What is our purpose in life?
This is a question I have found myself asking many times over the years, first arising during my senior year in nursing school. I was anxious, depressed, and numbing myself with various substances to avoid the pain I did not know how to handle.
Wake Up Call
My clinical rotation that fall semester had me in an inpatient psychiatric unit, where we would start the day off with an AA meeting. I listened to my patients as they shared their stories of serving in the military and how they were not equipped with the tools necessary to deal with the emotional and mental challenges they had endured. To cope with their symptoms of severe anxiety, depression, panic attacks, they too found their solution in drugs and alcohol. One morning, I looked at the people around me and felt an overwhelming feeling of compassion and empathy, but also a feeling that this experience was a wake-up call. Like a mirror, my patients were showing me the suffering I was too afraid to look it with-in myself. I needed a real solution to face my traumas and find healing.
The book called Lessons in Meditation
The solution came in the book called “Lessons in Meditation” written by Jyotish Novak. I began following the lessons and instantly felt as if this book was showing me the light out of the darkness around me. Each day in clinical, I would sit with several of my patients and walk them through the simple meditation tools shared in this book.
One day was a particularly profound moment I will never forget. One of my patients had previously opened up to me about the hatred he felt for himself and the things he had done in his life. His mental dialogue for the last twenty years was, “I am a monster.” We were meditating for about 15 minutes when he said very quietly, but with immense joy, “the voice in my head has silenced.” The joy in his smile and the feeling of inner forgiveness I felt from him were palpable. I knew these meditation techniques had shifted the inner narrative within him and had transformed him in some profound way. Seeing his transformation, I knew these techniques had the power to transform lives. I felt hope and joy for the first time in many years.
About a year after starting to meditate, this question again surfaced in my mind-
What is the purpose of my life?
Again the answer came in a book, this time “Autobiography of a Yogi” written by the Paramhansa Yogananda. I wanted what he had- freedom and infinite joy! (I later would find out, Jyotish Novak was a spiritual director of Ananda Worldwide, a church dedicated to sharing the teachings of Yogananda)
I began to orient my life around a search for that joy he talked about, which eventually led me to the Ananda Meditation Retreat in 2017. I lived and served here for several years, attuning myself with the vibration of stillness and diving deep into the teachings of Yogananda. Profound healing, discovery, growth, and joy were found during this time.
I continue to live in a spiritual community, and it gives me great inspiration to share with others these tools and techniques that have changed my life. Simple tools to uplift one’s consciousness, to let go of limiting thoughts and attitudes, and find a deeper connection with your highest Self.
As a nurse, I know the difficulties that come with the job and how little we were taught on how to deal with the emotional aspects of being a nurse. What’s even harder is the loss of hope and inspiration I have heard so many nurses express this past year. As nurses, we have chosen a life dedicated to serving others. We must learn how to care for ourselves, not only physically, but we must also learn how to mentally and emotionally support ourselves so that we can continue to give to others. Meditation, breathwork, and other yoga principles are incredibly helpful tools. By reconnecting to the compassion within our hearts, we can rediscover the inspiration and job satisfaction that inspired us to become nurses. And with tools of self-care and centering, we can remain heart-opened without burning out and depleting ourselves.
I look forward to sharing with you 🙂