My interest in meditation in 2016 began near the year’s end. After subscribing to the seemingly endless portal of yoga videos, provided within the Find What Feels Good community through a special membership, I came across a mindfulness meditation video guided by Adriene Mishler; I sat down, and pressed PLAY.
What I ought to mention is that this wasn’t my first meditation practice. I had downloaded the Calm app, for free, on my tablet at the time and completed the 7 Days of Calm meditation series. I also, googled around a little bit and stumbled upon Alan Watt’s “The Art of Meditation”, an audio recording from one of his speeches dating back to the 1970’s.
A quote that I particularly enjoyed was also Watt’s brief definition of meditation:
“…and meditation is the way in which we come to feel our basic inseparability from the whole universe. And what that requires is that we shut. up.” -Alan Watts
My year-long healing experience with meditation has been subtle and slow-growing, yet powerful. When I combine meditation with my yoga practice, I feel an extra wash of clarity and openness. The truth is that these two forms of self-care translate into self-love and in turn I become addicted to giving to myself.
The giving might come in the form of listening, learning, or discovery. One thing is certain and that is that I have discovered so many things about myself. What’s so interesting about meditation is that there really isn’t any objective. For anyone who is so used to being busy, practicing meditation for the first time might as well be a punishment. For me, it was definitely a challenge to overcome the popular belief that every thought each of us has is important.
In fact, that inner downpour of noise is what distracts us from all the beauty around us – including the beauty that can be found within everyone. I actually started to find relief in the fact that many of my thoughts were of no significant importance, instead of wallowing in my pride and disappointment. It’s actually something that has been serving me well. All I have to do is shut. up.
By shutting up, I have been able to perform better in daily activities and to notice unhelpful patterns that I find myself resorting to. Just by noticing negative thought patterns, I have been better able to unpack them and remove pieces or features that just are coordinating with the outcome I want. By removing some of the garbage, I have been uncovered the potential for a spotless environment – a healthy and happy mind – a place that I look forward to maintaining, polishing, and honing.
My Basic Inseparability From the Whole Universe
Through guided meditation, I have recognized my basic inseparability from the whole universe. While I believe that all self-discoveries are a long-term and ever-changing process, I am also incredibly thankful to discover that I have so many wonderful qualities. This isn’t just me tooting my own horn since I finally got around to opening the windows and letting some air in; however, I have been on a wild journey of self-acceptance that leaves me headed forward. I do not wish to look back on the ways that I used to judge myself, bring myself down, and talk to myself as if I weren’t worth a footprint on this planet.
I am worth a footprint on this planet, and so are you. Everyone has been chosen to exist, but with just one requirement: that we learn to remain present/aware/mindful. A friend of mine once told me that his New Year’s resolution each year was to just simply be present. It took me some time to fully understand what he meant by this. What I’ve concluded is, perhaps what he really meant was that he was committed to being fully present in everything he did, everywhere he was.
It all makes sense to me now. It’s obvious what it means to be fully present because I have been learning to let go of my thoughts like little speckles of unnecessary fluff, and pay attention to what is really important: being. And the only way to really be is to let go of the constant internal chatter. What’s internal eventually materializes and reflects outward. When we take the time to understand our thoughts and release them, we are less likely to burden others with our unresolved anxieties and we are less likely to pass blame.
Taking responsibility for our words and our actions is an incredible path to our own security. We can’t possibly take ownership for every fault or mishap that happens around us; however, we can respond with integrity and honesty, as well as have a little ease. Not everything is within our control. At some point we need to realize that every consequence is a result of one minor detail that leads to a materialize thing in the end. There may not be any meaning or reason whatsoever.
Somewhere just moments before, what is now an issue wasn’t an issue. It might have just been a thought, or one part of a whole that has eventually been wrapped up together to become an argument, a misunderstanding, or a wonderful surprise. The important point I hope to pass along to you is that you are worth the acknowledgment for your progress; you are responsible for your actions; and everything in between has most likely been a collaborative process.
What meditation has done for me this passed year is awakened me to mindfulness. I want to point out that the word ‘meditation’ is becoming arbitrary since what many of us are used to practicing is actually mindfulness. (For more on where I got this info, listen to “Episode 13” here.) That state of being aware of everything around you – following your inhales and exhales, giving all of your attention to any given task fully – is technically mindfulness, but for the sake of the information I’ve absorbed prior to writing this post, let’s call it “meditation,” okay?
Through my mindfulness journey, I have gotten up close and personal with my thoughts, dissected them, and either given them the life and energy they deserve, or have completely done away with them. While I don’t believe that I have, or ever will, come to an end with organizing my thoughts, I do feel as though I have gained important tools that will be useful for me throughout all of my mind’s chatter. It really is just a big puzzle, each of our minds. What’s interesting is the story we continue to tell ourselves.
The stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves, is what may be either holding us back, or easing us forward. Sometimes we learn certain habits or thought patterns as young children (and even before), and drag those negatives talks into our adulthood, not knowing any differently. The shift for me was when I decided to not accept everything I was ever told (or am told today). This doesn’t mean that I’m calling anyone out for their wrong-doings or terrible guidance – and I’m especially not calling anyone a liar. Instead, I have learned to love all the wisdom, advice, counsel, and inconspicuous training that I have received in my life.
Each of us has our own beliefs, and much of our belief stems from the stories that we’ve been told as small children by our families. As we grow, we start to form our own opinions, and learn to look after ourselves. In time, our story always becomes some version of the story that we’ve been holding onto our whole lives, until one day, it just changes.
This happened for me through meditation. While I practice giving space to me and my vitality – not all the chatter and stories in my head – I have learned to understand reoccurring thoughts, anxieties, worry, and even subtle irritation on a whole new level. It has become increasingly clear what my story looks like for me now.
The underlying theme today is that we each have a powerful intuition, including the ability to grow and receive new information. At times, a new piece will be added to the puzzle, and other instances might just be added to the discard pile. This is a good thing. Our exposure to heartache, trauma, overwhelm, and negativity can be a cleansing process as much as a learning process. In order to learn what to let into our lives, we much learn to let go of what does not, and will never, serve us.
While my healing experience has yet to come around full circle, as there are still many questions to be answered, I do know that upon reflection of this passed year, I have learned so much. I look forward to learning every day and to continue my mindfulness meditation practice. The truth is, that there will never be an end to this mountain and it isn’t for me to make it my aim to be happy by the end. I can choose to be happy now knowing that I am learning and growing and changing into the person I am most capable of being. I choose love for myself, I choose acceptance, and I choose to heal.
What has been your experience with meditation? Have you gotten passed the difficulty of sitting in one place for extended periods of time? Tell me about it in the comments below – I can’t wait to hear from you.