For years, I have protectively nurtured the belief that relief from any problem I’m encountering comes from something else. Somewhere else. A new city to live in, a fresh fling, a different job; anything but where I am, how I am, as I am in this moment. And this palpable anxiety of needing a change is sometimes justified. Maybe the relationship is unhealthy. Maybe my mother is psychologically abusive, or the job truly unbearable, my boss demeaning. But since I’ve recognized that both the problem and the solution come from within me and how I consciously choose to experience the present, I’m not so quick to jump to the conclusion that something else is causing my unhappiness, or that something else will relieve me.
I found my answer through daily meditation, but I didn’t find that solution by seeking it. I just started meditating, 5 minutes every few days at first, increasing to 10-15 minutes twice a day, and something within me started to shift. I began calmly considering situations when I was hurt, the same things I used to immediately become defensive or angry over, a shelter to protect my delicate inner child against the perceived attacker. It was all preprogramed from childhood wounds. Things I have kept so close to my heart even though they constricted it like barbed wire, slowly and steadily biting into my spirit and bleeding it of the faintest semblance of serenity. But unlike the 11 years of therapy that asked me to overanalyze my problems in order to find a solution, I focused instead on the light. On the success stories. On the solution. On how to get out of feeling like crap instead of ruminating on how I feel like crap.
At the time I started meditating daily, I was simultaneously involved in 5 different 12-Step programs, seeing a psychiatrist, and bouncing between therapists. I recognized the common thread woven through the fabric of all these paths to emotional relief: meditation. At the end of the Steps is meditation. My psychiatric and the multiple therapists I was seeing all suggested meditation to heal my PTSD. My AA sponsor pushed me to go to at least 2 meditation classes a week. Stubborn as I am, when I finally took their advice, my problems dissolved before me. They ceased to weigh on me. They lost their power when I focused on the light. I stopped talking about the problems, obsessing over them. Listening to spiritual speakers who inspired me and meditating every day, I felt lighter. More at ease.
And that’s when I realized that the abundance I seek is within me. I have no scientific explanation for why this works; it just does. I no longer need 5 different 12-Step programs to calm me down; I calm myself down. I actually rarely need to calm down anymore, because I don’t feel anxiety or stress or anger so drastically. My natural state of being is calm now, and when I deviate from that (which I absolutely do, because I’m human), it isn’t so bad anymore. No more explosions. No existential crises. No crippling depressions. I allow my emotions to exist, but even in giving them permission to, I’ve found they’re not so drastic anymore. I only maintain this because I meditate every single day. 10-15 minutes per day. I look forward to it because it is my fountain, my abundance, the source of my joy. And I had it within me all along, so if I stray, I can get back to it. It’s something no one can take away from me.
When something doesn’t feel right, it’s usually something within me that needs to change, not the thing I think is the problem. How can I adapt? Where can I grow? How is this situation or relationship triggering me? Has this happened before? The Universe will present the same set of circumstances to me until I accept the growth inherent in them and choose to grow from them, to finally heal whatever wound is begging to be healed. Only then do I stop finding myself attracted to situations or relationships that keep ending the same way.
I trust today that the universe has placed me in this moment, this place, this situation, this relationship to learn something from it. My circumstances are no mistake. Instead of feeling drowned by anxiety and fear, I can step outside feeling and view them objectively. As Buddhism teaches, our greatest suffering is that we believe in permanence. “This feeling will never end” I hear the ego rage from within me. But it will. As Marianne Williamson reminds me in her lectures, when I pray for a shift something happens: either the situation will change or my thoughts about it will. Either I will be removed from it, or it will cease to have power over me.
How will you decide to perceive your discomfort today? Life happens; the difference is what we choose do about it.
Disclaimer Charlotte Grey does not claim any professional training in social work or psychiatry. The suggestions listed on this page and on this website are meant to inspire supplemental treatment options for self-help. It is recommended that professional treatment be combined with any solutions discussed herein for suspected or known psychological or psychiatric malady, and that the content of this website not be used as substitute for professional treatment.
writing © Charlotte Grey Writings
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