Some of the most difficult times in my life were after my marriage ended. Everything from getting out of bed and getting to work was hard. It was so shell-shocking and devastating that I didn’t know how to process it.
Without question, this was the most difficult period that I’ve ever experienced in my life. My marriage unraveled, I lost the place that I was living in, we lost the house we had, I left the job that I had and I ended up leaving the state that I was living in and moving back to California.
In one short 6 month period, my life had turned completely upside down and I was more broken than I ever was in my life. I was mentally a wreck, I was emotionally tormented and spiritually broken. Nothing so big had gone so wrong in my life.
Until this point, it had all been smooth sailing: a good education, a career as a lawyer, an early marriage to a woman I loved, and us purchasing a house together. We had so many dreams and things we wanted to do in life together. All of it just vanished when our relationship fell apart and the divorce papers were signed.
How to cope with the unimaginable?
I really did not know how I got through that period in my life. I honestly felt like I died and I was a ghost in the world. My ghostly body was going to work, going to yoga, and preparing food to eat. My soul was stuck deep underground and refused to see the light of day.
There was no future. There was no hope. There was no happiness. Or joy.
I shut myself off to the world around me. I stopped talking to all of the people in my life including my family, colleagues and friends.
I questioned the meaning of life and what was the point of it all.
This incident broke my happy-go-lucky spirit and shattered my soul into a million pieces. I was floating around in the world, not sure how to function as a human anymore.
The light in this broken place
It was in this depth of despair when everything had fallen apart that everything about me unraveled. Everything that I had known to be true was no longer true. This was the rock bottom moment in my life.
And it was in this moment that something special came about that I want to share with you if you’re in this moment in your life. When all of the walls in your life have fallen apart and when my human existence had cracked, I found myself in a sacred place.
This was a place of brokenness and nothingness.
I was lightly treading on this place where I nothing and knew no one. It was in this dark and lonely place that I discovered myself for the first time.
All of the joy and happiness had left. All of the people and love had left. All of the normalcy and familiarity had left. All that remained was me, myself and I.
The sacredness of brokenness
It was in this place where I knew no one and nothing that I created a temple for myself. This was when I became intimately familiar with the real me. The external trappings fell aside and I got to meet the real “Vishnu”.
This was the first proper introduction to who I was as a person. My life had become so shaken up that I was left to literally find myself and get to know this person. I found out about my hurts, my traumas, my pains. I started earnestly discovering who this person was, what he was like, and what he wanted.
In this soulful place is where I was able to see the broken parts. It was in this sacred place where I was able to work on healing the broken heart.
In retrospect, this place was not a welcoming or familiar place. It was dark, alone, and terrifying. I was a miserable wreck during this process but I had no choice. There was nothing else to hold onto. I had no choice but to see myself and work on myself which is what I started doing from that day onward.
The sacred work in front of you
Not everyone will be given this sacred space or get to visit this place you might find yourself in. Not everyone will have everything taken away from them as their life deteriorates completely.
If you’re reading this, you may be one of the few people who have the honor and privilege of being here in this dark, lonely and unsettling place.
Yet, it’s right here where you have no boundaries, no railings, and no familiarity that you can begin doing the work of healing, growing and becoming familiar with who you are.
It’s in this place of brokenness you can align with the divine. It’s in this place you can let the light in. It’s in this place that you can become fully who you were meant to be.
There are no distractions or noise here. Just you, the universe, your soul, and the light.
Take a moment to put your hands together, bow and honor this space.
This may feel like the most broken place you’ve found yourself in but this is also where the healing begins.
“There comes a day when you realize turning the page is the best feeling in the world, because you realize there is so much more to the book than the page you were stuck on.” Zayn Malik
I hate endings.
I hate when the movie A Star is Born ends.
I hate when a lunch date ends.
I hate when a pot of Indian sambar in the fridge ends.
I hate when a cup of tart frozen yogurt I’m eating ends.
And, for sure, I hate when a relationship ends.
Like I said, I hate endings.
And when you hate endings, you try your hardest to hold onto the ending.
If it’s a movie, you can replay or rewind it.
If it’s a pot of delicious tofu curry, you can water it down and have more of it.
And if it’s a relationship, you can do one of two things.
You can prolong the end by trying your hardest to hold onto it, avoiding your partner’s attempt to break it off.
Or…you can simply end it and continue holding onto your relationship in your heart and soul.
You can hold onto the relationship in your mind and consciousness, replaying the highlights of that relationship over and over again.
When my relationship ended, I did all these things.
I stayed in the relationship way too long. We did every single thing we could to avoid breaking up…until it got to a breaking point.
