After reading a couple of Facebook postings this morning, I have been reflecting on what a meaningful life really means and how the answers could affect our well-being.
If we thought too long and hard about it, this question could be as big as 'What is our life purpose?' or equally profound, soul-searching challenges that make us reach beneath the surface of our superficial cloak. And yet the paradox is, this question deserves that reflective quality, as to discover the answer could set us along a path that releases our suffering and liberates us to place of wellness and peace.
The two postings that provoked my morning's contemplations were; one from The New York Times talking about our modern era's insatiable need to be busy and how that busyness culture is even shaping our children's perception of how to create meaning, through always being active and being entertained. The second posting was a picture listing the definition of a meaningful life, which included being real, humble, being able to share and touch the lives of others. Both these articles have an integrity and truth, so my musings are less about judging their composition and more about my interpretation of their teachings.
It wasn't that long ago that I too was caught up in the busy trap, thinking that to profess busyness was to incite respect, praise and admiration for my 'super-woman' qualities. My belief was that somehow committing to the hamster's wheel of frenetic activity, drive and goal oriented routine would bring me the success that I believed defined me.
And yet, little did I realise that the busy façade I hid behind was masking insecurity, a need to be liked and an avoidance of stillness that might lure me to face the reality of my life's experiences. All the while, my frantic encircling of the ever-turning wheel was creating a damaging and unhealthy energy that was silently eroding me from the inside.
It took a huge blast of Universal suffering Christmas 2012 to make me sit up, take notice and recognise the need to change my deeply engrained patterns of control, low self-esteem and obsessions. And take notice I surely did. Now, don't get me wrong I have adjusted and expanded along the way; I've not followed a completely blind path of self-destruction. I am a firm believer that much like a sunflower that's made up of many petals, our evolution is the result of many things, not one event alone - it's a combination of many small contributing factors that make up our magnificence. Although despite these small petals attached to my core, I was clearly ready to fully awaken and embark on a profound journey that would help me redefine my well-being.
So, with help from my mentors and some courageous inner reflection, I am beginning to let go of my masculine need to control, to know the answers, to have a plan, to be active and busy. And instead to face my shadows and see their shade in my life's canvas, to heal my young 'me' pains, to forgive and to withdraw those splinters that I had, through my busyness insisted on pushing further into my spiritual muscle.
I am taking time to reflect, build self-love, to soften, to sink into my heart, to rest, heal and find stillness. By investing my time in more earthy activities, I am reconnecting with Nature's truth, who serves me so well with her rich array of teachings that inspire me daily. I am finding enough stillness from the mindless chatter to explore and enjoy the space that sits between my chest and my spine that shelters my infinite resource of limitless potential and surrender to all that has been, all that is and all that will be. That space has freed me up to attract more meaningful activities into my life that will not only serve me better, it will undoubtedly colour the way I serve others in the future, although I know not how - and I loving surrender to that not knowing.
So you may be asking, what does having this meaning give my well-being? Firstly there is less fight, so my chemical reactions to stress are less innate these days. My flight and fight is much less engaged. I am free to make better quality decisions that meet my needs without dishonouring anyone else or feeling like I must please others. I am more accepting of health issues and have the space to think, act and be more mindful. And I look at more things from heart-space rather than my head, which is a much more peaceful affair. I have more reasoned and adult-style conversations with my ego and I commit to doing things that add value to me and to others offering everyone a much healthier result.
For some people when you ask them to define success they state money, titles or possessions and for them that's their truth and not for anyone to judge. Although I would like to pose a different question - what is a meaningful life? Through my morning's considerations, I realise that response is indeed about being real, humble, sharing and touching the lives of others. Although it is also about the courage to build peace from the inside, to reconnect with simple, natural truths rather than attachment to personal delusions, tuning into what makes our hearts sing and being guided by its rhythm rather than the beat of society's expectation and conformation to the matrix.
Now, I don't for a moment consider 'I'm there' or that it's perfect, as it is an ever-unfolding journey that unravels, uncoils and creates more space for growth. I have off days, shadow moments and mental demons that flair up sometimes, although the path that I am walking feels a whole heap healthier than the hamster wheel I used to tread. Also I'm not suggesting that your definition of a meaningful life is or should be the same as mine. Although I hope it at least inspires you to think about the question and reflect on its meaning in your life. There are no 'right' answers, although there are some healthier paths we could be choosing to tread.
If you are inspired to reflect on this question and would like some help discovering your meaningful life, please do get in touch.