Conversation with Sarah #1

When I was doing my tour for Soul Centered, I was interviewed for the women’s health site EmpowHER by writer Marcia G. Yerman.

In reviewing my book and explaining to her audience the benefits of meditation,  Marcia became interested in beginning her own meditation practice.

Beyond the questions that she raised in order to write her article,  Marcia had a series of additional inquiries and observations that were similar to those that many others have encountered as they embark on the path of meditation and self-awareness.

As we discussed these topics, we hit upon the idea of Marcia contributing monthly for my blog, we’re calling it “Conversations with Sarah.” In addition to tackling material that we believe will be of interest to the community through a dialogue, we invite you to submit questions that you would like to have addressed—as you sail forward in your meditation voyage.

Send an e-mail to mcleanmeditation@gmail(dot) com, with BLOG TOPIC in the subject line.






The Meditation Journey Begins

by Marcia G. Yerman


June of 2012 was a rocky month for me. Reality kept rearing its insistent head, reminding me that my son was leaving for college—and a new life—in sixty days. All the decisions I had been able to put off for years because of my son’s priorities were now rushing to the fore and demanding my attention.

Ironically, it was during the same time frame that I was working on an article about Sarah’s new book, Soul-Centered: Transform Your Life in 8 Weeks with MeditationAs part of the press kit, I had received her meditation CD. I listened to the first track. It immediately resonated and made the lessons from the book visceral for me.

Soon, every morning before getting out of bed, I put on my headphones and meditated along with Sarah. At night, I did the “Transformational” or “Gratitude” meditation—always ending with the “Crystal Bowl Healing Sounds,” which served as a kind of auditory amen. I had sandwiched in my own personal ninety-second prayer, the one I have been reciting since the age of six. As Sarah frequently explains, meditation can co-exist with your religious beliefs.

Recognizing that my nervous system was on overload, I was excited to discover that meditation could alter brain patterns—regardless of one’s age—and that there was real science and date to back the findings up.

Beyond the actual act of meditation, I began incorporating a number of Sarah’s lifestyle suggestions into my daily routine. Previously on my own, I had been gravitating toward many of the behaviors that Sarah advocated in her book. Intuitively and organically I was on the same track.

I felt calmer when I sought out green oases within the urban sprawl of New York City. I had decided to cancel my newspaper subscription for the three months of summer because I was feeling as if I were drowning in a morass of frustratingly bad news that I could not impact. It’s what Sarah calls a “media-fast.” In addition, without yet knowing of Sarah’s “one-day a month” retreat of unplugging from electronics, I had decided that for a week I would only fulfill essential computer work. That meant staying off social media over the weekend (I am an inveterate Tweeter!).

It made a difference.

I still got a lot of news from television and online media, but I felt that a weight had been lifted off my shoulders—the responsibility of feeling that I constantly needed to be on top of every bit of information.

Meditating helped me settle into the fact that my son was leaving, and helped me to enjoy the moment and the time we had left to spend which each other. I focused on “my own world” and what was “under my control,” as Sarah had explained. When I felt overwhelmed, I turned to her “Peacefinder Exercise,” a stress buster to “refresh” my attitude and “shift my body’s response.”

It worked.

In August, I spent five days in the vicinity of Woodstock, New York. I went with my son and his father, taking my new awareness with me. I went on several hikes with my son. Sometimes we talked, sometimes we didn’t. Yet, in the midst of nature we both felt very connected. I stopped in a Tibetan store and bought a turquoise colored beaded bracelet that I began using during my mediations to help me stay attentive.

By the time my son had left for pre-orientation, I was in a different state of awareness. I had a whole new set of resources in my toolbox. I wore the bracelet when I traveled up to his campus to drop off his belongings, a reminder that I didn’t have to fall into the old patterns of reactivity when things got stressful.

Upon returning to an empty apartment in disarray from last minute packing, I was able to sit with uncomfortable feelings in a fresh way. As August turned into September and Labor Day summoned an end to summer, I thought about where I had been emotionally on Memorial Day. I became aware of the new rhythms that had begun to take root in my life.

Perhaps the clearest and most recent example came several days into the month when my dog had a medical problem. I rushed her to the vet. In the waiting room, not only was my dog anxious, but I was too. Intolerant of how long it was taking to see the doctor, I repeatedly looked at my watch, worrying about the dog—as well as the time I was losing from my workday.

Then I stopped.

I remembered Sarah’s advice about “starting again at any moment.” I realized that I could make a different choice and change “rote behavior.” I took a deep breath. I cleared my mind by concentrating on my breath. Inwardly, I repeated the mantra I had learned. The fear and nervousness started to release, and I accepted what part of the situation was under my control.

There in the vet’s office, I recognized my old patterns and chose a different way to respond. Or in Sarah’s words, “You can’t change anything about yourself until you see it.”

September 22nd is the first day of autumn. I look forward to moving into the new season with a reframed self-awareness that will put me on a new path.

Cultivating inner peace is the goal.


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