Dazed and with a bloody arm, I walked into the Emergency Room of a local hospital. I couldn’t believe I actually did it, and for the first time, I realised that I wanted to live.
And that is what started it all…
Most people have a dark night of the soul when they narrate about the start of their spiritual journey. Mine was very dark years before it catapulted into that very dark afternoon.
I was very much depressed with a inconsolable anger at my situation in life. I was pulling my hair out, but I actually did much worse.
That incident required me to see a psychologist to deal with post-trauma and a whole heap of stuff underneath that I wasn’t aware was running me at the time. The psychologist I started seeing eventually caught on to my anxiety issues, too, so she gave me a sheet of paper which described a breathing exercise.
I learned to get in touch with my breath.
I think being told to do those breathing exercises slowly helped clear the fog in my head, together with chatting with someone about my situation. For the first time, I could unashamedly and honestly tell someone what its like to be me — the worries that plague me every day, the days that all looked the same, how I spoke to myself in my head, and the feeling of heaviness and how it could grow day by day.
Slowly, there were things being reflected back to me that I didn’t realise I was tolerating, or I was unconsciously doing. They became the openings to my own self-inquiry.
So I clawed my way out and started to borrow self-help books from the library. I eventually came across an online 21-Day Free Meditation challenge. Until then, I saw meditation as something that only monks do, but never thought it was for normal for people like me (funny how I saw myself then, hey?!).
When I was told about those breathing exercises and found out about the challenge, I got the lightbulb moment.
And opened the space between my thoughts.
I didn’t have any mental and emotional strength then to do the breathing exercises consistently on my own. So a 21-day challenge felt like a good push.
That 21-day challenge was a brain and life changer for me. It started to open up the space between my thoughts. Whereas before, I had always been a worrying, anxious and depressed nutcase, my mind started to get less ‘busy’.
Doing 21 days of guided meditation helped build the neural pathways in my brain to continue doing it after it was finished. At that time, I only really wanted to keep having that peaceful and clearer feeling I would have after meditating even for just 15 minutes.
Science shows that it takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit. Yogic teaching indicates that it takes 40 days to change/break a habit, 90 days to establish a new habit, 120 days to get integrated, and 1000 days to have the ability to respond with mastery.
I found a couple more free guided meditations online to help me through and listen on a daily basis.
The self-awareness and ability to have the space to respond came much much later. I only probably noticed it happening after a year or so (and even to this day is something that I keep honing). I’ve held a lot of past trauma and that is like cement in the emotional brain that takes time and patience to heal, not just with meditating.
Meditation is more than just mindfulness.
I have since then, more than 6-7 years ago, explored several types of meditation such as transcendental, mantra, intentional, loving kindness, and movement.
As my practice evolved, I evolved. Meditation hasn’t just help with retraining my mind, it has also helped me get in touch with my heart and my own soul.
Meditating and my own breathing exercises continue to form the basis of my spiritual and personal growth. It’s what helps me reconnect with myself. It helps me understand what’s really going on underneath. It has given me the capacity to be more self-aware outside of the practice, and make more conscious decisions and responsive actions.
My practice hasn’t been perfect. I also forget to do it, resist to do it or allow myself to get wrangled by life. That’s also how I learn, how I pick myself up, and how I become honest with myself.
I know now that’s really all that’s being asked of me… to keep coming back, to keep reconnecting.
That is what a healing journey calls for once you’ve woken up… a consistent practice.
Recognising your wholeness is a long arduous process of peeling away the layers of who you think you are. Who you think you are is usually who’ve you’ve assumed to be based on how you’ve been brought up, what people have said to you, what you’ve been taught, and/or how you’ve been treated.
All of a sudden, you start to realise that it’s not just your anxiety and depression that you needed to heal. In fact, they are just the roadmaps towards the real issues underneath. No matter that it’s hard to face them and to feel them, there will be a part of you that will want you to keep going because you know deep down this is truly what you need.
So hang on to that part who truly loves you and wants you to succeed.
When the emotions get too strong to handle, when you feel like you’re breaking again, remember the moments when you could breathe. Remember what worked and what didn’t. Remember when you managed to get through the dark tunnel and come out the other side. That same person who went through that before is still there and she can definitely do it again. This time, a lot stronger and a lot more wiser.
And most of all, come back to your practice.
Have a practice that makes you feel your essence, that allows you to pause and re-centre yourself. Whether it be meditation or something else, it does not have to look a certain way. What’s important is that, one, it suits you and serves your intention. Two, it becomes a part of your daily life, just like brushing your teeth. And three, you can receive and/or ask support for it.
Your emotions will come and go. Life will continue to throw situations and lessons at you. But if you have a practice and you have a support system, you can meet your emotions and life from a grounded space of being, preventing you from spiralling back to a rabbit hole.
Your deserve to be living the life you desire. You were born for it.
This article was previously published on The Urban Howl.
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