It’s perhaps rather apt that I’ve used the quote above about the sun when I’m writing this whilst sitting in my garden on a hot English summer’s day, with the sun on my skin. It doesn’t seem long ago at all that it was Autumn and I was lying in bed, day after day, looking out of the window – which I’d always have open, whatever the temperature, to get some fresh air in. Whilst I’m definitely a summer girl, I do love each of the seasons as they all bring something different and have a beauty of their own.
I don’t think anything in nature stays exactly the same, day after day. Plants and animals, the sea, all change over time, even just in minute ways. It’s why I love Linda Hall’s quote above so much. It’s a reminder that the sun doesn’t go anywhere on a cloudy day, it’s still there, it’s just hidden by a layer of cloud. And at some point that cloud will part and we see the sun again. And we are the same – the light is there within all of us, and given time, and the right conditions, it will shine again.
Over the last months I’ve been seeing the process I’ve been going through as being one of learning about myself and who I really am. But it’s come to me that it’s not quite true. Yes, I’ve been learning a huge amount, but the truth is that I’ve known all along who I am. What I’ve been learning is how to accept and embrace the person that I’ve always known was there, but was hidden. I’m not so much discovering myself as re-discovering.
I look at my seven year old daughter now, so vibrant, and so naturally ‘her’ (actually, rather sadly I thought, she mentioned to me the other day that one of her friends is always ‘trying to be posh’ and she couldn’t understand why. But whilst my heart sank at the thought of girls so young already trying to be something they’re not, it started a conversation with my daughter about just being who we really are.) And my son, who doesn’t think about who he is, he just ‘is’. It can be easy, over time, to lose sight of our natural selves as we try to fit in, to be the person we think other people want us to be. But that’s exhausting.
I look back now at my pre-children Public Relations career and I just think ‘what was I doing?!’. Seriously, there could not be a job I was less naturally suited to, but it sounded like the sort of job a confident, fun, outgoing person would do – and boy did I want to be that person. For ten years I tried to play that part. But it wasn’t me. And it drained me. I constantly felt an underlying sense of anxiety as daily I put myself in a situation that I just didn’t feel at all comfortable in. There were parts of it I enjoyed of course – it involved a lot of writing and creativity. I was in travel PR and I loved talking and writing about other places. And the people I worked with were (mostly) lovely. But it never felt right to me. I always felt that the ‘real’ me was hiding away, trying to be someone I wasn’t. But I didn’t have the confidence to be that person – to say ‘this is me, like it or hate it.’
Meditation has been instrumental in helping me gain clarity. Like so many other people, I used to think meditation was about trying not to think, which unsurprisingly I found impossible. So I thought I couldn’t ‘do’ meditation. But it’s not about that at all. What I’ve learned from wonderful teachers like Linda is that it’s about feeling it rather than ‘trying’ to do it. It’s letting thoughts come and go, like clouds drifting through the blue sky, and coming down from your head into your body, usually by focusing on something like your breath. It was only when I stopped trying that I really found that peaceful place where I felt less in my head. And that really allowed those clouds to start shifting and the joy, my inner light, to start shining again. And my rather over-bearing friend anxiety has naturally calmed.
Now that the clouds are gradually parting, I can see myself again. And I’m finally starting to love the person I see. So now I’m just being perfectly imperfect me. It feels like a load has been taken off my shoulders and I feel lighter as a result. Perhaps not surprisingly I’m feeling some energy coming back, as I stop using it to fight myself, and I’m less weighed down by my own expectations of me.
If you’d like to listen to some of Linda’s wonderful meditations, you can find her on YouTube if you copy this link, or search for ‘Linda Hall’. They’re all free to listen to. I love them.