“If the problem can be solved why worry? If the problem cannot be solved worrying will do you no good.” ― Śāntideva
If there is one thing that held me back for the better part of my life, then it was stress and fear of rejection. I spent my adolescent years, growing up in an environment that took drinking alcohol and consuming drugs for granted, and the idea of healthy living was never on the table.
We all go through some learning lessons in this life, some take longer than others to understand, but ultimately the goal of life is to find happiness within, but when overwhelming stress and fears of rejection are standing in your way — making those first steps can become quite the challenging experience.
I know this feeling by heart, because when the time came to make serious adjustments in my life and leave the old behind, I was left with a turmoil of emotions and big questions as to what my life had become after having had a run of being an addict for more than 5 years.
Little by little I began to pull myself back together. The scars of old friends and lost memories were still there, but having set myself on the path of meditation quickly showed me that there are alternatives in life, such as healthier choices, meaningful relationships, and stress-free living.
When stress has built up.
My biggest fear, as mentioned, was fear of rejection. I know now that part of the reason was because of lack of self-acceptance that I had for myself. Drugs was a convenient solution to forget about my problems, and instead of dealing with obstacles in my way, I would mindlessly spend my resources for temporary boosts of happiness.
Meditation has taught me that happiness resides within, and that it is an accessible emotion available to anyone, all it takes is a little bit of patience and determination to look within as to what are the things standing in the way of your own true happiness.
That is why I want to show you today, how meditation can help you relieve your own stress, and how it can help you to understand yourself better as a conscious human being — someone who is part of something much bigger than just problems alone.
#1: Meditation promotes self-awareness
Self-awareness is the conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires. I recall the amount of emotional turmoil I had to go through in order to break through some of my densest layers of fears, but it also taught me this:
We humans are like a library, before we acknowledge our own self-awareness the library is a complete mess, nothing makes sense. Yet when we tune-in within our inner-library, we understand that with a little bit of organization we can rearrange this library to have everything sit exactly where it needs to sit; just like books do in a real library.
When you become self-aware of your own body and mind, you gain an invaluable tool for organizing your life in a way that resonates deeply with your own heart, and there’s really no better medicine for the soul that being in alignment with the desires of the heart.
For me, this desire ended up being the need to help others understand themselves better, and how they can too, reach a higher understanding of themselves, and the planet that we all share.
#2: Meditation is about breathing consciously
You may go through a range of meditation techniques before you find the right one for you, but ultimately they all come back to a single factor — meditation is about observing your breath.
When you are relaxed, your breath gently flows in and out of your nose. Being deliberate (conscious) with your breathing patterns will automatically calm your nervous system and promote a sense of well-being.
Stress, fears and anxiety promote adrenal breathing which causes you to think that taking big and deep breaths fast is going to reduce your uncomfortable feelings, yet the effect is the exact opposite as you continue to fuel your adrenal response.
Meditation has taught me that breathing should come naturally, it’s a natural function of the human body, and rather than having to force the breaths in and out, we can choose to become mindfully aware of our breathing patterns and how they impact our levels of stress and anxiety.
#3: Meditation brings you in alignment with life
I can’t even begin to fathom as to how many times I have experienced what’s commonly known as existential crisis since having been on this spiritual journey. I think many of us arrive at this point in life after having gone through some challenging hardships.
Drugs left behind a big stain of dirt on my whole being, and eventually it started taking a toll on me. I kept running into questions like “Who am I?”, “What is the purpose of life?” and so forth. Hindsight I learned that these questions helped me to better shape myself as a person, someone who understands the challenges of needing to change, and has allowed me to connect deeper with the alignment of my own life.
I attribute this phenomena to the natural evolution of consciousness as you’re beginning to unravel any layers of security through your meditation practice. The beauty of meditation is that it naturally presents us with that which is holding us back, and with time we learn a way to let go of that heavy baggage that no longer serves a purpose.
Then, things like synchronicity start to become a daily occurrence. You’re suddenly running into situations and people that continue to propel you further on your journey of self-discovery.
You have surely heard of the saying “Being in the right place, at the right time.” — and this is so true for those who remain persistent with meditation, things just start to shift by themselves, and things that used to stress you out in the past are starting to fade in the myst of what was left behind.
Wanting to have a guru in your life to guide you doesn’t always have to be about an ego, as a matter of fact — it’s a beautiful thing to ask for help on this journey we’re all on. When you ask for help, you’re acknowledging a part of you that needs healing, and you’re only looking for ways to resolve issues that you feel is time to let go of.
Alex Hope is a mindfulness teacher with expertise in healing emotional wounds. Over the years of dealing with emotional trauma, he was inspired to start his own wellness project SkillCode — a community of seekers who are dedicated to unraveling their true Self through the practice of cultivating self-awareness.