Slowly, without necessarily intending it, I feel mindfulness becoming more prevalent in my work. When I am out running, I debate whether I should share the following story. It’s intensely personal. But it’s also the explanation for why I feel myself turning more strongly toward this method of quieting my mind and why I envision bringing what I learn into my coaching practice.
A wise person once told me that when doing good deep work, it’s not always about the what, but also about the why.
This is the why. This story recounts the moment of a foundational shift in my worldview. It is the prologue to all that will follow.
First things first. In the fall of 2017 a catastrophic trauma occurred in my family and deeply impacted my children. There is not much else I can, or will, say about it other than it was about as bad as a thing could be. The months that followed were dark and difficult. It was especially hard for me to carry the burden for my kids. It’s also a challenge when one has training as a therapist to NOT try to therapy themselves, or their children. I kept thinking I could fix this for them and what I carried was so very heavy.
Like any good trauma, there were also layers and complexities from the past and in the present that just made it so much…heavier.
Fast forward to late December 2018. Unrelated to any of the above, it was approaching New Years Eve. I was without plans as my spouse was working, my kids were with their dad, and my stepson would not be at home either. It took me a few days of self-persuasion, but I finally talked myself into sending a message to my tribe via Facebook that I was solo and looking to see if anyone wanted to make plans. I told myself that maybe someone else was also solo and also hesitant to reach out. You never know, right?
I had a few friends and family members respond, but there was one in particular that stood out. She is someone I am just getting to know - our husbands are both runners and frequently train together. She was going to a sound bath meditation at a local retreat center and invited me to come along.
Once, years ago, I was at a yoga class at an ashram and the teacher sounded a Tibetan singing bowl at the end of practice. The sound was so intense, and I tend toward auditory sensitivity, and I nearly crawled out of my very skin. I agreed to go to the sound bath but I was a little nervous.
It turns out, it was nothing like that one interminable sustained note of the bowl. There was a myriad of amazing sounds playing together toward something that felt like floating. Once settled in and warm and attuned to the sounds and my breathing, I decided to perform a metta meditation - lovingkindness. May you have happiness. May you have safety. May you have good health. May you have peace. To someone I love. To a neutral person. To someone with whom I have difficulty. To myself.
What transpired during that meditation was akin to the Earth breaking apart and shining light for the entire universe to view. I’ve never spoken of this except in a slight reference to my therapist, but it feels important to share here now. “To someone with whom I have difficulty.” I thought of the source of our recent trauma. It was so difficult to visualize this individual and wish them to know happiness. To know safety. To know peace.
It happened though, that as those very specific thoughts were being held in my mind, the music of the sound bath was reaching a crescendo. And it was as if I were being broken wide open and all of the pain and suffering and fear and rage and sorrow of the previous sixteen months came rushing out in a glorious light.
I rang in the new year different, changed, than when I had traveled through it.
In the past six or so months, I’ve begun to study mindfulness, loving kindness, meditation, Buddhism. (Cuz that’s what I do…I learn things. It’s a coping skill.) I am finding souls that struggle like mine and I am listening to their stories of finding relief through meditation and mindfulness.
Historically, I’ve practiced as a cognitive behavioral therapist and there is a lot of intersection. Quieting the noise of the mind, verifying or disputing the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves or about a situation, fact checking, and accepting the reality of the here and now instead of “what if…”. It rings true and valid for me but this time it’s also about me, and not just a theoretical orientation with a bunch of associated therapeutic interventions.
There are a handful of moments in my life that I can touch directly upon a shift on my very axis - some for good, some for not. New Years Eve, lying on the floor of a great hall in a mediation center, was one of them. The more familiar I become with meditation and mindfulness as a tool of self-healing, the more I want to explore more and bring it to the people with whom I work.
May you know happiness.
May you know safety.
May you know good health.
May you know peace.