Is it normal to feel like this? Is it normal to get up one day and feel okay, then the next feel like there's no point?
With our Thoughts we make the world - Buddha
Over the last few years I've been on a journey, trying to piece my life back together after a divorce that completely knocked me. And cliche as it may sound, this made me look at life in a much deeper way. It made me pay attention to the things I'd not noticed before.
From this I started to delve into Buddhism and Mindfulness. Just to clarify, Buddhism was not something new to me, I've been interested in Buddhist philosophy from a young age. As part of my journey I started to practice meditation. I soon came to discover that contrary to popular belief, instead of finding peace, meditation was taking me to places I never expected.
After three years of constant work on myself and a daily routine of meditation, it suddenly hit me. I'm not okay, there's something wrong with me still! It was a pretty disappointing realisation, I mean how much work must one do on themselves to finally be rid of all that baggage?
So I started to pay attention to the feelings that were coming up, really listening to the root of the feelings. I began to see the same question from the people I work with, the one's I'm trying to help get through their own trauma, pain and suffering. That same question:
What is wrong with me?
This "what is wrong with me?" question starts from us feeling uncomfortable, sometimes it manifest into something physical, like anxiety. Your heart might beat faster, your breathing may become heavier or maybe it's just not being able to focus. This feeling of something being wrong does not escape any of us.
So I guess the better question is........
What is Normal?
If we are all unique then my intelligent response is that there is no such thing as normal. We are who we are, we think the way we think, we behave the way we behave, we are just this, just this person.
So why are we thinking something is wrong with us? Why are we trying to be something we are not? And why can we not just see that this is a passing feeling, a passing thought. It is not me, it is just passing through.
All that we are is the result of all that we have thought - Buddha
If we think there is something wrong with us, eventually we will believe it. That's just how it works. On the other hand those that always blame others or see the fault in others because their belief is they are perfect, are probably in a much unhealthier place. They have a lot less self awareness than those who at least have the courage to look within.
No one is more dangerously insane than the one who is sane all the time - Alan Watts
How can Mindfulness help?
After working through my feelings, my thoughts and looking at it from the perspective of my clients, I came to the following conclusions.
- First we have to accept ourselves as we are, at any given time. And that can be different moment to moment. Self acceptance does not mean we give up, it just means we accept things as they are at that precise moment. From there we can work on facing whatever comes up.
- We cultivate our self compassion. There is no need to be harsh, critical and set such high standards for ourselves that we will fail anyway. Accept that we are just human beings, not machines, we have a heart that feels and as such our emotions will change. One minute joy, happiness and the next sad. Such is life.
- We have to gain a deep understanding that nothing stays the same. In Buddhism this is called "impermanence" and it is such a fundamental teaching. The truth is we are constantly changing, things around us are constantly changing. How can we possibly think we can be happy all the time or that we can be okay all the time?
And finally what does it mean to be happy? To have a more constant feeling that everything is just as it should be? That actually I am okay?
Well it is simply learning to accept that just like everyone else, we have days when we are down and days when we are up. We suffer, we have joy, we live in this human body of constant change.
Resilient happiness is walking evenly on uneven ground