In the dead of winter in 2011, I didn’t know how unhappy and stressed out I was until I felt the physical sensation of being choked and I didn’t know why. I just knew that something needed to change. After changing jobs, and many visits to my Shambhala facilitator, I came to find out two very important things: my throat is the center of my energy and a sensitive spot that triggers physical stress, and, ill-intentioned or not, I was allowing everyone to steamroll over me.
One of the biggest lessons I learned the hard way is comparable to one of the first things flight attendants tell passengers on an airplane: Put on your own air mask before helping others. I had a hard time with this one. I was afraid that by taking care of me first, it would make me seem selfish or conceited. Now, I don’t know how I ever lived that way.
Since the start of what I’d call my two-year journey of finding self-love, I have rid myself of an unhealthy and stressful working environment, come close to a divorce and have bounced back to put strength into my marriage, picked up running, lost 40 pounds, started a healthier diet, quit drinking, and have embarked on a new journey with Higher Brian Living. Day by day, life seems to move slowly, but when I take a look back at what I’ve been through from my late twenties into my early thirties, my head begins to spin.
Once I started putting on my own air mask first, an interesting thing happened. I felt better, I ate better, I looked better, I was a nicer person to others, and I had energy to help others after putting time in for myself. I found that things fell away naturally — extra weight, some unsound friendships, the urge to please others, going out and putting greasy food and alcohol in my body, and feeling okay with being unheard or disrespected.
Things didn’t happen overnight, that’s for sure.
Even though I felt like a new and improved me, I still had some challenges; in particular I had a near-miss divorce last year. After all my positive changes, I wasn’t the same woman my husband had married. I felt like I had to learn how to walk beside him all over again. We took baby steps, which helped to build an even stronger foundation to our partnership. I thank my lucky stars today that my husband was patient, loving, and willing to grow. Since our hardship, I’ve noticed that he has also had some things fall away for him — 45 pounds worth. He picked up running with me and enjoys it so much, he runs more than I do now.
I realized through my journey of self-love that I was making room for positive things in my life. The icing on the cake came at the end of 2012 when I spoke to a friend about a new way to remove stress called Higher Brain Living. I went to watch a demonstration and learn more about this new practice and discovered how amazing it was. Just being in the room listening to the facilitators talk about it got me energized. This has helped me continue down my path of self-love and has given me balance and provided me with tools to learn how to deal with stress.
Because of the growth I’ve had, I have the ability to see and hear the stress and lack of self-love in others. So many people go through life being okay with being unhappy or not knowing or wanting to put energy into helping themselves.
What I would say to those who are looking to take the first step: strap on your own air mask first and see what life has to offer. The journey could surprise you.