She has always felt she was special because she was born on an island, where she was probably one of the last ones to take birth. But today she feels special as she stands strong and confident, teaching thousands of youth the art of living life to the fullest.
Gordana, now 31 years old, has been meditating for the last 8 years. She feels meditation has had a huge impact on her life. In a conversation with Divya Sachdev, she shares how she discovered a new meaning to happiness and joy and how other youth can do the same.
Q1. You said you are a party lover and you believe in living life to the fullest, so how did your quality of life change when you started practicing meditation?
Gordana – In the beginning, it was like a big leap for me; from being a total party girl, using tobacco and alcohol, to not going out and partying at all (after I started meditating). I used to think a party cannot be without those things.
But a little later, when I started meditating every day, I felt I could go out and have fun and yet stay without these things. And then I started partying again. I knew meditation had made me strong enough to stay away from tobacco, drugs, and alcohol.
In fact, I started organizing huge non-alcohol, non-tobacco parties on Mondays. We convinced a person who owned a club and he would have it tobacco free on Mondays. So we would go and just dance and scream with real joy.
Some people would be surprised seeing us having so much fun without any alcohol. So the quality of life definitely changed; I saw a new way of enjoying life with meditation.
Another change is that now I live with full enthusiasm and also with a cause of being happy and make other people happy. And that happiness comes naturally from a calm mind rather than from external things like other people making nice judgments about me or being satisfied that we have enough alcohol for that night. Now you can put me anywhere—office, home, a party—and I would have the same type of enthusiasm and joy that comes from within.
Q2. Communicate, Connect, and Evolve is your motto in life, and I believe you have said that with regard to service, isn’t it? So how does meditation help you better connect with people, especially when you involve them in service activities.
Actually, when you meditate, something changes inside you. I have always been involved in some kind of service activity and worked with different people even before I learned meditation. But the difference is that earlier I would try and connect to people to want them to think well about me. Also, if someone were not so willing to join me in the service activities, I would take it personally and feel bad, thinking that probably that person does not like me and does not want to be around me.
Now when I connect to people, it’s different. I know I am not connecting to people because of any selfish motive, but simply so that they can come, contribute, enjoy, and grow.
Another difference I have observed is that now I find more and more people around me, and they connect to the activities I am involved in without me putting in too much effort—people join on their own. In fact, my connection with my own family is stronger now. They seem to have gotten attracted to my joy.
Q3. Do you think meditation makes you mindful in the activities you do during the day?
Gordana’s take: Make meditation a habit!
Do it a group with friends: You feel more connected & the energy is higher
Combine meditation with what you like: like a nice hangout with a meditation
Oh Yes! Absolutely! Let me share an example with you.
I cycle regularly. When I started meditating, in just a few weeks I noticed that when I am on my bike, I am better aware of the traffic around me—I noticed people more, I noticed cars more. For me it was a total out-of-the-world experience. I was no longer worriedabout someone just popping up around the next corner. I would just cycle feeling much more relaxed.
I would experience real mindfulness. I would know if a person was around the corner, so I should slow down or speed up; intuition started taking over.
It becomes easier to be mindful of the things you like to do, but for things that you had resistance, somehow when you are a meditator, you just start liking them; probably because you are so much into the moment, so mindful!
For instance, earlier I would hate waking up in the morning and making breakfast. I would rather go and pick up breakfast from somewhere. But now most of my mornings are so energetic because I get up and meditate. I feel so calm that I somehow just FEEL like doing things and I feel no resistance to anything.
There is less boredom in doing things that earlier used to drain my energy. The awareness had come that the faster you do it, the sooner it would be done and there is no point cribbing about having to do it.
I guess this awareness, in combination with enthusiasm, being focused, and mindful just make my tasks so interesting.
Q4. You say you prefer to meditate in a group; any specific reason for that?
Yes, because I noticed that the energy is different when you do it in a group, and you feel so much more connected to the group. I realized that I started connecting with the group of people I would meditate with so much better. There was a different feeling of belongingness and some special kind of closeness.
Q5. These days suicides are becoming common among youth; how can meditation help youth drop these ideas?
If you see, suicidal thoughts come when you feel life is out of your control. And basically it starts from little things that pile up, such as things you might find hard to do, you cannot handle the pressure, or something happened and you feel you just cannot take it.
Meditation gives you the strength to understand that those feelings are temporarily, and some months down the line they would not even matter. Meditation really gives you the strength to handle them.
Also, if you are a meditator and your friend has suicidal tendencies, you can help them to get out of it. You can talk to them and support them better.