How To Find Your Own Voice
How To Find Your Own Voice
It's easy to forget how powerful a single experience can be in shaking us awake. Lit by the glow of candles dancing across bricks hand-laid a hundred or so years ago, I sat on a cushion with 75 strangers for a night of mindfulness and meditation in a converted spice factory. I'll probably never see any of them again, but it left me feeling the opposite of a night of social media. I felt fulfilled and rejuvenated. When's the last time you said that after spending time on your phone?
I attended with my girlfriend Lindsey. Driving home, Lindsey and I reflected on our experience. She said something that stuck with me. "I've never done anything like that before, but I'm so happy I did. It was a reminder that getting out of my comfort zone is where I really find out who I am."
The noise of the world can be deafening when you take a path less travelled. Society doesn't know what to do with people who stand out. The voices of loved ones can often be the loudest. We love and respect them, so their words dig the deepest. But if you hear something enough (or don't hear it at all), you start to believe it. You begin to see yourself in a different light. It's the difference between who you think you are and who you're capable of becoming. We lose sight that it's a choice. It comes from taking responsibility for the circumstances of our life.
Every day is a chance to draw a line in the sand and say this is who I want to become. This is what I want my life to look like. These are the steps I can take today to make it happen. One side leads to a life of regrets. The other, a life rich with experiences. Hunter S Thompson put it in poetic perfection. "A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance."
The meditation instructor Anthony said something that I think we often forget. Despite being a world of seven billion people, no two of us are the same. Sure we have similar tastes, look alike and go through many of the same experiences, but none of us ever truly see the world through another's eyes.
The benefits of mindfulness and meditation are many, but there's one often overlooked. It helps you hear your own voice. It helps you retrain the mind for those inevitable moments when life is turned upside down. A helpful reminder, because the Christmas holidays are approaching as I write this. We like to think of them as being a time for family and love. But they often end up chaotic and overwhelming.
This event helped us set intentions for the holidays. But really, it was a reminder that we should be setting intentions for everything we do – mindfulness and meditation being the practice to make it happen. Awareness allows us to embrace life, free from distraction, at ease with our thoughts.
Meditation helps you let go of the resistance of what's making your life feel so damn difficult. It's the difference between being a blade of grass and an oak tree in a hurricane. One will bend, one will crack.
I've meditated for a couple years, but this was my first time practising in a group. Closing your eyes with strangers can take a moment to adjust. It's a practice of trust and vulnerability. But to experience something as a collective gave me a deeper sense of connection that was new to me. You can't help but feel connected to something bigger than yourself.
Mystic sounds bounced from the bricks as Himalayan singing bowls made the wood underneath us come to life. A gentle reminder to be present. As did the subtle smell of palo santo – a mystical tree used for centuries by shaman in ritual, prayer, ceremonies and healing. The owner of Love My Mat said that "When used correctly, it helps to create a positive and soothing atmosphere."
It's so damn easy to lose sight of who you are in a world telling you who you should be. But that's not the kind of person the world truly needs. This event reminded me that you don't have to travel halfway around the world to find yourself. Close your eyes and spend some time with a long-lost friend.
PS - If you've never tried meditation before, I recommend the 10-day introduction offered through Headspace. It's free and only takes 10 minutes a day.