Happy Valentine’s Day!!
In honor of the day of love I thought I would write about my journey to self love… I know the connection is tenuous at best, but I had to apply the love theme somehow! 😛 LOL
I feel like I am on the cusp of something big. I have realized that there are many areas of my life that need work and that I am the only one that can do that work. There are things that only I can fix. I want to know that I am doing everything I can to get to the places that I want to go. The problem is that I don’t really know where I want to go. I need direction, and in order to find the right direction at this time I need knowledge, and in order to gain knowledge I need to delve deeper into what makes me tick. What makes me happy? Sad? Angry? What is something I can work towards that I really want?
I have started using creative visualization to try to get in touch with what I want. I have a page that is still in the works all about creative visualization… But for now I wanted to discuss just the main ideas of the practice. While there are many resources out there on visualization and meditation, my psychologist highly recommended a particular method based on the book entitled “Creative Visualization” by Shakti Gawain. The basic idea is that everything in the universe is energy, even your thoughts, both conscious and unconscious, feelings and emotions. If everything is energy than it makes sense that the energy you send out influences the energy you get back. So, if you have negative thoughts and ruminate on all the bad things that can happen, or might happen, than you are willing this version of events into being. I know, it sounds a bit flaky, but it really does make sense. If you use your mind to only focus and ruminate about the things that are ‘wrong’ than you aren’t devoting any energy into recognizing the ‘right’. If you are always waiting for and worrying about all the bad things that might happen, you can miss or take for granted all the good things that do happen.
Something suddenly clicked for me today, I took a class in Eastern Religions in university and was always interested in the Buddhist idea of ‘being in the moment’. But I never really understood how you could do that. My psych said today that the point of meditation is indeed to focus on one thing, but the true ‘work’ and the skill needed is the ability to recognize your wandering thoughts and gently, without chastising or thinking negatively about your wandering thoughts, steer it back to what you were focusing on. But back to ‘being in the moment’ – Essentially if you always live in the moment you are in, you do not have to worry about what is to come in the future. It is existing and allowing events, your thoughts and emotions: You to just be, without judgment. While the Buddhist philosophy is a hundred times more complex than the simple explanation I am giving, I am simply trying to show the correlation between ‘new age mysticism’ and the older, archaic eastern religions.
I am not explaining all of this very well… No wonder! I am trying to squeeze the knowledge of an entire book into a post that isn’t ridiculously long! I guess the simplest way to describe it is you get what you expect, if you expect things to be bad, they will be. But if you expect and hope and think about things in a positive manner it makes everything more positive. I guess the idea is that you can influence the course of events within your own life, and that you can make positive changes by putting energy into deeply thinking about, and therefore experiencing, the things you really want. This is not to say that if you use visualization to see you winning a million dollars that you will, rather if you truly believe that you deserve a million dollars and are willing to put the work in to obtain that goal you could use visualization to help you envision and believe in the steps needed to get to the end goal. You aren’t making wishes to some fairy by using affirmations and visualization, rather you are empowering yourself to believe you can and will achieve your goals.
Anyway, one of the meditations in the book is about creating your own private sanctuary. It is important to create a physical sanctuary to do your meditation in, like a quiet and comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed and feel safe, but it is also important to have a mental sanctuary where you can feel safe and contemplate without self judgment. I don’t have a physical sanctuary yet. My apartment is too small for two people to have enough space to have personal sanctuaries. But it is something I am planning on creating. I already have a spinning area, but I need to create a bit more space for that area to be functional for spinning and would need even more room if I were to make it comfortable enough to be a place I could meditate or visualize*. So I have been working on perfecting an inner sanctuary for myself.
Right now, my inner sanctuary is a garden. It is supposed to be a place where I feel safe and initially I started off with a meadow on the edge of a wood but I kept feeling tinges of nervousness there. It was too open for me? I felt like anyone could come walking through the meadow or out of the woods behind me. I know, weird. Anyway, I feel more comfortable in a walled garden. I should mention that you cannot see the walls in my sanctuary, the vegetation all but obscures them from view, so I don’t feel closed or locked in here, just safe.
For me, my garden is a place where I try to have compassion for myself. For some reason I am very understanding, empathetic and compassionate to others, but I judge myself harshly, I look at myself with an overly critical eye. It is interesting that when I read about others struggling through depression I always feel like they are courageous and strong to even be taking the step to talk about it in an open and honest manner, but when I recognized and admitted to, these same depressive qualities in myself I felt, and still feel, like I have failed me and that my depression is a symptom of some personal weakness. Recognizing that I view myself in this distorted way is a big step toward feeling better about my whole self, outside and in.
I think it is important to remind myself that I am strong. Truthfully I feel anything but. However, I have been battered down by many unavoidable circumstances in the past year. I am depressed because I have had to deal with an awful lot of pain, suffering and crap. I have felt like everything is out of my control for quite a while now and creative visualization gives me the tools I need to gain control over something, even if it is only, or perhaps most importantly, my thoughts.
Thanks for coming by! Do any of you meditate, visualize or have some other spiritual practice that allows them to feel centered? I would love to hear any ideas you have on using your mind to alter your reality. It is an interesting idea, if a little more of a holistic approach than I am used to using.
I am hoping that I can find the motivation to practice at least one guided meditation a day. I think just fifteen minutes devoted to myself and my well-being is time well spent and something that I have to promise myself to follow through on.
If anyone is interested in learning more about the book “Creative Visualization” by Shakti Gawain please click here the Amazon page for the hardcover edition. There is a preview of the first couple of chapters there.
Additionally, if you are looking for an audio file with guided relaxations please feel free to contact me as I have found many free recordings and I would be happy to point you in the right direction.
I hope each and every one of you has found a bit of joy in today!
oo – S.
*In this post I use the words ‘meditation’ and ‘visualization’ interchangeably. I realize there is a difference in practice, but fundamentally they both act as a means to trigger the ‘relaxation response’ . Visualization is essentially meditation with intent to focus on a particular vision.