can be surprising. That 15 minutes everyday can shift a stressful schedule to one filled with optimism.
We all need habits to help us stay healthy and well. Physical exercise, eating clean, being socially conscious, seeking good company, and I truly believe in the power of an aware and present mind to navigate wellness, to save lives. Everyday I wake up, brush my teeth, drink some water, make coffee, then go meditate. Yes, I meditate every day – it saved my life, it could change your life too.
With many thanks to my beloved Denise for her unconditional love and encouragement, and to our dear friends Jamie Danek and Sue Elkind for their continued support. Big shout out to the daily voice of wisdom of Headspace’s meditation guru Andy Puddicome. THANK YOU!
For more info on mediation made simple go to https://www.headspace.com/
Join our Meditation Series beginning August 14th with Denise!
And…try these books!
Sally Kempton’s MEDITATION FOR THE LOVE OF IT
Joe Dispenza’s BREAKING THE HABIT OF BEING YOURSELF
Jillian Pransky’s DEEP LISTENING