A soft, relaxing melody filled the air. Gently spoken I heard, “Allow your thoughts to come and go. Don’t judge them; just allow them to flow in and out.” A cycle of deep breaths in and releases out for 10 minutes followed. Attending the monthly corporate meditation class at work has been life-changing. Not life changing in the sense that I walk each step in complete “zen” abundance now. It is just that when I have challenging days or weeks, I am intentional to getting back to my breathing and allowing my thoughts. That is life changing. Sometimes, I have felt so overwhelmed and bogged down that it literally feels like I am holding my breath. I can feel stress in my body and it settles in the same places. I think because of this, I have always connected with the “take a deep breath” perspective in order to calm down or gain clarity. I find myself saying it to my daughter when she is feeling frustrated or overwhelmed. It can be a helpful shift. Three important meditation takeaways for me have been allowing yourself to be vulnerable, letting thoughts flow naturally without judgment as well as recognizing your heart’s path versus ego.
“True connection is not surface. You have to allow yourself to be seen in your vulnerability. That is where the healing happens. The love flourishes. Where growth lives. It’s a key element needed to trust another. Revealing your soul is brave. It is empowering. It is owning your story. It is essential to forward movement.” I wrote that as an Instagram post last year. I explore that theme in my writing often. When I first took on this opportunity at The Daily Feels, I was so excited because writing is my passion and I have needed an outlet to express myself creatively. I also, felt VULNERABLE. Extremely vulnerable as I realized that my soul would lay bare. My thoughts and experiences would be exposed for the world to read, see and feel. The quote by D.W. Winnicott was on loop in my mind, “Artists are people driven by the tension between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide.” I totally wanted to hide but I had to settle my spirit- I spoke with my Grandma and watched the Netflix special, Brené Brown: The Call to Courage – they got me through that moment of wanting to escape. It truly reminded me that if you want to connect with another you have to be vulnerable. You just do. My Grandma said, “You can’t just write for yourself, you have to share your gift with others.” I also loved Brené’s take on caring about people’s opinions. We do not have to value everyone’s opinion when it comes to criticism of our work, but we can of those who love and respect us. It is ok to care what they think at times. We all need a certain level of validation. It can be healthy. My 2 cents: just don’t get lost in those opinions and make sure that you hear your own inner voice.
Thoughts & Judgment
We all have thoughts. So many thoughts! We overthink. We under think. We analyze our thoughts and yes, we judge our own thoughts. “I feel bad for saying this but …” “I shouldn’t feel this…” “Oh, well that’s how I feel!” (All the while still secretly feeling bad for feeling those feelings.) Practicing meditation has given me a new freedom of thinking. When my instructor said, “Allow your thoughts to come and go. Don’t judge them; just allow them to flow in and out.” I was like, “What?!” A light bulb went off. Judgment isn’t a word that is front and center in my life, but at that moment, I realized that it floats around me from others and myself. I have realized that when you release judging your own thoughts, it is easier to allow others to have theirs without judgment. You don’t have to agree with your thoughts or those of others but it’s in the allowance. The allowance of letting them flow freely opened my mind. By keeping the ones that hold my truth, it removed restraints that I didn’t even realize were keeping me from elevation. In this practice, it has also helped me with distractions. One day during my meditation, I could not turn my phone to silent. I have no idea what was going on with that device, but I had fixed in my mind that I would not relax. I told myself that I would be completely interrupted by the sound the entire time. After I settled into my breathing, I was able to relax and allow my thoughts to flow in and out all while letting my email notifications flow in and out as well. We live a life full of distractions, but there is strength in allowing them to be what they are and focusing on the thoughts that need to stay.
Heart & Ego
We make decisions daily, big and small. I am a follow your heart, listen to your gut person. That does not mean that ego never tries to creep in and join the conversation. How do we know the difference? How do we decide what stays and what goes? When I say, “follow your heart.”, I think of a natural, organic feeling- it is not forced, it flows. Mindfulness. Intention. Practice. Intuition. Connection. Love. God. Spirit. My ego deconstructs and constructs, or as Brené Brown says, “The story that I am telling myself…” Go watch her Netflix special, it is eye-opening! It is important to have a healthy sense of self-esteem. Self-love is essential. I’m just speaking of the times that we can get in our own way. Ego can inflate our self-importance. We see situations in a blurred manner and make them about ourselves when we let ego take charge. It can cause complications in relationships and within ourselves, in any life interaction actually. You know the quote, “Be kind, you never know what someone else is going through.” I like to add, give people grace as well, who knows what obstacle or situation they are facing. We see things one way because of our own experiences and history, but it’s important to leave room for understanding when it comes to the standpoint of others as well. Alternatively, try communicating to get the whole picture instead of walking away thinking that your story is the only story. You can find common ground or at least a clearer view. It is vital to deal with our own stuff (ego). Then, we can clearly listen to our heart in a productive and beneficial way.
I am no expert but I live each day with the intention to learn, grow and elevate. Meditation has become a beautiful light source in my life. It may be a helpful practice to you as well.
Tiffany Reneé is a writer, poet, mother, wife, activist and Ohio native, based in New York. She is a free spirit who loves to truly connect with others.
She believes that life gives us opportunities to learn and grow daily if we are open to see the beauty in the expansion. Family time, deep conversation, wine, cooking, music, laughter, and travel are a few of her favorite things. She’s a soulful dreamer from the Midwest who has always been drawn to the city lights and the possibility of choosing “more”.