If you were given four months to yourself, what would you do with your time?
Never did I ever expect a period of time where our world would completely shut down for 6-8 weeks, leaving many to shut down for 4+ months. But here we are!
My quarantine story is still being written, but I'm confident when I say my experience thus far has been nothing short of eye-opening and a time of transition and transformation.
Time (not money) could possibly be our most valuable asset when utilized correctly. While things didn't start out on a high note, the thought and idea of getting out of your own way proved the most useful practice and opened my eyes to the limitless possibilities that exist.
I was burnt out. While not apparent while in the middle of it, looking back, I can honestly say I was mentally spent. It's amazing what becomes apparent when you take a step back from the work/life balance that tends to engulf us all in North America.
What isn't known to many of you is that I personally felt like I was in a dark place this past winter. A lot of things just didn't add up and I spent much time creating a negative headspace that I, unfortunately, couldn't get out of. I consider it selfishness now, but there was just no way out of this poor mindset.
March 2020 arrives, or should I say, COVID-19 arrives, and the world suddenly stops. Cue more negative thoughts. How is my business going to survive a long term shut down? I can't possibly go two, three, definitely not FOUR months of no revenue! Small business and the economy as a whole is going to be shattered! What'll happen to our community? How can I let so many people down?
For that first month, I was an emotional wreck. The thought of losing a community and business that I worked tirelessly (literally) to build was being taken away by a fear-based world we now find ourselves in.
It was soon after I realized there is literally NOTHING I can do at this point and to just let the ashes fall and see what the uprising brings.
And so I looked within. I brought back my habits of going for long extended walks in the sunshine. Spent some time in meditation. To quote Oasis singer Liam Gallagher,
"Questions are the answers you might need...".
I got back to my reading habits and began to separate myself from many useless possessions and find myself selling off all kinds of household clutter. The focus has shifted to things that actually matter. And little matters more than getting our mindset right and how we perceive our own realities. The world that is shaped in front of us is a direct result of our thoughts and emotions.
Like a snake sheds its skin, I find myself slowly shedding many elements of my past. Mid-life crisis or a mid-life awakening? After going through my own "dark age" last winter, I set out to try and confront my insecurities as the clock rolled over to 2020 and I believe I began doing so.
You can't change what you cannot see.
Looking within and confronting our own inner "demons" is never easy, as it's much easier to have our ego take hold and pull us along trying not to expose our own weaknesses. But now, having more time than I could've ever envisioned, I had no other choice and began spending time to better understand WHY I had these insecurities and tried to understand my upbringing and what created these habits/characteristics/thoughts growing up.
Some past lessons came back and revealed themselves to me and continue to show up as I go about my day. As an example, there's a great book I read years ago called "A Course in Miracles". Long story short, the idea presented is that there are two choices in life. Every decision you make either comes from a place of love or a place of fear. Choosing love over fear is what enables us to live in the moment, allows our true light to shine, and eliminates our egotistical mindset of trying to control our own destiny. Don't get me wrong, we can control our own destiny. But that idea stems from having a DESIRE, holding that desire, working towards that desire, and finally getting out of our own way to allow it to manifest.
In chatting with a friend about my wanting to fly to South America for my own plant medicine journey/ayahuasca trip, I was able to apply this lesson and almost had my own "realization" without the plant medicine needed. For those who don't know about ayahuasca, it's a plant medicine that opens up gateways in the mind, similar to hallucinogens, that allows for a better understanding of our true sense of self (hook it uuuuppppp). Many have come away "enlightened" as they say, and hearing some of my mentor's journeys in doing so has always had me intrigued. Nonetheless, my friend was trying to convince me that I don't need that type of experience as opening that door in the mind could bring in some "evil" or "fearful" ideas and actually have the opposite effect. And at that moment, I realized and understood already that the whole purpose of that plant medicine is to confront your inner fears and insecurities but it then reveals to you how connected we all really are and that love truly is capable of conquering all of that fear.
Finding your true sense of self is crucial to being able to tap into that idea of love being the force that drives our universe. To bring your best self forward every day IS the very meaning of that.
When you start to see life through the lens of life happening for you not to you, you really begin to see all of the doors that open in life. I'm not saying I know for a fact that this is how the world works, but I'm CHOOSING to look at it that way and allowing that to be my guiding force. If I look back at all of the things I've done or accomplished, everything came from holding an idea, working towards it, and getting out of my own way in order to achieve it. But every time I allowed fear to set in, and I put forth mental obstacles, nothing good ever came out of it. In fact, it brought me to places that potentially ruined relationships with people I truly cared about. I've realized that the box has been my gift and my curse. It brings out the best in me at times, but also, due to its nature, has brought out the worst in me. Knowing this now allows me to rethink and re-strategize my outlook and being able to rebrand moving forward is a chance to right the many wrongs I've created.
Is this everyone's experience? Maybe not. But it's my experience, and it's the way I'm choosing to move forward in my life. If this is the wave I'm going to ride and it allows my talents to bring out and expose the best in each person that comes to our gym than I will happily ride this wave regardless of public perception.
In reading "Eat. Pray. Love" recently (no...seriously!) I came across a great line in the book where the author writes
"Prayer is the act of talking to God. Meditation is the act of listening"
Cue the mic drop.
Your thoughts on religious beliefs are irrelevant to this point when you simply factor in the idea of asking and receiving. Holding a desire, and then listening to that inner voice that comes through AFTER you detached yourself from future or previous endeavors.
Now I know what you're thinking and I'll stop you right there. When we re-open, no, I won't be wearing tie-dye shirts or my sandals or cargo shorts. Nor will I have grown my hair and beard to great lengths. And no, I have not purchased a VW camper van...yet.
But I do think you'll see me coming from a much happier place and better state of mind. A place I probably haven't exposed many to for quite some time. But I'm committed to this path and understand that happiness is self-fulfilling and isn't dependent upon exterior consequences.
I'm not saying it's all been good, however. In some ways, I may have lost some of the biggest pieces of me. And things like that will probably cause some mental anguish and difficulty from time to time. But I'm choosing to see this all as a chance to grow, evolve, and transform into the person I know this world needs and I know I can be. Not to inspire, but truly transform people.
My thoughts, goals, ambitions, and future aspirations are all crystal clear. Something I don't know if I've ever been able to say, quite honestly. I know what I want and I know that I'll be able to achieve it all. Our possibilities are endless in this world. We just have to hold an idea long enough, work towards it, seek assistance, and allow the magical elements of the universe to tie it all together for us.
Here's hoping you come along for the ride!