By: Emma Levin
When I graduated from college in May of 2016, you could say my shit didn’t stink. I was graduating with an English Lit degree, three minors, and academic awards. In short, I felt damn excellent.
Unsurprisingly, in the weeks to follow, my serotonin hit empty. After everything I accomplished, I felt unsuccessful because I didn’t have a first job to post about on social media. I was living with my parents; my cat was my only companion, and late night Netflix became my life. It was dark at the end of the tunnel.
Once September hit, I realized how far into self-hatred I had slipped. I wanted to love myself more and I wanted to mean it.
Those keywords became my rallying cry. I opened my arms to meditation, something a year ago, I would have never entertained. A daily meditation is a wonderful time to be alone. Me time has taken on a whole new meaning. And during my practice, I’ve learned that negative thinking is just a habit, so it’s possible to cultivate a positive one. Through daily exercises, readings, guided meditation, and journaling I began the shift from hate to love.
It’s about being in the moment.
So, what does that mean? It is quite literally, being, feeling and experiencing everything in that one second, without judgment or comment.
As humans, we exist on autopilot. I recommend practicing engaging and focusing on even the smallest of tasks, like putting on makeup or brushing your teeth. It’s difficult to do past a few seconds, but being in the moment breaks absent-minded thought.
One of the key points of meditation is to allow your thoughts to pass through your mind. Curiously observe them, refrain from engagement, and let them subside. Don’t try to analyze them. Don’t try to halt them. Simply be curious about them.
An example: I tend to get anxious while driving and frequently envision car accidents. I simply observe that thought, acknowledge it happened, and allow it to move on without further comment. You soon learn that you are not your thoughts, but it’s important to accept their wide range of personality, good and bad, negative and positive.
I may not have that job yet, nor may I have a significant other, or any other accomplishment people use to define success. But, I have been going after more opportunities, appreciating myself in a way I have never done before, and achieving personal writing goals.
Every moment is an opportunity; whether to take a step forward, stay put, or to go backward. Happiness isn’t linear. You must take it one in- breathe and one out-breath at a time.
Suggested Guided meditations: