As I have previously discussed, this last year has been, by far, the most tempestuous of my life. The past few months were certainly no exception. It was only a few weeks ago that I awoke from a several month-long, trance-like frenzy to find myself, in one of the darkest places I have ever been. Disheveled and confused, I wondered how I had landed there. It appeared that a combination of heartache, deception, disappointment and stark realizations about human nature had precipitated me into the depths of melancholy. This seemingly bottomless abyss of resentment, self-loathing and overall pessimism had consumed me and was insatiable in its desire to pull me deeper into oblivion.
It was a comment from a coworker, jokingly referring to me as a pessimist that brought me back. It awakened a new sense of consciousness about my recent state of being. He was right, I had let myself get overtaken by negativity in its many forms. This shook me to my core as it was a trait I had long abhorred and had spent most of my life trying to avoid. Yet, somehow, here I was, haunted by the ceaseless underlying sense of discontent and unease that accompanies this perpetually unconscious state of mind.
Being human and all, my first inclination was to fight fire with fire; negativity with more negativity, as one does. I projected the blame outwards. I blamed my life situation as well as certain people in my surrounding. Those who, I felt, had wronged me. I trusted them and they had lead me astray. They had stolen my joy. They had somehow snuck into my soul and replaced the peace with restlessness and the optimism with apprehension. They had turned me into the worst version of myself. How dare they! I was angry. I spent days upon days, immersed in an endless current of disconcerted thoughts. And what a dangerous place that was.
The vivid disillusionment and exasperation towards external sources soon turned inward. They were not to blame, I was. How could I have let this happen? How could I have let certain people affect me so deeply? How could I have let the big, bad world disturb my zen? How could I not have noticed myself sinking into the all-consuming quicksand that is negativity? How could I have been so weak? I wasn’t a teenager anymore. This was unacceptable.
My mind, being the expert manipulator it was had persuaded me that projecting blame both on others as well as on myself was the natural course of action. As the feelings of regret and betrayal solidified, the resentment culminated within me, destroying any ray of light and reason that attempted to forge a path through the darkness.
Of course, this self-defeating cycle was relentless in manifesting itself in all aspects of my life. Not only was I emotionally and spiritually defeated, my physical being too, was anguished. I was in the worst condition of my life. I was heavier than ever and even worse, more insalubrious than ever. I felt awful and looked it, too.
The emotional unrest could be temporarily numbed by external distractions such as social gatherings, cocktails and Dairy Queen Blizzards but my body was sending me physical cues that were not as easily disguised. My health, as well as mirrors became a merciless reflection of the state my life was in. Perhaps this concrete reminder was exactly what I needed to prompt me to take action.
When the despondency, rancour and self-pity culminated to an unprecedented point, change was no longer a future option to contemplate, but a time-sensitive necessity. Luckily, I was able to take time off work and booked myself into a two-week long health and wellness retreat in Spain. I had mixed feelings about the decision I had just made. I was thrilled about getting back on track but felt overwhelmed by the prospect of making such a radical change. I guess I was afraid. Afraid of the skeletons I would come across while cleaning out my closet, afraid of letting go of the past, afraid that I lacked the strength to pull myself out of this rut.
On the day of my departure, however, I awoke feeling different. I felt peace beginning to reinstall itself in my heart, that same place where it had happily resided for so many years. I could sense that change was on the horizon. The inquietude dissipated and this two week journey took on a whole new life. It became more than a holiday, it was a reset button. A chance to start anew.
Deep within me, there was a knowing. I knew that I had an unparalleled opportunity before me. Now. An opportunity to reinvent myself, to redefine my life. Now. Never had I been so low. Therefore, never had I been in such a position to build myself back up so high. The only way out was up. And up was where I would go.
I spent those two weeks enthralled in the joy of getting back to me. A week long juice fast followed by a week of clean, vegan nourishment and daily exercise assisted me in regaining control over my physical wellbeing. My body became mine again.
In addition, I learned the art of meditation and visualization. This practice of quieting my mind was the key to full acceptance of the present moment. Awe-inspiring teachers rekindled and further enhanced my love for the practice of various forms of yoga. This combination of physical and emotional detoxification allowed a radical shift of consciousness to occur within me. I began living in the now.
In terms of letting go of emotional burdens, I simply had to stop running away. Instead, I had to face the pain head on and allow myself to go fully into each emotion. Not by letting it define me but by observing it, accepting it and allowing it to be as it was. It was painful at first but the exhilaration that came upon me when I finally stopped resisting was unsurpassable.
The big, bad world suddenly did not seem so grim. Situations I had once regarded as dark, inauspicious nuisances became life-enhancing experiences. Those people who had wronged me and rattled my faith in humanity became teachers, having imparted me with invaluable lessons. My past shortcomings and weaknesses became the very stepping stones that would eventually lead towards an unprecedented apogee of inner peace and stillness.
Darkness became light. Pessimism became optimism. Ugliness became beauty. The past and the future became the present. I became me. The best version, the happy version.
I learned more in those two weeks than in the entirety of my life beforehand. Alas, as discussed by Eckhart Tolle in the Power of Now, the knowledge was not new. It had always been there. It just took a fresh outlook and a disassociation with the mind to finally access it. This journey bestowed upon me indispensable skills and lessons of all kinds but above all, it reawakened me. It reignited that flame that had always been, although often dimly, burning within me; the very passion for living that can only be experienced to its fullest when acceptance of what is is granted.
I rediscovered my true self and the elation that comes from living in the present moment. Now. That has made all the difference.
Alicante, Spain, September 2015.