I came to meditation, 16 years ago, out of necessity. I was working 70-hour weeks, achieving and striving, yet still worrying and planning. It was a cycle of “finish this project, get this promotion, or write this paper, and then you can relax,” but the “then” never came.
Grief is visceral, unpredictable, and raw. Part of me resists grief, wishing it were done, completed, and gone. This same resistance holds self-judgment: Get over it, Joy; toughen up. Yet I don’t want to “toughen up.” The wiser, kinder parts of me welcome waves of grief. These waves honor my tenderness and vulnerability. They cultivate deep love and gratitude. They connect me to humanity.
We live in uncertain times. Amid groundlessness, it’s natural to feel fear. Specific fear about circumstances or vague, roving fear about life. The mental storyline of fear is “something is wrong.” And this wrong-ness is projected inward at self or outward at other. Either way, it constricts our mind and heart.
Recently, I perused old journals. It was painful to read the vicious words I wrote about myself. Pages and pages of self-judgment (at times, self-hatred) followed by pages of halfhearted self-encouragement, all of this on a repetitive loop. I longed for something different yet wasn't sure how to proceed. In the 20 years since those journal entries, I became unstuck, moving from self-hatred to self-compassion.