My Meditation Story - A Journey of Self Discovery

My Meditation Story - A Journey of Self Discovery

Having always been curious by nature, I constantly questioned the purpose of life, why we are here, and what happens after death. I remember one night walking around my house and stopping to think if any of this was real. What would happen if everything were to disappear? The thought brought me peace. My five-year old self envisioned two dark planets in the galaxy taking its natural course, unaffected by the human world.

In third grade, I came across a book of Prince Siddhartha Guatam, also known as the Buddha. The story explained how his father, the King, sheltered Siddhartha from the “ugly” truths of life such as aging, sickness, and death. The moral of the story was that suffering came from attachment and that true liberty and happiness was when one was free of all desires. While I wasn’t a Buddhist or even religious, the story resonated with me and made sense. In an idealistic world, if I truly and absolutely desired nothing, there really would be no suffering; but to even desire nothing was to desire something. The idea fascinated me, but I knew it was true.

I often shared these thoughts with my mom; ideas on life, our purpose, destiny, karma, the universe, energy, our higher-self, happiness, freedom, enlightenment and so on. My mom has been one of my greatest sources of inspiration. Although she grew up in a small village in Nepal with little education, she is the wisest person I know. Throughout her life she practiced yoga, meditation, and mindful eating. Even when she fell sick, she would resort to acupuncture and ayurvedic (herbal) medicines before taking prescriptions. At the age of 20, she went to a meditation retreat where you weren’t allowed to speak a single word and was the last one remaining. Her determination, adaptability, kind-heartedness and  humble nature is something I have always admired. Somehow always finding calm in chaos and clarity in times of uncertainty. I wanted to be like her.

In sixth grade, I spent two months in Kathmandu, Nepal. Every morning, my mom took both my brother and I to a meditation center and had us meditate and do yoga for three hours starting at 6 am. To be honest, I dreaded it. I tried to concentrate, but often found myself lost in a trail of thoughts or humming to the tune of my favorite songs. I couldn’t keep still and didn’t see how breathing in different patterns was going to do anything for me. However, by the end of the two months, I noticed I lost a couple kilos (I was slightly overweight at the time). Although I was so young and unobservant, meditation stirred changes in me in ways I didn’t know, but the results were apparent. It was fascinating to see how mindfulness combined with breathwork brought physical changes to my body— slowly bringing it back to its equilibrium.

My curiosity has been both a blessing and a curse. While it drove me to seek answers, it never left me content. I never found answers, just more questions, and not just in my spiritual path, but across every aspect of life— family, friendships, relationships, school, society, etc… I never felt satisfied until I found true meaning and value in what I was doing, often leaving me feeling empty. I noticed I found most fulfillment and completeness in creative works because they weren’t meant to be understood or deciphered, just felt. Creative fields made me feel connected and ignited my spirit. In the small pockets of life when I did get to engage in creative realms, I cherished it. But most of the time, I was in school, studying and doing redundant work.

My education has always been a big question mark in my life. I felt that my studies did little to spur growth in me and more to overload my head with information that I didn’t know what to do with. I often talked to my physics teacher about education vs schools. We discussed how although the intent of academic institutions and education align, the outcomes are strikingly different. I felt that schools were killing students’ potential, creativity, and intelligence and were counterproductive to the purpose of education. At one point, I even wanted to move to Finland to complete my high school education as they truly believed in students’ learning and well-being. They didn’t use grades as a metric of academic success and had a much more holistic approach, something I craved. Students should want to learn, not be forced to. And for people as curious as myself, school should be exciting, but I dreaded it. Eventually, I realized there wasn’t much I could do about the schooling system and it was much easier if I complied. So, I changed my goal from genuinely learning to getting good grades, something schools seemed to care about. I found myself learning the grading scheme and the schooling system more than the content itself. While I was winning the system, I was cheating myself.

