Photo by kinkate
I have a confession and it might surprise some of you ... even though I was pretty outgoing from an early age, I was not necessarily a happy person. In fact, I was an angry, young woman through my 20's, 30's, and into my 40's. I'm still working on making up for some of the damage I did back then, but that's a topic for another time.
I think one of the reasons I became a seeker as early as my teens (or, maybe even before!) was because I had a sense that something was missing. I somehow knew that there was some deep stuff to discover or uncover. Of course, as I continue my journey, I now know that the wisdom I was looking for went far back in time, however, it's been "new" for me.
So, there I was, a fairly successful 21 year old who was nearly always irritated and annoyed and felt justified in being so. If only other people would get their sh*t together, my life would be better. The voice in my head was either criticizing others or I was beating myself up. Even though I was all for having a good time, I had a hard time loosening up and my sense of humor had a sarcastic edge to it.
When my roommate took a TM course (Transcendental Meditation), my ears perked up. Something about sitting quietly and getting some enlightenment really appealed to me. I was all about being on the go, all the time, yet my soul longed to feel more peaceful. Although I didn't even have the clarity to understand that, I "felt" it on some level. I didn't sign up back then because I was on a tight budget and didn't understand how important it was to invest in my well-being.
By the time I was married and raising three children, I was driven, my discontent was everyone else's "fault", and it wasn't pretty. I won't get into all the details, but I was
headed for disaster and started to really fall apart.
I've been reading the book 10% Happier by Dan Harris, a news anchor who had an anxiety attack while on air and how that lead to his journey into mindfulness. I highly recommend reading it. His story is my story (although I wasn't on air for thousands to witness). I started to frequently feel uneasy, for no particular reason, and I became agitated and distressed more often than not. At the time, it felt like it came out of nowhere, however, like Dan, I came to realize that I had been "in training" for this breakdown for some time.
As much as I knew about yoga and meditation and all the "new age" remedies (that really dated back 2500 years before), I didn't know how to address the impending sense of doom I was beginning to feel on a regular basis.
I'm happy to report that I'm a much happier, more content, centered person since I began this part of my journey thirty years ago. I like who I am much more than I used to. While I've had many, wonderful teachers, gurus, and coaches, the underlying foundation has been using the practice of mindful meditation as taught by the Buddha centuries ago and, in turn, teaching it to others.
The subtitle for Harris' book is:
"How I tamed the voice in my head, reduced stress
without losing my edge, and found self-help that
actually works -- a true story."
I totally get that and this is what I wish for you.