So, it’s less than 3 weeks before we set off to Thailand and the last month has been a roller coaster.
Have I been anxious? Very!
Excited? Yeah, but it comes in and out in waves. I think with everything that was going on (ie. the planning, preparation etc), subconsciously, I must have felt like I couldn’t quite give myself over to the emotion or I might lose focus.
Afraid? Fear feels like such a strong word really, but I’d be lying if I said the uncertainty of it all didn’t impact me in some way. But I think for the most part, since this is something I’ve wanted so very, very VERY much, the realization of my dream has outweighed the potential fear of risk.
But don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I haven’t had many opportunities to worry. And this is where overwhelm tends to step in.
This time around though, things have been much different. And it’s kind of funny because when I consider all the circumstances surrounding our trip and all the things that needed to be sorted out, it’s highly likely for me to go batty in scenarios like this. But it didn’t and meditation has played a huge part in preventing that…HUGE.
I’ve been meditating daily now since the first of the year, mostly because I thought it would be a good way to help me manage my thoughts. I think a lot. To even say, ‘I was an overthinker’ would be an understatement. I analyze and assess everything. I even think about why and how I’m having the thoughts I’m having while I’m still thinking them. Where they were coming from, when they started? Sometimes it was fun but mostly it was exhausting.
And my feelings? They could own me in mere seconds flat. Of course not all the time, but it was the moments when they did that I desperately wanted to change. The times where my elephant managed to possess the reins of my rider (Never heard of the controlling elephant? Read this)
Meditation was a place where I could think without my feelings maintaining center stage. I still thought a lot. During meditation, my thoughts would bounce off the walls of my head like a…dang what do you call that game again where you smack the balls with those little levers and it moves around? Ah yes, the pinball machine – that game! The menagerie of thoughts in my head were so chaotic that in the beginning, I sincerely questioned what benefit meditation could hold for me or I for it since I couldn’t manage to slow down my mind.
What I didn’t understand at the time is meditation isn’t really about controlling my thoughts, it’s about watching them, seeing them, noticing them. Now that was something I could do! A place where I could finally have the upper-hand because of course, I noticed my thoughts. I couldn’t help but be aware of them with all the self psycho-analysis I was constantly knee deep in. The problem was, I just couldn’t help but get sucked in by them.
Now you might be asking yourself, ‘If meditation is just a place for me to do what I’m already doing (thinking), the very thing I want to be doing less of – where’s the benefit?’ I know, right? I asked myself the very same thing!
But meditation taught me two things:
- Firstly, How to notice my thoughts without judging them. That right there tipped the scales for me because when I had negative thoughts, I was generally beating myself up for them or trying to deconstruct the crap out of them so I could figure out how to get rid of them. Meditation allowed me to observe them without being infused with the emotions.
- Second, How to redirect my attention away from my immediate thought. This was huge for me because it helped me to really embrace that I wasn’t my thoughts or my feelings for that matter. I was the undercurrent carrying both. They could pass through me, but they weren’t me and since they weren’t, I recognized I had a choice. With that awareness, I could shift my attention. I was trying to explain how I felt to Nate one day and shared this, ‘When raw emotions hit (like rage, frustration, panic, anxiety, insecurity), I used to see myself as the rushing wave or being carried by it. Now, I see myself as the water and those emotions are like the debris floating through it.’
The neat thing is, the real magic for me happens outside of meditation. Understanding that my thoughts and feelings don’t define me, I know I have the ability to use them to my benefit just as much as I have the ability to avert their effect. So when the overwhelm hit – the uncertainty of knowing whether we’d find a tenant in time, or the worry wondering if my mom would be ok while we were gone or the list of things to do, to buy etc, (not to mention discovering part way through the process this past month, that our decision to leave for 5 months was going to turn into us leaving our home forever, but that’s another story LOL) – the feelings didn’t own me.
I want to be clear too. There are times when there’s chaos all around me and thankfully, I don’t feel a thing. This is not one of those times. I felt everything, I’m feeling everything buuuut (and this is a big but for me) my feelings don’t have to change for me to function.
You don’t have to overcome emotions like fear in order to act. You don’t have to eradicate them, dispose of them, rid yourself of all worry and anxiety or even feel courageous. No matter how small or miniscule your faith is in comparison (maybe it’s so tiny you can’t even see it), in the face of feelings that seem insurmountable, you can still act.