Many a time, I hear friends go, “My stress levels are through the roof! It’s time to go for yoga and meditate!” I smile and offer some words of support. Of course yoga and meditation are great things to practise. But to truly feel better over the long run, there’s loads – LOADS – of inner work to do.
Typically, the road to healing starts from the pits, the lowest of your lows. Some people term this the “dark night of the soul” – a phrase which has its roots in Roman Catholicism – that essentially means a spiritual crisis leading to a union with the divine.
It could stem from anything. Massive unhappiness or lack of fulfilment even with material success. An abusive relationship (not necessarily between lovers). A deep loss. A crossroads in life. An event that has poked the hurt inner child in you. Anything.
For me, it was a massive existential criss that happened after the birth of my second child – this was close to four years ago. There was major dissatisfaction and confusion over my life path. I had no idea what intuition meant because my mind was constantly engaging in negative chatter. I was quick to respond to emotional triggers – sleep deprivation from caring for a baby didn’t help. My inner and outer life was a mess.
Since then however, things have really turned around, thanks to help from several teachers I’ve seen and certainly an open-minded and supportive husband. The healing journey was not a straightforward one – it never is – because you’re stepping into the unknown and completely shifting your position on everything (this is not an exaggeration) you’ve ever known.
If you’re at this point where you are consciously trying to manifest more joy in your daily life, it’s important to release all expectations of how it might go. Here’s what I learnt personally over the last few years, and hopefully it’ll be of use to you.
- There is no room for guilt
“I’m living a comfy life. I shouldn’t be complaining or feeling unhappy.” I was certainly thinking this a lot in the past. While you’re not living the worst life objectively speaking, that doesn’t mean your suffering isn’t real. To start to heal, you need to first acknowledge the negative feelings WITHOUT JUDGEMENT. Try to figure out where it’s coming from and avoid responding (e.g. arguing with someone) because of the trigger. If you squash your unhappiness back into the stomach, it will rise up again stronger in time.
- Healing happens spiritually, mentally and physically
A spiritual awakening happened for me when I saw a psychic for the first time, and after I started reading articles and books on the matter. In doing so, I also got interested in woo woo stuff like tarot and crystals on top of Reiki and meditation (which I’m still struggling with TBH).
The only downside to all these is that you may wind up with your head in the clouds 24/7. It is crucial to exercise your analytical mind and take only the learnings that you resonate with. Even Buddha encouraged his students not to take everything he said at face value. Given the crazy world we live in (read: high costs of living), there’s no way you can denounce the world and go hide in a cave to meditate – imagine the immense amount of suffering this will bring to your family. I believe there is a balanced way to approach spirituality.
What is equally important is adopting some kind of movement practice. Whether it’s yoga, qigong, running or zumba, exercise is so helpful in moving stagnant energy, clearing the head and keeping you present in your body. (Grounding is so important when you’re trying to open up your crown and third eye chakras.) We haven’t even gotten to the benefits on your physical health – so just get that ass off the sofa, will ya?
- To heal doesn’t mean you will be happy all the time
We are humans, not puppies. Healing means you respond less to emotional triggers – what used to affect you negatively can now slide right off your shoulder. But there will still be tough and stressful days. These are the times you will need to call on all the tools in your spiritual toolbox. Whether it is stopping midway through a task to take deep breaths, having a good cry, doing a longer Reiki session or pushing yourself harder at the gym, knowing your best ways to cope will help you rise above the challenges that the universe throws at you.
- It takes time
Healing doesn’t take place after two classes at the yoga studio. It is a long, arduous process that will last till your last breath on earth. Sometimes, regression can even happen – life can throw crap at you right? But push on anyway and be kind to yourself.
- Healing doesn’t happen in isolation
At the risk of offending some people, you can’t meditate your way to a better life. We are all entangled in a massive network of family members (some we like, some not so much), friends, co-workers, neighbours, strangers on the street, etc. Over the years, we all get conditioned into accepting certain beliefs that may or may not be harmful to self-worth and the measures it’s pegged to (like life’s good when you’re rich/thin/popular, no?).
You get a crack at joy when truly, you start shifting your relationship with yourself, the people around you and the world at large. When you sense positive energetic shifts in your interactions with certain people in your life – perhaps parents/siblings you weren’t close with before, or co-workers who used to irk you, you know you’re probably on the right path. But the opposite can also happen. Newfound beliefs can lead you to fall out of step with old friends who prefer to dwell on the negative. This is when you have to make space for yourself to grow and decide if some friendships are worth keeping.