Major turning points in my life - How I started to meditate
There are many turning points in my life that helped me be a better version of myself. Many of them are quite sad or traumatize like a breakup, accident or failures… but I have to say there are two major ones that had the most effect and I am forever grateful for them to happen.
The first one, interestingly, wasn’t a sad or traumatize experience. It was actually my personal choice. I made a major decision not knowing what I put myself into. And it had changed my life completely.
That was in the second year after I moved to Auckland, New Zealand for my study. I was doing my degree in architecture. And I was in my early or mid twenties, 24 years old I think. Moving to a very different culture to my culture ( I am Vietnamese) and living thousand miles away from home for the very first time, I felt very uneasy and lonely. Even I love New Zealand from the very first sight, it still took me a long while to feel like home here. I was stressed out and very bored with my study. I was actually stressed out most of the time. That how I would describe myself back then. I got worries so easily. I got upset all the time with my parents. I felt like I had to stay unhappy, because any moment I feel happy, the next day something very bad gonna happen. I think I had that mentality or unhealthy mindset because of my childhood. Growing up I saw my parents always arguing, yelling, fighting. I thought happiness doesn’t exist. So, when I first moved to Auckland, I started to look at meditation and learned more about how to be happy… that then I was far away from my parents, their problems wouldn’t be my problem anymore. And that when I found this spiritual path, named Sri Chinmoy Meditation Center. Sri CHinmoy is the spiritual master’s name. Or Guru. I was instantly got into the meditation practices with the group, and was really mesmerized by Guru’s teachings. His philosophy, his books, his poems and also music. He composed beautiful uplifting songs in both English and Bangali, his mother tongue. Sri Chinmoy actually already passed away couples of years ago so I didn’t get to meet him in person. But his disciples who are running the Auckland Center are still in charge of re cruiting new disciples every year. And they asked me if I wanted to be Sri Chinmoy’s disciple and join the group.
I thought this is what exactly what I am looking for so I was very keen. The only thing that got me thinking was the conditions, the rules of the group. For anyone to be Sri Chinmoy’s disciple, they need to be: a vegetarian, and not consuming alcohol, and have to practice celibacy – meaning that not having a romantic and sexual relationships, and not having children. So, pretty much becoming a monk/ or a nun.
Coming from an Asian culture where a young person is expected to loyal to the family, to have a successful career, to have family and kids, that made the decision a little difficult to me. My family of course wasn’t agreed on that. But I made the decision to join the path and became Sri Chinmoy’s disciple. The spiritual path was full on with so many activities within the group and also to serve the public. Not only I learned to meditate, and teach meditation to other people, but I also learned to believe in my own power, and believe that I can do amazing things that my limited mind would never imagine. In our spiritual path, we do that by running long distances. It is meditation in movement in a way. So from a weak, small Asian girl who never really exercises, I ran my first ultra marathon even before I ran a proper marathon race. I have learned that the soul can help me do more than what my body or my mind tell me. I was very happy in my spiritual practices and my lifestyle. I thought it would be happily ever after!
Until my forth year in the spiritual Path. Something wasn’t right. I did well with my spiritual practices in meditation, running and other selfless services. But the creative part of me was dying. I was always wanted to draw, make comics books, make illustration books,… not only art, but I also wanted to try out different things in life. I thought I wouldn’t have any more desire like this after living in a spiritual path for very long time. What I didn’t realise is that these aren’t just material desires, these are callings from my soul. And more than ever, I wanted to manifest them. I wanted to make art that has nothing to do with my Guru’s teaching. I wanted to read more books not only Guru’s books, I wanted to write books, to teach meditation with different styles and techniques. I wanted to do a lot more.
This time, making decision to whether staying or leaving the Path wasn’t as easy. Two of my best friends in the Path also left the Path just a year before. One of them left to get married. And it turned out that she had been seeing this man in secret for a long time. I was shocked. And I started to see things I never noticed before. I started to resent the fact that my spiritual path has so many flaws. Nobody is perfect and I have to decide to accept that or not. I realise that in my spiritual Path, there are problems but nobody wants to talk about because they want to maintain looking perfectly poised and happy from the outside. That’s when I started to realise it is impossible to stay happy and poised all the time. Positivity could be toxic too when we hide our true feelings and pretending to be okay, and spiritual practices aren’t just doing meditation. Spiritual practice is in everything we do during the day. Anything can be practice with a good consciousness. And of course, having a romantic partner or having kids, being in a relationship is a still spiritual practice if we decide to. So, that is the second turning point in my life. Again, one more time, I decided to let go of my old identity. This time is my Guru’s disciple, a nun. I decided to let go of that to be able to be myself at that moment.
What I realise is that life evolves, we evolve and grow as well. Joining the spiritual path was a great decision I have made for my soul, my higher purpose back in the day. And 4 years later, leaving the Path was also to be true to myself at that moment. Because I had changed, I had evolved. And any of these experience are here to serve my revolution. Leaving my spiritual Path was actually very difficult because I was so involved. I was living with another disciple in the Path. I was holding couples of responsibilities and roles. All my friends in Auckland were in the Path. So when I left, it was like going back to square one like when I first moved to Auckland, no friends, no family. The spiritual Path has become my family for 4 years, I was doing everything with them, every days, every weekends going away teaching meditation, going on adventures, doing crazy long runs, flying oversea together for a big retreat where we met disciples from a different centres in the world. But I knew I was going into depression if I didn’t leave the Path. I outgrew them and I know it was time for me to leave everything behind to be able to be my authentic self.