Senior year of high school, I entered depression. At that time, I didn’t even know what depression was, or understood mental health. I truly believed stress was good and kept me on track, and that if I wasn’t stressed, I wasn’t working enough. I found myself cutting sleep and obsessing over the single goal I framed my life around. Gradually, I isolated myself, lost pleasure in everything, and deleted all my social media. It was to the point that I felt alien in my own house. Each time my parents looked at me, it was with a wave of concern. I couldn’t even recognize myself. Teachers had meetings about me and eventually I got called into the principal’s office alongside my parents. They expressed concern over my plummeting grades and my astounding absence record. In the office, I was asked to sign a document that promised I would eat properly, submit all my assignments, and sleep well. It seemed that they didn’t actually care about me or my health, just the reputation of the school. I don’t know what overcame me, but I refused to sign the papers and left the office in tears. My parents made me sign the paper later at home, but nothing got better. I felt that I was a burden to everyone around me. I didn’t feel that my body was my own and didn’t want to show my face to anyone. Later, I started developing rashes, vomiting on a daily-basis, and eventually became physically sick. Sleeping was something I looked forward to the most, but even that made me feel guilty. In fact, most good things made me feel guilty. When I relaxed, I felt that I was indulging; when I accepted a compliment, I felt entitled; and in the rare moments I felt happiness, I felt undeserving of it. I created a home in darkness that became so familiar, I kept returning to it. In a way I found comfort in pain, but in the back of my head I knew this wasn’t right. I wanted to shut down my mind and become completely thinkless. I sought something outside myself, returning to the questions, Why are we here? What is the purpose?

I relentlessly surfed on the web looking for a miracle solution that would bring me peace. Everything changed when I came across a book on amazon, Ask and It is Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks. The book talked about manifestations and emotional vibration. To achieve what one desires, you must be in vibrational alignment. Emotions like happiness and love were on the higher end of the vibration scale. So, happiness was good, and love was good. I was skeptical, but intrigued. To prove the concepts outlined in the book, Esther and Jerry Hicks set a challenge in each chapter, encouraging readers to test it and see for themselves if it works. At this point, I had nothing to lose. Nothing could be worse than where I was. I was so desperate, I was ready to believe anything. I tried one challenge, followed by another, after another. And to my surprise, they all worked! Every morning, I woke up excited to experiment with my day. And slowly, I began to find joy in life again, gradually moving up the emotional vibrational scale.

It was around April, one month left until graduation. Little by little, I started to feel myself again. Graduation came around and the next ten weeks of my life were some of the most beautiful moments of my life. I let go of everything and welcomed all possibilities of life with no judgment. I felt like a newborn child looking at life through a fresh perspective. Of course, I still felt negative emotions here and there, but nothing serious. That book has become my bible… Until I abused the idea of manifestation and treated it like a game.

If I became the vibration of what I desired, I would attract it. So, I fell into my delusions thinking I could bend reality. Many times it seemed to work. But after a few years I realized I was living in my own world of delusions. I constantly needed things to happen so badly and quickly, I would force belief on myself. I was essentially playing with my head, and in turn with my life.

Around eight months ago, I had a heartbreak that I didn’t see coming. I was so shocked and misled, not by the person, but by myself. It was a great point of reflection for me. I felt that I couldn’t see things for what they were and was so easily and greatly swayed by my emotions and thoughts. I wanted to live life for what it was and not what I wanted it to be. I needed to break out of wishful thinking. This is when I came across a meditation method that has been the most transformative change in my life thus far.

Knowing the endless benefits of meditation, I knew I had to get on it, and  considering the circumstances of my life at the time, the timing couldn’t have been better. Knowing myself, I knew I wasn’t disciplined enough to dedicate time everyday to meditate, so I joined a meditation group online to ensure I was making progress.

Often, when we think about meditation we think of breathwork, but that’s not always the case. Meditation is essentially practicing mindfulness of some form. The method that I have been practicing is found by Teacher Woo Myung in 1996 and is broken down into seven levels. Everyday, I dedicate one hour to this method with my meditation guide via Zoom. The meditation begins with a prayer of positive affirmations followed by expressing gratitude to the universe.

Level One is about discarding the past: all memories, images, thoughts, and feelings, good or bad, that come to mind from birth to present day.

Level Two is about discarding images of all relationships (any human connection/interaction) from birth to present day. However, in Level Two the perspective changes to that of the universe. Instead of viewing a panorama of memories from the first person, you recall the images so that you can view yourself in relation to the other person.

Level Three is about discarding everything related to one’s body. This includes internal organs, physical appearance, face, hair, scars - anything related to your body that comes to mind.

Level Four, which is the level I am currently on, is split into three segments. Part one is discarding images of any landmarks/geographical location that comes to mind. For instance, one’s home, school, favorite destinations, places you feel comfortable/uncomfortable in etc. Part two is discarding the body altogether. And part three is discarding preconceived ideas of the universe and everything that can possibly exist. This includes images of planets learned through textbooks that we have never actually seen. Basically, everything that comes to mind regarding material existence.

