You know me: Self development is my guilty pleasure.
Although I am not really feeling guilty about it.
It is my thing.
I like it.
My guilty pleasure led me to listening to a podcast called ‘On Purpose’ by Jay Shetty. The name alone hinted that it would be right up my alley. A podcast where well-known people of all ages and walks of life share their challenges and how they dealt with them. How these hardships changed their way of thinking and seeing the world, even themselves.
Jay Shetty, for those who have not yet come across him until now, is a former monk, turned life coach whose wisdom videos have well over 500 million views worldwide. He was born in the UK, though has roots in India too, where he lived amongst monks for three years. In 2015 he started his YouTube and shared what he had learned with the world.
His message is mainly self-empowerment as the key to becoming the one in the driver’s seat of your own life, rather than sitting in the passenger seat. Love and compassion are woven into his messages : The only thing that will change the world eventually, one kind act at a time.
His way of speaking, his way of encouraging humans to trust themselves and become the best possible version of themselves, was and still is life altering, to me and millions.
So naturally I would take these first days of the year when things are still calm, and listen to his podcast.
And this is what I wanted to share with you out there today because it blew my mind. Chance’s are you might even have already heard of Jay Shetty or his podcast, since it is rated with over 54 million downloads already. Nonetheless I felt inspired.
So here we are - let's take the ride.
He talks about the 3S’s.
Before my healing journey, before my first burnout and way before my first therapy session, I was throwing myself into noisy, colourful environments to get a thrill. That is what you do in your 20’s isn’t it? Party every weekend, maybe have a blackout or two. Don’t miss out. The fact that I had social anxiety and was indeed a highly sensitive person, quickly overwhelmed by sounds and smells and crowds, did not matter. That was what alcohol and marijuana was for, right?! Drown out the creeping panic attacks and anxieties, the whispers in the mind that tell you everyone is laughing at you and you are a nuisance and nobody wants you there anyway. As soon as you arrive at a certain level of intoxication, that is when you are able to blend all of this out. Be a normal human being.
Part of the gang.
Able to also talk about the last weekend and how fudged up you got, how funny it was.
It is what everyone does.
I wanted to be normal, like everyone else.
Only this was an error of thought - normal does not exist and we all are just trying to survive, trying to live our best lives, trying our best.
Long story cut short (is what I always say, I know):
After not taking my first burnout seriously and drowning the symptoms out with a change of career, new relationship and good ol’ medication from big Pharma, surprise surprise, the second lurked just around the corner.
During the following, next burnout (exhaustion, severe depression disorder societal anxiety disorder and a bunch of other disorders joining the club, the more the merrier, I guess), I got the help I needed and finally went to a clinic to start my path of healing.
A little more than 7years ago now.
And the further I got on my journey of healing the less stimulation I sought out. I acknowledged that I simply was not a human thriving on interaction with others, thriving on external distractions. The further I went along, the more I craved secludedness, quietness, calmness, tranquility. The opposite of my past.
Therefore I understood what I heard on this podcast already. Subconsciously that is. Something can be understood by the heart, born out of following a feeling of righteousness, yet the message has not reached the mind, and vice versa. Hearing him explaining it so clearly made my jaw drop and from the point of subconscious behaviour, I was able to now register it with words consciously in my brain, and file it.
I've been on a subconscious path to intentionally craft the life I wish to live.
And the 3 S's are just the beginning, mind you, the step by step instruction to dig deep and dive into mindfulness as a daily practice.
For what you surround yourself with, your life shall reflect.
You wake up to an ‘alarm’.
Pretty normal. But to be honest, also pretty alarming ( pun whole-heartedly intended).
Who wants to wake up to an alarm?
It makes your whole body go into emergency mode. Basically, you wake up to being stressed! I know why I did it. I learned that. From a pretty young age. If you are a night owl and have trouble waking up in the morning, you should maybe set yourself more than one alarm, with the most outrageous sound you can think of! I still had a ‘normal alarm’ until the end of 2022. Then I heard the podcast. And it does not make sense anymore, for me that is.
Mornings are my least favourite time of day. I can enjoy them, that is if I make it out of bed in the first place. Depending on the day ahead of me and what I expect of myself, it can take hours and hours to fully be awake. Back in the days before travelling, even though I loved my job and the people in the office that I spent my time with and the duties that my position entailed for me, getting up in the mornings was the hardest part of the day. Usually I would feel fully awake starting around 4pm in the afternoon.
Since hearing him speak about how we start off our days by putting our whole body in a state of panic, scare and unease, I changed my 'alarm' to a song I absolutely love. It could be ocean sound for you, it could be Taylor Swift. It does not matter. As long as the first thing you hear and wake up to in the morning is that does not strain your nerves but enables you to feel positive, motivated and elated to be alive and breathing one more day.
