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So What If a Nutritionist Eats an Occasional Big Mac?

Posted in: Blog by amy on August 24, 2020

When I was getting my masters in journalism, a professor informed our class that a misspelled subject’s name would result in an automatic “F” on an assignment. Now, 25 years later, I still feel a wave of nausea pass through me if I send an email or even a hand-written note with someone’s name misspelled. That’s an instant fail. I’m better than that: I am a professional writer and editor. So, there it is: I’m held to a higher standard. I’m expected to be better. I’m paid to be the best. It’s like a professional basketball player missing a layup.

Does everyone feel this way? Do nutritionists feel as if they can’t be seen at a McDonald’s drive-thru? Do sex therapists feel like they can’t say, “Not tonight, I have a headache?” Do psychologists feel like they can’t put up emotional walls? 

I’ve been thinking a lot about this as I recently committed to a 100-hour meditation teacher training. I am so eager to deepen my own meditation practice, to become more aware and, eventually, to teach others how to embrace moments of pure calmness. Yet, what standards will I now be held to amongst my peers? My own family? Strangers? Can a meditation teacher have occasional road rage? Is that like Tiger Woods missing a two-foot putt? Are we “experts” allowed to slip?

Me shooting 40% at the foul line is just God’s way to say nobody’s perfect. — Shaquille O’Neal

The minute I signed up for Chill’s teacher training, I thought I will now have to commit to always living a more peaceful, mindful, non-reactive life. It’s funny, but I actually said to myself: “Well, now I can’t angrily stare down a slow, left-lane driver as I furiously speed past.” I immediately absorbed those expectations and recalled the standards that were placed on my 22-year-old self while studying journalism at Medill: If I misspell the name, I fail. If I lose emotional control while driving, I fail. Well, maybe I get a C minus. (By the way, is there anything more annoying than someone going 55 in the left lane?!) 

I want to be better. I intend to be calmer. I believe in the power of meditation. I see how it can transform our lives — mentally, physically and spiritually. 

My training begins September 1. Chill Chicago’s remote program has already given me homework. I am on the path before day one. I am eager, excited and ready to delve into the practice, the assignments and the calm. Yet, I have already fallen off the wagon. I screamed at two of my children while helping them move into their college apartments yesterday. For 48 hours, I ran errands, opened boxes, put away clothes, navigated unfamiliar streets, waited in lines, did everything right (and yet nothing right) and spent a lot of money. I focused on my breath and found my Zen through it all … until I didn’t. I was so close to getting on the plane to return home, having only successfully done the job I had set out to do. IMG_5084We laughed, hugged, ate well and made progress on their temporary homes. But, then, in the 11th hour, I lost my cool in a reactive moment. Just one bad moment. All the rest were so good! And, there it was — the dreaded words escaped my daughter’s mouth: “You’re going to be a meditation teacher?! That’s scary.” That was my greatest fear, revealing its sharp, jagged teeth right at me …  before my studies even began! I can’t fail, I immediately thought. I can’t be reactive. I must be the calm I intend to teach. I can’t be that crazy, out-of-control mom, not even for an unintended moment. 

But, upon reflection: Professional athletes miss free throws. Nutritionists eat junk. Therapists communicate poorly. It happens. We are not perfect. We are simply here, doing our best. I can and likely will be a meditation teacher, and I can and likely will give someone a dirty look on the Dan Ryan Expressway.

So, take on a new challenge. Strive to be that expert or that teacher. When you slip, just climb back on that path. We are not perfect beings. We all occasionally stumble or falter while trying to maintain balance. Free throws are missed. Junk food is consumed. Kids get screamed at unfairly. Let’s forgive ourselves, return to our breath and continue to be the flawed, imperfect, beautiful beings that we can’t help but to be. 

And, it wouldn’t be bad to meditate often during college move-in week! 

— By Amy Lee Kite


Let us fill our hearts with our own compassion – towards ourselves and towards all living beings. — Thich Nhat Hanh



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