Recently I decided to do something for myself. I decided it was time to go to a place called The Golden Door. A sanctuary that takes you away from the noise, de-stresses your body so that your mind can spiritually switch on and then continues to feed your soul with wisdom. It was something that was far beyond my comfort zone. I couldn’t leave my daughter for 5 days to – “shock & horror!” – take care of myself right??? But I had gotten to a stage in my life that I was ready to go in to a deeper understanding of who I was, who I wanted to be and really what this thing called life was all about. I guess I’d call it my spiritual awakening. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to declutter, redefine and rediscover myself. Have you ever spent days just doing? Doing lists, laundry, chores, work…. Spending your nights on facebook and social media just flicking past stories at a frantic pace. Not really consuming anything but just passing hours. Well, I have. And after you have a little one, it just gets worse. Why when we become mothers do we feel like our self-cultivating journey doesn’t matter anymore when in fact it is the most important thing we can give our children? Isn’t a patient, present, calm, wise mother so much better at parenting? How do we improve as mothers, wives, friends, daughters, sons, husbands if we never fill up our own tank? When we are never taking the time to turn inwards. If we can never hear ourselves think, – when we have “monkey mind” how can we be the pillars our children need or anyone needs for that matter. In our society we focus in the lists and the money and the stuff and the stuff and the stuff – we are drowning in the fucking stuff. We spend more time making more money so we can buy more, yes that’s right, stuff! Somewhere along the road things got turned upside down.
Fun fact. It has been proven that the high you get from something new (a possession) is very short lived. We are basing all our happiness on things that ultimately don’t make us happy. The quick fix. Ironic much?? We spend so much time wanting more likes on facebook from people we hardly know to validate our self worth then actually trying to work on how we personally feel about our “actual” self worth. And we wonder why everyone is so damn unhappy.
Well, I had had enough. This can’t be living. This is functioning. And I for sure am not going to waste the rest of my life just existing.
So how do we do this? How do we cultivate self care? How do we spiritually wake up? How do we look inwards? How do we feel better, act better, become better? Fill up the tank? Well this is what I learned from my last few days at The Golden Door, from listening to all their teachers. This is how I began to change….
Have you ever looked at a leaf? Like truly looked. If you have you would be aware its powerful beauty -the woven patterns that make up the simplicity, yet, complexity of a solitary leaf. And how a sole leaf is part of something so much greater. A piece in a colossal puzzle that is life. Well, the minute you take in that leaf you are being “mindful” You are taking in something that in ordinary circumstances you would not even take the second to look twice. Isn’t it sad the the earth’s greatest art masterpieces are right there, free, before our eyes and we don’t even pause to look? Well, next time, do stop. Do look. Do listen and touch. And don’t just cease there. Spend as many moments as you can breathing in your surroundings. Your mind will start to be more aware of our complete awe-inspiring world we habitat. You will be present. You will be happier. You will be mindful
There is a huge misconception that doing nothing is unproductive or a waste of time. Well I can personally tell you that when you stop the mind’s constant, mind-numbing, chatter you will uncover solutions, have epiphanies and receive answers to your problems. Sadly, most of our thoughts are not positive and this negative thinking creates deep groves, patterns, in our brains. That is why it’s so hard to change. The brain has been following negative pathways for so long that it’s on auto pilot. And it feels almost impossible to reverse. But you can change, you can feel batter. It just takes one step in the right direction. Meditation will help you. If you have anxiety, depression, concentration issues, stress, it has been proven that this is one huge powerful tool to have in your toolbox. There are many ways to meditate. I have been studying transcendental meditation which focuses on a word (a mantra) you keep repeating. When your mind wonders you gently move it back to the mantra. You can do visualization meditation, breath mediation, there are many ways to get your mind to a deep peace (theta state). Every one can meditate. That’s a fact. If you want to be happier, insightful, have better relationships, be healthier, mentally lighter- run don’t walk towards meditation.
There is always someone worse off than us. Someone with less money, less health, less fortune. And yet we always focus on what we don’t have. Two people can have the exact same events happen to them and both feel completely different about it. Have you ever listened for a day to how many people complain? It’s a chronic epidemic and we feed off each other. Humans offset vibrations. They are the very vibrations that sharks sense when you are in the water. Sharks feel you before they see you. This also works for people. Negative vibrations attract negative people. Practicing gratitude is a simple yet extremely effective technique to improve your life. In the event of a negative experience use your brain like a camera. Focus on the points in the picture that are uplifting. What could you learn, how you could grow, what is the positive from each and every situation. Your brain will start to wire differently and your life will unquestionably improve.
My daughter was born out of a terribly traumatic C section. I have spent almost three years of her life navigating negative emotions towards the experience and my own body- For letting me down, for failing me. My scar has always been an etched indication of a negative experience. Then on one of my days at the Golden door a teacher said, “Why don’t you put your hands over your stomach and say, “Thank you”. “Thank you for taking care of me, thank you for saving my greatest gift in my life and for keeping me safe”. I never thought of it like that. I’d always referred to my body as a hindrance. I’ve never loved my body enough to thank it yet it has never let me down. Self love. How can we possibly love another person if we have no love for ourselves? We need to start gently thanking our body for everything we put it through. After running your body is sore because it is trying to heal you. We are perfectly designed . So spend more time thanking our bodies for keeping us alive and your whole perspective will change.
What has happened to the world? Every time I turn on the news there is more violence, more segregation, more verbal fighting. We are all so aggressively opposed towards one another. We are so adamant that our way is the only way that we refrain from listening. We are not malleable in our opinions and beliefs. So what happens is we begin to shut down to any positive change, especially within us. We can’t learn, we can’t grow, we can’t understand. We are all different yet all so alike. Our imperfections are what makes us perfect and if we can all realize that we ultimately are all fighting for the same thing- happiness, love and hope then maybe we can band together and try to evoke positive change. Compassion, understanding, empathy. We need more of it and it starts with us.
I truly believe that life is a miracle. It’s a miracle that we get to live, that we are here at all. We have this one opportunity to be happy, to be thankful to be open and aware. It starts with a few small steps that will ultimately change our lives forever.
Peace and Love,
Thank you to The Golden Door Retreat Center for changing my perspective and ultimately changing my life.