Bear with me, this experience I’m about to dive into may seem like a stretch for some, yet recently I uncovered the best gift I could have ever imagined giving myself. It was unique, transformative, and humbling; the only way I can describe it is as drinking from the water of life. This experience rejuvenated and reinvigorated me in such a way that I felt such immense gratitude and joy afterwards.
This experience emerged within me once I completed the “Stress Management” program. As the last meditation drew to an end, it was as if a gentle voice whispered in my ear, telling me to thank myself and I actually found myself saying, “I just drank from the water of life.”
Perhaps it was my literary side peeking out, but the “water of life” expression came to me all on its own. It reminded me of the first stream of water we give to newly planted flowers to help them settle into the soil. This water helps those plants root into place, and connect with the earth around them.
I encountered this deep well in me in the morning. It’s given me such a flexibility that I was surprised to find myself in bed during my last meditation. When I first started meditating, I’d set myself certain rules: I would always be sitting down, with my legs crossed. Though by the end of the 8th week, I understood that being “relaxed” could mean very different things for very different people. Once I made it halfway through the program, I began meditating with my back leaning against a wall, with my feet stretched out before me because I’d hurt my knee. Of course, there is a big difference between the two: one was a compromise I made out of necessity and the other was an effort to be kind with myself and choose compassion for the discomfort I was feeling in my knee area. This last practice, I was equally kind and compassionate with myself and thought to myself, “It’s cold today, I can meditate from under the warm covers”.
My breath lead me to this well of life water within me. While I used to meditate regularly before starting this 8-week meditation program, I could never really be in the moment with my breathing. In the past, whenever I would be guided to focus on my breath, I would start to feel claustrophobic. My heartbeat would pick up and in some instances, I would end up having a panic attack. It sounds strange that by just focusing on my breathing I would get so anxious, and yet it continued to happen. What proved to be my anchor during these times was focusing on the palms of my hands. By focusing on this small area, I would feel present and alive, as if I could feel my pulse right in the palm of my hand. Looking back, I now see this was because I had right there cupped in my hands, the water of life.
Over time, I learned to focus on my breathing without suffering from the same panic and anxiety. Yet even though I did feel an improvement, still every time I focused on my inhalations and exhalations, I would feel a space open up in my chest joined by a sinking feeling in my stomach. Then my heart palpitations would increase suddenly and that feeling of claustrophobia would start to creep in. I started to feel a bit hopeless, as if there was no way to overcome this.
What happened to me was the result of being able to try something without judging myself. Yet it was only possible after continuous work and efforts. I was able to find that when I would stop relying solely on my palms, I was still able to connect with life through my breath.
However difficult and emotionally challenging these practices were, I can say with absolute certainty that this has been the biggest gift I’ve been able to give myself. Reconnecting with my existence made me feel like I was finally rooted in place, steady in my own skin, and able to nourish myself with the water of life. Now in the future, should I ever feel this panic and anxiety, I feel I have the tools within me to tap back into this sense of calm and ease. Of course, there will be times when I evolve, transform, and shed my leaves. Times when I wilt and bloom again, yet at no point will my essence be compromised.
That’s one of the most valuable components I’ve found about meditation. Meditation teaches us skills and techniques to be able to conjure up all of these emotions, feelings, thoughts, and revelations all by ourselves. In this way, I, myself, am able to use what I already have within me to nourish myself with this water of life. I don’t need to rely on others or outside influences to sustain me; meditation allows me to sustain myself.
It’s amazing the things I’ve accomplished in such a short time! Throughout these 8 weeks I was given, I persevered, refused to be fooled by the games my mind played, invited myself to reflect, and was kind and compassionate to myself. There were mornings when I wanted to pull the covers over my head and just put all of my sources of anxiety to the side. But come the next morning, I picked up where I left off. Through this perseverance I was able to open up new channels in my mind, and internalize new and positive memories and thought patterns in my brain. Again, it was on my own, out of my own will, that I was able to feed myself with this rooting water of life.
That’s not to say that the world and my life is perfect now. It’s just that I’m able to observe and interact with others with more clarity. Sure, I still have to wear glasses but my vision has gotten better. The more I continue the practice, the better my vision will become.
I feel so humbled and proud to have not only overcome this 8-week course, but to have uncovered this rich source of life within myself. The gratitude I feel is like fuel that will propel me forward. Granted, there’ll still be mornings when I pull the covers over my head, simply because my body or soul aches too much, but one thing’s for sure: It’s possible to stay in bed and meditate too.