Last year I wrote Running From The Darkness and opened up about my struggle with finding meaning in my life and dealing with low thoughts of self worth and depression. It took a lot for me to write that and to be completely vulnerable to the world. Now, I have come full circle.
Prior to moving to Durango, my experience with meditation was very minimal. It was inconsistent and I only went for 10 minutes at a time. I mainly did it before bed to relax, reduce stress and to sleep better. Little did I know I was just skimming the surface.
When I first got to my new town, I discovered that there was a meditation center and a few nights out of the week there were group meditation sits. Usually they last as long as 45 minutes and then the leader does a talk afterwards.
If you haven’t meditated before or if you are new to it like myself, 45 minutes is a long ass time to be completely alone in your head. Sometimes my mind is going 100 mph and sometimes my mind is completely clear. Sometimes I am in complete bliss and sometimes I am digging deep in the dark corners that have been tucked away my entire life.
Meditation and mindfulness is not just about finding positivity in yourself and the world around. Part of it is about becoming aware of negative thoughts and emotions too.
When you become more mindful you begin to ask yourself why you do what you do, why you say what you say and why to think the way you think. It’s almost like a way of asking yourself, who am I?
A lot of the things we tell ourselves, whether good or bad, are from a lifetime of experiences and somehow we have become conditioned to think that way.
For some reason, I was conditioned to think that I was worthless, that my life had no meaning and I wasn’t happy. Maybe those feelings were rooted in my lack of finding meaningful work that I loved and/or from all of my failed relationships.
I truly believed all of the negativity I was feeding myself.
I used my passion of running to push all of that aside and to chase a life of happiness. I was running from myself and the darkness. It was a quick fix, but no matter how far I ran it would always be with me.
“You can outdistance that which is running after you, but not what is running inside you.”
Lately I have been working on personal compassion. Compassion towards the world was one thing that I felt when I first began a consistent meditation practice. But I can be my own worst enemy and I wantedto dive into that area of my mind head on.
How I did that was with words of positive affirmations. After a few sits, I could tell a slight shift in my outlook on myself, but I knew there was more that I could do.
About 2 weeks ago, I was meditating and I realized that there was something that I have never said to myself.
The words “I love you” came out and I honestly couldn’t hold back the tears.
It felt like I finally saw myself as someone deserving of my own compassion and love. I was beginning to accept myself as someone who I would in normal life, like a friend or a loved one.
It was a relief to hear myself say those things to myself. Like I had been waiting all of my life to hear those words from me.
I continued with this practice and again, I didn’t realize there was a depth even further.
Last night, while at the group meditation we were doing a guided meditation. We were asked to think about someone who we are envious of and then we told to realize that we are all the same in that we share the same air, the same gravity, the same world. It doesn’t matter what others have or what other do.
We are all equals in this world.
Then the leader of the mediation said, “you are good enough.”
My internal armor dissolved.
Tears welled up and then they flowed down my face and I couldn’t hold them back.
She said it again and I felt free from myself. Free from all of my self hate that I had tucked away. Free from the shit I was running away from. I finally felt like me.
I was liberated from the internal cage I built inside as I struggled with life after graduating college. I finally felt like I deserved everything that there is good in life.
Later in the mediation she said “sometimes meditation is about going into the darkness with a flashlight, not about pushing it away.”
Last weekend’s race at Antelope Canyon was the first race I did after starting to be more compassionate with myself and it was the most enjoyable race I have ever done. I was solely running for the love of running. I wasn’t running for a certain time or for a certain place. I ran for the passion and not to try to make myself feel worthy and deserving of myself. I ran because I loved it. I ran free.
There is a reason why I wanted to share this with everyone. And it also goes with why I try to inspire everyone to follow their hearts. I believe part of my life’s purpose is to translate my experiences to everyone, so that they are inspired to take a chance at the life they want deep down.
So here is my message to everyone and I won’t stop reiterating it:
You are good enough. You are capable of amazing things and you deserve everything that your heart desires. You are beautiful. You are incredible. You are better than you think you are.
You are alive for a reason and that reason it to do amazing things. We have one chance at life, so go fucking for whatever it is that you want. Go for it. Like, right now.
There is that saying that “it’s about the journey, not the destination.” Well majority of the world is living as if they’re at the destination. Just sitting, coasting by and not truly living. They’re already dead. If it’s about the journey, then make it a journey. Doing something you hate everyday isn’t a journey, it’s a death sentence.
Wake up. Be alive. Be mindful of the world around you. Smile more. Taste this wonderful life. Appreciate everything around you. Be grateful to be alive. Wake up excited everyday. Take chances and take pictures. Dance and sing. Be free. Travel. Make mistakes. Learn and grow. Open your heart. Write your own story.
Do the world a favor and just be you.
The things you want are just on the other side of fear that you’ve made up in your mind. I have been on my path for a few years now and I can only say that it is fucking wonderful to see the world the way that I do. Don’t let others hold you back and don’t let yourself hold you back.
When you follow your heart, you meet the most beautiful people and go to the most beautiful places.
