Success – what does it mean?
‘The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows’. Buddha
I became a teacher because I believed that I had a vocation to teach. I studied history at university with the intention of becoming a History teacher when I graduated. I was fortunate to get the first job I applied for, so my teaching career took off successfully. For a long time, I enjoyed my job and was successful. I was promoted several times and was soon running a big department. I also saw my students do well in exams. Before I was 30, I had been appointed as a Senior Teacher – now called Assistant Deputy Head.
However, in 1997, my world fell apart and all my success in my career began to seem totally pointless. The first chapter of my book tells the story of how difficult that year of my life was. I lost my head teacher, who was also my mentor and a close friend. Very soon after his sudden death lost my Mum and reeling from these losses had to then try and cope with the breakdown of my marriage.
I turned to alcohol to try and get me through the day and noticed I was drinking more and more.
I was rescued by meditation. I met someone who was a regular meditator and speaking to him led me to view my life differently. I went and learned how to meditate properly and will be forever indebted to him for the priceless gift he gave me.
Once started on a daily meditation practice my outlook on life began to change. Firstly, I started to drink less and noticed that I became a nicer person! Meditation helps me to be less reactive, so I think first instead of saying the first thing that comes into my head. It made me less irritable and much more patient. However, the thing that changed most and ultimately had the biggest effect on me was that I began to question my ‘successful’ career. I was successful but at what cost?
I went to work, came home, did more work, went to bed and then got up and did it all again the next day. I was permanently exhausted and too tired to have any life outside of work. If you know any teachers, you will be familiar with this story.
Meditation gives you a chance to step back and look at things more clearly, it gives perspective. What is the point of success if you are unhappy?
So learning to meditate helped me reflect on what was important to me. I realised that my successful career in teaching left me drained and exhausted and didn’t make me happy.
Training as a therapist and meditation teacher transformed my life. I began to feel that what I was doing had real benefits both for the people I worked with and for myself. I began to feel fulfilled by my work and at the end of a working day feel as though I had made a real contribution in the world. I began to feel happy. My vocation to teach has remained steadily with me throughout, I am just a different type of teacher now. One who is happy and inspired by her work.
As the Dalai Lama says: ‘Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions’.
We all have within us the capacity to be happy and to share that happiness with others.
‘Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared’ Buddha
Meditation, the stress solution Mary Pearson