“Get out of your head and get into your heart. Think less, feel more.” ~Osho
When you’re on a spiritual quest in the chaotic outlying suburbs of Bangkok, and you’re having a complete and utter meltdown about your ability to face your inner demons and greatest life fears, where should you turn?
Well, I feel well qualified to answer this question, having been in that exact situation!
Where I turned was a peaceful little Buddhist temple, and more specifically a gentle and elderly monk named Yut.
Don’t be deceived by the “gentle and elderly” description, however, for Yut was also direct and unforgiving in the way he challenged my perspectives and answered questions from my seeking, fearful self.
Surprisingly he was also quite humorous and down-to-earth, which made for a delightfully game changing afternoon that helped to interrupt my meltdown, supporting my breakdown to become a breakthrough.
It was mid-way through my three month sabbatical in Thailand. The preceding six weeks in the paradise island of Koh Samui had been blissful to say the least, then arriving in outlying Bangkok had been quite a shock to the system.
I had followed my own gut instinct and divine guidance to be there, despite my fear of being alone in large cities, particularly ones where I don’t speak the language.
I was at a point in my life where I had to shake things up. I was standing on the precipice of major change, of following my heart and leaving my decade long corporate career back home, where at the time I was National Manager of a recruitment firm.
I had spent 32 years honing my ability to be what I thought others wanted me to be—a “success.” The only problem was that my definition of success was warped.
I thought success and my worthiness was measured by the big job, the fancy house, the material objects. This was, of course, all nonsense that I had created in my head—a story I had bought into, fed by my addiction for perfectionism and a desperate need for security and validation.
I was ready to break out of the box I’d been living in, and this trip was helping me to see the world, life, and myself in new light.
It seems that when you step up in life to invite change, life has a way of guiding you to exactly where you need to be, with whom you need to be with, and hearing what you need to hear.
It would turn out to be perfectly synchronistic that my freak out in Bangkok led me to go in search of somewhere peaceful, which in turn took me to this Buddhist temple where I was very helpfully fed three game changing insights by Yut.
This turn of events would be another building block in one very important and transformative lesson: just be who you really are and that is more than enough.
There was some undoing to be done! In order to be who I really was, I first had to know who I really was…
1. Meditation is a tool to know yourself.
“Meditation is a way to know your true self. All you need to know is within yourself, seeking it externally in the world will only take you so far. You need to look within.” ~Yut
This Thailand quest was the start of what would become three years of daily meditation. Only 5−10 minutes per day, which connected me with my intuition and the real me. Once I connected, I was able to live from that guidance, using it as my number one navigation tool.
2. Knowing yourself opens the way to limitless possibilities.
“As we become more enlightened, as we know ourselves more, truly anything is possible. When you connect to your true self, then life is limitless and anything you can possibly imagine can be your reality.” ~Yut
I was delighted to hear this! I had incorrectly expected a Buddhist monk would tell me all about denial of one’s longings and living a meager life in solitude and silence.
I had big, audacious dreams for my life—to escape the rat race, to be a writer and coach, and to pursue my passion for energy healing, preferably while traveling the world!
Hearing that meditation was a path to my true self, and connecting to my true self was a path to enlightenment, which in turn opens up limitless possibilities for me, well, I was ready to get my meditation groove on!
3. Face your inner demons; own your responsibility.
“While we are all connected, we must face our own challenges alone.” ~Yut
While I believe deeply that our family and friend support networks are fundamental to thriving in life, the truth is that when we’re talking about inner demons, fears, blocks, and limiting beliefs, we have to face up to those ourselves.
It’s a very personal journey to honestly look into the dark crevices inside yourself and truly own the way you feel, the way you behave, and see what is blocking your own thriving.
Taking responsibility for how we are being and what we are doing is something that requires great courage.
Nearly in tears when I first arrived at the temple, fearful of my time alone in Bangkok and facing up to what massive changes I needed to make in my life, the message of having to face my challenges alone actually empowered me.
It woke me up and made me realize that no one else could set me free from my limiting beliefs about what validated me as a person and the blocks I had about risking my security in pursuit of a more meaningful life.
I had to do this myself. I had to build a relationship with the true me and let her emerge, just as we are all called to do.
Photo by Gane