And I continued to imagine that this relationship still existed even after I’d gotten out of it.
I replayed our trips to Lake Tahoe, our honeymoon to Kerala, our first trip to Las Vegas and Disneyland, our many conversations on Skype, my secret trip to India to visit her months after we met.
I continued replaying these memories because they felt good and when I had these memories, I felt good.
Like I mentioned last week, memories of the past are soothing and comfortable.
The past is like a cup of hot chocolate or a warm blanket as you sit by the fireplace on a rainy night.
Who would ever want to let go of these warm and comfortable memories?
Yet, to move on with my life, I had to find ways to do exactly that.
I had to let go of these memories so I could move on with my life!
Although it took years of reading, therapy, spiritual discoveries, meditation, learning and understanding, this concept helped me break through and shift away from the past.
It was this teaching about impermanence by the Buddhist teacher and poet, Thich Nhat Hanh:
“We are often sad and suffer a lot when things change, but change and impermanence have a positive side. Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible. Life itself is possible. If a grain of corn is not impermanent, it can never be transformed into a stalk of corn. If the stalk were not impermanent, it could never provide us with the ear of corn we eat. If your daughter is not impermanent, she cannot grow up to become a woman. Then your grandchildren would never manifest. So instead of complaining about impermanence, we should say, ‘Warm welcome and love live impermanence.’ We should be happy. When we see the miracle of impermanence our sadness and suffering will pass.”
This helped me realize that change and impermanence can be good things.
If life didn’t have endings, we couldn’t have beginnings.
Without winter, there would be no spring.
Without darkness, there would be no light.
Without night, there would be no dawn.
Once I learned this lesson from Thich Nhat Hahn and other spiritual teachers, I started looking at life in a different way.
I could slowly loosen my grip on my past relationship and my marriage because, in its dissolution, I would find discovery and the blooming of new relationships and love.
Growth, understanding, compassion and inner change will fill my life.
In the messiness and complications of a sad ending are the seeds for so many other things to come out of my life.
It was the moment when I realized that practicing law was no longer the thing for me to do.
It was the moment when I realized that I didn’t have to buy into and live the consumerist American dream that everyone around me was living.
It was the moment when I realized that profound spiritual lessons and truths were awaiting me.
So, really, the end was the beginning of change, understanding and growth.
The end was truly the beginning.
This was how I slowly transitioned to present-moment living.
A slow and growing realization that death and endings are the foundations of birth and beginnings.
The idea isn’t to stay stuck on a page. It’s to let go of things that no longer work so you can read the rest of the book.
As the above quote reveals, you can get to the good parts of the book only after you finish the parts that have kept you stuck.
Bottom line: So many good things can come your way but you won’t find them if you don’t let go of the past.
The beautiful thing is, you have the power of choice. You get to decide how to view the impermanence and changes that enter your life.
I did whatever I could to avoid the breakup of my marriage.
Family intervention. Check.
European vacation. Check.
Marriage counseling. Check.
Date nights and communication. Check.
But it was all a bit too much, a bit too late.
Our relationship was beyond repair and nothing could save it.
Years of fights, yelling, speaking, not speaking, resentments and disrespect towards each other had created a relationship that no longer existed.
She left and all I had was had were some pots and pans, my clothing, heartbreak and soul-crushing pain.
Sleepless nights, uninterrupted streams of tears and consistent thoughts about whether living was worth it.
I believed my life was over.
You, too, may believe your life is over and it’s your ex’s fault.
You may believe that your ex is a heartless, soulless human being who had a lifelong plot to destroy you.
But before you conjure some sinister, criminal story about how your ex arrived on planet Earth to cause massive destruction in your life, let me introduce another possibility.
What if it had nothing to do with your ex?
It had nothing to do with the separation, heartbreak or divorce.
It had nothing to do with the cheating, disrespect or animosity that built up between you two.
When you’re experiencing the worst heartbreak of your life, and as your life is falling apart, you desperately want to believe your ex is to blame.
Your ex is the threat to your marriage and the destroyer of your life, you think to yourself as you seethe with anger and resentment.
Yet, we have the whole thing wrong.
It’s not about the pain, suffering and destruction that your ex caused.
That’s not what this whole life thing is about.
Sorry to break the news but life isn’t about heartbreak and pain, sadness or even joy.
It’s not about the white picket fence, a house in a gated community or having a family. It’s not about marriages that last, careers that accelerate or a luxurious life of chefs, butlers and meals in the White House kitchen.
Those who are lucky enough to live relatively calm and stable lives (none of you reading this, of course) will experience a mundane and non-growth oriented life experience. Not growing is comfortable and relaxing.
