The journey of self destruction, maintenance and creating.

Often I'm asked where my positive outlook on life and calmness comes from – although, I'm extremely hard on myself when I'm not behaving, lol! People tend to think I'm pretty decent.
It wasn't always that way. I always tell those that want to hear my story that the basic theme of it is that I once lived a very godless life to finally come to terms that I am less than God.
What I mean by that is that In my own stage of rebellion I wasn't willing to change my ways until I began to notice that my ways needed to improve in order to make me a better person.
I did something I was always ashamed to do and I asked for help.
I was really lucky that my mentor at the time was a practicing Buddhist and although she didn't push her beliefs on me she based her practice on Buddhism.
Much like a therapist she would sit across from me as I expressed emotions and traumas I was holding back for 23 years. She never said a word. Every week for 6 months she'd force me to practice this.
At one point I questioned how any of this was going to help me if she wasn't willing to speak. She simply replied: "so you want ME to tell you what to do in YOUR life to make things better?"
I came back the next day with a more specific topic, I told her I no longer was focusing on achieving a million things I just wanted to learn how to love myself.
She smiled and we continued to meet until I decided that I could do things on my own.
I spent the next two years drowning myself with knowledge. I'd spend hours and hours reading books that focused on spirituality and the well being of human health.
It was not an easy journey, I messed up a lot. What was different this time was that I was becoming more self-aware with my actions – which lead me to hold myself accountable and take notes on my progress.
I'm still in the process of reaching enlightenment.
I learned that when you are sad or upset that you should ALLOW those feelings in instead of blocking them out. Quite often we are told to keep ourselves busy when that only makes matters worse (especially in the long run). Instead of blocking a roller coaster of emotions and anxieties I started to make friends with my demons – a common practice in a few south East Asian religions.
There is an example I read in a book that describes those unwanted feelings as the "devil."
In moments when you are meditating and you begin to feel gloomy and negative thoughts come to your mind instead of growing frustrated you simply continue to meditate and invite the "devil" to tea.
Allow yourself to be sad, broken, angry.
If the sadness is consistent and seems to be out of your control that's when you have to locate the source it comes from.
This process can include speaking to someone, reading about your specific issues or one of my favorites: recording yourself and later listening to it and pretending that it's a friend. How would you respond to a friend that has those issues? Would you tell them to shut up and get over it – or would you be there for them and provide solutions? It's the least expensive and effective therapy session you can have.
Often times, after recording oneself many find out that they create their own problems and anxieties when life is way more simple than that.
I'm proud to say that I no longer seek happiness or this idea of heaven instead I'm constantly searching for enlightenment.
Enlightenment is the highest thing you can reach in life. It doesn't promise heaven but it does promise peace of mind.
The internet is a great place to seek resources, I depended mainly on self-help books. I'm a psychology major so it was also something I found interest in.
Often times people scowl at this genre because most self help books say the same thing — but that's very much needed. We are creatures of habit so each time you introduce a new way of thinking into your life — and the more you introduce it — your brain eventually changes it's chemistry. There is scientific proof, images from a lab where scientist can point out the alterations made!
I used to be very unhealthy … and surprisingly focusing on my mental health rather than calories and labels… just happened to lead me to a better overall health.
I no longer use pharmaceuticals or take vitamins because I've adjusted my behavior and in essence everything is slowly coming to place (I have my moments though, I'm still human).
With that being said I believe we have three phases that we constantly repeat in our lives until we reach enlightenment and that is: creating, maintaining and destroying.
It's a cycle of life and every piece is needed in order for us to learn.
However, if you choose not to learn the destroying part gets worse, it gets harder to maintain and with that there is no room for creativity.
So don't be hard on yourself when you feel bouts of depression. It's normal and it's good to feel sorry for yourself every once in a little while.
Treat yourself like your best friend. Apologize to yourself. Forgive yourself. Let yourself be sad or mad and slowly you'll be able to understand how beautiful life is.

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