I didn’t realize until I started learning to meditate that I had been an anxious worrier my entire life. Being in my early 30s at the time, I was in a pretty demanding profession that only aggravated these tendencies. These habits served the job well, and but were eating away at me emotionally. As I continued on my meditation journey, my life improved significantly as peace and calm were allowed to reenter my life in 10 minutes segments.
Others were noticing the positive changes and I was happy to share that it was meditation – every single day – that was the source. After several years of meditating on my own I decided I wanted to take my journey further and gain even more knowledge about the topic. While I felt I had learned a tremendous amount on my own, I was drawn to The Chopra Center for additional training by Dr. Deepak Chopra, the late Dr. David Simon, and Davidji.
The thing I was most excited for out of this experience was to be around positive, like-minded people. What I got was so tremendously much more. I eventually advanced and became a certified meditation instructor which opened the door to attend a rather elite silent meditation retreat experience called Silent Awakenings (https://chopra.com/live-events). It was a bit intimidating to think about, but I felt strongly drawn to take part.
Off I flew, yoga mat in tow, from Wisconsin to Monterey, California, for a week long silent meditation retreat with Dr. Deepak Chopra. There were only 100 of us at this intimate experience, which turned out not only to be “silent ,“ but non-communicative. This non-communicative five day portion of the weeklong event was truly life-changing for me on a whole new level.
What is non-communicative you ask? At this retreat it meant you honor all the other attendees’ level of silence during this experience. There was no speaking, very little eye contact with each other, no greeting each other, no physical interaction, no watching television, no music, no social media. The entire point of this experience was to be alone with your self and go deep into your connection your higher power.
What this meant for me, was a lot of time in stillness, in meditation, in happiness, as well as, in tears. We spent our time on the West Coast experiencing the ocean waves crashing on the shoreline as if crashing through any resistance or barriers to our personal growth. Those waves crashed away demons I had held onto for decades.
There was guidance every day from Deepak to help explain what we might be experiencing and suggestions for how to work through it. Mostly from a level of non-judgment and acceptance for ourselves, our past actions, and our emotional responses to it all. It was an amazing and humbling experience.
What I realized in those five days of non-communication was absolutely life altering. There were two key lessons:
• realizing how much verbal communication is ego based versus value added to the relationship and conversation taking place, and
• realizing that I had mistaken a lifetime of self-confidence for self-love.
While the first key realization was easier to assimilate into my new life moving forward, it made me a tremendously better listener and allowed me to grow better relationships both professionally and personally. I realized we often speak to be heard or feel good about sharing our knowledge on something, even though it may not add value to the conversation. It was also common for me to jump into conversations with many questions. This experience taught me to be patient and listen. Nearly always the answer ends up being revealed without me having asked!
This second realization of mistaking self-confidence for self-love is one I continue to work on and feel I have made enormous strides at improving my overall positive life experience. It felt very sad at first when I realized I hadn’t shown myself love for all those decades. My actions were to please others at my own expense. Since then that happens less often, but is definitely something I still need to be aware of as my default behavior.
Learning to treat myself lovingly, which sometimes makes me have to be vulnerable, has resulted in more amazing experiences. Again, for me, showing vulnerability was an ego-based habit and it feels good to let go of that. To just be human instead of trying to be everything to everybody. It has allowed for a major shift in decreasing stress in my life. Thank you meditation!
What I can say is I have felt significantly calmer and happier and more at one with my higher power and all beings since this experience. It only continues to improve over time. I truly believe meditation continues to guide me in my own personal, positive growth during this lifetime, as well as, helping shed light and love throughout our world.
Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.