A little over a year ago I went through a rough patch in my life. Sitting in an airport about a week and a half out of undergoing surgery to reattach my pec major on the way back to school and work in a place I absolutely despised that also made me feel very alone. I took a moment that ultimately changed to course of how I would about my recovery process and the following months of a rigorist school and work schedule. I put on my air pods so the only thing I could hear is Dave East’s lyrics in “Found A Way” and I pulled out a notebook and wrote down what I would become.
The irony in this is that my mom used writing, or what people today would call manifesting, as punishment. If I found myself in trouble at school or got into a fight with my sister my mom would send me to the notebook to write something like “I will control my emotions better” or “I will be a leader, not a follower”. I wrote these phrases at least 1000 times apiece. I got into a lot of trouble growing up too.
Anyway, I sat in this airport and wrote down the direction I wanted to take my life in. Nearly tearing up while I awaited my flight in O’hare International. During this time, I was studying psychology and was gaining more understanding of how thoughts become feelings and feelings become actions. Our perspectives of our environment and our place in it determine daily actions. Another determining factor, I would argue the most important, would be how much control someone believes to have over their life. Meaning, how much control do they have over their work-life, relationship, progress in a personal endeavor. How much are they limited in their decision making of the who, what, when, where, and why of their life? Before my injury, I thought I had a good grip on my life and the direction it was going. But yet again I was met with one of my biggest lessons learned from my 24 years on Earth.
There will always be something in life that challenges your beliefs and you have to be ready to stand by them or adapt accordingly.
In one of my psychology classes, we were discussing modalities used to affect your own or a potential client's psychological state. From visualization techniques to mediation to even guided self-talk. At the same time that was happening, I came across Medium for the first time. What an interesting series of events for me. I read medium articles like no tomorrow. What kept coming up for me was journaling and mediation. I already knew the health benefits associated with mediation, but it never seemed like something I would do.
Better yet, it never seemed like something other people would think I do.
The same goes for journaling. I’ve learned the things we may need the most are those just outside of what we deem as part of the personality. One day in class we did a meditation practice. Usually, this would be the time I take a nap and chill but I decided to actually try meditating. Normally I leave class pretty tired considering my days started at 4:30 am and the class wasn’t till 1 pm. This day, however, I left energized and light, almost like a high. I had a second wind to finish the day. I decided it was time to make these practices apart of my life. One thing surgery did to me was take away my sense of self-confidence.
Up till that point in my life, I had never had a serious injury, it was a huge shock to my identity because I pride myself on not getting sick or being injured. I felt meditation was something I could to gain my confidence back. I would use journaling as a way to track my inner voice on a day to day basis. At this time, I didn’t have the best work relationship with my superior. I was also trying to write two articles that were to be sent to peer-reviewed journals along with 11 credits of graduate classes. A lot was going on. It was important for me to control the voice in my head so I wouldn’t react from emotions.
Journaling helped me keep track. Some people track their calories, I tracked my self-talk. There is a good amount of research that supports journaling and mediation as a method of improving your psychological state (Links at the end). Turns out my mom knew what she was doing when she made me write that I'll be a leader and not a follower 1000x.
I started my habit of journaling and mediation primarily because I felt like I had no other choice. I actually hit rock bottom without having anyone realize it on the surface. Which ate away at me even more on the inside. My first day of mediating outside of class was maybe one minute and some seconds long. My first journal entry didn’t fill the page. My second efforts at each didn’t see much improvement. But over time I felt more and more in control of me. More in control of my future and what I was going to create. Meditation gives a certain level of peace in my day that I never experienced before. The turning point of no looking back for me came when I realized meditation was benefiting me in my sleep. I used to sleep pretty poorly without a lot of help from melatonin or other sleeping aids I found useful. As far as journaling, I found I was able to get mad and not react. Instead, I would let my journal feel the wrath I would have otherwise let out on a colleague. Because of that, my work relationships improved. Little did they know I still was not a fan, I just learned to deal with the situations differently.
When you cannot change anything else in your environment the only option left is to change you.
A major shot to my ego but it was necessary. Not for character development but for my sanity. Because of it I now have developing skill for a lifetime to control my sanity. I say it like that because mastering this skill doesn't happen, you just get more experienced. With experience comes more potential results.
Covid definitely put that statement to the test. Though I can thank my mediation and journaling habit for coming out this weird time with a clearer vision of how I want to design my life. I will not say that I went through it without periods of despair. Life is hard. Even with mediation and journaling.
You’re going to read posts about how these techniques can change your productivity and make you a more efficient worker, entrepreneur, writer, etc… I’m here to tell you that is not why you should do any of it. I have manifested a lot of my recent accomplishments with the help of these techniques. My biggest take away is being able to control your body down to its core. A lot of things affect our mental state and we passively allow them to. From the 100s of advertisements, you see to the random person with photoshopped pictures on IG. Our perception of life and what you can, should, or shouldn’t do are constantly being affected. Meditation will give you control of what to filter out and what to keep. How will you know what to keep? You’ll feel it. The sensation can only be understood by those that have experienced it, but it is like you already know what you actually want from life you just need to filter out what you don’t. When you have that sensation, write it down. If your struggling with anything in your life, the answer will begin to appear. Best of all, you walk away with the feeling of knowing you had it in you. You just had to find it.
I get a certain level of happiness from reading my journals from last year. I relive the situation through my notes, reflect on how far I have come and regain an appreciation for where I currently am in life.
Start today and this time next year you'll revisit your notes and get the same feeling.