How Meditation Saved My Life When Nothing Else Could
This week, we wrap our series with the fabulous Zoë Wild, Spiritual Life & Business Coach, and spectacular woman. This week, she shares with us her own personal story.
And this also marks the 200th post for the Return to Your Genuine Self blog -- kinda exciting!!!
Almost a decade ago, while living in LA and working in the film industry, I experienced a complete emotional and physical breakdown. I couldn’t stop crying, couldn’t get out of bed, couldn’t sleep for weeks on end, or talk without pain. I couldn’t work, see my friends, or leave my tiny studio apartment. I was overwhelmed and exhausted from a lifetime of knowing there was more but not knowing what, seeking for true meaning in every corner of life, simultaneous high and low self worth, intermittent depression, anger and pain about the state of the world and the things I had witnessed and been through. I felt as if I had tried everything to quell the longing in my soul and overcome the trauma and nothing was working.
I gave myself a year to live. Therapy, career changes, worldly success, relationships, sex, travel, self-help books, making myself beautiful-- all had done nothing to sustainably shift the deep ache I felt inside.
I told myself I would try everything that I had always wanted to and never had and if, at the end of that year, nothing had changed, I would end my life.
One of the things on that list was meditation.
Every day, I would crawl to the end of my bed to follow the instructions in a book a friend had given me. I took to the practice like a fish to water. The techniques for using my own direct experience to explore the true nature of being alive were the first thing that ever really made sense to me. Finally, someone was starting at the foundation– and asking me to look for myself rather than telling me what to see.
Very quickly, I realized that I was not my mind, emotions, or body. What I am revealed itself to be something much more profound, and yet so ordinary, something that had always been there and yet I
I made some inquiries, saved up some money, and moved to Burma-- a country I didn’t even know existed beforehand, to live in a monastery.
I can still see the bright sun on the stone walls, the tall tropical trees out of an exotic adventure novel, and feel the impact on my heart of the smiling faces and openness of the villagers, full of a simple joy I had never before experienced.
I went to that monastery not to become enlightened, discover God, or learn supernatural abilities. I was there to find a reason to live. I wanted to know if there was any rhyme or reason in this universe, lasting peace to be found in my heart, a way out of the overwhelm, pressure, intrusive thoughts, painful memories, self-criticism, bad habits, relationship patterns and hopelessness about the state of the world that were so pervasive in my experience.
What I got was so much more. Within three months, everywhere I looked, I saw only the miracle that is life. I had no desire to be anywhere other than this moment, open and curious about what was. Through practice, the layers of limiting perspective I had accumulated over the years dissolved, allowing a fresh experience of even the most minute details of life to emerge. Everything appeared the same on the outside, and yet I experienced it completely differently internally. The transformation from separation to unity was so complete that I didn’t even consciously notice it had happened for some time.
Through meditation I discovered the true nature of my being – beyond thoughts, emotions, physicality, and perceptions. The way the mind works, and how to use it as a magnificent tool, rather than have it run me. The nature of emotions – how to experience and allow that energy to transmute and express in helpful rather than destructive ways. A profound connection with all of creation. Gifts and abilities I could share with the world. A wealth of joy and creativity I had no idea lived within me. An immovable place of peace in the center of my being. The beauty of the world. Freedom from my inner state being tied to outer circumstance or any idea of identity. The true, alive meaning of Love. I healed my relationships with my family. I became so kind to myself and others. I was healed.
What do I mean by healed?
The experiences of the past don’t create my present. They are not forgotten, but they are integrated and not a part of my daily repertoire. I truly love and accept myself. To me, this means I allow and experience all of my emotions and thoughts without making them mean something about me or my worth. I don’t feel controlled by my thoughts. I have a wonderful relationship with my body, and the physical ailments I was suffering from at that time went away. I feel in communication with my body, mind, heart and soul – and I am committed to following my inner guidance. When I have conflict, I know how to deal with it and use it for my growth. I am more often relaxed and peaceful than stressed or anxious. I am free to define myself in each moment as it comes rather than based on the past.
Meditation is a vehicle (sometimes an extreme sport!) for examining what it is to be alive that continues to take me on an incredible adventure and revelation of the secrets of what this life is.
Is my life perfect? My definition of perfection has changed. Do I have hard days? Of course! I am human. Life doesn’t stop having a huge range of experience, nor would I want it to – but the understanding of the whole picture, and the approach to the ups and downs is entirely different.
When I returned to the US, I saw so many people suffering simply from not having access to the simple yet profound teachings that I had been given. I also saw that most people did not have the freedom in their lives to get up and go off for several years, as I had – even if they were in as much despair as I had been.
I was shocked to see how differently most meditation was taught here. It had become attached to a specific lifestyle that led to ideas of superiority rather than humility and connection. People were spending more time reading and writing books about it than actually practicing it. Worse, people didn’t seem able to bring the peace they found on the cushion to their actual daily life.
I longed for other people to be able to experience the immense transformation and freedom from so much suffering that I had been blessed with. That is why I created www.WildMeditation.com.
Wild Meditation is meditation anyone can do in any activity of life. It’s a group course because that is how it has been taught for thousands of years. It is so much easier to stay committed when you have companions on the journey. It is pay-what-you-can because I believe this tool is your human birthright.
Sharing these teachings is the way I can say thank you to the universe for all the benefits I have received.
Whether you learn meditation from me or someone else, I urge you to try it. May it be the key for you that it was for me, and open up the door to the healing you are seeking…and so much more.
As a Buddhist Nun, Interfaith Minister and Spiritual Life & Business Coach she has spent thousands of hours in personal retreat and worked with thousands of people on their own spiritual unfolding for life success. She is a beloved spiritual community leader known for her grounded, no BS approach and unshakeable love.
When she’s not bringing people to their knees in awe of themselves or exploring the deepest questions of life with her community -- you can find Zoë hiking the red rocks, riding horses, and learning to sing.
Her book The Little Book of Being is scheduled to be complete by summer 2015.
You are so much more than you know. Liberate yourself at www.zoewild.com