There are so many things that I am still learning; so many ways in which I am still growing.  Sometimes I think—when will I wake up and be the person I really feel I am on the inside?  But I keep reminding myself that this is a journey—a constant process of self-discovery and self-mastery.  There is no end.  There is no final goal.

Perhaps one of the bravest things a person can say is to say—I don’t know.  I don’t know all the answers.  I am doing the best I can today with what I DO know.

What I do know for sure is that meditation is the key to trying to understand how my mind works.  And living with mindfulness and awareness is the key to bringing peace, grace and clarity to my existence, my being, moment to moment.

Lately, I have noticed a shift.  I am getting better at being more detached to my thoughts and reactions.  I can often see them and become the witness.  Rather than getting caught up in my own personal dramas, I can see–Oh, here is that pattern again.  I wonder why I feel so attached to that thought?  I wonder why I usually react this way in this kind of situation.  Why does that feeling come up when he is talking about that?  Why am I feeling irritated at this moment?

I realized that my ‘victim voice’ was still sometimes loud and strong—‘Oh, this is such a struggle!  No one understands how hard this is!!’  I’ve worked so hard to be healthy—Why am I still having days where I feel so tired/anxious/nauseous?  I begin to awfulize and soon I forget about all the days that I have felt really good.

The other day, I just decided—That is enough!!  Okay, I feeling nauseous right now but I’m not dying and it’s not the end of the world.  This usually passes and soon I will feel fine.

Even today, after reflecting on something I had said about the changes in my life, I realized that I quite likely was trying to portray myself as a helpless victim—I had to do it!  I had no choice!—The truth is though, that I have made a lot of good choices in these last couple of years.  I have turned misery and tragedy into opportunity and victory!

Maybe the helpless girl story served me in the past but now I can tell a tale of strength, courage and triumph.  There’s no need to beat myself up if I notice the old voice of self-pity;  I can just notice it and lovingly let it go.

I am beginning to trust that I can take care of myself.  This brings the inner knowing that I AM powerful and capable!!  I have control over thoughts and emotions and I am in charge of my life!

Besides, awfulizing, my victim voice also loves to blame other people for it’s stress and discomfort. –She is hogging the conversation.  She must not care about me at all.  He is constantly stomping all over my personal time; lecturing at me and telling me what to do.  He really doesn’t respect me or understand my needs.

The problem is not really about them at all—it’s about me!!  I need to speak up and say—Hey!  I have some pretty interesting things going on in my life right now that I would like to share with you.  Hey!  I deserve to have time for myself.  My time for self-reflection and relaxation is really important for my physical and emotional well-being right now.  This is when I am available and I am more than happy to help you then.

Being assertive and expressing my needs continues to be a big challenge for me but I heard some wise words today:  Confrontation is difficult and you may feel uncomfortable, nervous, or scared for a short time but NOT confronting the person will definitely make you feel pent up, repressed and possible resentful or depressed, too; and usually for a much longer time.

So why do I hold back?!  In reality, the pain of the former is less than that of the latter but my ego tricks me—Don’t say that!  You will hurt her feelings.  Maybe she won’t want to hang out as much anymore.  Don’t say that!!  He will be angry and hate you.  Maybe he will even leave you.  Just go along with whatever he wants.

Doesn’t all this sound like a ton of fun–facing things about yourself that you don’t accept, facing feelings that you have tried to bury, facing your some of your worst fears and demons, facing people that you love and having open and honest communication?!!

Okay, I won’t lie to you—this process is not exactly fun but you will reap the rewards if you are patient and stick to it.  One thing I have noticed recently is that I don’t take what other people say too personally.  Guess what?!  They are wrapped up in their fears and patterns of reactions just like you!  When you start to see through your own dysfunctional thinking, you will start to see through others as well.

Another wonderful bonus I have begun to see in my life is being more accepting of the ups and downs that come along.  Just like the weather, life will change and the more gracefully you can ride out the rough waves, the happier you are going to be.

More and more I am focusing on what I can do to make my life and relationships better.  Spending time complaining or blaming is really a huge waste of energy—why not use that energy to propel you towards a bright future that YOU create with positive thoughts and mindful actions?

The most glorious reward in all of this, is more self-acceptance—How beautiful it is to really love yourself, respect yourself!  How freeing it is to accept yourself, just as you are RIGHT NOW!!   No more shame, no more seeking approval and validation from others, no more doubting or judging, no more hiding or holding back—just trusting yourself completely to take the next step that is right for YOU!  Isn’t this what we all strive for?

Am I as enlightened as a Buddhist monk?  Am I a totally happy and peaceful person all the time?  I can assure you I am neither.  Enlightenment is awakening to reality, to truth.  It’s not living in some kind of blissed-out state.

I continue to have dreams where I am shouting to myself–WAKE UP!!  This is the most important message I have ever received.  To be awake and aware as much as possible–I know this is the direction to go.

Slowly, gradually I see more, I feel more and understand more and more about myself and my mind.  Every day I am becoming more open and expansive like the sky.  The journey continues and all I need to do is take one mindful step at a time.