Yet those of you who have gone through the washing machine of life must come to some understanding of why you’re going through the spin cycle.
The spin cycle puts your life in upheaval but allows your soul to awaken.
Every time crazy life events – like divorces or breakups – happen, the world as you know it bursts wide open and you question the very meaning of your existence.
When you’re questioning, you’re existing. You’re asking yourself who you are and why you’re here.
You are here to be more of yourself. You are here to be more of your inner being. You are here to become more of your spiritual being.
All of these beings exist within you but are dormant.
Only when your life and circumstances get shook, do you get woke. (I’m not even sure what that means but all the kids are using these words.)
Anyway, point being: the more upheaval in your life, the more questioning. The more questioning, the more awakening to who you are. The more awakening to who you are, the more aligning with your spiritual nature.”
Your spiritual nature is your essence, your being, the inner you that jobs, families, houses, careers, drinking and bowling nights usually hide. You don’t have to know who you are if you are busy and if life preoccupies you. When you’re experiencing success and achievement, you don’t have to ask who you are.
Only when your world breaks apart are you ready to ask questions, to grow and get in touch with your highest self.
So your devastating break up or the divorce you’re going through isn’t here to crush you, like you believe. It’s here to awaken you and take your life and consciousness to the next level.
The game isn’t about worldliness, happiness and stuff. It’s about spiritual awakening and inner peace.
A breakup can fertilize the ground for contentment and waking up.
Divorce can fertilize the ground for spirituality, knowledge and awakening.
You may feel like life has handed you a death sentence when you’re really being born again.
Your task isn’t to seek comfort and stability while on earth.
Your mission is to discover who you are and become more of that in your life.
I wrote a book about living an authentic life and living your truth; pick up 7 Sacred Promises here today.
I didn’t welcome the pain that came along with heartbreak.
I would have done anything to stay together just so I wouldn’t feel the soul-crushing breaking of my heart. I had never experienced profound loss before and didn’t think I could take it.
So, I avoided feeling the heavy, overwhelming and life-consuming pain.
For some time, I pretended the breakup wasn’t happening. Later, I imagined that it was all a bad dream and I would wake up from it soon. I wanted to disappear from the world all together so I wouldn’t have to face this heaviness.
Little did I know that I waiting for me in my life’s greatest pain was my life’s greatest lessons.
In my heartbreak was the peace and freedom of my untethered soul. In Michael Singer’s book, the Untethered Soul, I learn that my inner thorns were really the guide and source to inner awakening.
You can remove the prick of the inner thorns and learn that it’s acceptable to feel inner disturbances. In fact, getting through the pain and landing on the other side is the key to freedom of your innermost being.
Here are 6 practical and actionable from the Unthethered Soul to melt the pain and embrace your inner freedom
1. Know that you have two choices.
Just like being pricked by a thorn, you have experiences which prick and disturb you. This thorn is a constant source of disturbance and your choices are to make sure nothing touches the thorn to avoid all pain or to take out the thorn.
If you do nothing about it, the thorn will run your life. You will have trouble sleeping because of it, you will have trouble staying focused on your job and trouble with everyday interactions. As people, we have so many sensitivities that can be triggered at any time. One way to go about life is to make sure that no one triggers these sensitivities.
“If you’re lonely, you must avoid going to places where couples tend to be. If you’re afraid of rejection, you must avoid getting too close to people,” Singer advises. Of course, this becomes life-consuming and takes work!
The alternative? You notice this inner disturbance and realize that YOU and the inner disturbance are not one in the same. You don’t want the weakest parts of you running your life.
Realize that your consciousness is separate and that you can be aware of these things.
2. You are not your pain
“Wake up and realized that you are in there, and you have a sensitive person in there with you. Simply watch the sensitive part of you feel disturbance. See it feel jealousy, need and fear,” Singer suggests.
As you experience pain, become aware of the pain without interfering with it. See it, feel it, pay attention to it and observe it. You are having the experience of a human being when you experience this pain.
“If you pay attention,” Singer counsels, “you will see that they are not you; they are just something that you’re feeling and experiencing. You are the indwelling being that is aware of all of this.”
Once you realize that you and your pain are separate, you will start feeling a different energy within you, called Shakti or spirit.
This deeper, wiser part of you is the inner wisdom or the greater divine, what you decide to perceive it as. It is your inner being who realizes that it’s not the same as the pain that’s passing through your body.
“Once you learn that it’s okay to feel inner disturbances, and that they can no longer disturb your seat of consciousness, you will be free.”
3. Your pain is temporary.
A way to see that you and your pain are not one, is to see pain as something transient that will pass through your body.
