Updated: Oct 10, 2020
How it all started
I am not sure where these and the next words are coming from. I just did a 40-minutes meditation. I started meditating about a year ago, when I was experiencing a lot of anxiety in my daily life. A friend recommended me a book by Jan Chozen Bays, called ''How to train a wild elephant'', which had very nice mindfulness daily practices. After I started to read it, I switched to another book by Jon Kabat-Zinn, called ''Wherever you go there you are''.
I started meditating at any moment of my day. I only did short meditations. I never sat or laid down for a long period of time to meditate, I didn’t have enough motivation for that. I was just practicing being more mindful and aware on my day-to-day. It was the first time I tried anything related to meditation, awareness, or mindfulness, and I found it really interesting.
When it all exploded
A while later, maybe 10 months after that, I went through another anxiety period. It was the 1st semester of my Wind Energy Master in Copenhagen. We were on exams period, and most of the tests were oral. I was terrified. I realised how scared I was to have somebody asking me questions right to my face, and not being able to give out the right answer. I would always get a little nervous before written tests, but never this much. I couldn’t understand where this anxiety was coming from. Why was I feeling so incapable?
I studied day after day for around 1 month. Each day, I had to put on a huge effort to focus on what I was actually trying to learn, instead on how horrible it would be not being able to explain it in the right way. I would read something, understand it, and then repeat it a thousand times. Repeating it twice didn’t feel like enough. I needed a third time, just to make sure that I wouldn’t screw up, ever. Sometimes my brain would stop out of fear during the 5th time, just by imagining what it would be like on the final day. Then I had to do it again 5 more times, to make sure, based on statistics, that if I failed once out of 10 times, the probabilities of failing during that day were low enough. Exhausting, I know.
At this point, I was working out every morning because that always makes me feel a little better. I was subscribed to the monthly workout programs of a lovely Canadian girl called Sophie Gray. She had recently expanded her career towards self-love practices, and I decided to start her 28-day self-love program. It was about starting each day with a combination of meditation, journaling and mirror talk.
This is what I realised
The description sounded exactly like what I needed. When I started it, I realised how harsh I had been with myself for so long. I was so unaware of the constant punishments I had put myself through, for ever since I could remember. I had never considered myself as someone with depression, or someone who hated herself. This is why it was so shocking for me to realise, that deep inside I had a huge amount of doubt towards myself, and it was ruling my life. Not only during my exams period, it was ruling my life in general. This had been happening for so long, in every aspect of my life, and I had never realised it up until this point.
The struggle was real
Because the discomfort in my body was so painful, I could finally see it and start working on it. It seemed like such a simple thing. An oral examination. But the feeling in my body was so horrifying, and on top of that, the little voice in my head telling me how stupid and such a coward I was for feeling like that for such a silly thing. At that moment I realised, how far I was from being my friend. And of course, how can you be happy if you walk around your entire life with someone that’s giving you crap all the time about the way you handle things? You walk away from people who do this to you, and judge them for doing it, yet you allow yourself to do it to yourself every single minute of the day. How unnecessary to live like that.
One of my sisters, and my boyfriend at that moment, used to always tell me that I pushed myself too much. That I was too hard on myself. That I was always doing a great job. They used to tell me that, in the moments I hit rock bottom. When I was crying all over the place and couldn’t put myself together on my own. In those moments, I believed them.
Obsessed with external love
Because of the state that I was in, it was obvious to me that they were right. But somehow, as timed passed, I would go back to being hard on myself. As if I didn’t deserve to relax and enjoy the learning ride. As if I could only trust what they were saying, after being exhaustively hard on myself. I could only let go and relax, after breaking down. Because breaking down was proof that I had tried hard, nothing else was.
Sophie’s self-love program was about being kind to yourself and accepting yourself exactly the way you are. Although this seemed to me like an obvious thing that everybody should know and do, I realised that I wasn’t really applying any of it. None of what she said seemed new or surprising, yet when I looked closely to my behaviour, I did find out something new.
I found out that most of the love in my life, didn’t come from myself but from the people around me. I was and still am, grateful for every single person that has shared their love with me. But what I discovered, is that when I was not receiving external love, I could instantly hear a constant negative talk on my head that didn’t sound very loving. It was in this moment that I started to wonder: When did this voice come to life? When did I first hear it? How didn’t I even realise it was there? How come I didn’t know that I listened to it, but I believed it? Where does it come from? Is it me? Is it someone else? Is it right? Is it wrong?
At that time, I didn’t figure out any of that. But it was the start of a whole new journey. A journey that I started to enjoy. We don’t turn something into a habit from one day to the other. Specially if it goes against everything that we are used to doing. Our nature tends to bring us back to what we have always done, to what we are used to, to what feels safe.
I wasn't the only one
Up until that point of my life, my first meditation book, and Sophie’s program, put me on a different path. This doesn’t mean that I was ever-since cured from moments of anxiety. I was very far from that. However, I started moving in what felt like the right direction, just by realising what I was doing to myself. The funny part, is that it didn’t seem like I was the only one. I started realising these destructive behaviours in many people around me. No wonder it felt so normal being like that.
I felt weird because I was trying to love myself and be kind to myself, instead of yelling out loud how stupid I was when I made a silly mistake. I started observing not only myself, but other people. Sometimes, this would make me sad. Noticing the harshness of others with themselves, their incapability of respecting their own beings. Other times, it would upset me. I would in a minute, think about 10 wonderful things they had, and not understand where their complaining attitude came from. Other times, which I must say are the times that I feel most proud of, I would just accept it. Because I could relate to them.
