journey thus far

I just wanted to start off saying how great this website is I’ve learned a lot  from reading the posts and I’m so grateful for stumbling upon it. Sorry if this is long and all over the place I just wanted to share my experiences and realizations since starting this journey and wanted to know if you had any thoughts.

I’ve been suffering from social anxiety and depression for about 5 years now, and I feel like that is the main reason I started meditating about a year ago. The type of meditation I use is mindfulness. I usually start with deep breaths and then scan my body. I start at the top of my head and “feel” my way down. After that I usually count my breaths, let any thoughts come and then refocus back on my breathing.

While I don’t think I’ve reached enlightenment, I have noticed that I’m more aware of myself and my surroundings. I’m more appreciative of the beauty of nature and find myself admiring the beauty in things I’ve seen everyday, like clouds, the sky, trees, ect. I’m also more aware of my feelings and how tense I could be. Breathing has been a life saver for me I never knew that simply taking deep breaths could do wonders for stress and muscle tension. I’m not a very spiritual or religious person, but I do know there’s something more than this solid meat suit we call a body. I can feel an energy beneath the surface, especially when I meditate and do the body scan. I’ve always accompanied the feeling in my body as empty, but since discovering this “energy” inside me it gives me a sort of electric, alive feeling, like there’s something more to me inside.

I’ve also noticed how my anxiety has held me back from things. Throughout the years I’d adopted a woe is me attitude and would cry myself to sleep wondering why my life was the way it was. I stay home a lot, don’t have any friends, and have never had a relationship. I felt like I was missing out on life and didn’t know how to get out there and just live. I’m usually very distant and cold with people because I feel like I either don’t know what to say, or that I have nothing to say at all. I’m terribly afraid of rejection and what people might think of me. I’m unsure of myself most of the time so I tend to keep my thoughts in my head instead of expressing them. This causes me to avoid people that I feel like I might enjoy talking to and to stay at home because I feel like there’s no one for me to hang out with and I’m afraid of being seen out alone. While I now recognize that these fears are not necessary and that they are holding me back from living, I can’t help feeling it and the anxiety that comes along with it. That’s what I’m hoping the meditation will help me with, is to diminish the heart-pounding, tightness of chest and fidgeting feelings that accompany my anxiety so that I can feel more free.

I feel trapped like I’m not living the life I’m supposed to be living. I feel like I’m really a person who's more spontaneous, seeks adventure, more talkative and someone who wants to experience new things, but I feel like I haven’t done much, in comparison to things I’ve wanted to do. There’s a lot of unsureness about me, like

Another part of my becoming more self-aware was experiencing being in love for the first time. There was someone in my life that made me feel very comfortable and safe while in their presence, I felt like I could be more myself with this person than with anyone.  They have hurt me emotionally multiple times but I could still feel that unconditional love for them, even now that they’re no longer in my life, I still feel it. I was never really a romantic person but since discovering that feeling I’ve started to crave intimacy with someone. It’s made me realize that the feeling was there inside me this whole time and that there are other things inside of me that I don’t notice yet, but want to find. I guess the whole point of this is that I’m wondering how do I find my true inner voice and find the courage to follow it without being so indecisive. I want to find my path that feels right to me and that can open doors for me to become who I really am and enjoy life.

Comments

Hi Hope2day - greetings, you are most welcome here on Openhandweb smiley

I would say that you're breathing techniques have been great for bringing awareness to the inner world. Awesome! And there's a challenge with that too - if our approach becomes over prescriptive, and in so doing, actually surpresses the emergence of authentic self. What do I mean by this?

Most people come from a place where they've been programmed with 'needing to feel good' and then not accepting 'feeling bad'. When they step into self-realisation practice, often these limiting judgments are transferred into the work - and so there's a subtle efforting to be feeling good, then beating yourself up if you don't.

Not allowing yourself to truly honour the pain you feel, because there's a subtle judgment that it's not okay, actually has the reverse affect - of locking the pain in. Because you form a limiting polarity - an identity with it. In this case, that which is resisting it.

