I’ve been in this place of silence and reflection the past month or so and I’ve come to the conclusion that each person should look back to his/her own childhood and see “what worked for them.” For example, when I was young, even though I was a big child, I was active, healthy. I had a thick, toned body as a result of all the swimming and bike riding I’d do. I’d ride my bike for hours–to friends’ houses, uphill, downhill–and genuinely enjoyed it. I’d go the neighborhood indoor pool and swim all day if my mother allowed. I also spent a lot of time alone, whether locked up in my room playing video games, or reading books on Egypt and other parts of the world, as a child–unbeknownst to myself–alone time “worked for me.” I was in tune with peace, in tune with myself. I hardly ever had friend drama, if any at all.
My childhood, up until the past couple of months, was in stark contrast with my adult life: I stopped being as physically active, and if I did work out, it was more burden than enjoyment; I wasn’t spending as much time alone, or if I was, I was incredibly distracted by my own drama or the drama brought to me by false friendships; I was too busy playing counselor & supportress to everyone, carrying their burdens instead of dealing with my own.
A few months ago, around the time my sister got married to her now husband, I had a breakdown. My soul cried out through tears and I realized how heavy I was with grief, my own unresolved burdens, and the burdens of others. I decided to take my Buddhist practice seriously, and spend more time getting into me. (A series of “it was then” moments will follow: disclaimer.) It was then that I realized how disorganized & out of tune with myself I was. It was then that false friendships begin to reveal themselves. It was then that I realized how much more productive I could be if I’d work on discipline, time management, & order. Website, poetry, book, song, art ideas began to flood my soul; Music confronted me, letting me know I “would” play instruments again, whether I wanted to or not; and, most importantly, the truth spoke to me: I could have and do all of these things, but only when if I seriously committed to MYSELF. Then the revelation hit me: I’d been doing this, as if it were second nature, when I was a child. What happened?
Socialization, cultural norms and growing up (like in the Peter Pan movie, “Hook”) happened. I believe very heavily that as children, we operate in the most pure versions of ourselves. We spend the rest of our lives trying to get back to this pure state. When we’re children, people either rub us the wrong way, or don’t. Children are the kings and queens of what the church calls “discernment.” It doesn’t take children long to figure out if someone loves or hates them, what they want, don’t want, etc; and somehow, as we age, we lose this “sense” for the sake of having “compassion.” Sure, the sistah girl at your job was an utterly annoying, self hating, gossipin’ bitch, but culturally & religiously enforced “compassion” led you to see the good in her and invite her into your inner circle; whereas, the child version of you would have said, outright, “I don’t like her,” and would have steered clear.
We are a society of people so in tune with other people that we lose ourselves. Religion teaches us to put up with bullshit in favor of turning the other cheek, and I am here to say, it’s not natural. How can one serve others when one’s soul is full of chaos, confusion, the weight of other people’s issues? It’s draining. I know, because carrying the burdens of others without cutting the cord–through quiet time and some other sort of spiritual cleansing–led to my having anxiety attacks. The spiritual manifested itself in the physical, and the next thing I knew, I was taking anxiety medication when all I needed to do was get back in touch with how I was in my childhood and spend time with myself.
Since receiving this revelation, I’ve spent a lot of time clearing myself of the clutter of life: draining friendships, relationships, fear, doubt, etc,. I began to spend more time alone, less time answering my phone, more time focusing on what was going on in my soul. I was “clearing the space” or my sphere, and as a result, I’ve been rewarded. I’d decided, based on how healthy I was in my childhood, that I wanted a bike, one I didn’t have to pay for, and guess what? God/Universe granted me a bike…a FREE one. I have no doubt that as I continue to look back at my childhood for other things I was doing that “worked for me” and as I continue to stay in meditation, prayer/chanting, more will come, more favor, more open doors, more peace and blessings. I pray this also happens for you.