I went to a women’s meditation yesterday in celebration of International Women’s Day. It was a synchronized event with women’s groups all over. All of the groups meditated at the same time, with the same meditation. It was incredible; I felt so much peace, beauty, and love. I realize meditation is not for everyone. Some prefer prayer, some prefer exercise. Jung proposed that almost all humans seek a divine force; a power that is greater than self. His thoughts actually are the fundamentals of the 12 step program – The Higher Power.
I think people get hung up on the fact that their higher power is greater than someone else’s. It’s yet another thing to bicker about. When I do Yoga with Adriene, she says repeatedly, “Take what works, leave what doesn’t.” I apply that to everything, really. My path with meditation is my own, but I have realized there are so many misconceptions. At the group I went to in the morning, a man expressed, “Ugh, my brain would not stop! I’m really bad at this!” I explained to him that the point of meditation is not to clear your mind; it is to become aware of your own mind. It is to shift from becoming a slave to your thoughts, to becoming an observer.
Do you know what makes me feel powerful? It’s so silly. Controlling my breath. I focus on my breath and reflect on the fact that my brain conducts this without me thinking. If I was responsible for breathing, I would forget and die. When I focus on my breath, and command my breath to flow, it makes me feel as though I am in charge of my own body. This is a feeling I do not often have. Between disassociating, anxiety, depression, and so on, feeling like I have my shit together is rare. When I sit or lie down and control my breath, I realize that I can control my thoughts and emotions too, because like my breath, these are automatic. My breath reminds me that I am alive while nurturing me. My thoughts and emotions remind me that I am human, and they can either nurture or destroy.
A woman asked me, “How do you speak so openly about yourself?” after I had brought up that I turned to meditation to help me with my eating disorders and self abuse. I smiled and I said, “I don’t want anyone to feel alone.” There is something very, very powerful in the two words “Me too”. People ask me “Do you believe in God?” or they ask me about mental health stuff. I tend to defer both answers, because if I get to specific, people will compare. Like religion/spirituality/atheism, there seems to be this separation – that if I have xyz, I am better or worse. Am I struggling? Yes. Am I a single Mom of three kids doing my damnedest to get/stay healthy? Yes. Do I want anyone to feel sorry for me? No.
I used to think I was crazy for my beliefs, but now I have realized that there really is no such thing as crazy. Am I a fan of the fact that my brain seems to swing from happiness to wanting me to kill myself? Am I a fan of the fact that, in order to be calm and smiling right now, I meditated for over an hour and walked 3 miles? Am I a fan of the fact that I can’t even work right now, because I’m spending most mornings fighting off panic attacks? Yesterday, the meditation leader told us how she was in the corporate world, then quit to teach meditation. She said she struggled with depression and anxiety. Looking at her peace and calm, I realized that the people who think they are crazy are usually the most sane ones. I think, when you struggle with your own brain and emotions, you find a way to think outside the box. For me, days where I am smiling or even just calm, are gifts. Since going to the mental hospital again, I promised myself my mask stays off, so for once, my smiles are genuine and my words are authentic. It feels like I control my breath every day.
Last night, thanks to meditation, I realized that I’m doing the most powerful thing I can do – nothing. I think we all feel this need to DO, change, fix, everything. Sometimes, the strongest thing you can do is accept that where you are is where you are. That is exactly how meditation works. There is no changing or doing. Frankly, if you are trying to meditate, you are not meditating. There is no point of meditation, there is no goal. Like prayer or exercise (I firmly believe exercise is meditation in and of itself – it’s mindfulness!), it is about putting yourself in the driver’s seat of your body and life. It puts you in touch with what you need. There are so many ways to take care of yourself, that’s why there is no one path, no one person that can tell you how to change your life.
For me, yesterday was as simple as making myself leave the house to join two groups. I connected with two beautiful women, and I know deeply I had to meet them, because they both can teach me, and I can help them. That, to me, is how the world works. People helping people. The coolest part about yesterday was the women that came out saying, “I am so tired of the shit I see on the news…there’s so much anger, and I just want to find a way to change this.” That’s how I’ve felt – I can either rant about the orange faced megalomaniac, or I can smile and believe that the world will get better if people start actually loving and accepting themselves.
I’m not an expert; I’m not a guru. I’m a person who is sick and tired of hating herself with every beat of her heart. I’m a person who began observing that it is impossible to have happiness if you constantly tell yourself you don’t deserve it and you don’t deserve love. I’ve already lived in hell, so I’m not too concerned about my afterlife; I’d rather just make this life count. Namaste.