The way forwards in the Openhand Approach, is to allow the pain to be - to get right into the heart of it and honour it by expressing it. "Your feelings are not wrong!"

When you close the gap between this polarity internally, you now have the potential for profound alchemical change. There's now an invitation for total acceptance of your self. To the extent that you don't even need to change it. This is crucial to the healing. You become so "as-one" with the pain, that you become "The One" in the pain - the presence that you truly are, from which everything arises. This is the truly enlightened experience. You are now free from the pain, because it no longer limits or defines you...

The relativistic experience (in this case anxiety) is merely a transient dance across the skies of your unlimited presence. And in this place, over time, the clouds of anxiety will simply blow away - because there's nothing anchoring them in the landscape any longer.

You might find this "Breakthrough" approach helpful...

Namaste Open

Lovely to see you here hope2day11,

Let me say how much I admire that you have embarked on a beautiful and challenging journey, that of inner and outer liberation! I read your post with a lot of interest. 

 

What caught my attention was your experience with Mindfulness meditation techniques. There are a lot of psychophysical benefits to breathing and to the tracking of our physical sensations with our focused attention (attending to form).  One of them is the quieting of the mind (gathering energy) that allows deeper connection to our immediate raw experience, like connection to nature for example, which facilitates feelings of appreciation and joy to come to the surface. You talked about energy, there is scientific evidence to show that the body is fluid, ever changing energy and so is the mind. And the body scan experience is indeed an amazing vehicle to realise this!

 

I deliver Mindfulness courses and many people in the world share the benefits you talk about as a result of your meditation practice. However, the way that Mindfulness is widely taught and practised, although it has many benefits, it is also very very limiting. Open explains in detail a major limitation of the typical Mindfulness approach! This is also a limitation of many other approaches that I have come into contact with as a professional, including psychotherapy.

 

Mindfulness (pure kind open awareness), as it was originally taught and practised – and still is within some Buddhist and non-Buddhist oriented approaches – is only one limb of the full body of ways/teachings for experiencing the Truth - or what you call freedom. It does not stand alone!

 

Openhand brings together the full body of ways to know the Truth, ways to experience liberation.  And this part of the journey starts in appreciating where you are now: “I feel trapped like I’m not living the life I’m supposed to be living” with a full acceptance and loving softness into that which is ‘stuck’ and ‘confused’. Then, more insight will unfold and new ways to feel yourself to freedom!

Much love x

Aspasia

Hello hope2day11,

I understand you because I also had to deal with social anxiety in the past. We feel locked because in essence we're afraid of knowing ourselves and honouring what we are, and this comes mostly from us comparing ourselves with others.

The universe is all about expression and that's why we're ALL different. This seems obvious, but when the social anxiety kicks in, we forget that and try to fit in an illusory model of how we're supposed to behave. So when we find ourselves in these situations, our job is to allow what's coming from within. If you feel the need to say something, say it! If you feel the need to hug someone, do it! When we are being authentic, people feel happy inside and don't judge us (with some exceptions :)).

The experience of life is a journey of self-discovery. So that's why the first steps are so important - if we allow them to build up, they guide us. If you surrender to the fact that you don't know who you are, you will feel comfortable with it. Just don't say to yourself that you are/aren't romantic, artistic, talkative, etc. 

You are raw potential, period.

Be curious! smiley

grande abraço,
Eduardo

Although I said we're all unique, this sometimes can raise the ego's voice. Like "OMG, I'm soooo unique, nobody will love and understand me".

But truth be told, everybody wants to be loved and accepted (not that we need to), just like you. Society seems a very judgmental place where people are horribly cruel, but it's not like that at all.

The openhand approach is extremely useful, but I'm also a huge believer that remembering the truth in the moment and acting from that space also dissipates distortion (in this case, your second guessing).

Another tip would be to NOT smoke marijuana (if you do) before engaging with people. In my case, it would increase the heart palpitation that comes from anxiety and make it more difficult to cope with. Your next goal would be to stop smoking at all.

 

boa sorte,
Eduardo