Go live. Chase your dreams. Follow you heart. Never stop living.
I know I still have a long way to travel down my road. I just hope you have the courage to travel down yours.
Life is about taking chances on the things you want out of it. One chance after another. Things won’t always go your way or the way you expected them to go. Eventually though you’ll realize things didn’t happen for a reason and the things that did happen were meant just for you. One chance after another will put you just where you are meant to be in life. Once you realize that you’re where you’re meant to be, a unique satisfaction and contentment washes over you with pure joy and gratitude.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to explore the southern end of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range as well as the Great Sand Dune National Park.
And while I was waiting with someone Friday afternoon, at the campgrounds, for the others in the group to arrive, we killed time by playing Truth or Dare. Which ended up just being Truth or Truth. But on one of the rare occasions that I said Dare, I was dared to not check any social media accounts for the entire weekend.
I only used my phone for taking pictures. The rest of the weekend was filled with great company, great food, great (box) wine, great runs, great scenery and perfect fall weather.
I was more in the moment because of my dare. And by being in the moment, I believe that the flavors of life become the best in life. Completely immersed in the moment, each moment became the best moment.
Had I accessed any social media accounts, I’m not sure if I would have had any less of a good time. But I know that by not looking at them, this was one of the best weekends I’ve ever had. I may have missed out on a good laugh or interesting conversation if I was scrolling through my Facebook feed. Or I may have missed a shooting star or the perfect chance to snap a photo.
Even though it was only a 48 hour cleanse, I find myself wondering why I (and I assume, we as a society) spend so much time using social media. It really is a distraction of life. What’s really the point of using social media except to fuel our egocentric culture?
It’s a great way to misuse our personal alone time and it’s a great way detach yourself from the moments with friends and family, the moments that really matter.
Yes, it does feel a little silly typing all of this and then posting it to this blog.
I hope to spend less time online and more time in tune with my environment. Less time sharing memories and more time collecting them. Hopefully you will do the same…
Go outside to go within.
There, in the beauty of it all, you will find all of the answers to your life questions. In the sun, in the night. In the still air, in the gentle breeze. On the plains, on the mountains. In the rain, under the stars. There, in those, you will find life. The life you were designed to live and feel. You’ll find the balance and peace within to guide you along your path of life and the meaning to everything you needed to know. All that you ever wanted and all that you ever needed, can be found in nature’s magnificence.
I was freaking out and scared out of my mind.
I was around the halfway point, on my way up Engineer Mountain. From my vantage point, in a narrow passageway about a person and a half wide, I couldn’t see the way people were going. Straight and to the right, was a sliver of a ledge. One slip of a hand or foot and life would be over.
I attempted that way, but after a few minutes I realized there was no way I would make it. Especially alone.
I made my way back to the haven in between the rocks and wondered if people were climbing up to the left. I couldn’t tell.
My heart was pounding and I was legitimately scared.
I pulled out my phone and noticed I had service. I sent a text to a few friends and even my Mom.
“I’m freaking the fucking out right now.” Was what it said.
I didn’t really know what to do. So I waited.
I figured people, whom I could see on my way up, would be coming down soon. Instead of panicking on my own, I would wait and ask for help on the best way up.
I spent probably 20-30 minutes in this spot. When a couple, maybe in their mid-40s came down, I admitted that I didn’t know where to go, that this was my first time trying to get up Engineer and that this was my first time going up a mountain, ever.
When they came down, I saw that they did climb up and to the left of where I was. And they assured me that I was in the hardest section and that in about 10 yards I would be able to easily navigate why way to the top.
My heartbeat settled and my confidence was to it’s normal state. They even mentioned that a group was on the peak with a dog.
So if a dog could get up there, so could I.
From there, I made my way up equipped with their advice.
As I was going up, everyone who had reached the top was coming down. I was able to follow in their footsteps.
It wasn’t but another 10-15 minutes from where I was stuck, that I reached the top. And since everyone was already on their way down, I had the whole peak to myself.
I was ecstatic. It was one of the greatest feelings in the world to summit my first mountain ever. And I think my freak out ordeal made the moment ever sweeter.
I can’t remember a specific time in my childhood, but that was the most scared I had been since my youth. What made it so nerve wracking was that the first half was loose dirt and rocks on a steep incline. And keeping my feet from slipping was impossible.
From there, the terrain immediately switched to large and more steady rocks. But once I reached that halfway mark, I was extremely worried about making the slightest mistake.
Looking around me on the ascent, the intense composition of landscape around had me amazed. The vast empty air, though, had me on the edge in my head.
The whole climb was filled with fear. It wasn’t like I had to push past one specific moment and from there I would be home free. It was an intense experience for me. There were many times I thought about quitting, but I went there to climb it.
Getting to the top, 12,972 ft., was monumental for me, to say the least. The pure joy I felt, I will never forget. It truly was one of the best feats I have achieved.
I opened up in a victorious roar, before the descent. It was a day I will never forget.
And I can’t wait to do more.
“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” -Jack Kerouac
View from the top: