Today I began fulfilling the promise I made to myself when I quit my second job.
Focus on you and what you love to do.
I have read just about every self-help there is out there and while I’ve learned something from each one, somehow I can’t seem to sustain it. I guess that’s why I’ve read so many 😉
On and off throughout my life I’d heard or read about the power of meditation to transform your life. I always liked the part where your life could change, but I couldn’t imagine how breathing could lead you to a better life. I’d been breathing my whole life and still ended up unhappy. Not to mention – it sounded pretty boring to just sit there and breathe. I’m an active person, do, do, do!! Try, try try!! Those were my life mottoes. Total overachiever. Type A. 5 year-planner. You know the type, right?
Except the doing and the trying weren’t working anymore. Soon, I stopped understanding what I was trying to do all the time. Little by little, the person I once knew crumbled in front of my very eyes over the past 3 years. All the while, I desperately tried to hang on to the image I had of myself.
The stronger the grip, the more quickly another part of the picture faded.
We start out our lives with a set of traits and capacities that uniquely define us as an individual. A sort of “personality imprint.” Then, we are socialized into the world of guilt and shame. We are taught to be this, do that, to not be this way or not to act that way.
What we so often become couldn’t be further from who we really are. We then go about our lives creating a nice little package of the “socially accepted traits” we are sure we possess. We want to be accepted. We want to be picked for the team; at work, at home, among friends and acquaintances. We discard the parts of us that would be less desirable. We ignore the longings of our soul. Above all we spend most of our lives trying to convince ourselves that THIS IS ALL OK. Our image is complete.
My image was shattered.
It hurts a lot when this happens.
It feels like someone smashed a mirror with your reflection over the top of your head and dragged it slowly down the length of your body. When it finally reaches the floor, you are left trying to decide whether to pick up the pieces on the floor or out of your skin first. You’re sure this was a mistake and you begin to scramble to put the broken shards back into place just the way you remember it. With every effort to do so, you are getting hurt even more. But you are fighting for your life, right? You can’t just walk away, can you? This is WHO you are!!
Except it isn’t. If it were the REAL you, you wouldn’t need a mirror to recognize it.
Today I loosened my grip on that image a bit and took my first step towards exploring a land that you won’t find in any guidebook. I left my mirror at home on the ground. I stepped out of the frame instead of scavenging for pieces. I sat at the edge of my bed this morning for 10 minutes and began listening to my breathing.
I had just woken up and already, I found it difficult to just breathe deeply. This should be considered one of the most relaxed states of the day and here I was having trouble BREATHING! Wow! I thought, maybe I do need this. That’s about all I got out of those 10 minutes, but I figured you have to start somewhere.
I went about my day, feeling pretty miserable at work as usual. I started dreaming of 3:00 when I would would be free to jump into my car and head to the gym for my workout.
Finally, 3:00 came and I was headed for the endorphin enhancing part of my day. I ran on the treadmill, I lifted weights, headed back to the arc trainer for a leg workout and ended with a 5 min massage in the shiatsu chair. It felt good to use my body that way. I feel strong and powerful when I work my muscles like that and I like the way it clears my head.
It was 4:30 and I was headed home. The whole way I realized that I was looking forward to my evening meditation that I would begin right after finishing the little chores around the house. I had hoped it would be better than this morning.
I put the cats outside and turned out the lights so I wouldn’t be disturbed. This time I set up a guided meditation for 20 min. I asked myself, in the silence of my mind, what I needed to know.
I soon saw myself sitting on a lotus flower in the middle of a large pond filled with lily pads . Hmmm….ok…interesting…just breathe and go with it….inhale…exhale….
After a while, a figure of a man appeared out of the mist. He glided towards me, sat down in front of me, gently rested his hands on my knees and said squarely into my eyes,
“You are not alone. Even when you are surrounded by a room of people who have counted you out, turned their backs to you and discarded you. You are not alone. You are surrounded by a universe that supports you. You are safe. I am beside you, within you, all around you. Wherever there is a need in you, I can be found filling it. You are never alone.”
I felt myself sigh deeply and tears rolled down my cheeks. I felt really safe at that moment, so I asked if the figure would hold me in his arms for the rest of the meditation. And he did. He was there. Maybe, I was not alone after all.
I asked, “What else do I need to know?” The figure said, “For right now I just need you to really know in your heart and soul, that you are not alone. That is all.”
Well, that went a lot better! I felt so at peace at the end of that 20 min. meditation, that I have remained in silence since then, finding no real good reason to speak. That’s saying something for me!
I began cooking dinner in the kitchen and in walk the cats meowing and meowing their heads off. This has always driven me crazy and right now it was disturbing my zen moment. Each and every time, I TELL them to STOP! I yell at them to go away and stop begging.
This time though, I don’t know why exactly, but did something different. I looked at them and didn’t say a word. I picked them up and put them into the adjacent dining room. I SHOWED them what I wanted.
Each time they re-entered, I walked them out in silence. A funny thing happened after a short-while. For the first time, I was cooking in silence without cats meowing in the kitchen or for that matter anywhere at all. They just looked in at me from the dining room while I cooked. If I didn’t know better, I’d say they were just shocked.
But this taught me something. Show. Don’t tell. Your words are less important than your actions. I yell, they meow louder. I am a silent guide, they quietly listen and follow.
I’ve decided to keep firing up my endorphins after work at the gym and listening to my breathing twice a day after all. It looks like I’m headed down the right path to free myself from the mirror. Maybe one day I’ll feel like having it smashed over my head was one of the greatest gifts I’ve received. For now though, I’m going to take it one breath at a time.
With love from aneternaltraveler 😉