Working at Wall Street in the early 2000s, I got introduced to meditation as a result of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Due to the high anxiety levels of the people in New York City and the increased fear and hopelessness, many began seeing psychologists, popping anxiety pills, or better yet turning to the simple and effective stress-busting method called meditation. This was when I initially had a glimpse of the ancient practice of meditation.
At that time, while living in New York City, my biggest dream was to become a writer. Yet, concerns like who would publish my work, am I really talented, and would I be able to make a living just writing haunted me constantly and purposelessly.
Challenges in Life
Moving back to my home town of Istanbul, Turkey, a few years later, I continued to work in Finance—this time with my father in our family firm. In addition to the strains and pressures of the Finance world, another item was added to my list of stressors – family! Add to that the culture shock of moving back home, and my focus became to escape from my life, from my work, and basically from myself. Alcohol and drug consumption began reaching dangerous levels. Thus, with no other choice, I searched for alternative tools and instruments to free my mind.
During this dark period of my life, miraculously, meditation came back into my life. Learning this technique from an inspiring and authentic teacher, and with discipline and consistency, I began to incorporate the easy yet incredibly effective method of sitting silently for 20 minutes a day into my life. Basically, mediation is all about closing your eyes and bringing your awareness to your thoughts, emotions, and eventually back to the breath. By merely observing, one is able to let go of the gloominess and negatively that the mind likes to drag us into.
Due to the benefits of daily meditation, I felt my mind relax and calm down while my energy levels began to rise significantly. I was able to handle people and situations around me in a more relaxed manner—not reacting to situations or getting caught up emotionally or in the drama of events. The quality of my relationships with my family members improved a lot—a sense of gratitude and the abundance of love replaced feelings like blame, guilt, and condemnation. Even my parents began to question, “What is your secret? How come you look so happy, calm, and younger all of a sudden?”
Living Life to Its Fullest Potential
Meditation gives me the tools to truly be me; yet, this me is a more polished, focused, and healthier one.
Sadly, I used to think meditation was only for hippies and Bohemian free spirits, not for a businesswoman with an analytical bent of mind like me. I was sincerely not aware it could improve the quality of anyone's mind, communications skills, and even intuition to such extents.
Currently, I still work with my father. Additionally, I write weekly for the Turkish edition of the International Herald Tribune (which is the global edition of the New York Times). And I am also a meditation and yoga teacher.
With the strength and clarity of mind I have gained from meditation, I have been able to eliminate the "ors" from my life. Instead of being a businesswomen or a writer or a yoga and meditation teacher, I am able to apply the "ands". I am a businesswomen and a writer and a yoga and meditation teacher. I have realized my full potential and blossoming as a result of the beautiful ancient practice of meditation. And now I am ready to share this with the rest of the world!
Why Teach Meditation
What truly inspired me to teach meditation is the unmistakable changes I saw in myself and in the participants. Through meditation, particularly in trauma-rife regions, people were able to let go of past experiences and impressions, moving more freely—with lightness and hope—into the future. These meditation programs are currently taught in prisons in Istanbul as well as trauma zones like the southwestern region of Turkey, called Soma, where a mining incident left over 300 miners dead and hundreds of families devastated. Through meditation, these people began to gain self-confidence, self-love, and rediscover their purpose in life.
I truly believe we can heal hearts and create harmony and add prosperity to people's lives through meditation. Thus, this is my calling – everyone in society (not only trauma victims) should be free of negative, destructive emotions and eventually find the fountain of joy that is within each and every one of us!
Written by Mina Ercel
Born in Istanbul, Turkey, and brought up in the USA, I juggle my busy schedule between financial consulting, writing weekly articles for an international newspaper, and teaching yoga and meditation. Life is a balancing act, I believe, and meditation gives me the tools, energy, and strength to live my life to the fullest and accomplish my dreams. With a passion for international peace building, my long-term aim is to create a stress-free society and use meditation to establish grass-root changes in the community—particularly in psychologically and anatomically traumatized areas.