The purpose of the meditation is to get rid of the karma, habits, and body and return to the origin, truth. Each level gets rid of attachment associated with our past, people, body, locations, and the world around us including our desires, which is what creates lacking. (*Disclaimer: The method does not impair memory, simply gets rid of our attachment to these images.) In essence, we are all living in our “picture world” shaped by our past experiences, making it difficult to see life for what it actually is. Meditation works to discard these preconceptions, and as the level goes higher the subconscious mind is revealed further. Although I don’t know the method for level five, six, and seven yet, I will potentially be able to see habits inherited from my parents and ancestors that have been passed down, so I can discard those too. Body is also a large part of the meditation as it is discarded from Level Three all the way to Level Seven. Our bodies are simply a vessel to experience the world, but it is not us. By “eliminating” the body we can become the expanse of the universe. Likewise, our minds are not contained in our little skulls. Rather, the true mind is the “big” mind: The mind of the universe. In essence, our body (spirit) and mind (soul) is not one that is contained in our material bodies. Further, discarding “images” of our body removes blockages and improves immunity, blood circulation, and rejuvenates the cells in our body making us physically healthier.

While I am still a work in progress, I have noticed stark changes in myself since starting the meditation. One, I don’t indulge in my thoughts as much. As someone who is an avid overthinker, I haven’t been stuck in a mental rut since starting the meditation. And if I was stuck, it would last a few days at most. Every time I feel myself going to a low place I would whisper the prayer, “Please make it disappear,” knowing that it's temporary. I have come to learn that our emotions, although they may be triggered by external factors, are ultimately internally instigated. By recognizing that my emotional state is a choice and not a condition is quite liberating. I have started to take responsibility for how I feel no matter how low I go. By acquiring this mindset, I am able to better move according to nature’s flow and be more productive and focused on things that actually matter.

Second, I have seen a change in my relationships. Previously, I had many problems with my family. All throughout my life I constantly fought with my dad and my brother, which immensely affected my mental health. At times, I even left the house because I felt so suffocated. But I have learned that any resistance I felt, was ultimately me. So much easier said than done, but after looking at it from a wider perspective I have learned that they are simply projecting their own internal conflict and have less to do with me. I have learned to love them and work with them, even if we disagreed on most things. I was talking to my meditation guide one day and she told me something that I have ingrained in my mind: Everyone is a mirror of yourself. Anything I admire or find ugly in someone is a direct reflection of myself. My fights with my family is because I feel that I am right and need to prove my correctness. But it doesn’t matter who is right, it’s about working together and bringing harmony. Meditation has helped me to better understand people. Even if I don’t want to be someone’s friend, I can still talk nicely while maintaining a distance. And if they speak ill of me, that is a reflection on them not a judgment of me. Although I have this insight, I still get hurt at times. However, I have come to a point where I don’t feel the need to prove myself and am able to calmly step back and take a more productive approach.

Another interesting change I have noticed is my shift in perspective on politics. I observed that to take on the side of either extreme on the political spectrum, conservative or liberal, is selfish (human rights aside). To feel that the world must change according to your views is self-centric. I used to resist certain political groups, but it doesn’t matter to me anymore. I often think about my relationship to certain family members, whom I love, but have a distinct political stance. How can I love people that have such different values? It always stumped me, but at the end of the day I still love them and they still love me. I believe the same goes for the world. The only way we can move forward as a human race is when we work together. As corny as it sounds, I believe that love is the only thing that would melt the divide. Although this is certainly not the case now, when the world comes to its brink, this will be the only option left.

Thirdly, I have started to treat obstacles in life from a different perspective. Although it brings confusion or frustration, I know that everything happens for a reason. If there is a hurdle in my way, it’s a test from the universe and something I must learn to overcome. These hindrances shed light on our shortcomings, so we can work on them and become the person we need to to achieve the goals we have set.

Fourth, I have learned to accept. I used to be in denial of most things bad in my life. I would try to run away from bitter truths to “guard” myself, but in reality I was creating more resistance. While I don’t have to approve or like something, I have to accept: People I don’t like, inconvenient circumstances, uncomfortable truths, unfortunate events, and so on. Acceptance leads to less resistance and more flow.

Fifth, I learned that nothing really matters. In the expanse of the universe, our existence and time on this planet is so minuscule that nothing is so serious. That being said, I do believe people come on this planet to share their gifts and do their part diligently to ultimately help others.

It has been eight months since I have started meditation and there is still a long way to go. I have many faults of my own and am far far from the truth. Some of the insights have truly come from within, while others have been passed on to me by my meditation guide or learned from teachings by Teacher Woo Myung. At some point all of the wisdom will truly come from within as I become more complete. For now, I am grateful for finding this method and intend to meditate until I reach the final level and attain some level of enlightenment.