Have you ever heard the saying, "It's always darkest just before the dawn", or been so low that there's nowhere to go but up? Many spiritual teachers believe that enlightenment is not possible without having reached a very painful low in life. Without this kind of pain there may not be an urgent reason to awaken and seek within. Below I share the story of how I learned to seek within.
The Darkness Before the Dawn
I believe that I was born unhappy. As a child, I worried all the time. I didn't know how to relax and have fun and I was constantly being reminded to smile. In fact, I could have been the poster child for RBF (Resting Bitch Face). I was worried about the earth and how it would survive the human race. I was scared of bad people, rattlesnakes, and my own shadow. While all of my friends were having fun, I was busy worrying, wondering what was wrong with me. I was far from happy.
My childhood went on just like that for years until I met my husband, at the age of 17. We dated on and off for nearly 10 years before we got married. We bought a house and had two beautiful boys. I felt like I had finally achieved all the things I wanted to in life, yet I wasn't happy. Something was still missing.
The Dawn of a New Day
Shortly after our second child was born I was laid off from work. We eventually lost our house and it took me nearly a year to find a job that was comparable to the one that I had lost. Eventually, we moved to Grass Valley to be closer to my new job. Surrounded by towering pines and accepting people, for the first time in my life, I began to feel happiness and peace.
Two years later, when my oldest son turned five he became grumpy, hyperactive, and loud, where before he had been sweet, happy, and lovable. He treated his brother badly and was very defiant. It was like the terrible twos, but multiplied, and with more insanity. Two years later when my youngest son turned five he began to act similarly, only with more anger. My children were turning into me. I thought they were supposed to wait until they were older for that. I began to slip back into the familiar unhappiness of my life. Since I now knew it was possible to be happy I was determined to help them and myself to find happiness again.
I started by reading every parenting book I could get my hands on to figure out what I was doing wrong. My husband and I took parenting classes to learn the tools to help us deal with their behavior. We even tried sand tray therapy. The calls from the Vice Principal's office were frequent and we had many student success team meetings. Finally the school requested that we have them tested for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). I had been avoiding the testing because I already knew the outcome and I didn't want my boys labeled. They were both diagnosed with ADHD a few weeks later.
After the diagnosis we spent at least another year trying to control their behavior with food, vitamins, and essential oils before turning to medication for one of them whose self esteem was being severely impacted. I modified my work schedule to spend more time with them. I took classes on meditation and Ayurveda. I read books on ADHD, reflexology and spirituality. I taught the boys how to meditate and recognize and deal with their emotions. Their behavior continued to improve.
The Sun is Rising
Once I started meditating regularly I realized that I felt more peaceful inside on those days and I was able to handle my children's behavior without yelling. Their behavior had improved significantly, but they still had their bad days, so I knew the change had come from within. I began to see an Ayurvedic consultant who helped me realize how different foods affected my mood and theirs. I also began seeing a naturopathic doctor who helped me discover that my body was having trouble with methylation, which contributed to my anger and recent food allergies.
Everything became clear and I realized that I had the power to choose happiness, regardless of my children's behavior on any given day. Happiness is within everyone all the time, if we just remember to look. When I finally realized and understood that ONE seemingly simple thing, everything started to turn around. Every morning I wrote down ten things that I was grateful for and I began to realize that I had everything I could ever need in this life. I had finally stumbled upon my ultimate truth…What you seek is within.
This became my daily mantra. I often forgot it when my children were being especially naughty, so I decided to make myself a necklace with the mantra to help me remember. Some days I need to take a few minutes to meditate, other days I just need to take a deep breath and allow the love to flow into my heart. My signature mantra is a great reminder for me and now it can be a great reminder for you. You too can find peace and happiness if you remember to look within.
In peace and happiness,