You can view pain as a temporary shift in energy.
You are pained every day in small and big ways. You are pained by your heartbreak and you are pained by seeing your ex with someone else. You are pained by loneliness and you’re pained by your favorite ice cream flavor being out of stock at Movenpick.
So many things can cause you pain on a daily basis. It becomes less of a problem when you realize that pain passes. It’s a temporary feeling that you’re experiencing.
You can actually learn to get comfortable with it. All the feelings that come up are just feelings. You can handle feelings that are a normal part of life.
Feelings are just things that are passing through your system like a cold, for example. You notice the cold, you experience the cold and you know that once your body processes the col, you’ll be relieved of the cold.
Have fun with the temporariness of your feelings.
“Laugh at it, have fun with it, but don’t be afraid of it. It cannot touch you unless you touch it,” Michael Singer writes in the Untethered Soul.
4. End the addiction to your mind.
Your mind is a great contributor to avoiding pain and being a misleading guide to safe places.
Your mind is always telling you something isn’t right, how to fix something or how to do something differently the next time so you avoid pain. It concocts a book to read, a course to take or a life change you need to make. It tells you it’s the external things that matters.
“That is why people have so much trouble with relationships,” Singer explains. “You begin with a problem inside yourself, and you tried to solve it by getting involved with somebody else. That relationship will have problems because your problems are what caused the relationship.”
If you didn’t have neurotic, continuous replaying of thoughts inside your mind, you could live and experience life without thinking about what’s wrong.
Singer makes a funny and outrageous claim that we have to end the addiction to our minds. You have to stop listening to all the problems it comes up with, which don’t really exist.
Stop asking your mind to fix what’s wrong. Don’t even ask it what the problem is!!
“The mind is simply a computer, a tool. It can be used to ponder great thoughts, solve scientific problems and serve humanity. But you in your lost state, told it to spend its time conjuring up outer solutions for your very personal inner problems.”
Get quiet and watch the mind do it’s mental gymnastics, trickery and quackery. Watch your thoughts. Don’t become aware of the thinking mind but observe the thinking mind.
“You are just in there, aware that you are aware.”
So when someone doesn’t say “hi” to you that you know or you don’t get invited to a party, don’t allow your mind to hijack your being and your life. Watch the melodrama of your mind instead of becoming an actor in this bizarre movie. Your mind doesn’t need an Oscar!
Don’t let your mind drive you crazy over nothing.
5. Welcome in pain by opening your heart
No, not welcome in pain like you would welcome a stroll down the Champs Elysses in Paris or a weekend of skiing in the northern Sierras.
Welcome in pain so that you’re not afraid to experience in. No one likes pain but doesn’t mean you have to spend your life running from pain.
Your heart regularly wants to pull away and avoid the pain once you’ve been hurt by something once.
“If life does something that causes a disturbance inside of you, instead of pulling away, let it pass through you like the wind.”
You might want to avoid feeling anger, fear, insecurity and embarrassment. You might want to run away from heartbreak or the sadness from losing a loved one. You might never want to feel rejected again so what do you do?
Run. Avoid. Build walls and keep the pain out. You tell yourself that you’ll never ever do x,y, or z and stay far away from so and so.
As your heart is trying to push all this away, do the opposite of closing your heart. Relax and release towards the unthethered soul.
“Stay open and receptive so you can be present right where the tension is. You must be willing to be present right at the place of the tightness and pain and then relax and go deeper.”
“Let go and give room for the pain to pass through you,” suggests Singer. “It’s just energy. Just see it as energy and let it go.”
6. On the other side of pain
If you can endure, experience and feel pain, without running away from it, you’ll become free.
Everything you want is on the other side of pain: ecstasy, peace, freedom, joy, beauty, love.
As the pain goes through you, you could feel hot and uncomfortable. You might feel breathless and experience unwanted feelings.
Yet, you go through this pain, by relaxing into the energy, knowing that there are good things coming out on the other side.
This is how the work of spirituality becomes a reality. This is what the works look like. This is what freedom of the untethered soul looks like.
“When you are comfortable with pain passing through you, you’ll be free…You will then be able to walk through this world more vibrant and alive than ever before.”
There is an ocean of love under the pain. Getting through the pain is how you reach this oasis that’s waiting for you of the untethered and free soul.
On the other side of the pain is the life of freedom and awakening waiting for you.
Do you ever wonder if you’re being lied to by society?
Does it feel like you’re being hoodwinked to live a certain kind of life and it just doesn’t feel right to you?
I sure did and when my life fell apart after my divorce, I was able to wake up and come out my deep metaphorical coma.
