My Attempt at Meditation

So yesterday I was feeling a bit spiritual and thoughtful about the world I live in so I decided to try meditation again. When I was younger I used to meditate on occasion to relax, relieve stress, and escape my world for a bit. It has been so long since I blocked out all distractions on merely focused on my inner self and finding deeper truths within my mind. 

Ok, so I know this all sounds kind of crazy and hippie-ish… but I promise, it does wonders. I don’t know if my form of meditation is “correct” or standard but its what I learned and it helps center me.What I do is I lay on my back (can be done sitting if you want) with my palms up and I establish a steady breathing rhythm. I then visualize and count the numbers 1-10 in my head. After this I visualize a bird flying from the left to the right and then a curtain goes up. To come out of meditation all of this is done backwards. Once I am in meditation I can do anything I choose. Sometimes I have a scenario I want to explore in mind ahead of time, but sometimes like last night I just let whatever happens happen (somewhat like dreaming). 

So here’s what I envisioned. I started out on the beach of my childhood neighborhood watching the waves crash against the shore. Unsure of why I was here and what I should do I began to swim out as far away from the shore as possible. I kept swimming until I had exhausted my body and came upon a kayak in the water. I switched to kayaking, moving faster than I was able to without it but after a bit the waves became too choppy for my small vessel and at this point a sailing ship appeared to me. I now switched into the ship, sailing together with other crew members, battling the raging waters of the sea.

Well, since this was my first time meditating in a long time that’s all I had the focus for. So I came out of my meditation and thought about what I had seen. Everything I had seen was a product of my own thoughts, feelings and memories yet instead of controlling my thoughts, I let them guide me. After a little analysis I realized there was a message in this journey of my mind. The beach near my childhood home symbolized my beginnings and swimming away from the shore out towards open sea was my journey through high school and early college. I wasn’t quite on my own yet but I was forced to be independent and carry myself forward into my life. As I moved farther and farther away, distance representing time, I am unable to continue on merely my own strength. I employ the help of a kayak or in real life, my college education. This goes faster and brings me farther away in less time. Sometimes it is hard to come to terms with the fact that I have learned the basics to what I need to know to be an engineer in a mere four years.

When the waters have become too choppy for me to make it in my kayak, I graduate to a ship where I still must work but I have others to help me and be my companions. This may symbolize my family and coworkers after I graduate. Maybe I was kayaking I had company too, but we weren’t so much in it together. In school I have acquaintances but when we graduate we will all go our separate ways; to jobs, families, and our futures. Maybe our paths may cross again but we will not be sailing together, always going to the same places, completely invested in each other’s well being.

My meditative journey last night helped me come to terms with graduation (on a very simple scale) and it has encouraged me to make meditation a regular thing. Not only does meditation make things clearer, but it is an excellent way to escape our world of constant communication, media, and noise. It’s a way to relax and have a few minutes (or more) here and there that you have all to yourself to reset your mind and have inner peace.

 

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What do I want to do when I graduate?

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That is a good question. And being less than 100 days away from graduation I’m still not positive. Sure I know the things I want to do before I die and I have a general idea what will make me happy but I’m really uncertain. I thought that by the time I was a senior I would have things figured out but I was so busy over the past 4 years dealing with everything life threw at me that I still don’t really know. So until I figure this out, and who knows when that will be…. I am applying to as many environmental engineering jobs as possible.

But here’s another problem. There are so many things I can do with an environmental engineering degree that I’m not really sure where to start. Some jobs make it easy with a title of “Environmental Engineer I” but others are not so straightforward…. Also I’m not sure that I want to go into straight engineering. I kind of want to… I just don’t know.

What I do know is what makes me happy, and maybe if I list them here they will help me figure out what I should do after graduation.

1. Singing and dancing. Nothing like a good ‘ol musical number to get my endorphins pumping. Personally I think life would be really cool if it was like Glee although nobody but music geeks and drama nerds and maybe some gay folk would agree with me. Sometimes it feels like the only way to get out all my feelings or to cheer me up is through a song and dance routine spontaneously breaking out in the middle of my life. Then again, it could get me put in a mental institution…. If I was talented enough I would pursue this, but my voice isn’t the greatest and I cannot dance to save my life. Unless I made it big by being as being such an awful dancer that people loved it….

2. A comedienne  I love making people laugh, but if I want to pursue this I’m going to need to sharpen up. Sometimes I’m unintentionally funny but I’m not sure if I’m ready for a stand up act yet. Sitcom I could totally manage but getting onto that scene is quite challenging as well. Maybe I could move out to Cali and try to get work as an actress but as we all know, it ain’t easy to make it out there unless you have the perfect balance of luck, connections, and talent.

3. A writer. I am way too ADHD to be a writer. This post here has taken me 2 weeks so far because of the lack of focus I had everytime I tried to write it. But I am always full of ideas to write about so that’s a plus. I think I’m going to work on more actively pursuing this (starting with this blog!). And I can make people laugh by writing. Or I can inspire deep thoughts. The world is my stage and I shall write for it.

4. Travel the world. This isn’t exactly a career choice but before I die I want to travel to all the remote (and close) nooks and crannies of the world. I want to explore and meet new people. I want to sail across the ocean and have an exciting adventure. I want to meet all different kinds of people and learn about their lives firsthand instead of from books, movies, or the news. I want to find my purpose out there. As St. Augustine said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”.

