“Thoughts are like thieves entering an empty house”

Disclaimer: All views expressed on this blog are my own based by my experience and do not represent of any entity with which I have been, am now or will be affiliated

February 19, 2021
Manila, Philippines

My why for this blog: To understand more of me so I can understand more of them. This blog is for my parents, brothers, dear partner and friends. If I don’t prioritize my life, someone else will – my thoughts.

Notes: This blog is not about spirituality although there is a spiritual aspect to meditative practice. Meditation for me is a powerful tool which gives clarity on internal issues – not a cure to our problems.

I woke up feeling distressed after Christmas in 2020. I felt like it happened again, I lost some of my relationships I invested my emotions and time with. It did not feel good. I am always compelled to repeat the same decisions and actions. I have always been in ignorance and denial path. I did not break the negative patterns I had in my past relationships. I did not accept the idea that my earliest years left deep and lasting imprint that made me behave the same way.

I realized I needed to do something about it and found out about meditation. They say it’s good for internal thought processes. So, my journey began. I have downloaded Headspace app and yes, I was so motivated for the first day. After getting up at 6 in the morning, I sit and listened to the guided meditation. When I began to close my eyes, holy fuck!! Where were all those thoughts coming from? My anxiety rose and I opened my eyes because I could not do it. I can’t sit with those thoughts. No wonder some people would rather be electrocuted than to sit with their thoughts. I was so stressed but I said okay I will give it a try again. I closed my eyes and oh boy I resisted every thoughts, oops no bad thought, nope I don’t like these thoughts. I realized my breath changes as my thoughts popped up everywhere, my body shakes and maaan that first experience was like me having sex for the first time haha. You think you know? But you have no fucking idea hahaha

I kept searching on the technique of meditation – it always starts with the breath. Breathe through your nose into your chest until your chest is full. Belly should expand out. I would really recommend a Headspace app for this. There is a tutorial for meditation. There are 2 types of mindfulness: 1 single point focus (focusing on one thing over and over again when your mind wanders bring it back) and contemplative – observing thoughts as they go, you wonder how these thoughts come from. You can always start with 5 minutes, there is no reward for who meditated longest. The goal is to learn how to sit with yourself, emotions and your fears. Take a deep breath as if your loved one’s life depended on it. And the good thing about this is you can do it anywhere.

As time goes by, practicing mindfulness has really impacted my life and the way I think. Here are my realizations – my success depends on the development of these skills.

1. Self-Awareness

Change begins when you practice observing yourself. I have confronted myself since I started my meditative practice last year upon returning to Manila. I did not know I was lacking self-awareness. My thoughts and actions are always on autopilot. I was not even aware of my own habits, impulses and reactions that I no longer control them – they control me. That is the reason why it was so hard for me to understand others because I could not understand myself. I cannot seem to see my faults and irrationalities, only those of others. This allows me to justify whatever I do, no matter what the results.

I began to follow my breath, listen to the thoughts and put no judgment with those. When thoughts pop up – I just say ohh, there is my to-do list again, ooh there is my shame thought again, my jealous thought and they disappeared. They pop up once in a while but I know that these thoughts are just there, they have no control over me. I control them. The moment I am aware of how it operates and dominates me is the moment it loses its hold on me and can be tamed. Therefore, the first step to be rational is always inward.

None of us wakes up and say to ourselves that today is the day that I will destroy my life. I can change my narrative by reframing my thoughts. Thoughts are always there. I just need to change my associations to the thoughts and not be afraid of it. I am facing these thoughts now, I can catch myself next time if I am triggered and step back and assess -it’s actually liberating.

2. Empathy

I thought I already knew myself but until I practiced mindfulness, I have learned that I have natural biases that makes me judge people incorrectly. By looking inward, I have learned to slowly accept myself and that I won’t assume that the people I interact with are not similar and not share the same values as I have. I am considering more possibilities and options now. It is only by accepting the flaws and emotions of others and rather than judge or hate them, feel compassion for them. “She’s fucked up too, I used to believe that idea. I wonder where’d she get that?”

Adopting this attitude depends on the quality of self-love. I am not aware because I do not see the connection between problems in my life and my constant misreading of people’s moods and intentions and the endless missed opportunities that accrue from this.

I am a big proponent of self-experiments. I realized that I am triggered by thought provoking words and body language that made me defensive. So, what I did was I go out in Manila – have long walks, interact with people. I check my responses so I will know my trigger points. When people shout at me – I feel offended. When they doubt me, another trigger. Laugh at my response, another trigger. Anything that makes me feel insignificant basically. The first step is to look at these emotions that are infecting me. To learn to question myself Why do I feel this way? Why is there resentment? Where is this incessant attention came from? With this I will begin to think of myself instead of reacting to other people give me. Emotions tend to narrow my mind, making me focus on that thought. If I quiet my mind with no judgment I can entertain better options with calmness.

I now reverse my normal impulse to talk and give my opinion, desiring instead to hear the other person’s point of view. Cut off my interior monologue and come to terms with these flaws in myself so I can come to terms and forgive those in others.

3. Ego is the enemy

I was trapped so terribly inside my own head that I was a prisoner to my own thoughts. Ego is protecting myself that is scared, fearful and who doesn’t know what she’s doing. The great danger is always the ego – this always cause me to become defensive. I am continually judging people. I wanted to change them. I wish they will be something else but everyone is different. I am trying to make understanding people a fun game now.

I always think that I am doing something right and the other party is always wrong. I went too far in this area of my life and meditation is a wake up call. So every time there is a trigger point, it become my second nature to assess and step back first – it’s not easy. I will embark on another self-experiment that if I see or feel I don’t like a person I will talk to them and get to know them.

4. Follow emotionsit shows you what you need to work on

The beliefs that disturb me, the feelings that threaten me, the insecure part of me that are resisting are precisely where I need to go. We tend to think that the future happens later, but we’re creating it in our minds every day. When I meditate and there is a thought and trigger in my emotions and body, I follow it. I dig below any trigger points to see where they started because this is telling me something to work on. For example: There is an Ooh there is my envious thought again because in the thought my brother had a game boy (old-fashioned) haha and I did not have that because I bought chocolates instead. haha. So now, I am envious and that is okay. I accept this emotion and follow it, why did I have this envy? I was not able to buy game boy because I chose chocolate instead – it left me without any extra money to buy. The root cause of my envy is money not the game boy. I don’t have money to buy things. So what do I do now? save money. haha

5. Stillness

I always have orgy of complexity, superficiality and technological distraction so most of the time this is my go to when I become afraid instead of looking inward. If the road gets tough and requires some patience, I always think I am in the wrong path. With practice, I can turn down the volume of scared voice inside of me. There is just work to be done and lessons to be learned to activate the treasures that are awakening inside of me.

I am still continuing my journey of self-improvement, seeking answers, read books to bulletproof my hope, to have rich conversations that magnify my creativity and listen to wonderful music that uplifts my heart to experience vastly better days.

Love,

Maria, sometimes Niskie