One gorgeous, sunny day in Austin, Texas, I found myself contemplating my career of thirteen years. Actually, I’d begun thinking about leaving three years prior, but this time I was serious and full of courage, determination, and willingness, no longer thinking “what else could I possibly do?!?” You see, I’d worked in public safety since I was twenty-two, working as an EMT and Paramedic in various capacities throughout those years, fighting stress, burn-out and fatigue. Now…I knew it was time to move on! Change was on its way.

I’d been living the high-paced city life for way too long. Often I would rationalize that my pay rate of $12 to $30 per hour, depending on my job assignment, made everything worth it. Being disconnected from emotion as part of my job created an emptiness that is beyond words. The pure stress of my work was almost unbearable at times. I’d frequently eat in the car in order to be able to make my next appointment and I’d always purchase pre-made meals from Whole Foods. I kept a very precise calendar and planned at least one month in advance. On my days off I would deal with severe traffic, often times taking me over an hour to get across town to visit a friend. Occasionally, I didn’t even leave my apartment due to exhaustion. It all took a toll on me, one that came with a high cost to my mind and body – it just wasn’t worth it anymore. I wanted something more fulfilling. I wanted to rediscover myself and find a life that brought me joy.

It’s funny how The Universe works. I’d thought about “going back to school” during those three final contemplative and peace-seeking years. Once, I returned to the community college where I’d taken classes before, attempting to fit my credits into something I wanted to do now. No. That wasn’t the answer I was looking for. I considered various other things I believed I was interested in learning or doing. Those doors closed, too. It was as if The Universe had a plan and if I could get out of the way long enough, It would lead me to the best-suited place I could imagine.

I arrived in Fairfield, Iowa on August 17th, 2011 after selling the majority of my stuff and a two-day drive, pulling the remainder of what I owned in the smallest U-Haul available. Big changes occurred in a very short period of time! Let me recap them for you: I quit the only job I’ve ever really known, got rid of a bunch of material attachments, left my friends and family, and moved to a small town in another state that happens to be in the middle of nowhere. Doubts occasionally filled my mind. “What was I thinking?!? I don’t like cold weather! And the landscape around here isn’t the most enticing.” Yet, somehow, I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Fairfield instantly felt like home.

The first few months was a roller-coaster ride! I was met with so much kindness, compassion, and support. I simply didn’t know how to handle it. These concepts were mere concepts before I got here to Fairfield, so my emotions were up and down while I was adjusting to the idea of receiving and trusting. Meditation helped. I was happy I could sit with myself in silence more than two minutes at a time, which is all I could stand when I initially learned basic meditation from a book.

Here at M.U.M. we practice Transcendental Meditation, also known as TM. We meditate in our classroom for ten minutes before lunch, then another twenty minutes prior to the end of the class day. A third meditation is highly encouraged, which I normally did in the mornings before school. TM is a natural stress-releaser, and it helped me purify all the stress I’d built up.

But my purification process took quite a while – it felt like forever! I was enjoying my classes, but my first semester was a bit brutal; at least it was in my head. The community and other students really made the ride easier. They comforted me with their loving arms, which is what I’d been yearning for. It was then I began to understand why all of these people were so compassionate and supportive of one another, because after I’d purged the majority of my own personal stress, I became more like that, more like the person I desired to be. The second semester started off a bit rocky, but once I got past that part I felt re-strengthened, vibrant and confident I could get through anything. I now trusted myself and The Universe, wholeheartedly.

Today, I have truly learned to slow down and trust in the process we call “life.” I enjoy almost everything about living here and going to school at M.U.M. The 1.5 hour work-study shifts are pleasant, even if I only make $7.50 per hour. The cold weather is even bearable. And making plans? HA! I love not having to keep a calendar! I have really learned how to “take it as it comes” and live in the moment. I rarely drive my car these days, often walking or riding my bike around town. I even cook my own meals, frequently sharing time with friends. Most importantly, I’m reconnected to my emotions, body, heart, and mind.

I finally got out of the way. I gave my keys to Divine Order, and The Universe took the wheel. I’m continuing this trip I like to call Transformation and Transcendence. Slowing down and simplicity are now my motto. My meditation mantra is what I use to gain access to The Super-Highway where I’ve found joy! Here…there are no tolls.

Keli Dean | Maharishi University of Management