I consider myself to be a generally calm person. I wouldn’t say, at this point in time, I’m in a particularly challenging period in my life. I don’t carry much stress, I enjoy my job, I know balance. And even on days that I do feel challenged, I acknowledge it and prioritise myself above anything else. I used to think this was selfishness, now I see it as integrity.
It wasn’t always this way. If this were the 27-year-old version of me I’d be so crippled with anxiety that I probably wouldn’t even have the drive to be writing at all. 6 years ago life was hard. I was living a life that was so unaligned with my values that I didn’t even know who I was. The corporate world sucked the air out of my lungs and one day I ended up in the fetal position on the floor of my ex-boyfriend’s apartment in a pool of my own tears. It was in those tears that I rebirthed again. I honestly don’t think life has ever been the same. As Rumi says, it’s through the wound that the light enters in.
The past 6 years have been about growth. Cold, hard, look yourself in the mirror and become the person you’ve always wanted to be kind of growth. When it comes to the status of your own mental health and your own happiness, that shit is something you have to work hard for. You, not anyone else. Sure, there will be inspiration and guidance but those things will guide you, not bring you to the place it is you wish to be. That you have to do on your own… internally.
I never thought that at the age of 33 the one thing I’d desire the most is silence and solitude. Surely I’d desire a pay rise, perhaps a holiday, maybe a new pair of shoes. But the thing about those desires is that they don’t offer the type of growth I am looking for at this point in time. They are external, just material contents of the matrix.
Drink this wine, they said. Eat this junk food, they said. Smoke these cigarettes, they said. Fill the crack in your heart with this brand new Fendi bag, it will make you feel gorgeous, they said. *Disclaimer, serotonin rushes may only last 24 hours. We are not responsible for any human rights violations that may have occurred in the manufacturing process of these products.
I began to move away from the external some years ago when I found meditation a valuable tool to find solace. Had you asked me 2 years ago if I was ready to take a 10-day journey into the depths of my mind I would have said “no way.” That may have been the scariest place I could go to. But, after my on-again-off-again relationship with meditation and yoga, something in me shifted. Meditation started to become my go-to place when I was feeling off. When my jeans were feeling tight, I’d go to the gym. When my chest was feeling tight, I’d turn to meditation. And low and behold, after some time, my own mind became a place of refuge. The most accessible place of all became a place of peace.
I’m no guru though, I relish in the matrix most of the time; the occasional debauchery. We’re human, aren’t we? But to know that significant growth can be achieved internally, and not externally – now that could be the winning ticket.
Hence why I’ve decided to take my journey deeper inwards and participate in a Vipassana meditation retreat. Vipassana is a Buddhist term that is often translated as “insight” or “to see things as they really are.” It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations in the body themselves. In order to achieve this, the participant must abstain from anything that distracts the mind. This means no speaking, no reading and no writing.
My friend who had participated in two Vipassana retreats described it as finding parts of yourself that you had not seen for a very long time. He asked me to imagine a teacup with a message at the bottom. The more you pour tea into the cup the longer you can’t see the message at the bottom. The tea represents stimulation. We are all teacups with a neverending supply of tea.
I know I’m overstimulated. We all are. On any given day my mind is a laptop with 27 tabs open. To stop is to sleep. To be present is to speak or watch or do. There is seldom a time since I can remember that I haven’t had to do something, or be somewhere, or reply to someone, or check something, or go to an event, or plan something, or remember someone’s birthday, or worry about something, or finish something, or start something, or know something. This will legitimately be the first time, perhaps in my life, that I truly become consecutively present for 10 days.
In a way, I feel I owe this to my mind and my body. I’m craving a lack of stimulation. I know it’s not going to be easy, but I am craving it. I want a new perspective. I want to see my life without a phone, without speech, without having something to do. I want to challenge myself through the boredom, or the pain, or whatever will come up. I’m ready for liberation.
This is Bianca version 1.0 signing out.
See you on the other side, dear friends.