As women move through what is often a demanding holiday season, and head toward the New Year, most of us are thinking about what we can do to make 2019 a more fulfilling, more productive, less stressful, more meaningful, and, generally, a more enjoyable year. What can we do to reduce the stress in our lives? What can we do to get on top of our health issues? How can we structure our lives so that there is a bit more ‘me time’ and a bit more ‘us time’ with partners, kids, family and friends?
To this end, it is starting to dawn on so many of us that ‘having it all’ may not be a realistic concept. Recent articles, along with Michelle Obama’s recent and very frank statement in this regard, have summed up the reality of the situation: We cannot have it all and at the same time be rested enough to enjoy it. And if we cannot enjoy having it all, then what is the point of having it all?
As Shonda Rhimes put it in her Huffington Post article: “Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means I am failing in another area of my life.”
If we are going to succeed in some areas of life at the expense of other areas of life, then we need to clearly appreciate what is most important to us. We need to decide where is it most important for us to be succeeding. We have to ask the difficult questions, such as: Is our job consuming our lives when it was supposed to be a means by which we could have the hoped-for personal life that it has, in fact, obliterated? Are we being pushed along in life by concepts forced upon us by prevailing norms and trends rather than acknowledging who we are and what we actually need to be happy?
While the answers to these kinds of questions may be unique to each of us, to be able to find those answers it requires our ability to connect to the deepest aspect of ourselves. We need to push past the mental clutter, past any unnecessary sense of obligation, nagging worries and insecurities. We need to be alert to unconsciously adopting others’ opinions and perspectives, and to avoid our own limiting thoughts. Then we can fully appreciate our individual and authentic needs and desires.
The best tool that I have ever found for connecting to my authenticity and settling into a foundational sense of who I am, is my regular practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique. It has allowed me to reach beyond the ideas and concepts that constantly bombard us from outside. The TM technique has helped me to find my own inner Self, beyond all the various roles I play in life, roles that we often let define us. While I may be proud to say I am a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a professional, etc.—none of those things are actually who I am. They are simply the things I do while being who I am. Underneath all my role and activities, my likes and dislikes, underneath even my moods and my thoughts and feelings, there exists something bigger and more basic to my existence. And it is from that most expanded aspect of my Self that my authentic voice emerges.
Finding this place within oneself is transforming. It provides us with an inner sense of self-sufficiency from which we can give generously of ourselves. It provides us with a mental strength and clarity in regard to our sense of what is right such that our generosity does not leave us compromised. It provides both an underlying calm and an increased vitality. This in turn is the basis for productive, dynamic activity and an abundance of creativity. We become more productive in less time, giving us the opportunity to accomplish more and play
Without a doubt, meditation has strengthened my connection to those deepest feelings and emotions where the more subtle voice of our hearts has a chance to be heard—providing insight into what is truly important to us. It has become evident to me that leading our life from this place of authenticity is absolutely essential for attaining the kind of abiding happiness that we all seek.
One of the many gifts of a regular and effective meditation practice is the appreciation that peace is an inner experience that can be easily cultivated, and, once cultivated, radiates out to transform the circumstances around us. It isn’t the outer circumstances that create a sustained sense of peace or lack of it—it is the other way around. And when the majority of women find that connection to the deepest aspect of themselves—find an invincible peace within themselves—I believe that there will be a shift in the collective consciousness of our global family. I believe that the challenges the world faces today, from the political divide to climate change, will be positively impacted by this kind of transformation.
The New Year is traditionally a time for reflecting on how we have done in the past and for making our resolutions about how we will move forward into our future. A simple commitment to getting back in touch with the deepest aspect of oneself can be the most profound way to move into a New Year that promises to open up the possibility for a baseline of happiness. We just need to make a habit of taking the time to find our way back home to our authentic Self.
We at Transcendental Meditation for Women wish a very healthy, progressive, fulfilling and truly happy New Year to all women, and through us, to our whole world family.
Candace Badgett is an International Trustee of Transcendental Meditation for Women