mrs. neal's not-so-conventional MEDITATION [CLASS] for TEENS...

...the book and the recorded meditation


No snowflake ever falls in the wrong place.

– Zen Saying


Ever make a mistake? Ever feel that you have failed at something? Ever make a fool of yourself in front of everyone?

Happy news! You’re in good company!

A phrase I have come to use — especially when teaching at-risk students — is “we all fail forward.”

If we are a little wise (and a little lucky), we learn from our “mistakes.” I tell my students to look at the mistakes — or unwise decisions — as a learning experience. Even when you make an unwise decision, you still have learned something.

Sometimes we learn what doesn’t work.

— ♦ —

There is a story I like to share about Thomas Edison, the inventor. Apparently, he had been trying to find a material he could use as a filament for a light bulb. After thousands of attempts to find this material, and not being successful, Edison did not consider himself to be a failure. Instead, he considered himself to be the world’s foremost expert on what would not work as a filament in a light bulb.

— ♦ —

There are hundreds of stories about people who have been unsuccessful time after time, but because they did not give up, they eventually found success at whatever their chosen field happened to be.

In addition to the story about Edison, here are a few favorite stories (or so my students tell me) that I like to share about people who did not accept failure:

  • Michael Jordan became a member of the varsity basketball team when he was in the 9th grade; then was cut from the team in the 10th grade.
  • Henry Ford, J.C. Penney, and Walt Disney all had to file bankruptcy at some point in their lives, as did the very successful businessman and multi-billionaire, Donald Trump.
  • Albert Einstein didn’t speak until he was three or four years old, and throughout his school years, his teachers thought he was unintelligent and insubordinate — commenting on occasion that he would never amount to anything.
  • Winston Churchill was defeated in an election after 22 years of serving in Parliament. He eventually came back to the political arena and went on to become Prime Minister of Great Britain.

— ♦ —

Happy Accidents!

And then there are those things that are referred to as “happy accidents” — the things that turned out to be good things, even though they started out as mistakes or errors.

  • Most people are familiar with the name Levi Strauss. Did you know he moved from New York to California way back in the 1850s with the intention of selling tents to Gold Rush prospectors? He had all this heavy, durable material with him to make the tents, but the miners didn’t need tents. They needed trousers. So, Strauss came up with what we know today as Levi jeans!
  • Back in the 1960s, some scientists at 3M Company came up with a type of glue that would stick pieces of paper together, but the sheets came apart easily. They thought the glue was worthless. Then an employee came up with the idea of using the glue to make bookmarks. Thus, the Post-It note was created.
  • Right around that same time, scientists were trying to create an artificial rubber. Their happy accident is known as Silly Putty.
  • Too many to list them all, there are countless other examples, including some medical discoveries — such as penicillin and x-rays — that were made when scientists were looking for something else.

— ♦ —

Perhaps it’s time you changed how you think about failure. When you are not successful at something, don’t beat yourself up. Take a few minutes to re-evaluate what you did, what went wrong, and think about what you can do differently next time.

Take the time to step back, take a breath, look at the experience, and ask yourself, “What did I learn from this experience?”

— ♦ —

Tell yourself, too, that failure doesn’t have to mean you have failed at something — it can mean you just have learned something that doesn’t work for you.

— ♦ —



How can you turn a poor choice you have made
 into a positive thing?





Science is not only compatible with spirituality;
it is a profound source
of spirituality.

– Carl Sagan,
scientist / astronomer