I used to crucify myself for being a loser, but now I am much kinder to myself. Here's how I did it and you can to.
I first came across meditation in 1998 when I was 25. I was living in Valencia, Spain, on my study year abroad at Uni. I remember it so vividly.
I remember coming across an article in a Woman’s magazine. It wasn’t a particularly in depth article, just the usual lighted hearted women’s articles, discussing meditation and it’s benefits, but it struck a chord with me. Or resonated with me, as we like to say nowadays.
I didn’t try it until a few months later. When I found myself literally crying over spilt milk.
Retreating to my bed, I led there, taking slow breaths and saying, “Relax” over and over. I spent days into weeks persevering with this technique, then suddenly it happened. 3 weeks in and I managed to create a stillness within me. The thoughts didn’t go away, but I managed to watch those thoughts and let them go by without hooking onto them. I brought myself back to the breath calmly and easily, and that was when The Answer came to me.
I needed to end the relationship with my boyfriend. It was as simple as that.
I didn’t continue with a meditation practice after that, it became something that I would reach for in times of need. But I always had this enduring sense that if I could keep that routine as part of my daily life, my life would be all the more better for it. But years went by and I didn’t really meditate.
(I did turn towards yoga, but that’s another blog.)
It wasn’t until leaving London in 2007, and moving back out to Spain, now married and 7 weeks pregnant with my first child that I was able to focus on both a yoga and meditation practice. I left the UK with a book on yoga for pregnancy, and I practiced it pretty much daily, the poses, the breathing, and the meditations which would create the first connection with my little girl. A little further into the pregnancy I explored hypnobirthing and being very committed to the cause, I deepened my understanding of meditation.
After a successful hypnobirthing experience in 2008 and living a more tranquil life in Southern Spain, I didn’t think I needed to create a sacred space within me. I didn’t feel stress. On reflection, I felt other things, but I was not willing to be curious and explore those feelings. My Ashtanga yoga practice was all I allowed myself, and I genuinely believed it was sufficient.
In 2011 my second child was born, and I didn’t know it at that time, but I was sliding into depression.
I started to toy with meditation again. I remember that I started to feel a sense of hopelessness and I would cry quietly to myself when no one was around. I could only articulate to others that I felt I was in a room which had no door.
I tried to get up before the kids, and on occasions I did but I would fall straight back to sleep on the sofa. I tried very hard to create a sense of peace inside, always remembering that very first time back in 1998, the light bulb moment of what was wrong with me. But I just couldn’t find a sense of peace within, nor answers, and rock bottom was just around the corner.
Eventually it would be with the help of therapists, and not meditation, that I would climb out of that very dark hole.
Fast forward to 2019 and my marriage had completely broken down. We had moved back to London in 2016. I had returned to my career, but I guess our marriage had long gone beyond the pont of no return. Nonetheless the shock of the marriage actually ending, I found myself staring down another bottomless pit of despair.
Two friends recommended a Meditation course for anxiety and depression at the Buddhist meditation centre. I had no choice for I had resumed my practice of sobbing through my days (something I had managed to stop doing since moving back to London in 2016). I signed up instantly and so began 12 weeks of intensive meditation studies. I sobbed through the course and literally tore myself open. I had no choice but to dig deep and uncover every little piece of myself.
I was raw, I was in pain. The family life I had so desperately clung onto for all the wrong reasons had finally caught up with me. (Let me add here, that it’s easy for me to say now, that I held on for the wrong reasons, for I am out the other side. At the time, I was holding on for what I thought I was the right thing to do).
And then it happened, about half way through the course I found that safe space within. A space where my husband couldn’t get to, my kids, my family, my work, nobody. It was deep inside of me, quiet, peaceful and calm. At the end of the meditation when we were asked to share, I spoke up and cried tears of utter disbelief, and relief, that I found my own safe space.
I truly believe that if I had not done this course and not had this intensive kick start to meditation, I would not have got through the 2 years which would follow, negotiating divorce whilst stuck in a little flat together during the global pandemic. Hang on, let me be clear, I would have got through those years, but perhaps not with my heart, soul and dignity intact.
I spent the entire pandemic meditating the shit out of myself each and every day. I went to sleep listening to audio books or podcasts which combined western psychology & eastern philosophy. Every bump in the road I reached for a book, podcast or article which would guide me along the path I wanted to be on, and strengthen my soul. I didn’t want a path of anger, bitterness and resentment. I wanted the path which would guide me, empower me and help me take responsibility for my part to play in this heart breaking and awful situation. I knew I had to find my way to come out the other side a bigger and better person than who I was when I went into the marriage.
Meditation has been pretty consistent for me since then. It can drop off for a number of weeks, but it now bothers me that I don’t have that quiet space in my life. That space that gives me the answers I seek.
I suppose a more spiritually tuned person would say, it’s that space to get in touch with your higher self. Yet funnily enough I still aspire to getting in touch with my higher self, though as I write this, I realise that I probably already have, ‘that space that gives me the answers I seek”, I guess that’s it right there.
I still endeavour to be that person who meditates every single day for rest of my life. I may never be that person, I don’t know. I do know, now though, that I can stop giving myself a hard time during the spells when I am not meditating or sitting in stillness. Life happens over and over again, and work absorbs me and I fall off the band wagon. A few years or more ago, I would crucify myself for being such a loser, but now I am much kinder to myself. And that’s the way I like it. I continue to learn and grow, and I understand that this commitment to change is a lifelong commitment.