Sleepwalking through life is SUCH a common method of existence these days. We put our heads down as we make our way to work, maybe finding ourselves in a job we don’t enjoy, simply because we started on a track long ago based on what we were advised to do. We study what “they” tell us makes the most sense, we get the practical job, and we follow the cadence of life in the way society deems appropriate.
These may be very authentic and conscious decisions for some, but they can be rather disingenuous for many. As was the case for me.
Many of us aren’t taught to challenge the status quo, to take the road less traveled, to pave our own way, to live a life based on our own rules. We’re taught to put our heads down, to take the “safe” route, and to be grateful for the opportunity to do so. I’m a big believer in gratitude, but we can be grateful for what we have while working towards what we want.
The irony of the safe route is that while it’s dressed in comfort, ease, and acceptance, it may very well be the most dangerous thing we can do. A little piece of us dies while we continue along our journeys of sleepwalking, only to wake up one day and realize that life is simply passing us by. We’ve become bystanders rather than active participants in life.
I was sleepwalking through most of my life, up until I had a brief yet memorable moment on my college campus at the age of twenty-two. As I was walking to class, I was awe struck by the beauty and majestic nature of a large tree. The length of time it took for that tree to grow, the number of people who had previously walked past it, the decades of time it had witnessed. These are some of the thoughts that rushed through my mind during that brief moment in time, and for the first time that I was able to recall, I came out of my daze.
Coincidentally (or not), I stumbled across meditation via Eckhart Tolle shortly after this incident, and my life was forever changed. While there are certainly still times of sleepwalking in my daily life today, I was shaken awake that day and the seed was planted.
As my journey of meditation, self-awareness, and personal growth continued, I noticed that my state of sleepwalking, my love for myself and my body, and my obsession with food all moved in tandem. With sleepwalking came mindless eating, binge drinking, speaking negatively about myself, talking badly of others, and numbing feelings and emotions with food. It also came with adopting opinions that weren’t my own, a lack of boundaries with others, and playing it safe with my career.
The more I focused on increasing my awareness and “waking up”, the more I ate according to hunger signals, identified negative thought patterns and replaced them with loving ones, stopped drinking alcohol in amounts I knew would be harmful to my physical or emotional well-being, started treating others in alignment with my values, and began working towards the woman I knew I really was underneath the layers.
Waking up led to greater alignment with my body, in addition to the energy around me. I stopped fighting what is and started working with it.
Developing the skill of connecting with our internal landscape in silence is necessary, as it forces us to pick our heads up pay attention to where we are or are not playing active role in life. My favorite way to ensure I’m staying plugged in and am mitigating instances of sleepwalking is through daily meditation, and I recently reincorporated journaling into my daily morning routine.
Our relationships with ourselves, others, our bodies, and food will always be moving in tandem with our levels of presence and awareness. Start putting your focus on your daily practice of awakening from the slumber you may find yourself in, as so many of us do, and build a stable foundation of connection to yourself and your body. You’ll likely find your food and body obsessions will naturally begin to dissipate.