The Power of Meditation: How Silence Helped Me Find My Voice.
Updated: Aug 3, 2019
Sitting in a converted nunnery in Devon on a sunny spring day was not how envisioned my bank holiday weekend in May 2016. "This is stupid" I thought, looking around to see 30-40 other young people just sat there, in the lotus position, eyes closed with a peaceful look upon their faces. "Get your bags and leave. This is for losers" Something made me stay that days despite my ego's best self sabotage attempts. Maybe it was the beautiful sun on the grounds welcoming in but maybe it was something more. Maybe it was finding a purpose that I'd never had. Little did I know during my internal struggle that I would be back on those grounds for the next 3 years.
I always considered myself your average twenty-something year old. Small amount of debt, half working car, slight alcohol dependency, impending sense of doom about the economic landscape and global warming, oh and just a dash of crippling anxiety.
I hadn't always been that way, I was always really confident. I learnt at school that if I was quiet the others kids wouldn't talk to me, so my inner voice would say "get in there girl and be popular". This detachment of who I really was lead to self hate. I found as I got older, this voice got louder the stress of everyday life felt like it was closing in on me. More and more each day until I couldn't breathe. Every cell inside me felt like it was screaming. To the point that I was struggling to leave the house some days.
2013 was the definition of a bad year. I learnt all about grief the hard way. I was scrolling through social media during May bank holiday weekend to read that my best friend had passed away in her sleep. I still remember the sick, sinking feeling down my throat into the pit of my stomach as I read those words. I couldn't find the words and I couldn't breathe. That day was the day my life changed forever.
For two whole years after I felt like I wasn't whole. A part of me was missing which I could never get back. I became hateful, selfish and cold. I pushed away family, I avoided friends, I lost my job and my 5 year relationship broke down. I had a choice. I could give up and reside to a life of misery and borderline alcoholism or I could get up and show the world what I was made of. But I was gonna need help.. and a lot of it.
In 2015 I first sought professional medical help. The NHS is a really wonderful gift here in the UK but the wait times can be hard. I was put on a waiting list to see a psychiatrist, I was warned this could be anything from 6 months to 2 years. I couldn't wait that long. My life was already falling apart and I was running out of reasons to wake up everyday. That's when my friend mentioned a meditation class for young people. I'm such a fidget I thought I couldn't do it. But she really needed someone so I begrudgingly went along with her.
In the heart of Cheltenham is the Isbourne Centre. A holistic centre inside one of the regency buildings. We paid our £2 contribution towards the room and we walked down to the basement where I met Katherine Buxton, a kind warm lady who radiated joy. This glow was a damn site different from my internal bitterness. She explained how to meditate with simple guided meditations. Keeping with the breathe, body scans and listening to the environment.
I kept thinking "Am I doing this right?" "What if I'm doing it wrong?" "What's everyone else doing?". Just at that moment Katherine reminded us all to come back to the breathe. With little bit of patience and guidance I understood what to do. I stopped listening to the voice that had pushed me for so long.
I hate to sound like a cliche but the first session changed my life. I felt more at peace with myself that I had ever done. No one was asking me to be or do anything. It was simple enough me being there. I was enough. As my practice became weekly, I knew I wanted more of it. I felt a natural calling and urge to pursue. I trusted my gut and booked myself on my first meditation retreat. Oh boy, was I in for a shock.
Gaia House in Devon has now become my second home. A place of stillness and tranquility for me. This sense of peace was earnt. The first day I arrived on retreat I cried and I sobbed. Meditation retreats are traditionally in silence. To this day, those who know me are always surprised that I can keep my mouth shut for one day, let alone up to a week. But the first day was the hardest. It hit me like a ton of bricks. The weight of everything I had been carrying around for so long collided into me with the force of a typhoon.
I left after two days with more wisdom than I'd picked up in my whole life. I felt alive for the very first time. It felt like I had woken up from a deep sleep and I could see. I could see the beauty of the world. I noticed the warmth of the sun on my face and grass like I'd never seen it before. Wow. I understood the meaning of life and then I returned to my 5 bedroom house share in the middle of a bad part of town. Very quickly my old life crept back in. The self doubt, the negative self talk. How could I ever be this person I wanted to be in an environment like this.
Then I did something crazy. I let go of what I always thought was me and decided my purpose was to serve the world. I wanted to help anyone who had felt like I had. Being in a demanding role and feeling suffocated by it. For two years now I have been the mindfulness coach. Coaching people through these hard times and on a mission to make the world a better place than how I found it. This is my true voice. This is my purpose.