We all face difficulty and loss. How we cope with it comes down to our attitude to the situation more than the situation itself. Here’s how meditation saved my life, even when all seemed lost.
My accountant looks at me. He’d make a good doctor, telling people they have three months to live. “I’m sorry. I have to advise you to go bankrupt”. My heart races and my head feels cloudy. My fears have become real. Waves of anxiety and nausea are coursing through me.
Accept the unacceptable
You’re alive. Even if you feel hopeless and there’s not much to live for, stick around. Life rewards hope.
Only five years earlier, things were amazing. My main business – a warehouse events venue and a boutique catering company had transformed from a cheeky ugly duckling to a respected golden goose. It was run by an extremely capable and talented team of wonderful people. My pay was good, the long hours were behind me, and I was beginning to enjoy some quality of life after years of over-work. It was harvest time – reaping the crop I’d spent more than a decade growing.
Now, things looked vastly different. A string of investments had turned either stale or gone sour. I was one partner in a four-partner cabaret club, and working long days and nights for no pay. My inner alarm was screaming so loud that making the decision to get out was the only option – with nothing, except a mountain of debt. And no assets.
Breathe. Just breathe!
It will get better – maybe not straight away, and yes, it may get worse before it gets better, but if you keep breathing it will get better.
“I’m not going bankrupt,’’ I hear myself say firmly. My accountant looks at me for a while, the way you look at some adorable, naïve and delusional child. He sees my stubbornness, shrugs his shoulders and decides to not push the point any further for now. How do you pay back debt with no money and no assets? And how do you simultaneously provide for a family of five? With difficulty, I found out.
Get rich quick
Count your blessings. Gratitude is magnetic.
Besides, gratitude is one of the qualities of love. It is medicine, and it feels good.
The first three months were most difficult. It felt like I’d been punched in the guts. Breathing was hard and everything ached. I was depleted from the strain of sinking everything into the venture, and working long hours for free. Although I had always meditated, I had lost touch with the depth and richness of my inner practice. At first I struggled with my busy mind, body aches, turbulent emotions.
Close your eyes. Feel your skin, and the way your clothes, or sheets, feel against it. Feel the air. Notice the breath moving in and out effortlessly. Watch. Observe. Allow yourself to wonder (without thinking), “Who is doing the breathing?” Allow the answer to arise all on its own. Surrender the need to understand. Simply witness.
Little by little, I allowed my meditation practice to deepen. Slowly, it went from being a band-aid to something I enjoyed. Yes, there was emotional and bodily pain – especially at first, but when I allowed it, it revealed a greater and more enjoyable state of being. I noticed that every time that I would brave the pain of my busy mind and hurting body, I was rewarded with a feeling of an inner sweet, cooling balm that soothed the pain, and sometimes even healed it.
Close your eyes. Feel the aliveness and energy within you and all around you. Let greater awareness pour into your body. Let it scan every part of you for tension. It knows where to go – let it. When you find tension, let it be, and allow mindful awareness to pour into that part of you. Notice the sensations as it transforms and releases the tensions and blocks.
Outside of my practice, I struggled with the realities of life. What to do now? Doubt, confusion and lack of clarity were plaguing me while I was figuring out what to do professionally, how to pay the bills, and how to realistically pay back debt. Outwardly, I was maintaining a brave face. But inwardly I was torn. Shame and guilt meant I hadn’t told many people about what was going on. I didn’t want to burden my partner at the time, and definitely didn’t want the kids to worry. I felt alone in my misery. But my practice saved me time and time again. Every now and then, I was even starting to see the shifts in my internal world being mirrored in my external world. This gave me hope.
Keep your eyes open. Soften your gaze. Lose focus so you are not looking at any one thing. Surrender the need to name what you see. Know you are safe. Let your eyes drink in everything. Find the clarity in the blur, without trying, like eyes open under water, or like a waking dream.
Over time, some opportunities started to present themselves. Some of these I hadn’t even considered possible. Money kept aligning in unexpected ways – not a lot, but always just enough. Against all logic, I decided to go back to my first love of holistic health and to study hypnotherapy in a transpersonal-psychology context. I had no idea how I would be able to raise the funds to complete extensive studies. Not only was the course expensive, but I’d only be able to work part time between modules to provide for the family. But ‘something in me’ knew and kept me believing. I was beginning to realise that for great change to occur, we have to ‘be the change’ we wish to see in our life.
Beauty is in the ‘I’ of the beholder
Pick a beautiful object. Look at it. Pretend it is the most lovely, wonderful, incredible thing in the universe. Pour all your loving awareness into it. Now pick something mundane or even ugly, and do the same. Be open. Be prepared to be in awe, to marvel.
The course began. It quickly dawned on me that for me to give it the attention it deserved, I’d have to dedicate all my time to study. It felt like a degree squeezed into a year. Out the window went the promise to my then-partner of working between modules to make ends meet. Not a popular turn of events. Where was the money going to come from? I didn’t know. But somehow I knew and felt that what I was doing was meant to be, was aligned, and would be supported. There was a small voice within that kept whispering, “It will all be OK”. But, I’m human… so I was still lying awake at night with anxiety.
Breathe into your ‘heart centre’, located on the sternum, at the centre of your chest. Find the spot by experimenting. Be patient – it’s worth it, I promise. Breathe in love and joy. Notice how this makes you feel lighter, brighter, and yet grounded. Breathe out love, joy and appreciation. Feel and know that all you truly need is available, only waiting to be received.
The stronger my practice became, the more my life was adjusting to come into alignment with my heart and my soul, although it turned out to be the hardest year of my life. And yet it made me. It transformed old parts of me – changed them beyond recognition – into amazing shapes and forms beyond anything that I could have imagined or ever tried to control. My surrender to the faith within me showered me with gifts – gifts which laid the foundations for all I do and am now. In a lot of ways I died and was reborn.
“Light is an actual energy that is known in the mind, felt in the heart, sensed in the body, and that comes from – and is – spirit.” [Ralph Metzner, 1986]
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