My name is Stephen, and over the course of my 30 short years of life, I can say, with certainty and conviction, that I have spent the overwhelming majority of my time on auto-pilot.
It’s easy enough to do – we spend years in school or at university, studying for an imagined future, building and striving towards a picture that does not yet exist.
And if you are anything like me, you also spent a lot of that time worrying. Worrying about not doing a good enough job, worrying about letting people down, worrying that people don’t approve of you, or your clothes, or your taste in music. Worry, worry, worry.
Worrying, of course, pulls us out of the present moment. We begin living in an anxiety-provoking imagined future, full of shortcomings and potential failures.
Living this way became too much for me. I knew there was a better way of living, but I was convinced I’d been passed over somehow; convinced I had missed some proverbial boat and was left standing on the shore waving as the world passed me by. It became exhausting, and at one point, I nearly gave up. Not on life, but on myself, and my future.
I began drinking heavily, and regressed back into a teen version of myself, playing video games for hours on end. I stopped tending to my relationships, and I withdrew into myself. I felt ashamed of my inability to pull myself out of this hole I had dug for myself.
I was in a bad way.
But all that changed when my girlfriend, my one lifeline in the darkness, broke up with me. I had hit my own personal ‘rock bottom’.
It sounds cliché, I know. But here it is anyway – that experience changed me in a profound way. I often refer to it as my “awakening”. I felt an overwhelming drive to better myself, improve my life, and to rouse myself from the stupor of my own creating.
Since then, almost 6 months ago now, I have taken up yoga, meditation, and daily mindfulness practices as a way of staying connected with myself and my experiences.
I also completed the Conscious Beginnings mindfulness-based personal growth program, which I can safely say had an enormous impact on my way of thinking, my attitude, and my outlook on life (find it here). I decided to offer myself as a contributor to the blog, in the hopes that I can share my story, and that perhaps someone else out there can relate.
Over the next few months I will post about my journey, as well as explore mindfulness-related topics from my personal perspective. I will discuss the lasting effects that the Conscious Beginnings program has had for me, and some of the changes I have managed to bring about thanks to a combination of mindfulness and a fresh attitude to growth and change.
I look forward to taking this journey with you!
Stephen is a budding counsellor, avid craft beer enthusiast, and part-time Buddhist. He enjoys hiking, connecting with nature, losing himself in deep conversation, and contributing to the Conscious Beginnings blog.