I came to the profound realization that my whole life was premised on societal expectations. Everything from work and school to relationships and what I should be doing with my life was created by society’s demands.
This past year, I put all my thoughts about this topic into a book called, Seven Sacred Promises.
Why do I call these promises sacred? What are these promises? What will living these promises mean to your life?
If you’d like to hear more about the book and my first podcast interview with my friend, A.G. Billig, check out the podcast below.
Pick up this book to learn how to build up courage, discover your calling, find your courage and live your truth. Read this book only if you’re ready to wake up and start living from a sacred space.
If you’re interested in reading the Seven Sacred Promises, you can pick up the e-book on Amazon here or pickup the paperback book here.
Once upon a time, my daily life was filled with mind-numbing tasks that I completed like a zombie.
I’d wake up to go to the office and barely have the energy to get out of the door. When my day was going well, one thing after another would happen: I’d bang my knee getting dressed and my car wouldn’t start. The stress added up and weighed me down every day.
Hours would pass before I could sleep, and then I’d wake up with a racing mind. Even when I tried to slow down or take a daycation, the stress would creep its way back into my life. The day I started to practice mindfulness, my entire life shifted—what really mattered in my life was given my full attention, and my worries began to dissipate as I dealt with them from a more aware perspective.
What Mindfulness Is Not
Mindfulness isn’t a reset button as much as I wished I could hit that button. The snooze button worked for a little while, but everyone wanted something from me when I wanted to be left alone.
No matter how hard I worked, I always worried about my success on projects. I despised faking smiles and telling lies when people asked how I was doing. All this stress does is distract you from being aware of what’s going on within yourself right now.
Mindfulness isn’t some watered down version of meditation where you chant mantras and take a certain number of breaths. It’s about taking notice and being here, in the now.
What Mindfulness Really Means
I’d heard all about how I needed to “be in the now,” and it does sound like a pitch to sign up for twenty classes of yoga on a special deal. Go ahead and take a second to roll your eyes, and I’ll tell you what mindfulness is really about for me.
Mindfulness is about waking up refreshed and open. Instead of mentally checking over my to-do list, I feel how comfortable my bed is and how energized my body feels after actually getting a decent night’s sleep. I listen to my heart, my breathing and even the sounds of construction outside my bedroom—the sounds of a new day starting. I frown at the banging of a hammer and stretch with a smile, open to receiving each moment to follow from a clear-headed space.
Instead of feeling behind, my sense of ease continues with me into the rest of the day. Mindfulness allows me to be responsive and observant of a moment as it happens, rather than making a stressful idea into a reality. Being mindful is a way of living.
How Being Mindful Affects My Everyday Life
Being mindful doesn’t take this huge effort, and it won’t take up your time. You don’t force yourself to think positively and criticize yourself when you don’t. You will worry, but as mindfulness becomes a part of your daily life, you’ll find that old stresses affect you less.
Most of the time, I don’t even notice when I am being mindful. I started bringing mindfulness into my daily rituals used to unwind and connect to myself. I began with Wednesdays, that “Yay! I’m halfway through!” day.
I’d go to a coffee shop with a big window and look out to the street.
Being somewhere else and allowing myself get lost was helpful, but stress would still find me.
That’s because I wasn’t experiencing the flow of what I was feeling in the moment.
I decided to sit down with my coffee, and for five minutes, focus on the birds outside eating the bread crumbs that a man was dropping.
The birds fought over the crumbs, but each bird had a piece before he left.
I found myself laughing and almost crying, because that felt like the day I had.
That day at work, I was so worried over having certain needs met and meeting the needs of others, that I scurried when everything was going to turn out okay, anyway.
Those silly birds, that fought over bread crumbs, flocked together no matter what.
From there on, I decided to choose one thing to observe within that weekly coffee break: from the people in cars driving home to my breathing.
Mindfulness was brought intentionally into other daily rituals. For example, when getting dressed in the morning, I take in everything possible: the cool air on my wet skin after a shower or the feel of fabric soft on my skin.
Mindfulness sneaked its way into my morning drive to work and in evenings when I walk the dog. Instead of cursing at stopped traffic, I notice my breathing, and calmly call in late if that’s going to be the case.
Instead of rushing the dog along on his walk, we take in the evening air.
I’ve noticed the seasons changing in more detail. I have let go of stress and recognize what is outside of my control.
Stress can be addictive. Maybe you work in a stressful environment like I did and want to shift your perspective by being more mindful. Maybe life feels too mundane or routine. All of that was true for me, but bringing mindfulness into my daily life became the day I started living.
Kacey Mya Bradley is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective. Her love for the world around her is portrayed through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. She writes an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. You can also find her on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.