The year of 2014 was where my journey to mindfulness and wellbeing began. I look back on the past year and I don’t know where the time has gone. So much happened! For starters, if you had have told me that I was going to be in hospital 7 times, 3 of those times having major operations on one of my vital organs – not to mention the morphine shots… yep, I would have kindly found myself a bed and hibernated for the whole of 2014.
In the midst of all of this, however, I still completed 8 units over the course of 2 semesters at University, travelled to Melbourne, saw my favourite band live, relished my relationships, expanded my own business, got a new job, and still made time for me to explore new things, myself, and to do what I love… Not sure how I did it, but I’m proud of myself, and remind myself of it every day.
Last year taught me a lot about my thoughts and emotions in particular. It taught me to express how I feel, my wants and needs, whether that be through a verbal or non-verbal means. Above all, it taught me to listen to my body, to listen to my thoughts and how they actually make me feel. This was challenging for me, as I’ve always been hyper aware and in tune with myself – but I totally underestimated the power of my mind and the effect that our past and emotions can have on us. I’ll elaborate. You may be feeling something that affected you yesterday, last month, last year, even back to your childhood; all of it counts and how we react and deal with these emotions at the time can have either a positive or negative effect on how we feel physically right now, how we live our lives, the types of patterns we create and experiences we draw to ourselves.
I really learnt this after one of my surgeries in particular last year – I hit some points where I felt quite dark and alone. There were times where I didn’t want to see anyone, didn’t want to do anything, and I felt hopeless to change my situation. I wanted to lie down and just roll around in the negativity. As each moment passed, I didn’t seem to be getting better or healing (or so I thought), so it was difficult to change my mindset into one that was positive and optimistic – which is usually the energy I bring when I’m feeling good. I’m super grateful that I have a strong support network around me, because if it weren’t for my loved ones, I wouldn’t have gotten out of my ruts as easily as I did.
During this time, however, I was reminded of the quote “Life isn’t happening to you, life is responding to you.” I realised that I create my own experience based on the thoughts I think and the emotions I feel. The wisdom of my body allowed me to truly understand this concept through the understanding and awareness that only major surgery and several hospital trips could do.
This experience further clarified the emotions I was suppressing and holding on to, and all of the ways in which they’d shaped my personality. These periods of introspection allowed me the space to go within, reflect upon what I wanted to create for myself, and what I wanted to change. Essentially, it gave me the opportunity to re-think my identity and let go of what didn’t serve me anymore. My body’s guidance revealed to me the things my mind couldn’t fathom at the time.
Often when we think or feel negative thoughts, they can continue to escalate and manifest themselves as issues or problems in our reality; or have the potential to become physical ailments – which is exactly what happened to me. And nobody wants that, right?
With every thought comes an emotion that responds to it. I began paying attention to what my body was telling me when I thought a particular thought; and if that thought made me feel ‘worse’ in a certain part on my body, I nurtured it, understood it – and sent it my love. And if it made me feel good, I embraced it whole-heartedly and sent it my appreciation.
Every organ and cell has a mind and memory of its own; the mind is not just confined to the brain. When we love and nurture ourselves, healing can occur because the cells in our body are responsive to the way we feel. It’s been said that we’re not human beings having a spiritual experience – we’re spiritual beings having a human experience. That spirit has a wealth of knowledge to share with us if we’re ready to listen.
I’ve found that being mindful, watching my thoughts and how they’re making me feel was effective. I realised that what once defined me didn’t have to determine how I lived my life now. I began to ask myself these questions: “How do I want to feel?”, “What do I want to think?”, “What can I do to make myself feel the way that I want to feel?”, “What steps can I take to get to where I want to be?”. As I answered these questions, I made the effort to listen to my body and take the small steps necessary to arrive at a place of optimal well-being. At that point, I could do it. I have the power. I create my own experience.
That experience has shown me that we’re always changing, learning and growing. Whatever it is I wanted to do, whoever it is I wanted to be; it was always within my grasp – knowing this was incredibly empowering. It was only a matter of being open and ready that determined how quickly it manifested.
I’ll definitely be setting my goals and intentions for the year ahead. But I’ll be reminding myself that every day, every minute, brings with it new opportunities to grow and learn. There will be times where things get tough, but I know now that it’s just as important to relax and nurture myself as it is to be helping others and creating the life I want. I will embrace every moment as if I had chosen it, because ultimately it’s helping me become more of who I truly am. I will own my emotions, really feel them, express them, let them go if they do not serve me anymore; I’ll be honest with myself and in turn those around me.
As I reflect on my life last year, everything I’ve felt, done, seen, experienced; I wouldn’t change a thing. Not one thing. Every second of every day has shaped who I am at this very moment, and for that I am truly grateful – as I sit here now being the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been. I will remain mindful, appreciative, hopeful and positive, and will put my heart, mind and soul into even my smallest acts.
As Picasso has said, “There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who, with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into a sun”. If this year has taught me anything, it’s that I certainly won’t be waiting around to paint my masterpiece.
Love & Light ~ Elysia