Nov 152012

Author: Anna Palmer

As I look outside my window at the beautiful, clear, blue sky a smile begins to form on my lips.  Despite the stress of this past week studying for exams worth half of my grade, I feel relatively at peace.  Generally speaking, I feel like I’ve managed to keep a level head throughout this month of examinations, knowing that all I can do is my best.  That isn’t to say there haven’t been moments of panic these past weeks at the thought of not passing one of my classes here.  All exaggerating aside, there is a realistic chance of this happening.  The thought of this possible failure has overwhelmed me from time to time these past couple of weeks but I think I’ve slowly come to the realization that no matter what happens and what grade I get, I know that I did my best.  And I also know that if I do fail, then it is simply life’s way of giving me an opportunity to learn and grow from.  These thoughts seem to ease a lot of my fears, especially around this fear of failing and I know that fear itself is such a fleeting emotion.  It comes and it goes, in cyclical, almost predictive patterns and I know that if I act fast I can prevent it from taking over altogether.

So that’s what I have tried to do throughout this period of high stress; I’ve been working on noticing and acknowledging the fear and anxiety, detaching myself from it and observing it from an outsider’s perspective and then finally letting go of it.  This fear is not who I am.  It is merely a symptom of the ego.  By detaching myself from this fear, I’ve begun to realize that I am so much more than my thoughts, so much more than my emotions.  I know I struggle to not get wrapped up in this negative thought pattern and I know that it is simply a result of habit, a maladaptive pattern of conditioning.

These past couple of weeks, I’ve noticed changes in my mood that will happen literally from one second to the next.  One moment I felt stressed and anxious about an exam and the next moment I felt calm and relatively at peace.  You would think this shifting of emotions, literally in the blink of an eye, would make me feel like I’m going crazy or losing my grip on things.  And sure maybe my ego was losing its grip on things in feeling like it didn’t have any control in how well I did.  But the truth is this is not the real me that felt like it was falling apart.  It was simply my ego feeling like it was on the brink of losing its grip on things and losing control.  My mom sent me a quote by Yogi Amrit Desai that has been stuck in my mind ever since:

“When you feel like you are falling apart, it is not you who is falling apart; it is who you are not.  The real you can never fall apart.”

This quote really struck a cord within me and has made me come to many realizations.  We are not our emotions nor are we are thoughts, or even our personality.  We are all so much more than that.  We are souls, full of love and life.  This is the part of us that remains constant, ever-stable and resistant to external influences.  I think I’m finally opening my eyes and heart to the truth in that I am so much more than this façade, I am so much more than my personality, than my body, than the thoughts and emotions that go along with these.  The real me is not influenced by how thin I am, how pretty I am or even how well I do in school.  When I feel like these are the things that define me I know that is when I have lost the connection with this inner, whole and all-loving part of me.

Although I am just beginning to learn that what truly matters in life is the love you have for yourself and the love you give to others, it does not change the fact that I am still human.  I still have these human characteristics (thoughts, emotions, bodily ties) that do have a say in how I carry myself.  Even though I know the real me is so much more than the thoughts I have or the emotions I feel, I know that this realization does not do away with these instinctual primal instincts.

I know that these negative thoughts and emotions are fleeting and truly do come and go and this realization has led me to believe that I truly do have power over what I think and feel.  I can consciously choose to feel stressed or think negative thoughts or I can consciously choose to shift my focus to the positive things in life.  This conscious choosing really does impact on how quickly your mood and mindset can change.  Even today, after getting out of my last exam, feeling a bit discouraged, I simply decided to shift my focus on the positive: the beautiful blue sky, the warm sunshine on my face, and the fact that I will get to spend the next couple of days with the friends I’ve made here in New Zealand.

As my time here in New Zealand is quickly coming to a close, all sorts of thoughts and emotions come up: mainly sadness of leaving and the regret of things I didn’t do or changes I didn’t make within myself.  Despite these negative feelings, I choose to shift my focus on these last couple of days and to truly enjoy my time with the friends I’ve made.  As I shift my perspective from dwelling on the negative to basking in all the wonder and beauty surrounding me, I find myself content and at peace with where I am.  I am thoroughly grateful and appreciative of this opportunity that I’ve had to come abroad and to have all of these wonderful experiences.

I also know that my outlook on this experience and in life in general is greatly determined by my conscious choosing.  I can choose to dwell on the regrets, the mistakes, the negatives or I can choose to focus on all the good that is around me each and every moment.  Being in New Zealand has made me realize that each and every moment is a new moment, a chance to consciously choose happiness and love over doubt, fear and second-guessing.  My gaze shifts back to my now open bedroom window and as I look up at the beautiful blue sky and bask in the sunshine pouring down on me, I smile and relish in the beauty and simplicity of what I have in this moment.


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