This semester I have a class about critical thinking and I had to come up with an idea for a project to be completed by the end of the semester. We were given complete freedom on how and what the project would be, as long as it incorporates critical thinking in some fashion. Since I've been so stressed out at work lately, I chose to do my project on meditation, to see if I can reduce my stress levels during the day by meditating at night.
I am not pretending to be some expert on meditation technique and I am using the quiet time to explore more than just my stress issues. Maybe meditation is the wrong word, it is more like free-thinking focused on an issue I only react to emotionally without knowing what the driving thoughts or beliefs behind it are. I used this type of focused thinking in the summer when I was using Geneen Roth's books to try and uncover the reasons behind my emotional eating. It was useful but I stopped it and began living on autopilot again once my work situation got overly chaotic. At any rate, I know most of the things I react to emotionally stem from things I experienced as a kid, thoughts about myself and my world that I believed enough to carry with me into adulthood.
This project should be at least a little successful since I will be focusing on some of those beliefs. Sometimes I just try to think about my actions on the surface, to be aware of what I'm doing and try to question it, but with the deeper focus, I actually focus on an image of myself as a child. Sometimes it is a real memory that I freeze in time and manipulate, sometimes I simply witness without interruption, but most of the time I ask that younger version of me questions and without thinking or forcing anything, answers barrage me. I need to record these answers to help me remember what I am learning but also I need a place to keep track of changes so I can form them into a paper for this class.
Tonight I meditated for about ten minutes, including breathing. When I found my younger self, she was sitting on the stairs, where I usually have the best luck getting answers because the stairs is where she goes when she doesn't feel good. I asked her what was wrong and she asked if she was dumb because her mother had just done a really ugly thing to her, she twisted up her voice and put a nasally twist in her voice and said, "what are you dumb?! You don't understand?" She told me that other people did the same thing to her when she didn't understand things that everyone else seemed to understand. I told her that they were the dumb ones for not realizing that she was just a young girl and didn't know about suck things yet. She started to feel better so I asked her what she wants from life and she said, "To make people happy". This surprised me at first, but when I related it back to my own life, I realized I do strive to make people happy, many times at my own expense. Then I asked her what she wants for herself and she said "to be loved".
I know I was loved and I am loved, but when I was little sometimes I was treated so poorly that I didn't understand how someone could love me and treat me that way. To me there was a huge disconnect.
And maybe the larger lesson of today is, that the disconnect between my needs and my wants and everyone else's speaks volumes about who I feel is more important.
More work to do. I am going to try to focus/meditate most nights as part of this project but I am also aware of how finding out these hidden beliefs can help in multiple areas in my life.