I have a deep desire to know “why” I’ve turned a blind eye and ignored red flags, allowed mistreatment, and survived instead of truly living for the majority of my adulthood. I want to know “why” I’ve repeated the same dysfunction over and over, even when I knew it wasn’t good enough and knew I wasn’t happy. My quest for answers has been a beautiful and painful journey. I’m so thankful for counseling, heart-felt conversations with my closest friends, journaling, and silence, although it’s taken me the longest to appreciate quiet time with myself. When I was in the trenches of change, and feeling extremely lost and broken, I feared being alone because sitting with myself meant I’d have to feel all my hurt. There was so much pain inside of me that sometimes it literally took my breath away, so I lived from one distraction to the next, and while I ignored my complex internal crisis, I made some positive, practical changes that were valuable in my healing journey, but true change didn’t come until I faced my tornado of emotions head-on. I visualized all the loss, hurt, cruelty, and disappointment bottled inside me like an out-of-control windstorm, while my mind was full of “what ifs” and “whys”, and my body was physically exhausted from moving from one day to the next pretending that I wasn’t dying on the inside. The first time I meditated I was uncontrollably sobbing on the floor within minutes of attempted focus on my breathing and a desperate effort to not think. I was so tired of being lonely and feeling unwanted, unloved, and unworthy of happiness, that I was afraid of feeling more pain. It was like opening the floodgates of my soul, and with the brave decision to sit in silence and embrace my emotions and thoughts day-after-day, I found answers to questions I hadn’t thought to ask, peace, forgiveness and a truer sense of self than I’d ever known. This practice was painful in the beginning, and I often had to force myself to sit quietly for long enough to clear my mind and feel, but I quickly learned that embracing my hurt came with clarity, and through acceptance I was able to release pain I’d been holding onto for years; pain I’d allowed to become my identity.
It’s been years since that dark time, and often my meditations are calming, peaceful, and rejuvenating. But sometimes I still experience a wave of emotion and feel heaviness that needs some attention or release. My first reaction is always to question it: “where is this coming from?” or “I thought I’d already dealt with this?” or “why is this coming up again?”. I have to remind myself that every feeling doesn’t need to be defined, that there isn’t always a known “why”, and that the experiences of the past can be studied, embraced, mended, and forgiven, but they’re still apart of who I am, and sometimes they just show up. No explanation needed. So I shed a few tears, hug myself, whisper affirmations into my hopeful and sometimes heavy heart, picture my spirit like an eagle soaring over mountain-tops, dance, and give thanks for my journey. I’ve learned to not resist the hurt, sadness, fear, loss, and loneliness when it shows up, and amazingly the emotions leave as quickly as they arrive. Even more, when they’re embraced with a spirit of acceptance, the result is always a deeper sense of self-love, peace and gratitude.
Do you sit in silence with yourself? Do you listen, pay attention, and embrace your feelings? The longest relationship you will ever have is with yourself, and the person who can know and love you best is yourself. Call it meditation, or quiet time, or prayer, or a breathing session; you can even release your mind of clutter while stretching or dancing. . . I love adding movement and visualization to my meditation practice because I experience a connection between my mind, body, and spirit differently when I’m free-flowing and guided. Start wherever you are, in whatever form feels safest, and be brave on behalf of yourself! I have faith that you’ll grow in special and unexpected ways, and discover a deeper sense of self, appreciation for who you are, and gratitude for your journey through life. Be silent with yourself and see where the practice takes you.