The realization didn’t come quickly. For a long time I was so overwhelmed by all the challenges before me that I threw myself into activities that consumed the hours and days of my life. Evidently the strong work ethic I learned from my birth-family translated into feeling worthy only when I was fully engaged in doing something. The busyness also served to keep me from ever questioning how I was living my life, if it was working for me—and if not, why not?
When my husband’s health challenges became so serious that he had to be placed in a 24-hour care environment, the situation changed dramatically. I had released a number of external commitments in order to care for him, and for the first time in my adult life I found myself relatively free. The freedom proved unsettling. Not only did I desperately need to come to grips with the emotional situation with my husband, I needed to come to peace with what all of this would mean to my future life. After trying unsuccessfully to resolve the situation on my own through my usual direct-action efforts, I realized I didn’t know what to do. I felt helpless.
The time had come when I had to stop all the doing and turn within for answers. I was faced with the biggest challenge to my own peace of mind and sense of well- being—me. Or more accurately, the sum total of mental and emotional baggage that lived within me and that had determined my actions, inactions, thoughts, decisions and non-decisions my entire life.
I had an established daily routine of meditating, journaling and affirmative prayer, but because the job and then my husband’s situation took priority over my needs, the time I spent within was determined by those demands. Now I could spend as much time as desired.
My well-honed and single-eyed approach did prove beneficial in this instance. After months of this inner focus, I began to feel a sense of peace. For the first time in my life I was content spending time within. The meditation helped to discipline my racing “monkey-mind.” Gradually my mind opened to a deeper awareness of life and awakened me to my self, others and the eternal and sublime energy that is within each of us and everything in the universe, which we call God. I was realizing some balance in my life, which brought greater clarity to my thought processes and a growing ability to manage my emotional state. When I opened to loving myself, I became aware that my ability to love others in an unselfish and healthier way was greatly enhanced.
I discovered that meditation is a path to inner peace, as it enables us to connect with the sanctuary of unconditional love, guidance and support within that is the heart desire of every conscious person on Earth.
In this process I became a human-being instead of a human-doing. I no longer judged my worth or my life by what I do. By learning to live an inner-directed life, rather than seeking meaning outside myself, I know that whatever activity I engage in will be meaningful and purposeful.
There is a new-found peace and contentment at the core of my being, a sustained sense of well-being and happiness—no matter what conditions or situations arise. I am no longer driven to do. I allow myself to be.
Copyright © 2010 by Fern Stewart Welch [One of the author’s most requested essays]