When I first started meditating during my junior year of college, I didn't have many expectations, so I didn't see much of a downside. I was studying abroad in London at the time, and one of my classmates invited me to join her for a group meditation she attended regularly.
"Sure thing!" I said. Having noticed how happy, charismatic, and peaceful she seemed, I figured that if meditation got her there, it was worth exploring.
Over the next eight years, I proceeded to meditate with some regularity. Meditation helped me enough for me to keep doing it, but I continued to deal with a good amount of stress and anxiety.
Last year, I attended an introductory talk with Thom Knoles, a world renowned Vedic Meditation teacher. Thom suggested that practicing meditation as he instructed would help us to release all of the stress we'd accumulated over the years, leading us to more blissful lives.
My biggest fear about meditating wasn't that I wouldn't have time, meditate correctly, or remember to meditate twice a day. My fear was that I would do everything just as he instructed, but it wouldn't work.
A part of me worried that I was broken, the one person taught by Thom for whom meditation would have absolutely zero effect. After all, it's one thing not to feel the benefits when you're just hacking away at it on your own. It's another to have given yourself every possible tool, only to find out that you're really hopeless after all.
I'd hypothesize that this is a common fear going into one-on-one prep, too. Not only is it an investment of time and money, but it's also the Rolls Royce of test prep--particularly when working with a top-tier coach. "What if even with the best teacher, the best tools, the best circumstances, I still fail? What would that say about me?"
But here's the thing:
All of those fearful things we hear echoing through our minds before making an investment in ourselves are just that: fear.
Fear is usually irrational and unfounded. Fearful thoughts are empty, meaningless projections we place onto a situation. They aren't the truth.
The only way to discover the truth of a situation is to push past the fear and give an experience your best shot.
Twelve months into my new meditation practice, I can confidently tell you that I've experienced major shifts in how I experience life. I am happier and less stressed. I'm more energized throughout the day and better able to keep my composure and adapt when life doesn't meet my expectations.
Had I allowed fear to stop me from learning Vedic Meditation, I wouldn't have experienced any of those benefits.
Today, I challenge you to give 100% to your test prep. Don't let your fearful thoughts stop you from dedicating yourself to the process. Sign up to work with a coach. Crack open a prep book. Quiz yourself on vocabulary.
Trust that you aren't broken and cannot fail.
Erika Oppenheimer is an SAT and ACT test prep coach and the author of Acing It! A Mindful Guide to Maximum Results on Your College Admissions Test. Using her unique "Test Prep for the Whole Person" approach, she helps students from across the country reach their potential in the test room and in life. Learn more about Erika's coaching programs here.