Step One to Inner Peace

I have been focused on growth for as long as I can remember. I used to spend my time walking to and from work trying to think up an exit strategy for my life. Everyday, in the morning and in the afternoon, each walk consoled by a cup of coffee and a cigarette that burned way too fast for my taste.

For breaks, I’d sneak down to take deeper breaths–hands shaking, and roaming the street corners for patience. Completely out of the present moment, I’d dread the week, aching through its entirety, only breathing as I’d walk out of work for the few hours I had free. But eventually when 10pm hit, the dread would start again. The weight of the world on my shoulders. Or was it? I was in my 20s. I was in the greatest city in the world. I had a good life, a good job. No real danger compared to the rest of the world, but nonetheless, the dead weight of the world sat there, torturing me.

Looking back now, it’s clear to me how sick I was of mind, heart, and spirit. The end of my 20s proved to be breathtakingly difficult. I experienced a great deal of heartbreak and loss, which eventually, and inevitably led to a great deal of change, growth, and surprisingly,…love.

Eckhart Tolle said something about how our generation is more aware than most of its misery. I’m no scientist but in my very humble, unprofessional opinion co-dependency, dissatisfaction, and neediness are at an all time high. We are obsessed with distractions and in a constant need for validation. In all its glory, technology satisfies these needs and opens the appetite for more. Our ego’s validation has a field day every time we turn the power on. We are never alone and what’s worse is that, we’re smart. We pick up on patterns on what people like and we get better at it.

The first time I read The Power of Now & The Four Agreements my mind opened up wide. Confused at what I was hearing, I felt stumped for days, which was followed by a wave of frustration. HOW DO I DO THIS? WHEN DO I START? In all honesty, I got the overall lifestyle idea, but I completely missed the basic point. 

Despite not applying this immediately, it did make me self-aware that I was in a constant state of anxiety and un-presence that I myself had generated. In itself, this was a breakthrough. This resonated with a lot of things a mentor had been trying to explain to me in the weeks prior. I see now that it’s not that I was not emotionally intelligent enough to understand all this–well, maybe I wasn’t–but it had less to do with my capacity to process the information and more to do with my willingness to process and apply.

I had always been focused on changing– changing bosses, people, jobs, or situations. I was obsessed with the outside, changing the inside had never even occurred to me. The inside, huh? So, whose fault does this make it? I’m confused. WHO IS AT FAULT?!

When I realized that the healthiest thing would be to begin to think that no one was responsible my heart sank a little. What do you mean no one gets the blame? Where is the fun in that? It sucks but I really thought this. I felt it at my core, I actually wanted to be angry. I wanted to blame someone.

It’s taken years to shift that focus from outward in. It’s taken a great deal of time, a plethora of breakthroughs, and a palace of fall backs. It’s been a process. I now understand so much why it took so long now and I connect less of those achey walks that I used to take so many years ago.

I read somewhere that it’s a little ironic how desperately we hold on to the things that we are praying to be released from. I read a lot in the years that followed that initial breakthrough. Line by line, each book wore me down. I was in relationships with so many toxic attitudes and ideas that I didn’t have time for anything else. Complaints about loneliness? What do you mean? I wasn’t alone! I was tangled up with these ideas.

To keep this relationship imagery going—I was devoted to my beliefs (agreements) of the world. What people thought of me, what I suspected the world was withholding from me, and how the universe was planning to jip me. I was so into this and it never occurred to me that there was an opportunity cost. Because to be in one relationship, you are giving up the opportunity to engage with something else, right? Well, I was giving up being surprised, working towards something new, and having faith to keep these beliefs in tact. All because I thought I was right. I had figured out the world and its take with me and I spent most of my time reaffirming that in everything I experienced.

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