Fayetteville, AR. It was 35 degrees outside. I had been meditating inside my hotel room for three hours that night. It was 8:00 P.M. and I was visualizing myself being launched into the sky. I was about reach new heights and experience a new freedom unlike I've never felt before, but something was holding me back.
The bag I had strapped to my back was way too heavy, as if it had been stuffed with rocks. "How am I supposed to fly with this weight holding me back," I thought to myself. Frustration kicked in. For awhile I was just irritated. But as the weight kept getting heavier and heavier that all too familiar feeling of defeat began to take hold.
It was just so typical, to be stuck and unable to move forward. Maybe I'd always have this weight on my shoulders....No, not today. Today, I was breaking free.
I hunched forward, attempting to wriggle the bag off my shoulders. The straps were too tight. With my wriggling attempt unsuccessful, I tried to squeeze my arm through one of the straps. I hunched further, twisting my torso, pushing my arm through to the point of pain.
Why I Decided to Go on a Meditation Retreat
Last year during the holidays, I decided that I needed to get away. I needed to get away from work. I needed to get away from my cramped apartment. I needed to get away from my negative thoughts. I had reached my limit and I was about to boil over.
I had always had a hard time letting things go. If I got hurt, I'd hold on those feelings forever. I'd obsess over it. I'd replay it in a loop in my head, and I'd relive the pain over and over and over in my mind. It was exhausting. It was depressing. It made me feel like I was going insane.
I wanted nothing more than to move on and just live in the present. But it was just easier to ruminate in the pain. There was a strange sense of comfort in feeling depressed.
Blaming others for my hurt was what I'd end up doing. Like I wouldn't have these feelings if it wasn't or "them" of what "they" did. "It's their fault," or "How could they do this to me?" I'd say things like that to myself because making myself the victim made me feel better (or so I thought). But the only person that was responsible for my pain was me. Yeah, blaming other felt good. But it didn't change anything. I was still in the same place, stuck in an endless loop of past hurts.
I didn't want to start the new year wallowing in the same pain. It was old news, and frankly, I was beyond tired of hearing it. I wanted to finally let go of these negative feelings. So I decided to take a week off of work to just focus on myself and hopefully find some peace of mind.
Last year, I experimented a little with meditation and found comfort in the process. So I thought a whole week of meditating would help. I did yoga in the mornings, some walking meditation in the afternoon (and it was super cold outside, so I didn't stay out for long), and some mindful meditation at night. I really just did a lot of quiet reflection and self-observation without any judgment, as if I was a stranger detached from my own thoughts. But visualization was what I enjoyed the most, which brings me back to my story...
So, back to the heavy bag I'm trying to get off my back...
I pushed my arm through the strap, and let it fall off my shoulders. Instantly, I catapulted into the sky. “Wow!" I said, after the initial shock began to wear off. As I flew further and further into the sky, I felt an incredible release.
Every negative emotion, every pain, every hurt was in that bag, and when I let it go, it felt like I could finally just be for the first time. A feeling of warmth ran through me as I flew up toward the sun. It was like I was getting the hug that
I always needed. As tears of joy welled up in my eyes, I smiled to myself. I was happy. Truly and completely.
I opened my eyes and stood up from where I had sitting in my hotel room. I looked out the window, looking out at the bright headlights of cars driving down the highway. Did it really work? Did I finally let go? I wouldn't know for sure until I headed back home.
Now that it's been a month since the break, I've been relieved to find that the meditation and visualization seemed to work. Besides feeling much more at peace, I've been finding myself able to be around certain people without conjuring up hurt feelings. I catch moments when I'm in certain situations where I would usually become crippled with anxiety, and instead just remain calm and not let those feelings take over. Obviously, I'm not 100% cured of my negative thoughts and anxiety. But I know my boundaries and I'm on the right path.