Isn't it amazing how even a photo of paradise can make you feel at peace? But did you know, you can also feel that way by looking inwards? Inside of us is a space untouched by trauma and pain. A space where we can feel safe and protected, so why are we so fearful of moving inwards and simply being with ourselves?
I remember the first time I had to sit in an hour-long silent meditation. There were 12 of us sitting in a circle in a candle-lit cabin in the mountains in Spain. From the moment I walked in I began to panic as I realised I wouldn't be able to leave. Of course I could have, but I was too shy to get up and walk out, so I felt trapped and started to hyperventilate. The only other time in my life that I'd experienced anything like that was when I was scuba diving at 35 metres, gasping for air and wanting to escape to the surface. But how could my mind think this situation was comparable to a life-threatening one?
In my life, I'd always made a point of facing my fears head on by deliberately putting myself in challenging situations like travelling around the world by myself, engaging in extreme sports, moving several times, trying out different jobs and searching, always searching for the next big thing. I thought I was being strong and brave but in fact, all my feats and goals were a perpetual attempt to escape from myself. By making my outer world as stimulating as possible, there was never time or space to listen to what was happening inside of me and that's why I never felt happy or settled. However, all that changed when I discovered Kundalini yoga, as I'd never felt so at home in my life.
Kundalini Yoga allowed me to be with myself in a way that felt natural and comfortable for me through movement and breath. The healing that took place in my body and mind as I continued practicing daily, was tremendous, so I could not have anticipated such a powerful aversion to sitting in silent meditation a year later. It seemed I had even been using my yoga practice as a distraction from my deepest darkest self.
So what did I do in that situation up on the mountain? The exact same thing I did at 35 metres. I negotiated with myself. I told myself that if I gave into my unfounded fear, it would affect the rest of my life and I would look a fool. I was, in truth, shaming myself, but it worked.
Needless to say, I am no longer frightened of sitting in silent meditation and have just completed the 8 week Mindfulness programme for the second time because I really want to get to the bottom of why I was so scared back then and why I still resist sitting with myself.
Well, I can conclusively say that it has had yet another profound effect on my life. I have learned so much more about myself and in identifying my thought patterns, I have freed myself from unnecessary stresses and find myself so much more at peace. Our practice helps us to peel away layers of ourselves that don't serve us and reveal that pure, untouched space inside. It does require work, and sacrifices need to be made in terms of time and commitment, but surely nothing is more important than feeling at peace inside and experiencing your life to its full potential.
So why was I so scared back then? I have no idea? Fear of the unknown is just that. We don't know what's there, so why not face it and find out? Inevitably, it's never as scary as you think. Imagine how much happier we'd be if we could let go of all our fears and just lived our lives open and free?
When we connect with ourselves, our outer world begins to transform and we find our inner paradise reflected on the outside in every way possible. The people we meet, the new experiences we have, the joyful surprises. Even life's challenges reveal themselves to be part of the fabric of our growth and make us a tower of strength for those around us.