10 Lessons 2018 Taught Me
1. Always go for what you want
Life is what you make of it. Starting from the moment you wake up to how you face everything else the day brings to your door. There are no promises that what you want will happen in the way that you want it to, in the time that you want it to, but if you continue on the path of what feels right deep in your bones, in your inner knowing - it will happen. And often (if not always) in the timing and manner most suited to you such that you yourself couldn’t have planned it.
It’s not a New Age lesson in making miracles and manifestations. Life is a miracle, so everything that unfolds out of life is by nature a miracle. The thing is that we take so much for granted. Once I stopped taking things for granted, for instance my body was the biggest one for me in 2018, I realised that everything that happens is a miracle. If each day you look for one thing you take for granted and shift your view about it as if it was a miracle you’ll experience a radical shift in the way you experience your life and the path to achieve what you really want.
2. Loneliness is not always separateness
Loneliness is a natural experience and a natural part of life. It’s not the enemy even though it’s viewed as one of the worst experiences possible (and it’s topped up with shame). Loneliness can be a deep desire to share something that is unsharable. No matter how much we try communicate about it, it stays sheathed in a gentle transparent tissue of personal experience which you just cannot share. This is why loneliness is not always a problem but simply an experience in life. An autonomous experiences that we need to learn how to contain.
No one can really understand the difficulties of the health-related process I went through in 2018. No matter how much I talked about it, and I had few very compassionate and understanding souls around me, there was still something in the experience I could simply not share. But the moment I stopped viewing these experiences, theses moments, as a problem, loneliness was no longer so lonely.
3. Never let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do
People have opinions. Endless. I find very little interest in opinions. I’m much more interested in insights, reflections, contemplations, feelings, sharing of the heart. Opinions are often like a cat’s spray - a simple marking of the territory. It separates us more than bringing us together.
The most dangerous opinions are those that are presented as facts. They are dangerous because they destroy hopes and inner knowings that are meant to grow and prosper. I’ve learnt this year to firmly move opinions aside. Thanks to that, even though this past year was one of the most challenging for me, it was also the one I’ve learnt the most and achieved the most.
4. There is pain and there is healed pain
I don’t need to say much about pain. There’s that pain inside each one of us and we all know how to get in touch with it immediately. No matter if it was born yesterday or 20 years ago, no matter how big or small, we can resonate. But there is also a healed pain.
A healed pain is one that’s not leading our lives anymore. Mostly, it’s not threatening with its presence. It’s a pain we have learnt to live with. It doesn’t feel like an alienated, strange or even despised part of us that we try to get rid of or, better yet, ignore.
Not all pains in life will be completely gone but healed pain is one that gives you more space.
5. Effort comes from the ego
I used to feel embarrassed in my private sessions, if it (rarely) happened that I said something similar to two different people. I would feel uncomfortable, as if I was cheating. I have woken up to the fact that my authentic voice is in those things that I keep on talking about and coming back to. So where did this impostor feeling came from?
I realised that I felt I needed to make an effort to show myself. What showing up really means is presence and deep listening. And that I bring! So no effort is needed. I became aware how effort comes from the ego saying ‘see me, here I am’. It gets caught in the details and misses the bigger and deeper picture.
The less I make an effort, the more things coming out of me surprise me! Where do they all come from? From the stream, the universe, the soul, the knowing consciousness, the wiser part in us, call it as you wish - it comes from spheres beyond the ego.
6. It’s possible to live without self-doubt
I started writing my book 5 years ago, but only in 2018 did I get into it deeply and consistently. What I’ve learnt through writing this year I couldn’t have learned in any other way.
If in meditation I can look honestly at what’s happening and forming (honestly is an important keyword here), as long as I don’t need to put it on paper, to give it physical life, my demons still have room for manoeuvre.
Bringing myself over and over and over again to the raw feelings and heart’s desire to express, I had to face my demons all the way. The biggest one of them was self-doubt (like the all too familiar voices such as “who would want to read what you write?”, ““they” have already written about it, and much better” etc. etc.).
Through this consistency of facing this demon, one day I found myself without self-doubt. Wow. What a crazy release of freedom. It’s not that it doesn’t visit me anymore, but that experience of freedom is engraved in my bones. Self-doubt is still there, but it’s no more than a faint breeze I sometimes feel.
If you’re writing (a book or any other form) and it hasn’t changed your life, you probably haven’t agreed yet to meet your demons.
7. To fall in love and fall in love again
Meditation has been a part of my life for almost 20 years, yet this year my love for it has truly blossomed. Why? I don’t know really. I do know that I had an urge to teach it more this year and I fell in love again and again with the practice of meditation and the wisdom of the Dharma. It taught me that love is hardly, if at all, a feeling. Love is a sense of existence, some kind of a state of consciousness of infinite openness and curiosity, it’s a gentle touch that never tires.
8. The more you visit your issues the better
In my private sessions mainly I see how difficult it is for us to go over and deal with issues that kept us busy in the past. Relationship with mother/father or getting trapped in similar (destructive) types of intimate relationship are the commons ones. It’s as if going back over the same old issue shows that we failed somehow. There is no failing when it comes to the inner life.
The more the better. The more you visit your “old” “same” issues, the more you’ll grow, learn and discover depths and capacities you didn’t even know were there. Because you’re so familiar with it you have the capacity to be alert to new nuances. There are endless layers to these issues that keep us busy throughout our lives. It’s worth paying attention to what they are.
9. Stay open
Robert and I had a relationship crisis over the summer. We contemplated our choice to be together and how to be together. It was hard. It was shrinking. But I took on myself to stay open. Open to the stream of the days, to whatever is being said, to the unknown, to anything really. It taught me that you can stay open in face of any situation. What I’ve earned from that is a wider, stronger and more trusting presence.
Stay open even when it feels the most difficult thing to do. Even when it feels impossible to stay open. Even in the face of the most contracting experiences. To stay open is one of the best gifts.
10. Better stay real
I was wooed by a couple who are teaching, lets say, a form of self development and meditation. I refused and refused and refused again. I appreciated the people on a personal level, but when it came to their teaching-style (go big celeb and charge for tonnes of money) I was hesitant to get into the mix.
I did see some advantages, however, for example exposure to different audiences and experience working with bigger groups, so at some point I began to be more open to saying maybe yes. They brought in the numbers to tighten the hook.
The closer we got to the practical details of our partnership the more tears and conflicts in the shared values we found. Eventually, it became ugly, with lots of accusations, jealousy and dismissive talk towards myself. It felt like the big corporate against the single individual - only in the spiritual field. That was weird.
I’ve witness over and over again in my life that being real and honest is my strength and path. This year it shone brightly. Each of us has their own development path and you should never borrow on someone else’s. And mine is in no doubt staying true and loyal to the values I deeply care about. Anything else, will crash. And I am thankful for that.
Photo by Sacha Styles on Unsplash