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When we think about our emotions, there is usually a knee jerk reaction to the not so pretty emotions like anger, frustration, loneliness and depression, we tend to want to escape them. But have you ever wondered why they are coming up? Are you keen to sit with your emotions and understand their roots? Most people will say no, I know this because like most people I used to be the same way. I never really understood any of my emotions and what their root was, along with misunderstanding my emotions I never truly understood why I thought the way that I did, I felt powerless to my own mind and heart, I didn’t know how to understand myself. I knew and heard of people who lived in awareness and peace and I wanted to achieve that badly but I had no direction. It’s almost like I was sleeping or going through life on auto-pilot, with no real intention or direction, I just put all of my power on outside forces like luck and fate because it felt easier for me to believe that my life will be a series of fateful events, rather than seeing that life can be created through intention and awareness.
As a child I developed a lot of toxic mental habits. I was born in Israel and my family made the decision to move to New York, I was heavily overweight from the time I was 5 years old; and I was overdeveloped as a young girl, to say the least I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb in a new environment. All I wanted was to lose weight so I can fit in with the rest of the girls my age. My mother attempting to help me, started me out on a diet at seven years old and I would have weekly weight-ins, if I lost weight I’d receive a toy, but if I gained weight all I would feel was shame and humiliation. My teachers and principals would always pull me aside in school and make it a point to tell me that what I was wearing wasn’t appropriate for my “body shape”. With all this exterior pressure on me to lose weight and minimize myself, I naturally put even more pressure on myself. I developed an extremely critical and judgmental view of myself, I believed that I was less worthy than other girls my age. I thought that if I would shame myself and speak to myself negatively that it would motivate me to lose weight, when that didn’t work I felt more powerless and that was the beginning of my negative self image. I would tell myself that I was disgusting and that I would never be loved for how I look, I felt so insecure in my skin and I felt like I needed to be punished for being so different. As the years passed and I entered my teens my insecurities grew deeper and deeper. In hopes of fitting in I developed a tough girl and “jokester” persona, I knew people were making their judgements so I figured I’d just joke about the things people were already thinking, that way I’ll be protecting myself and receiving some sort of “positive” reinforcement. Never truly understanding why I acted the way I did, I remember I would always feel bad about how I was acting, but I didn’t know how to stop it, I just knew I wanted to be liked and seen. I continued in this sleep state up until I was twenty three when I had my spiritual awakening, with many different factors guiding me to my awakening. My anxieties and insecurities were so strong that they were affecting my daily functioning, I was so attached to my victimized mindset, I felt hurt from a myriad of reasons in my life and all I wanted was something to put the blame on. Intensely focused on my pain and trauma, wondering why bad things happen to good people, this victimized way of viewing the world was stealing the joy from my life. I reached a breaking point, which was my awakening, where I just felt so exhausted from feeling so sad and tired and helpless all the time, my intuition always urged me that there is so much more to life than this. At that moment I knew that I needed to make a drastic change of direction in my life, so I decided to start a meditation practice.
I started off with five minutes a day of sitting still and listening to nature sounds, and weekly I added more and more time to it. Little did I know the Pandora’s box of wonders that I had just opened, the first two weeks naturally were hard to adjust to, but once I got more comfortable doing it I never wanted to stop. Meditation allowed me to find quiet, but not just good old quiet, I mean stillness in my mind, my mind before meditation was like a racetrack with anxious and fear based thoughts running wildly all over. Finding stillness in my breath, allowed my clouded mind to finally get a break. I felt more awareness, I was able to hear my thoughts more clearly which allowed me to change my inner dialogue. I grew a more compassionate and empathetic heart, I began to see my emotions as tools to better understand what pain lies underneath, what my soul was nudging me to pay attention to. I started becoming a different person, the person I’ve always wanted to be, I became more patient with people and myself, I saw others as equals to me. The more I meditated the more I was becoming the person I always felt I could be. Having a meditation practice does physically change your brain, each time you meditate and focus on your breath you are creating new neural pathways in your brain, neuroplasticity allows us to change our old behavioral habits and replace them with more positive habits.
The benefits of meditation are limitless, I grew a more forgiving heart, and most importantly I was able to understand the traumatizing events in my life and see them as my teachers, along with understanding that the people who have hurt me were all hurt themselves and acting from a place of hurt. Through meditation I found myself, it took away all the unnecessary noise from the outside and allowed for what needs healing to come to surface, so that I can see it, so that I can feel it, so that I can heal it and let it go. Feelings as hard to understand as they may be, they are our truest teachers, whatever you feel is true because you feel it, so I urge you to feel all of your feelings, because when we deny them, we are denying ourselves. Meditation isn’t for everybody, but finding something in your life that can bring you stillness is such a significant factor in finding healing. When you designate time into yourself and become more aware of your thoughts and emotions, you also have the power to make a change in your behavior, you can choose your reaction rather than just respond automatically to triggering situations. Mindfulness and awareness provides you with the opportunity to change your habits and behaviors, it gives you the necessary room to decide how you want to show up in your life and relationships. If you are going through life in a state of fear and hopelessness, I know how you feel and I remember how hard it was to live that way, if you take anything from this, I’d hope you take this, stop running from your emotions, stop neglecting your heart and your soul, we live in crazy times that do demand most of our attention to be placed on others, but you cannot give from yourself if you do not fill your own cup. You are just as important as the people you care for, as the work that you do, you are important and your mental state is important, show yourself a little love and give yourself thirty minutes a day for you and only you, this is an act of love you deserve to give yourself. The wise and honorable guru, Sadhguru, says this “My ability to respond is limitless, but my ability to act is limited. I am one hundred percent responsible for everything I am and everything I am not, for my capacities and my incapacitates, for my joy and miseries. I am the one who determines the nature of my experience in this life and beyond, I am the maker of my life.” Let’s take back ownership of our lives, let’s be active creators of our destiny, let’s co-create and feed our souls with compassion and empathy towards ourselves and our world.