Gratitude and Humility from Strife and Other Ramblings

“Humility helps us to realise we are one among many mortal and limited human beings.”

  – Sister Stan, Mindful Meditations for Every Day.

If there is any upside to being driven downside by life, it’s the opening gateway for a reduction of ego to enter.  

This month, my bank card had been skimmed, my car trouble was costing me more than I could afford and I had done my shoulder and back in from training and had to cut back on exercise.

It had felt like the universe was pushing me back, and snapped me out of a belief that my life would just be smooth from here onwards. I had acquired this thought from how bad my past has been and that I was due in high credit with life.

That belief may be skewed.

Aside from the emotional turmoil it caused me, being squeezed between not having enough money potentially to get through the month and body pain on a daily basis that I’d never experienced before, something broke. A sobering, a realising, a maturation of accepting it and sucking it up.

Knowing my value as a person wasn’t reduced because of what was happening to me over what was beyond my control (mostly) was key, but I also began thinking in new ways to survive and get through what was happening. It caused me to be adaptive and let go of my attachment to self-image, particularly in how I’m seen by others and to shrink my focus to how I see myself and making that the priority. 

Nothing like bad stuff or a disaster to really bring you home to yourself.

Gratitude

I realised that gratitude was something I had been lacking recently, not paying enough attention to what I have and just wanting more, despite it taking me the guts of over 10 years to get me to the place I am today. Being so well-rounded and achieved today, it’s easy to get caught up in present-day established self, and forget the past self who laboriously worked hard to push for today’s dream.

And that’s what I forgot. 

I started expecting more, getting too comfortable and settled into where I am.

But the warrior’s journey is never done, and I think that was the message sent, loud and clear.

I forgot about the joy gratitude brings, I forgot about the freedom and simplicity of humility. I forgot myself in a way, and traded possibly one of the best parts of me for a comfortable, higher-class living person that doesn’t really fit with who I am.

Who I am is who I was and who I am today. It’s the marks of the past I’ve forgotten that add up to the person today.

  • My humble days of travel and alone in a world of foreigners. 
  • My days of despair and aloneness living in a home environment of addicts, thinking it would never be over, that my life was over before it ever began.
  • My studies and my overwhelming level of commitment to rise about what was handed to me, knowing my very survival depended upon it.

This was the girl I’d forgotten about.

Perseverance, self-discipline, steadfastness, stubbornness, courage, determination, self-resourcing.

I may be operating on a higher level of living, but that doesn’t mean these traits go away or are made redundant, they’re skills in the back pocket for more typical adult-day scenarios.

I’m still a person with the same vulnerabilities as back years ago, and that girl has never left.

Photo by DJ Johnson on Unsplash

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Ok to Not be Ok

I honestly don’t know how to start off this topic, because a fear, a doom has hung over my head the past few days. A dark cloud of defeat. Defeat with work, with new arising problems, with life.

I’ve found that regardless of my attempts at combating these challenges, there was a deep despair of the future. So much so that even weekends and time off work were ruined by this could hanging over my head. The present surrendered and forgotten in the face of fearful future, of ‘will’ or ‘could be’ in my tricky work situation. It sucks from me relaxation with myself, my attentiveness and power to focus presently.

Anxiety makes me unproductive, a higher likeliness to make mistakes is present and overlook certain facts on situations and be generally more forgetful. My brain reduces as the amygdala takes over, and I’m not myself. Trying to smile and have ‘normal’ conversations with people without coming across as strange. I try to fake it, but at work it’s too difficult to hide, my co-workers know me too well.

Frustrated, I went for a jog today as a recent injury meant I couldn’t go kickboxing, but I needed a bodily outburst so I sprinted hard and fast until I could barely take another step, and collapsed under a tree in the park.

Heaving in the silence amidst a backdrop of chirping birds, and wandering conversations, I watched a particularly large tree with branches shading above the pond, huge green clover leaves spread out like a thousand hands. It was here that everything I’d been trying to ‘fix’ the past few days came pouring out of me – money stolen from my account, beating myself up for not being able to go kickboxing, blaming myself for being overlooked at work and not doing enough about it, and a string of other things. I wasn’t ok. It was the first time I’d admitted it to myself. Furthermore, I accepted that I wasn’t, not just mentally but feelingly too.

I closed around it and owned it. 

I left the park eventually and went home, feeling more peaceful than when I had entered.

The anxiety and fear lingers and no, I don’t want to go back to work – you know why? Because I don’t believe I am capable of handling what I’ve been given to do. Because I think I’ve compromised myself by not being on my own side there and not practising self-compassion. Because I don’t think I coordinate with my team members when I should because I lack courage in the moment, because I overthink.

It was the one really helpful thing for me to do today – to be ok with not being ok. To give myself the space, mentally and emotionally, to admit and house that. To face it as an adult and treat it delicately, not like a disease.

To own it wholeheartedly.

I don’t profess to know the best ways to combat anxiety, but I know that it festered more due to my rejection and chosen ignorance of it.

Accepting oneself as human I’ve seen, is critical to confidence development and living a full life.

Featured photo by Fernando @dearferdo on Unsplash

Meditating Hungover

I know it’s a strange topic but if you compare it with people who take LSD or some other drug, could taking alcohol enhance your meditation experience also? I mean, you would think it wouldn’t because inebriation means low focus and concentration.

But what about if you’re hungover?

On a pretend meditation Richter scale, I would get to a level 3 after 45 minutes of meditation. This morning after a night out I sat down and felt a whoosh of oneness with everything instantly enter my conscious awareness, universal sensations and an ‘om’ stillness that could take ages for me to get to. An inner serenity that was just there as soon as I sat down on my cushion. There was no fishing for it, it was instant.

I shot straight up to a level 9!

I had meditated just before heading out the night before for nearly an hour and I wonder if this impacted my elevated meditation the following day.

I also wonder if the low feeling of being sensitive combined with the resting of meditation produced this deep experience that is otherwise difficult for my mind and body to reach.

I thought it was super cool, although I don’t recommend excessive drinking to reach that high plane! But I thought it was pretty interesting how it unexpectedly happened.

In addition, I had one of the most vivid dreams I’ve had in a long time too that night when I got home and I’m thinking the unconscious is perhaps more active/influential when the conscious mind is, let’s say, a bit indisposed.

If the barrier was lowered, maybe that’s why my meditation was so powerful.

Anyone experience anything like this? Do you think it’s true that being hungover could actually help mediation?

*Photo by Ksenia Makagonova.