2017! Wow, what a year it's been! Honestly, when this year began, I really had no idea the journey that was ahead of me, and if I had, I may have just turned and ran the other way! I'm totally kidding, but seriously, it's been kinda crazy!
I've had some major upheavals/changes in my life, one of which was making the decision to take a step back from organized religion and focus more on deepening my connection to my higher power in my own way. This was a huge step for me on my spiritual path, because learning to trust my own intuition, feelings, and beliefs was super scary after spending my entire life in a very well structured organization where everything was laid out for me. But entering the wilderness of finding my own beliefs has forced me to get uncomfortable, to explore different ideas, and learn to embrace uncertainty while still moving forward.
I posted a short video of my process on my Facebook page, and was blown away by the response I received. So many people could relate to what I was experiencing, and their stories have inspired me to keep going on this journey and to keep my mind and heart open as I do. I did experience a little bit of negativity as well, but the positive responses far outweighed any of the negative ones. Danielle LaPorte says it takes courage to change your beliefs. I don't know if I feel that courageous, but I do feel incredibly happy inside whenever I think of the amazing people I've connected with as a result of my decision.
Another shift that took place was a change in the way I care for my physical body. I made a conscious decision to spend more time on rest, comfort, ease and joy rather than worrying so much about what I ate, or counting how many steps I walked, or an ideal number on the scale. This wasn't that big of a shift for me, because eating healing and nutritious foods has long been my focus, and so has making sure my body gets the movement it craves. What changed is that I am finally allowing my body to rest as much as she wants to, to be still more often, and to spend time doing very little or even nothing if that's what feels right.
If you're one of those people who, like me, never really stops going, trying, moving, and improving, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about here. This mainly involved just listening to my body, paying attention to the signals she sends me, and responding as quickly and lovingly as I can WITHOUT guilting or shaming myself for it. That's really the key -- no more shame and guilt. Only love. I think she appreciates it too, because I'm enjoying a huge amount of vitality, energy, and healthy feel-good-ness as a result of this shift.
But I think the biggest shift I've had by far has been adding a daily meditation practice to my life. I have been what you might call a "fan" of meditation in the past, spending five or ten minutes in the morning or evening doing a metta (loving-kindness) meditation or mantra chant. I knew meditation was important, but I often found it hard to take the time to really do it. I also had hang ups about doing it the "right way" and making sure I followed all the meditation rules and regulations. Come to find out, there is no right way, and there are zero rules and regulations! Who knew?!
As of today, I am 84 days in to a 100 day meditation challenge that was created by former stand-up comedian Kyle Cease. I read his book, "I Hope I Screw This Up", and was so inspired by his approach to meditation that I just had to give it a try. I have to say here that I've tried doing other meditation challenges before, and couldn't even make it to the 30 day mark. I usually dropped out around day seven or eight. This one, however, was different. I don't know how or why, it just was. Maybe it was his combination of light-hearted humor and serious reflection, or maybe I was just finally ready. But here's the deal: IT HAS CHANGED MY LIFE.
Here are just some of the incredible changes for me since I started meditating for 30 minutes every day: (I should tell you that Kyle meditates for 2 hours a day, but I'm still a lightweight. I do plan to up my game to 45 minutes very soon though.)
1. No more anxiety. I mean, it's gone. It used to be a regular part of my daily life, something I thought I would be stuck with forever. But it, like Elvis, has left the building.
2. Love. I'm able to love people and life and myself so much easier now, because I'm beginning to understand that we are all just expressions of creativity and love from the universal source. We are all so uniquely different and yet so much the same. At our core, we are love. Each and every one of us. That's the coolest realization ever!
3. Weight loss. Yep, I shit you not. I have lost weight the past few months, without even really trying, and I know meditation is the key factor. Yes, I do choose carefully what I put in my body, and I take excellent care of her every day. Meditation has just been one more boost on my quest to love and honor my body and letting go of weight that is not needed has been the result.
4. Awareness. I am much more aware now than I ever have been that my thoughts, feelings, emotions, and body are not who I am. I am the space of awareness that knows these things exist and is able to care for them, but I am not them.
5. Calm. I feel so calm. I mean, freaking calm, you guys! That has never in my life been something that came naturally or easily. One day as I was meditating, the thought came to me, "Meditating is practicing okay-ness." Somehow, practicing okay-ness for 30 minutes every morning helps me to remain okay and calm the entire rest of the day. It's like a shower for my brain, as Kyle Cease says. Taking the time to be the space for all the crazy thoughts and feelings to arise, knowing that I can be with and accept them, gives them permission to settle down and chill out a bit. It's truly like magic.
That's it! Those are the simple and yet profound changes that have taken place for me this year. I hope that 2017 has been an amazing journey for you as well! I love that as we all grow and learn in different ways, we can share what we know with each other, and be even more enriched as we do. If you'd like to take Kyle's 100 day meditation challenge, go to https://kylecease.com/100-day-self-connection-experiment/.