Thanks for the invitation to be part of the February Experiment Barbara.
Here is a summary of my 35 year long ‘Path to No Path’.
I discovered the concept of the spiritual journey at 15 years old after reading a Carlos Castaneda book I found in my dad’s books. The book was about a wise old Indian and the journey of discovery he took his young apprentice on. I was immediately entranced by the idea that underneath the appearance of our humdrum everyday lives our real reason for being alive had a much more esoteric and important purpose and adventure.
I set about to learn as much as possible and devoured books by the dozen, exploring a host of paths from Astrology to Buddhism to Theosophy. I delved into self analyses and tried to understand myself and the effects of childhood conditioning on my worldview, my relationship with myself and with others.
However while this was all very entertaining and I started to make sense of the patterns of behaviour, it didn’t take the behaviour patterns away and certainly did not help me make wiser decisions or better romantic choices! After decades of seeking I was frustrated that very little had actually changed in terms of the level of pain and suffering I experienced.
It wasn’t until my late 40s that I started to get glimpses of inner peace that lasted more than a few minutes. I started to practise mindfulness and I had a direct experience of the inner peace that is always there. The peace, silence and stillness had been there all along and I didn’t notice it because I was so busy seeking!
I found that I could just keep returning to it no matter what was happening. I started to take many short moments throughout each day, return to that peace for a few moments at a time. My thoughts and feelings could simply arrive and disappear. I no longer had to believe every thought that came into my head, judge myself for them or follow or control them. I just had to be aware of them and be present and breathe.
The other element that I brought into my life was self compassion and being more kind towards myself. This is very potent healing medicine indeed. Through developing a more loving relationship with myself I now see how much this was lacking in the past. I can see that my low sense of self worth had disallowed peace and success all along and attracted struggle instead. I can see that my quest to become a better, nicer, wiser person was a result of not loving myself and not feeling good enough. I don’t have to do that any more, I am and I have what I was seeking for.
So now life is taking a different turn. I am aware that I am a difficulty and struggle addict coming off my drug and entering a realm of peace and prosperity. Its a brand new and unknown world to me, and it is taking a while to settle into it. I am being kind and being patient as I acclimatise. A little loving vigilance is required to spot old habits that can sabotage my peace and wellbeing and attraction to drama is noted and let go of gently. It feels unfamiliar and scary at times and I often give myself a little pat and some reassurance and encouragement.
And as I am kinder to myself and more at peace I find I am automatically less judgemental and less reactive towards others. I feel I now understand that world peace starts with ourselves.