Is anyone else out there overwhelmed by the sheer VOLUME of self help, spiritual transformation information out there? Whoa. Seriously. It feels like everyone and their sister is doing it. And everyone's method is both the same and different.
It's like the nutrition industry; everyone wants you to be healthy in their way. It's so insane. Hopping from one website to the next has you reframing your idea of what is healthy over and over and over.
Eggs are evil...wait, no they're a super food!
Dairy will give me a slim waist....oh wait, this site says it makes feces leak out of my intestines, YIKES!
Whole grains are healthy...but this site says they're poison....but this site says they're okay if you soak then dry then grind your own. Say WHA'??
More than once the confusion of it all has me heading to the gas station for a swiss cake roll in the frustration of it all.
Finding out what works for my body has been, and remains, an ongoing exploration. I now know that dairy gives me stomach pains, that I need to limit my grains for good energy, that I need a TON of protein...and even *gulp* fat (good healthy fat) to feel amazing. Refined sugar makes me feel terrible. It gives me stomach pains and ruins my energy, but raw honey is good in everything, including me. Also, and this one was big for me...obsessing about getting "enough" water only makes me feel water logged and stressed out. I trust myself to know when I need to hydrate now.
In getting to know my body, I'm finding the keys that make me feel good. And isn't that the point of all this nutrition stuff anyway?
I won't even get started on the exercise industry....
The spiritual industry, it's the same. Everyone has a different method, belief, or program that "works." Everyone is running a seminar that they swear will change your life. It's a massive load of spiritual exercise we have to choose from out there. Even within distinctive faiths there are so many avenues for one to chose from. What am I going to believe? How am I going to behave, dress......LIVE?
Those kinds of choices are ours to make every single day, and if you're like me, you're getting mixed messages all the time.
The truth is that the answers, your perfect answers are right inside of you, nestled, and easy to reach if you're ready to hear. The key for me to hear my guidance is meditation.
Meditation is such a commercialized concept these days that it's been made intimidating, as if there are good and bad ways to do it, or marginalized, like, only hippy, new-agers meditate. When I first started meditating, or attempting to meditate years ago, I was plagued with thoughts of not doing it right.
I'd get nestled in, and then the thoughts would start in. Back then I was in that "get it right, work harder" phase of my life, so I'd start beating myself up. Why can't I do this right? Why can't you just shut off, mind??
Of course after 5 minutes I was exhausted and feeling worse than when I'd began. It wasn't until about 6 months ago, when I threw out the guilt of not getting it right that I finally started accepting the good stuff meditation has to offer....like answers and direction.
Meditation is being still inside...you haven't failed if you scratch your nose or shift your position to get comfortable.
Meditation is about creating peace in your life...thoughts are going to be there. Acknowledge them and let them go, and for heaven's sake, don't beat yourself up for thinking or for what thoughts come up. They're just thoughts after all.
Meditation should feel good. It should feel like deep relaxation.
Meditation starts with you as you are right now. It is simply the listening part of prayer. When it's time, when you're getting to know your insides, as you start to acknowledge your thoughts without judgement. (For example: A frequent thought/feeling for me is, "I'm never going to be able to do what I want to do and feel successful" my meditative response is, "Oh, that's a fear thought that comes from my fear of failure and what I'm capable of." Then I just let it go, because it's simply a thought, and truth is so much bigger than that.
Just like everything else, it takes time, and it's totally personalized. Experiment, practice listening, learn what stillness means to you, and above all be gentle with yourself. Your instincts, intuition, the Still Small Voice will lead you where you need to go.
Support that. Love yourself. You are completely capable.
Anna Turner is the woman behind Little Hearth. She's an ordained interfaith minister, a writer, a believer in purposeful living and healing, a perpetual student, and a full time feminist mother.