I have always wanted to be famous.
As a kid I sang, danced and acted. As an adult, I snatched up every opportunity to present at conferences or speak publicly as part of my professional work. If there was a spotlight or an open mic, I gravitated to it.
As the Zen Happiness Project’s growth exploded over the last 2.5 years, I’ve become aware of my ego in a new context. Thousands of people read these emails. Hundreds of thousands see my posts on social media.
Things I never would have imagined started happening: Attractive women sent me provocative messages. Businesses offered me money to advertise or endorse their products. Folks would ask me how I planned on monetizing our success. Would I write a book? Would I charge for membership?
I started daydreaming about appearing on Oprah, offering lectures to sold out crowds and enjoying the fruits of being a “spiritual celebrity.”
As my meditation practice has deepened over the years, I’ve started to recognize this desire to be center stage as the yearning of an insecure and self-destructive ego. Ego leads me around by the nose, it can’t ever be satiated and prevents me from being truly at peace.
Fortunately, through my meditation practice, I have found great personal, emotional and spiritual growth by recognizing manifestations of my ego, then slowly chipping away at it.
When I realized my ego could actually derail our community’s shared Mission, I started taking some deliberate actions to undercut it, freeing our community to evolve unbounded.
- First, I recruited volunteers to come together for self-lead study groups focused on training to become meditation instructors.
- Second, I placed an open call to our community inviting more voices to participate in our blog, sharing experiences and offering fresh perspectives.
- Third, I asked 12 members of our community to serve as a Board of Advisors to decentralize the decision-making that will steer the direction of our group.
We’re turning a new leaf and with that we’ve decided we need a new name.
Moving forward, we’ll be known as the New Leaf Meditation Project.
As a community, we’re so much stronger than as individuals. Pursuing our goal to teach a million people to meditate will create real and lasting good in the world. Let’s help more people benefit from the practice that has so positively changed our lives.
I’ll be working on chipping away at my ego for the rest of my life. Including more instructors, bloggers and leaders is helping me grow in humility. I am also confident these actions ensure this is a community of peers united and empowered to achieve a noble goal.
Anthony A. Cernera, M.Ed.
Founder & Meditation Instructor