Life is full of ups and downs, and crises of varying degrees. That was something I used to cope very badly with. I still remember feeling that everything was out of my control, that I was a victim of my circumstances.
And I remember burying my emotions so deep I couldn’t find them, struggling to identify what I was feeling and why. Letting fear prevent me from reaching my potential. Doing things just because I thought they were what I was supposed to do.
Most of us face these challenges, and they aren’t insurmountable. But we often lack the tools we need to deal with them.
Being in your twenties can be particularly difficult and confusing. You’re trying to figure out what you want in life and how to get there. Worrying about where the rent money is going to come from this month. Trying to navigate relationships with people who are equally confused and unprepared. Dealing with all the stuff that comes with being an adult.
One of the most important things I’ve realised is that how we respond to challenges is everything. And to respond in a way that serves us, we need something we can always come back to when times get tough. A toolbox.
What I’ve discovered is that I already have everything I need to respond to a crisis. It’s all within me. And the most powerful tool, for me, has been meditation.
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Been struggling a lot with nerves and anxiety recently. I made this to remind myself to look inward and remember that I already have everything I need… I just need to stay calm enough to access it. . . . . . #art #mentalhealth #mindset #anxiety #stress #bloggersofig #blogger #veganblogger #sketch #drawing #watercolourpencils #wellness #words #motivation #inspiration #personalgrowth #selfimprovement #confidence #mindfulness #spiritual #meditation
When things are really tough, it’s an immense comfort to know that I can always go inward. Breathe, and let the silence wash over me. Watch as the toxic thought loops slow down and then grind to a halt. Feel my mind open up, and peace and serenity wash over me.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve turned to meditation to quiet my mind, and been rewarded with an insight into my problem. What would have happened if I’d instead buried my face in a screen, as I used to do? Tried to distract myself from the problem instead of looking it in the eye?
We all want continuous bliss in life, but there will always be disturbances. Things which catch us off-guard and knock the wind out of us. One minute we’re coasting along, the next we’re in a heap on the floor. These ups and downs are pretty inevitable. But so much of our suffering is self-created. What we do when we get knocked down is crucial.
It took me a long time to establish a regular meditation practice. Even now, I only do 20 minutes day – and it’s not uncommon for me to miss days when I have a lot going on.
But even so, its impact has been clear. Like most people, I’ve faced a few stressful situations lately. And what has amazed me is how well I’ve coped. Of course, these situations did initially leave me feeling low. I experienced some feelings of sadness and hopelessness for a little while. But meditation was like a safe haven which I could keep coming back to. And I found that within a few days, my spirits had lifted and I felt hopeful and even happy again – even though the situation was still ongoing.
The word ‘resilience’ perfectly describes this. Resilience means bouncing back whenever life pushes you down, and coming back stronger every time. And the more times I bounce back, the easier it seems to get.
I use meditation alongside other techniques like yoga, journalling, visualisation, and the law of attraction. Together, they have helped me through my fear of public speaking, a nerve-wracking driving test, social anxiety, and difficult financial situations.
Case study: I used to have a huge fear public speaking. In school, speaking up in class made my heart race. Giving presentations was a nightmare – my voice and hands would shake unbearably. It felt humiliating.
Before giving my first talk at a festival, I was terrified and spent over an hour meditating under a tree in the festival grounds! It helped, and I got through the talk without incident. That really helped my confidence.
Last weekend, I gave my second talk and was surprised to find that I barely felt nervous at all – nothing more than a few butterflies. This was a huge deal for me! In fact, I enjoyed the talk and I’m now thinking I’d like to do more. This feels like nothing short of a miracle.
So my spiritual practice has been instrumental in getting me to where I am – and it hasn’t just helped with overcoming fear, but also with getting me back in touch with my emotions, unleashing my compassion, creativity and generosity, and just generally making me more – well, more me.
I still have a long way to go, but in just a few years, I’ve left behind the scared, withdrawn person I was and started to become the person I always knew, deep down, that I should be. I find myself chatting freely with strangers, smiling all the time, and telling jokes (and people laugh at them!). Whereas I once faded into the background, now people remember me. My once-troubled relationship is now more loving and harmonious than I ever thought possible.
Better still, sometimes I feel so vibrant and full of love and joy that I can barely contain it. And really, isn’t that what life is all about?