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I Was Engulfed By Self Criticism And Doubt- A Blow By Blow Account Of What Happened When I Stopped Meditating

An honest account of my rising inner demons and how I crawled my way back out of 'the pit of despair!'

Momentarily I had fallen deep into a pit of complete and utter self-doubt and criticism, so deep that I wasn’t even really able to identify that I was in a pit. Does that make sense?

It was a time that I had stepped into a very new space of vulnerability, leading my first yoga class and women’s circle, all in the same week.

It was such an incredible privilege to have the opportunity to guide people in this way that I put my everything into the preparation.

My morning time of meditation became time to practice my sequence. Evenings became so squeezed for time that more often than not sleep was prioritised over meditating. 

This is the thing with evenings. They can become so busy.

And this is why I normally routinely meditate in the morning, as I know how crucial it is to my overall well-being.

Oh the beauty of hindsight to see that the thing I didn’t make time for was the very thing that should have been my priority. Prioritise over sleep you say? Well. Maybe…

In my experience a steady meditation practice can lessen the mental and emotional disturbances, meaning I truly need less sleep. I also find that the sleep I do get is more rejuvenating. 

Scary to think how much energy we can expend on mind-created conflict and internal drama!

At the time, skipping my regular meditation practice didn’t seem like a big deal. It was only for a few days here and there. I figured, what’s the harm?

It was only on reflection that I could see the damaging impact of these seemingly insignificant missed practices. 

As the days passed by, I began to fall back into an old, familiar place of high insecurity and selfdoubt. Following both the yoga session and the women’s circle (although I enjoyed them both, deeply), I was flooded with a strong sense that I had somehow failed people. 

I hadn’t shown up enough for people, I didn’t know what I was talking about, who was I to have any authority on this, I simply wasn’t good enough.

Reading this, it may seem obvious to you that I was in a bit of a spin and that these bullying thoughts weren’t true. That they were just the result of negative mind patterns.

But when we’re in the middle of it, it can be so incredibly difficult to see and separate from these destructive thoughts.

As the days without my meditation practice progressed, my inner demons resurfaced with avengence.

Old habits of thinking and behaviour returned. 

I unconsciously poked and prodded at my stomach in the mirror with thoughts running through my head that I needed to get back to the gym, that I’d let myself go, that my stomach was sticking out too much. 

And it was as I caught my eye in the reflection of the mirror, crying and pulling at myself that I woke up.

I was able to sidestep the emotional turmoil and observe the patterns for what they were. 

With each conscious breath I realised just how far back into that pit I had slipped.

These were old thought patterns that I had been able to separate my sense of self from years prior.

It was in this moment of recognition I was able to see that the other thoughts too were a part of the same insecurities and self-doubt. 

It was then in this moment that I realised I had let my meditation practice slip.

It was so easy to forget what a medicine meditation is for me. Until I stopped.

For most of my life these destructive thought patterns had dominated my life.

My relationships.

My decisions.

And it was only when I started to meditate that I was able to separate from them and begin to make changes.

I share this with you not for any sympathy, but to invite you to consider whether you have negative thought patterns that could be quieted and separated from with the support of a daily meditation practice?

What does your mind tell you that might not be true?

On reflection it was scary to once again feel the negative impact of these destructive thoughts, but I’m grateful for these small slips as they act to remind me just how very crucial my daily practice is and how far I’ve come.

Even just ten minutes.

Ten minutes to sink into you.

Creating a buffer between your sense of self and the thoughts. 

Quietening them down enough to be able to see them for what they are.

And so as I reflect back on that pit, that I fell so deeply into, I am able to recognise that I am grateful for that time. 

I am grateful as sometimes it isn’t until we slip back into old habits momentarily, that we are able to see and celebrate how far we have come. 

The practice isn’t in the perfection, but rather the practice. 

Recognising the value of our practice and committing day after day to return.

So that we might just be able to catch our own eye in the mirror and be reminded when we have fallen.

Claire Rowden is a Somatic Therapist, Meditation Teacher and Emotional Freedom Educator based online. Check out her website https://www.embodhii.com/welcome to sign up for her free meditation course and learn more about bodymind based therapies. 

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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