It doesn’t matter how or when you end up starting the journey toward mindfulness. We all have different entries onto this path. What matters most is that if it calls to you—please listen. Because it might just end up saving your life….
I’m pretty sure it saved mine.
If you’ve read my first post, then you have some “insight” as to how I first came to find mindfulness. And, yes. There’s a lot more to the story—a decent chunk of which I intend to share in this blog…. But, instead of beginning from the beginning, let’s start from one of the major turning points….
The year was 2009. I was four-years into a mostly-toxic (and often abusive) relationship, living in a new city I didn’t understand, jobless with no immediate prospects, completely terrified—and too disconnected from myself (and reality in general) to do anything about any of it. Strings of screaming matches with my then-girlfriend, massive panic attacks and consistent bouts of debilitating depression were my “normal.” I honestly didn’t believe things could get much worse.
But, of course, they did….
Things came to a head one afternoon when verbal lines were crossed—and then a physical line was obliterated.
Standing there, in the middle of our Hollywood Bungalow’s front yard, blue and red lights flashing…. Tears streaming down my face…. Watching her drive off in the back of that cop car…. I felt like I was standing in the middle of a Lifetime movie of the week. But as surreal as the moment seemed, the reality of it was impossible to ignore.
How the hell did I end up here?…
I woke up the next morning, and the answer was crystal clear: I hadn’t been paying attention to my life.
Ever since my mom passed away (in 2001), I’d been too dazed and confused by the endless slew of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications, additional self-medication and self-denial—to truly be aware of the choices I’d been making and how they were effecting my life (and others).
I knew I had to take an honest look at myself in ways that I had previously been too afraid to do. I also knew that if I didn’t do this—I might end up dead….
I immediately embarked on the process of observing, examining—and then attempting to clean up my life…. I left my relationship, got myself into a domestic violence support group and started attending weekly meditation sits at a local meditation society.
None of it was easy. Most of it was downright painful. But, I stuck with it…and within three months of group therapy, regular meditation practice and gut-wrenchingly honest introspection, something inside of me started to shift. I started seeing myself in new ways.
And, moment by moment, my life started to turn around….
Within six months, I was formally sitting at least once a week and practicing yoga regularly.
Within eight months, I was attending weekly individual therapy. And I was prescription and recreational drug-free.
Although it might seem hard to believe, looking back at that “Lifetime movie of the week moment” in 2009…. I’m grateful it happened.
Because I wouldn’t be where I am today if it hadn’t.
The “acute” adversity I faced was what it took for me to finally start finding my truth.
Almost 5 years later, I’m in a happy, healthy relationship with the partner of my dreams. I’m following my passions. And I’m finally on the path to not only finding my truth—but to actually living it….
“Adversity is the first path to truth.” -Lord Byron
“Compassion isn’t some kind of self-improvement project or ideal that we’re trying to live up to. Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourselves, all those imperfections that we don’t even want to look at.”
– Pema Chodron
Mindfulness isn’t….eating an entire pizza and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s because you’re feeling bad about yourself.
Mindfulness isn’t….drinking a glass or two of wine and smoking a few hits of weed just to help you “take the edge off.” Every. Day.
Mindfulness isn’t….verbally beating yourself up for everything you do “wrong.”
Mindfulness isn’t….passive-aggressively beating everyone else up for what they do “wrong.”
Mindfulness isn’t….staying in a toxic relationship because you’re too afraid to be alone.
Mindfulness isn’t….stuffing your feelings while your mother’s dying of cancer—and then continuing to numb and ignore them for the next ten years because you have no idea how to let yourself feel.
What is mindfulness?…
MINDFULNESS IS WHEN YOU WAKE UP ONE DAY AND REALIZE, IF YOU DON’T START PAYING MORE ATTENTION TO YOUR LIFE—REALLY START BEING MORE PRESENT FOR IT….THEN YOU’RE PROBABLY NOT GOING TO HAVE IT FOR MUCH LONGER.