100 days of meditation

At 6am this morning I quietly rose out of bed, padded into the bathroom to wash the sleep out my eyes, and then sat down on a cushion in front of the fireplace in my living room, surrounded by shadow and silence. Crossing my legs into a half-lotus position, I took a couple of deep breaths, and then settled into my morning habit… a habit I have been able to maintain for 100 days as of today.

screencap of InsightTimer profile page
Profile on InsightTimer showing 100 consecutive days.

At the very beginning of this year I set out four “goals.” I wrote these goals on my dive slate which hangs in my shower. One was to build a meditation habit. Kickstarting that habit was a reason I went on retreat at the Birken Forest Monastery this summer. As a side note, one thing I have learned about New Years resolutions is to not necessarily try to do them cold turkey. Give yourself some space to build towards the goal, and when the time is right, it will happen. Two of my other goals (learn more about Buddhism, and lose weight) have been successful. This year I have lost 20 pounds and so far have read 13 books on Buddhism, in addition to going on 2 retreats and planning my third for the year end. It might take a few months to get started, so don’t give up on your resolutions too early.

But back to the meditation habit. As you can see from the data, I have been consistent ever since that time at the monastery, except for one day: Aug 19th. If not for that, I would be at 135 consecutive days. But who is counting? I suppose I should not cling to the numbers… 😉

chart of meditation time by date
2017 sessions to date. The vast majority come after my retreat (indicated by the arrow on the left)

100 days is nothing compared to more experienced practitioners, but it is a milestone for me. Meditation has been a game changer in terms of stress reduction. But there are many more benefits waiting to be unlocked. Currently I only do the basic breath meditation for about 20 mins per sit. I sit at least once a day, and often twice. More recently I have been listening to some guided mettā meditations. I would really like to explore other meditation techniques, but I feel like I need access to a teacher. Spending time at retreat helped me get started (I first picked up Bhante G’s Mindfulness in Plain English 7 years ago, but only sporadically tried to sit, and only did so for very short periods) and in order to move to the next level, I am going to look for more instruction.

Why I moved here

Friends at startupvernon.com have been canvassing for stories about what made people move to the Okanagan. I would like to add mine using their questions (slightly adjusted).

NOTE: On November 30 our friends in Vernon will be hosting this years #megageekbeers which brings together community members from Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton, Kamloops and surrounding areas. I hope to see you there! RSVP here →

Where are you originally from?

We came to Kelowna from Vancouver, where was had lived for just a year after moving back to Canada from Japan.

After having our second baby, we spent a few months in Armstrong where my parents retired. The original intention was to go back to Vancouver, but that changed after just a couple of months.

What were your biggest concerns about moving to Kelowna? What helped you overcome those worries?

When it was first suggested to me to move to Kelowna (by my parents), my first reaction was “I dunno how to drive a tractor!”

But after couple of months attending Digital Okanagan meetups, and learning about the types of technology opportunities here, I decided to quit my job at Apple and start a new path here.

And to echo some of the other responses, Kelowna’s reputation as a retirement community was not exactly attractive. But things are getting more diverse (not just age-wise but also a bit ethnically) and we have a somewhat progressive and young municipal administration which is making things better (eg. increasing density, active transportation, etc) for retirees and non-retirees alike. At the time I moved here I could already see that my impressions of Kelowna was well out of date.

What kind of research did you do before you moved to Kelowna?

It was really being here and meeting people. Having the opportunity to hang around for a couple of months is a real luxury that most people do not have.

What other cities did you consider moving to?

Hmmm… we weren’t really planning on leaving the Lower Mainland. It just kind of happened. Really happy it did though!

What’s kept you in Kelowna?

Family for sure. It is a great place to raise small children, and with extended family here we get lots of support.

The community is great too. As I have written elsewhere:

We have lived for 3 years in Kelowna. Since leaving my hometown at 18, this is the longest I have ever lived in one location. I am involved in a few different community groups including the startup community, Japanese immigrant community, the wider immigrant community, and others. … at this point in my late thirties, with all the connections to the local community that I have been building over the past few years, I am finally achieving a sense of long-term belonging.

Career wise it has been great. I have been exposed to many opportunities that I would not have in a larger centre.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering moving to Kelowna?

I always advise people that we are in the West, and it is kind of frontier land, so we need people that are resilient and willing to help build. For people looking to make a real impact, the Okanagan is a great place.

About running your company

[I am going to skip these questions since I do not run my own company here. But I will say that we are an international company that is based in Kelowna, and we a growing like crazy. Probably the biggest challenge — something I think most other companies here face — is finding talent. Our talent pool is too shallow, so we need more great people to move here!]

What would make Kelowna even better?

Housing affordability, less inequality, immigrant services, protected bike lanes… I have a long list of pet issues 😜 but this might be more of an objective place to start.

Kelowna has been great to us, but there is certainly much room for improvement. The cool thing is that I see many people fighting to make it a better place, which makes it just that much cooler to be here.