If you know me well, you know that from a young age I have had some unique experiences in regards to “spirituality”, by which you can attribute many different names. I call them my “meditation experiences,” but they are also called “metaphysical” or “mystical,” or simply just spiritual experiences. However, they happened of their own accord without any particular beliefs or intent to try to bring something about.
Usually what happens is I get a very small picture from my intuition, or a vision of something pulling me strongly in one direction or another. In the moment it’s just enough to allow me a glimpse at a drastically new perspective or world even, but without fully understanding it yet. This then usually marks the beginning of a journey within to reveal the full picture of what my intuition is telling me.
Since having these kinds of experiences, I have been a lot more cognizant of the cause and effect of my life’s events and what they might mean for the bigger picture. I realized that everything truly is a lesson and my entire life’s experience has been such a dance between my human experience and my soul (as it is for everyone, whether we are aware of it or not).
My latest lesson has been such an unbelievably difficult test in balancing letting go into unwavering faith, and its other side: doubt and questioning. It feels as though I’m walking on a tightrope and every day’s outcome is different. It has encompassed some of the deepest emotional pain I have ever had, with at other times, some of the most magical moments. And, it takes me back and forth from periods of sadness and doubt to periods of absolute clarity and seeing the big picture.
During those times I am seeing the big picture, I always feel content in thinking it’ll be difficult now that I’m holding that perspective to spiral back down into doubt or sadness. But no, it has happened every time. Simply because I still have some level of attachment or fear that creeps up and causes it.
So this “tightrope walking” feels like a condensed timeline to learning to absolutely trust in the bigger picture and let go of my attachment to the outcome. It is condensed, because on a near daily basis I am having to release, let go, and have faith in the bigger picture’s story in order to be able to create and sustain my own happiness. It has been a true sink or swim scenario.
It has also taken me from such a sense of confidence and self-awareness I had before, to a place of not quite insecurity but a period of questioning myself and seeing new aspects of myself that I didn’t address or pay attention to before; things that I don’t particularly like.
What has been even more difficult for me still is that this time, it has been a silent journey. I am used to being able to share what I’m feeling with those around me and I do so freely. But in this case it feels futile and almost like I am not supposed to share some of the details of the journey, at least for now.
So while it often feels like I am going backwards in progress, overall I realize I am going forward. But it is just simply not without absolute pain, fear, the humbling of the ego, and a very shaky ground beneath me at times.
Let’s talk about love. For me, this quote by Krishnamurti (philosopher) picks out one of the most true aspects I see in relationships. I’ve thought a lot about love, and what it is. Because for me I always truly believed real love was possible, but I felt that for love to be real, it didn’t make sense that it would just start to go away after you break up with someone. That would mean the love you felt was based on something temporary. Like some kind of conditions or desires they were fulfilling for you. And could we truly call that love?
Being “in love” on the other hand is a bit different because those feelings do fade at some point. Which does not mean they are not meaningful, but shows that you feel something for another that eventually will lose its “newness.” The fact of the matter is that I rarely see true love in relationships, and I believe it reflects the general awareness state of ourselves as humans in this period of time.
Truly loving someone means that it doesn’t come from a place where you only love them if they fit into some mental model you have either of who they are or what they’re doing (or not doing). You’re able to truly let go of those things and appreciate them, exactly as they are!
Truly loving someone does not mean that you need to be bound to them in any way. You need the right timing and compatibility to be committed to someone in a partnership. But you can truly love someone whether those things are in place or not.
It’s also okay if we aren’t sure if we have truly loved yet. I don’t think every relationship necessarily will contain real love.
Sometimes you have to be in a place where you are ready to actively love in that way. This happens naturally when you have come to a place where your ego doesn’t have such a firm hold on you. Where your inner world has expanded beyond yourself to a certain degree to make room for a true appreciation and compassion for others. This takes time. You learn through experience to see how often our ideas of who someone is can taint this as well, so you learn to slowly let go of those to really be able to SEE someone for what they are.I also believe that love is the most fundamental thing between two people even if the relationship doesn’t last.
Too many humans are operating in the world with themselves as the center — so the filter for their entire experience of life (not just relationships) is very much solely about fulfilling their needs, though this is invisible to them at the time. We are used to operating from within ourselves because that’s all we’ve known. But once you get to a certain point in self-realization and awareness, an inner shift will start to happen that will expand your life’s filter to be truly more inclusive of others. This is really a prerequisite to being able to come from a place where we’re not always evaluating something’s value to us based on our mental models but truly appreciating it as it is.
It is normal during our growth phases in life that we NEED to focus on ourselves. But I feel too many stay stuck in that for many reasons. It all comes from within. We must come to know and understand ourselves to begin to make that inner shift.
I’ll tell you many people are very surprised and often confused when I explain that I have been in relationships with people whom even if I’m not with them now, still truly love and care for them just the same. If the love is true and based on the right things, why shouldn’t you?
Two people truly caring for each other and supporting each other on their life journeys regardless of the status between them is a beautiful thing that should always be treasured, because it doesn’t happen often enough.
If there is one thing I could say has been the greatest and most difficult goal I have had to continually work towards, it would be letting go: Letting go when things don’t go your way, when people don’t understand you, when you lose someone you love; or of emotions such as anger, jealousy, or just unproductive thoughts in general. Then there is learning to let go of the all the expectations of yourself and your life that might just not turn out how you thought.
It really is a moment-to-moment practice that increases in difficulty with the more attachments and illusions you have. The more you try to control any circumstances in your life, the more tightly-wrapped and emotionally involved you become; thus it’ll then create more of a mental buildup that you will have to overcome in order to not be disappointed when things don’t go your way.
