My Journey to the Present
This year I have decided to learn more about meditation and put it into practice in my life. The reason I want to do this is that sometimes my thoughts race about the past and the future, and it puts me into a tailspin. Intellectually, I know that all I really have is this present moment. This moment right now at 7:45 AM on Saturday morning. This moment of sitting on my bed, drinking my coffee with my computer on my lap and typing out these words for you to read. In this moment, my dog is happily chewing his bone next to me. My window is open and I can feel the cool morning air and see the sun trying to peak through the misty ocean fog.
But this moment was years in the making. My studio apartment with large windows that let the light shine in, and a large balcony where I can see the ocean across the street from me used to only exist in my dreams. For years before I moved here, I used to come and visit when I lived in Portland Oregon. I used to sit on the balcony of the hotel and look down on the houses, apartment buildings and the cars driving busily around the streets and I would ask myself, ‘How?’ How do I become one of these people?
I felt peaceful and happy every time I visited Southern California. And more than that I felt like I belonged. It is a feeling I can’t explain, I just knew that next chapter of my life would be here. And so when I got offered the job to transfer here, I wasn’t really surprised. I just thought, ‘Ok, it is time to go!’ When I was looking for places to live, as soon as I walked in this apartment I knew I was going to live here. I saw it at 9 in the morning and I told them I wanted it. I cancelled all my other appointments to see places because I knew this was my home.
For the first week of living here, all I had was a gel mattress and a blanket from Walgreens because my bedding from Amazon arrived late and I didn’t bring any furniture with me. I started my job 3 days after moving here and between moving, starting a new job, and being on the brink of a divorce I did my best to hold it all together. Looking back, I see how fragile I was. But I tried to hide it, and put on a brave face.
My co-workers slowly started to become real friends, and I eventually told them the truth about my situation and they offered their support. They made me feel welcome and supported me without judgement. I started to relax into my new life. So in February, I decided maybe it was time to date. So I downloaded ‘Bumble’ and headed out on my first date in over 20 years. I wasn’t even sure if I was attractive. My self esteem when it came to men was crushed, as I had spent the last few years pleading with my Ex to pay attention to me. But, slowly after putting myself out there for a few months I started to feel better. Men did find me attractive, sexy, and interesting. I was so terrified of rejection, I just didn’t know if I could take anymore after what I had been through. But I soon learned that I could out myself out there and not be rejected, and I started to have fun with these men that would go out of their way to impress me. It felt good!
I needed to date. I needed that outside validation. I needed to know how others perceived me. I needed it in order to start to erase all the negative messages about myself that I received in my marriage, that I knew weren’t true but couldn’t get out of my head. I still don’t feel like my self esteem is where it should be, but it is better than where it was. I am at a neutral point now where I don’t feel like I need that outside validation as much. And I am at a point where I feel like I can start to do some deeper work.
That is why one of my goals this year is to make meditation part of my life. I was scared to delve too deep into it this past year. I wasn’t ready to sit alone with my thoughts for too much time. I was scared of what those thoughts were, and what mood I would be in after examining them. So chatting with men on dating apps, watching Tik Tok videos, and watching Real Housewives reruns took up a lot of my free time. I still wanted to be distracted. But I deleted the dating apps a few months ago, and I deleted the Tik Tok app a week ago, but I still watch Housewives, can’t give that up yet! But just deleting those 2 apps freed up a lot of time. So,I started taking longer walks by the ocean, I started listening to meditation music, and I started a stretching and abdominal work out where I focus on my breathing.
Also,I started reading a Yoga Meditation book. (Everyday Yoga Meditation by Stephen Sturgess) Well, I am trying to read it, but I just keep reading the same couple pages every night about the 5 Yamas. Yama means restraint. The first Yama is non-violence, being kind and respectful to all living beings, including myself. The second is truthfulness, being true to myself and others. Third, is not being greedy or envious. Fourth is conservation of vital energy, which is called ‘walking in the presence of the divine’. I love this one! My vital energy is so important, and something in the past I used up and gave away in all the wrong ways. Last, is non-attachment; not being overly attached to external objects, not trying to control other people. Meditation practice is not being too fixed on results, instead accept and move forward with what comes.
I keep re-reading these pages because there is so much there. So much! I can read over it in 5 minutes and say to myself, yes of course all these things are important. But do I really feel them and live them? Am I really taking the time to integrate them daily into my life? I agree that I should do all these things to live a more relaxed peaceful life, but the truth is I don’t do them. I am a results driven person, I don’t conserve my vital energy, I am not respectful to myself on occasion, and I am overly attached to what others think of me.
I can’t read these few pages and change instantly. I have made so many changes in the past year but so many of those changes were about unwinding and getting away from a toxic situation and rebuilding my self esteem. They weren’t about how I want to live the rest of my life. So what do I want?
I want to be kind to myself and others, I want to share my truth and bond with other people that understand where I am coming from, I want to have deep relationships of honesty that change who I am for the positive. I know Meditation is just the beginning of these changes, and I know I can’t change overnight. But knowing the things I have accomplished this past year gives me confidence. I have the power to create a new peaceful space for myself, make new friends that understand my struggle and accept me, and date men that appreciate what I have to offer.
I can’t change the past no matter how many tears I shed, I can’t predict the future no matter how many planners I fill out with long ‘to-do’ lists, I can only try and integrate those few pages of my yoga meditation book into my life a little each day. Just like sitting in my current peaceful space took years to become reality, so my future present moment depends on what I do today!