Because I could understand how they felt. Because I had done it before and sometimes still do it. These times, I would assume and accept that every person is on their own journey. That although I don’t like when they are rude to themselves, they may have already learned things that I haven’t. They may be learning other things right now, that I have no idea about. So these times, I would just hope that every day, each one of us learns to love and be at peace with ourselves, a little bit more.
This is how I was transformed
My first mediation periods were quite short, 3 minutes only. On the last day of Sophie’s program, they took 15 minutes. I realised how different this practice made me feel throughout the day. It’s like I would start my day with an intention of love and peace towards myself, and this, somehow, made me more compassionate to others.
I no longer had a daily goal that my happiness depended on. It was nothing like that. It gave me a sense on enjoying every moment of my day, whether it was how I expected it to be or not. I felt like I could spend the day on real time. Not at the speed of my thoughts, but at the actual speed at which things were happening.
Life is not as fast as we feel it
If you think about it, life goes by slowly. It gives you time to enjoy every moment. To observe, to listen, to express yourself. And if you allow yourself to just do that, naturally your brain takes in a ton of information. But we are so caught up in our thoughts, thoughts that don’t belong to any real time, that we miss most of the actual moment. And what happens, is that we start a moment and we are there only for a millisecond. Then, our mind leaves somewhere else, and when we come back, time is over. It is gone. We were in the moment, but only physically. Of course, later on we don’t remember most of it, because we were not really there. At some point, we just left.
Then the day passes, and we feel so tired. We feel like we didn’t have time to do anything. Maybe we achieved some work goals, but we were in such a rush and struggling all the way through it. We are unhappy because our days go by and we don’t get to enjoy. We don’t have any time left to go and do just that, enjoy.
The real reason why we suffer through work
If we could only realise, that we can do all our work while enjoying it. If we could realise that the reason why we don’t enjoy, is because we keep hearing these voices in our head trying to stop us from doing our next move. We are so hooked by these voices because they are all over the place. They go in all directions. You get a different message depending on which one you pick to hear at which moment.
It is confusing and exhausting. It leaks our energy without us even noticing. We are trying to find the right voice to listen to, and we are barely spending time doing the work we want to do. We are chasing the right voice, and trying to quiet the others. And this takes so much valuable time from us. If we could do the work in real time, we would finish so much earlier. We would enjoy more the journey, because we are not fighting with our head, and we would even have time for more joyful moments in our day.
Before anyone else's, conquer your approval
This is what mediation does to me. It helps me, beforehand, calm down all that fight of thoughts. It allows me to connect with myself. With my actual friend. The one that loves me and wants the best for me. The one that is always cheering me up because she trusts me. I connect to that. I don’t need anything else to be happy. I only need my own approval. An approval that seemed so hard to get before.
I used to believe that my approval was less than other people’s approvals. Yet people came to me for advice, trusting my ‘wisdom’, and I would answer. But I didn’t believe my approval was good enough for me. When I realised that it is the most powerful thing I can give to myself, and that it is even more meaningful than anybody else’s, everything started to change. I could do anything that I wanted. I broke free.
I could start to feel my true self. No voice can kill our true-self. Voices can be very loud, and they may confuse us and torment us so we lose your focus. But they can do just that, be loud. Our true-self doesn’t scream. To be honest, I think it doesn’t even talk. It expresses itself in much higher and more intelligent ways. It is something that we can feel above the fight of thoughts. It doesn’t try to explain itself, so we can’t find the words to explain it either. And the funny thing, is that it is always there. We don’t even need to wait for it to come in a divine way or anything like that. We just need to have the will to feel it. To put a little bit of human effort in connecting with ourselves every day.
I think of it as when you have this resistance towards getting to know someone. Because this person looks different. He looks nothing like you. And some day, for some reason, you start to get to know this person. And you realise that he was nothing the way you thought he would be. This may not happen on the 1st day, but many days after that, when you don’t even remember that at one point you had a resistance.
In my opinion, when we open-up to ourselves, we give us the chance to be what we really want to be. What feels natural. It is hard to be natural and spontaneous around other people, when we don’t even know what that is. And how will we know, if we don’t take some time to spend with ourselves? When we believe, we are all those random voices, we limit ourselves to being something we don’t even understand. How can you not understand who you are? That doesn’t make any sense!
The result of a long meditation
So after my meditation of 40 minutes, I decided to sit and write. I decided to let it all out. Whatever came to me. With no judgement. I decided to write down what came from my heart. I decided to trust myself today more than usual. I decided to believe that I could write something beautiful. Something meaningful. To me, and hopefully also to you. I am not trying to go anywhere in particular with this. I just want to put my heart out here. I just want to give myself permission to be whatever I am, because I believe that we all have something beautiful inside of us, that wants to come out. So today, I decided to see what’s inside of me. And I am happy I did, because as I write this, I get to know myself.
My answer to everything, is accepting and loving whatever it is that we are. To stop for a second, get to know ourselves, and fall in love. To quit getting mad at us and at the world, every time things happen differently to what we expected. Because it will keep happening. My answer to everything, is finding meaning in every experience. Because there is meaning in everything, we just need to be willing to see it. And when we do, we realise that everything is perfect. We finally let go of the resistance that keeps us from being beautiful.
Thank you, to whatever inspired me to do this.
Thank you, to whatever allowed me to do it.
Thank you, to whoever read this and spent time getting to know me.