5. Help people. So many people have helped me throughout my life and I cannot thank them enough. In addition to enjoying helping people in general I want to pay it forward and be able to do for others what others have done for me. There have been so many friends and family members who have helped me through difficult times and helped me grow into a more mature, stronger, and independent person and I want to help others achieve that as well. No one should feel like they are alone in the world or have no one to turn to for help. If we would all help each other out the world would be such a better place. Even small acts of kindness can make a world of difference. So I always want to leave time in my life to volunteer where my skills are needed.

6. A family. This is self explanatory. I want a children one day who I have enough time to nurture and love. I don’t want to be a parent who is always at work and hardly knows their own children. But like my wonderful mother and father who always took time to be with me and do special things with me, I want to have plenty of quality time with my children and raise them to be strong and happy individuals. And I want to take in children who don’t have homes or anyone who cares about them. Because I believe that all children deserve love and a chance at a good life.

So these are the things I want in life. From least realistic to most, I need to find a way to incorporate them into my life. Maybe I can be a traveling volunteer finding safe water sources for third world countries for a few years and then start a family. Maybe I can settle down at an engineering job that cleans up hazardous waste sites and turns them into schools for children and then have a family and travel the world with them. I don’t know what will happen but I hope that I will find my way to happiness one day. Right now I’m shrouded with stress at school but I know that if I put my mind to it, I can have the life I want. A life full of purpose and love and free of stress and pain. No one can fully avoid the awful things in life and I know there will be rough times too, but I am setting forth on my journey with optimism and determination to make a life for myself that I will be happy in.

I found a video on youtube that inspired me to go after what I really want, rather than what I have been told by society I need.

What if money were no object? Well the things I have listed are what I would want. And I’m okay with a life that isn’t lavish. I have never lived a lavish life and that hasn’t kept me from happiness in the past. I am so thankful for my loving family, amazing friends, having a place to sleep at night, always enough food to eat, and a chance at higher education. I know so many people who lack some or all of these things and some of them still find a way to be happy and if they can, I definitely can. Although I have battled with depression in the past I don’t want to let things going wrong at school or work get me down. There are always options, our lives are filled with millions of possible paths we can take with unknown outcomes. We can take risks or we can play it safe. Our lives are in our hands and the key to happiness lies in our hearts and minds.

I am still young and I want to seize the day ahead of me. I have spent far too long dwelling on what I wish I had done in my years in college or what I shouldn’t have done but regrets will only keep us in the past. So I learn from my mistakes the best I can and I will keep moving forward, each day growing a little bit older and hopefully wiser. And I need to build up faith in myself and slowly become stronger and braver. I want to have the courage to do what will make me happy and allow me to do the most for others. So as I move through these last ten weeks of my undergraduate career, I’m going to do my best. I’m going to work hard and stay positive and find my path. I may not have found it by the time I graduate but I’ll never stop searching for it.

So here goes….

My Last First Day of Classes

My HAZWOPER class's epic field training day last semester. It was one of the highlights of my engineering education :) Good memories.

My HAZWOPER class’s epic field training day last semester. It was one of the highlights of my engineering education 🙂 Good memories.

The beginning of the end. Today was my first day of the last two classes of my undergraduate career. As my classmates and I gathered into the room that we have had a class in together every semester, I began to feel a bit nostalgic. We all laughed and shared our winter breaks in a nutshell. I felt a bit overwhelmed with how many friends and acquaintances I have made in engineering over these four years. Little shy and quiet me, turned into a social butterfly of engineering. We are all so different yet tied together by our mutual suffering and countless nights staying up until 5 AM finishing a lab report or studying for an exam.

While I won’t miss my classes, I’m going to miss the camaraderie that came with a grueling academic atmosphere. When times were rough we banded together and got through it. It was rarely easy, in fact oftentimes I wanted to quit engineering and switch to an easier major. But having friends and classmates that were also going through the same thing with me made it so much easier.

We are all environmental engineers and my graduating class calls ourselves the “ENVE Crew”. Together we labor through projects, programming and seemingly impossible homework assignments, but when they are all done we go out and celebrate together. My school colleagues by day turn into jovial drinking buddies by night. Even in class we find ways to lighten things up. All of our professors are subject to endearing inside jokes and nicknames. After our lab course the females of our group would go out to the dining hall for stir fry Tuesdays, earning us the title of the “Ladies who Lunch”.

I’m going to miss these chums when I graduate. I imagine we will all go our separate ways, taking our jobs where they come and each of us landing in some different niche of the country. Our only linkage will be the fond memories of college and intermittent correspondence on Facebook. So even though I complain about how horrible school is and how graduation can’t come soon enough, I’m going to miss my ENVE Crew and all the times we shared. I want to make this semester count and spend time with them before we graduate and disperse to save the planet.

So as we gathered today in room 204, I couldn’t help but feel sad, that this would be our last first day of class. Our last time scoping out the new professor together, planning our engineering parties for the semester, looking forward to graduation….. But as I lamented the end, I noticed a trend. Our classroom jostling was no different than high school, and before that middle school. As I move on to the next section of my life maybe it will yield similar relationships. Maybe I’ll buddy up with some coworkers and we will share inside jokes and gossip about our boss. We’ll go out to lunch and reluctantly trudge back in to work when our hour is up. Although the transitions in life from one milestone to another seem like we are leaving a whole chapter behind, maybe we hold on to some of it and project it onto the future. I’m going to stay in touch with my classmates and friends the best I can, and open myself up to new friends and experiences. Hey, after all, it’s not over til it’s over!

All suited up for taking lake samples! One of the highlights of our awful and arduous lab course.....

All suited up for taking lake samples! One of the highlights of our awful and arduous lab course…..