Recently, I have been navigating through a major life transition. I’m hesitant to call it a transition because it has been going on for seven years and, at the ripe and young age of twenty-five, my memories of predictable times are slowly dissipating. My plans constantly change, my direction is constantly tested, my desires frequently elude me, and the more I fight to free myself from trouble the more it seems to stick to me like a piece of gum in my hair.
The first year I thought it was just bad luck. The second I became spiritual. The third I noticed the universe speaking back to me through friends, readings, television shows, and other serendipitous messages that always came at the correct time and place (sharing the kind of wisdom that I desperately needed). I developed a very close relationship with life’s wisdom and allowed it to guide me, but more wisdom did not dissipate my problems.
I was advancing, letting go of my inhibitions, breaking free from my frustrations and ending my bad habits, but I continued to find myself in unfavorable circumstances. I eventually got used to things not going my way. I expected my plans to fall apart, and understood that whatever happened outside of my body was less important than the peace I could fight to maintain inside. No matter what obstacles fell on my lap, I had the choice to be a victim or embrace the opportunities hidden behind the volatility. It became clear that every obstacle was an opportunity in disguise. Every tear shed light on the things that I didn’t like about myself and had the power to change. Every problem uncovered the truth behind those people and circumstances I had sought out for the wrong reasons. Every time I felt myself sinking lower I discovered something else that I was wrong about – some notion or assumption about life that I had held on for years and was preventing me from experiencing true joy.
One new year’s day, I was flying home after the holidays and I discovered that I had been assigned a first class seat by accident. The first thought on my mind was:
“Maybe this is an omen that I am going to be extremely lucky this year”.
I decided not to tell anyone out of a sheer panic that I would somehow jinx it. Two weeks later I received a fantastic job offer and the opportunity to move on to a significantly better living situation under the same budget. I found myself surrounded by friends, love, and adventures after a long chapter of loneliness, obstacles, and constant soul searching. Things dramatically improved in a span of eight weeks, and every day I smiled a little bit more.
Life being what it is, there were still problems, obstacles, and worries. There were still things to be disappointed about and nuances that were blocking me from truly enjoying myself. Even when I understood that I was finally living in the place that I had fantasized about for years, I was struggling with the problems that were still not resolved. I began falling into my old patterns – those habits that I had struggled so much to avoid and eliminate crept back up without a warning. My room got messier, my spending less organized, and my workout habits less consistent. I was reacting in anger, making mountains out of molehills, and creating drama in the workplace. I was already acting like the person I used to be all those years ago. I was not allowing myself to be self-critical. I assumed wisdom acquired was wisdom kept. I thought mistakes corrected could never be repeated again.
I was regressing on my journey, slowly turning into the person I decided to leave behind.
This morning I went up to the roof to meditate. I sat down, took deep breaths, and concentrated on keeping my mind blank. I paid attention to my consciousness, not my thoughts. As the wind blew through my head, arms, and body, I imagined it taking all of my thoughts with it.
I was able to return to my center of wisdom. It’s the side of me that is always right, and always knows the true nature of the problems I face. It’s the side of me that isn’t afraid to admit when I’ve made a mistake, or take the steps necessary to fix them.
While this center produces thoughts, they are not the same as my “stream of consciousness” thoughts. When I think certain voices in my head begin to yap away incessantly in an endless loop. The center of wisdom has no voice. Its thoughts are not conveyed in human language. I simply know what I’m thinking and what needs to be done while my mind is still blank.
I believe some call this voice intuition. Christians refer to it as the ‘holy spirit’. I call it my “center of wisdom”. The more I learn to ignore the thoughts coming from my internal monologue (be it my fears, insecurities, worries, or past scars), the more perspective I get on my problems, and begin to balance gratitude with sound solutions. I feel good regardless of my circumstances (and their endless cascades of blessings and curses).
Meditation is simply that…..listening to your center of wisdom and figuring out what it knows about your present circumstances. Ironically enough, you will not be able to listen to it if you are focusing on your present circumstances. Remember, if your “wise thoughts” are verbalized, they are not coming from your center of wisdom. It never uses human language.
I was regressing because my mind had become dirty – just like my bedroom and living space. If I was to maintain my mind clean forever, I had to do exactly what I had taught myself to do when I finally learned how to keep my room clean.
Organization, cleanliness, and general maintenance of my immediate environment has never been my strong suit. One of the things that had always frustrated me about cleaning was the sheer impossibility of keeping my room clean for more than a few days. Every four or five weeks I would clean and wash my entire wardrobe in an exhausting eight hour spree. After collapsing on my bed and analyzing the terrible consequences of procrastination I would say:
“This is the last time I will ever do this to myself. From now on, I will make sure to keep it clean so that it never gets this dirty again”.
Needless to say I have still not yet achieved that lofty goal. There is no such thing as “keeping my living space clean”. The dirt always returns. Dust settles, tiny bits of trash eventually reach the floor, and soap residues make it to the bathroom walls. No matter how hard I clean, it will always get dirty again.
It is one thing to promise myself that I will keep it clean (completely unrealistic) and it is another to make sure I clean constantly and never stop cleaning. It’s not about not making a mess – it’s about cleaning it up right after it becomes a mess (not five weeks later). I must wash my glasses immediately after using them. I must make my bed immediately after waking up. If I see something that needs to get done, I must do it, and resist the temptation to leave it for later. The only way to keep my environment clean is to never stop cleaning.
The same applies to my mind. The only way to keep my mind clean is to never stop cleaning. There is no such thing as permanent wisdom (or permanent growth). As we move on with our lives and new problems arise, they contaminate our thoughts and make a huge mess inside our heads. We forget our highest goals and fall back into our lowest tendencies. Any wisdom we acquire through books, spiritual journeys, or self-analysis is going to fade away. Our lower selves will return, and our progress will be reversed. The only way to keep our minds clean is to never stop cleaning.
I have come to understand that meditation has nothing to do with some sort of bliss, or permanent state of enlightenment. If you don’t take 15-30 minutes per day to sit still in your body without any thoughts, your mind will be a complete mess.
I must put in the work to keep my mind clean so I never forget all the wisdom I’ve collected.
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Andrew Gabelic is the CEO & Founder of Teledipity, a free pocket life coach with an eerie ability to send you the right self-improvement content at the right time (based on your personality and life stage). Check out what it says about you!