Same goes for the sounds you surround yourself during the day with.
City sounds for example: How much noise there is, I haven’t even registered it anymore. It became subconscious background noise. Cognitive load, meaning sounds that are insignificant for your mind to process but that still have to be figured out, and that are there on an everyday basis: 'Is there danger, is there an emergency, what is happening? Fight or flight necessary?’.
Traffic honking and screeching tyres, construction site drilling, people yelling or chatting or calling out or screaming, sirens blaring, music of all kinds in all levels of intensity.
All of this are emotional triggers with an emotional response to them. Having lived in Aarau, Switzerland, I thought I was pretty close to nature. These days, living on a very secluded island in the Atlantic Ocean, I realise how I did not even hear sounds of nature before without a backdrop of artificial noise. Whenever I ‘go to town’ (meaning Stornoway, a town boasting less than 5’000 people), I crave coming home again to Uig, to the quiet, the calm and the tranquility.
Admittedly, when I was younger, I never wanted it to be quiet, distraction was what I needed. I changed. My needs changed. And these days, what Jay Shetty says, makes sense to me.
If we do not consciously decide what sounds we invite into our daily life (what we wake up to, what music we listen to, what sort of interactions we have), then we consciously decide to eliminate one key factor in shaping our reality.
Creating the life we want for ourselves.
Being in the driver’s seat, not in the passenger seat.
Again, it is the beginning of a new day and most days it would also end with this being the last thing before I closed my eyes.
After snoozing the alarm for three or more times, until I finally made it into a somewhat upright position and open my eyes?
Exactly, I unlocked my phone and checked my messages.
Starting with the messenger services (back then I still had WhatsApp in addition to Telegram and Threema), then short messages (yes, some of my contacts did still use those remnants of times passed), then mails and lastly social media. The me that I am now can’t really fathom the fact that I spent the first 30 minutes of my day seeing everyone else’s priorities, issues and challenges, what they wanted me to do or be. So first I wake up to the sound of an emergency, then I continue to immediately react and interact without any second thought about how I am feeling, what I need or want to accomplish today.
I can tell you, changing that, changed my life.
These days I spend the first hour after waking up 9.9 times out of 10 without any screen time.
I stop my alarm and begin my day without my phone.
At night, 8 times out of 10, I have no screen time for two hours before bed (I do not count if I do a Yoga class online or if I have music accompany my meditation; what I count here is aimlessly scrolling or swiping through the internet, especially social media, my worst frenemie).
Jay Shetty calls it mindfulness.
He says this is being intentional about what you expose yourself too.
And to me, this is an absolute truth.
If I disregard this habit and am on my phone right up to the moment of falling asleep, and if I disregard this rule for two or more days in a row, I sleep dreadfully, I have such a hard time getting out of bed in the morning and my overall mood is a depressed downward spiral.
I am still learning, I believe we all are constantly in a state of change. Educating ourselves, switching habits and feeling that our needs transform constantly. However, since I am constantly on the lookout for self-development and self-growth, I watch closely how my actions affect my life.
Starting and ending my day off screen has shifted my life enormously.
A spa is all about scent.
Eucalyptus, lavender, sandalwood, peppermint - they put you to ease without any effort. They affect you, whether you know and feel it consciously or not. Again, here is the choice to try and put scents intentionally into your day, depending on what you need.
Peace and calm? Lavender.
Uplifting mood? Orange or grapefruit.
Motivational work ethic? Peppermint.
How many of us do consciously craft which sounds sights and smells we invite into our life? How many of us are intentionally selecting what we want our life to feel like?
Mindfulness is not just about doing meditation once a day, ticking it off a to do list. Mindfulness, with meditation and other forms of self care as parts of it, is a way of life. And with all ways that are new, practice makes master.
In the beginning it might feel like another load on top of your shoulders. Another to do thing. But the intention behind it is clear: You need to practice what it feels like to drive. Practice in different conditions, practice in good weather and bad weather, practice when the tyres pressure is low or the windshield washer fluid is dried out and needs to be refilled. Every single day, every single hour, every situation in our life creates the environment we need to learn how to drive.
What feels good to us, how we want our life to look like.
And it is not supposed to be easy. If everything would be easy, we would not have the opportunity to grow. It is supposed to be challenging. All that is just given to us, does not hold any value longterm. Maybe some other time we could dive straight into the dangers of instant gratification.
Today is about one step.
Take responsibility, and just start.
One step at a time.
One ’S’ at a time.
How does it make you feel?
What changes do you see?
Does it do you good?
I feel you, I am with you, I love you and wish you the best life you could possibly imagine for yourself!
With that said, I will put on some peppermint oil: Got some exciting work to do.
Thank you all so much for reading, I hope you can take something of value away from it!
Love and light, from my heart to yours, beloved souls.