All of this might be something we understand intellectually, but when it comes to putting it into action, there’s no denying that it is really hard, usually because we get in the way of our own selves.
“Where Did This Anger Come From?”
We have emotions that we have to deal with that can spark up for any reason at all. Our emotional reactions are often telling of where we might have insecurities or a certain perspective of things that might not be allowing us to see a situation as it is. But working through these things takes time and an awareness that it is happening in the first place.
One way I struggle with this is when I’m talking with someone and they aren’t understanding what I’m saying, or I feel like they are criticizing me. My initial reaction might be to get frustrated, and once they see my frustration, the emotions elevate on both sides and the conversation can turn into a fight. To avoid this, I don’t try to fight the frustration necessarily, but simply acknowledge that it’s there and that expressing it won’t help anything. I remind myself as to why the frustration occurs and then try to tell myself things that will de-escalate it.
Letting Go of Negativity
Another example where I had difficulty letting go in the past had to do with how I would absorb myself into the negativity of the world. This is easy to do, because the negativity is everywhere. You can tune into any sort of news source and get your daily dose of saddening news.
Top that with a curiosity for why things happen the way they do, or to try to understand the minds of people who commit horrible crimes, and it can be even harder to not get sucked into this stuff.
Humans also tend to be drawn towards things that are shocking or even violent, which is why so many shows that are full of thrilling content tend to get people hooked.
I used to think that being tuned into the worlds’ horrors (and not avoiding them) kept me realistic and on my feet, but I discovered this was just another illusion. It was just something my fear was telling me, and kept me just a little farther from peace of mind.
The problem is that negativity is draining.
As time passed and I grew a little older (and wiser), I realized that the more negativity I was surrounded with, the more drained I was. I understood the idea of creating my own mind state of positivity, but felt at the time that in order to do that I had to deny the reality of things.
The truth is that you can always be aware of the reality of what’s happening around you, but you don’t have to let yourself be consumed by it.
Additionally, once I became self-aware enough to realize how negativity was affecting me personally, I naturally began to want to avoid it.
Stepping into Self-Awareness
One of the best things we can do for ourselves is strive to become more aware of our emotional responses, accepting them for what they are, and work on managing them the best we can. Often, this will take consistent work and monitoring of ourselves, but the resulting awareness is worth it. Because then we begin to free ourselves more and more in being able to choose how we respond rather than falling into our habitual emotional patterns.
It’s also worth taking some time to think about what expectations we have of the world and of people, and how these might be affecting the way we operate or taking away our energy. Many of us have a certain idea of how you’re supposed to act or respond in any given situation. People are also generally too caught up in what’s socially acceptable and what isn’t. The more we can free ourselves from these boundaries (obviously without being completely unreasonable), the more we can feel out our natural responses and experience internal peace.
Lastly, we should evaluate our lives and see what circumstances might be bringing us down. It’s not worth keeping overly negative people or situations in our life. We need to take care of ourselves and sometimes certain people or situations can affect our mental health much more than is readily apparent.
“In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” —Unknown
I like to write about fear because so many of us are riddled with it in a myriad of different ways. Often we just push it aside or barely are aware that it’s there, lurking behind our actions. Here’s a quote I received in my email inbox from a newsletter recently that falls in this subject:
“Thinking about interior peace destroys interior peace. The patient who constantly feels his pulse is not getting any better.” — Hubert van Zeller
That’s a good quote for the hypochondriacs. Does this sound like you? I’ll tell you it certainly sounds like me! At any rate, I don’t know if this is correlated to my going off of Prozac about a year ago now (after being on it for about ten years), but recently I hit a time in my life where I felt I had so much fear over things that haven’t happened yet.
Not necessarily your paranoid, hypochondriac-fueled fear (although there was that, too), but fear over things like loss, and change. These are normal things to feel fear about — such as the loss of a loved one, fear of the unknown (that’s a big one for me), and especially fear that stems from the feeling of loss of control. But, it was strange because it was such a subtle feeling that was just always sitting with me in the background, and I don’t know what triggered it, if anything.
I kept telling people I’d talk to, such as my best friend and people in my family, and I’d say “I just have so much fear. I don’t know why.” One of them said, “well at least you are aware of it and addressing it now.” While I agreed I was aware of it, I wasn’t sure I was necessarily addressing it just by acknowledging it, but I was hoping that it’d go away on its own. I did know that much of the fear was a general feeling out of control; as though acknowledging my place as a tiny pawn in the universe, and the universe could pull me any direction it wanted without me being able to do anything.
Fast forward til a month or two ago, and I was faced with a situation that made some of my fears feel more real. As though some of what I had feared was about to come to fruition, but it hadn’t quite yet. It was more like just a threat. But it made me take on the experience and contemplate it entirely; almost make myself live the reality of it in a sense (my brain off Prozac is good at putting myself in situations and living them out as though they were actually happening).
What this did for me though, was put me in a place where I had to actively deal with my fear. I had to think about it and come to terms with it. To practice letting go. I meditated on just that idea. I pictured myself being released into the vastness of space, over and over again. I also contemplated on the situation at hand and what I had feared for a few days, and then one night for a number of hours. I ended up crying really hard during this time, but it felt like such a release.
Ever since then, I’ve felt no “in the background” fears like I did before, whatsoever. Like it all disappeared. I suppose the key was realizing that it wasn’t one specific fear I had, but a general fear that manifested through many different things.
If you’re experiencing something similar, try meditating on letting go, and meditate in such a way that works for you. If you aren’t used to meditating or haven’t done it before, you don’t really need to do anything special. What’s important is getting in the mental time every day to deal with your issues. Just pushing them aside will only make it worse.