By Joeel A. Rivera
In life many times we lose our path, our road, our guide. It is almost as if we stop listening to our inner voice, detach from ourselves, and become one with the external voices that distract us from our Truth. I admit that I have had this experience many times on my personal journey.
But don’t misunderstand this message; there are many times that we must step off of the paved road and onto the mud to give rise to our own path. We must explore beyond our wildest imagination and strive for a different level of existence, one that we could not have reached without letting go of our own fear.
We need to let our inner explorer out!
One of the best catalysts to build and follow our own path is to find ourselves on the wrong road, one where our light doesn’t shine as bright as it could in this world. You see, when we are lost, it is an opportunity for expansion, and once we reset our course and move forward our light will shine even brighter.
Let me give you an example. After moving back to United States in my early years of college, I found myself going to school full-time, working full-time, and helping to raise two kids. I surrounded myself with many people who were needy for my attention and help. Almost all my waking hours were consumed by fixing other people’s problems or scratching things off the to-do list. I felt overwhelmed and that my life was just flying by. I asked myself, “Where is my existence, my true journey?” Life was just dragging me along for the ride. At some point, I decided that my situation had to change. Why was I always trying to help the same people with the same problems—over and over again? Why were these people creating the same situations over and over again, and why was I doing the same things over and over again? Finally I realized that I had become part of their journey, their movie, and I was playing a role in the dramas they had created.
First, I created distance so that I could find my voice and make some major changes to my life. One weekend, after many transformations, I found myself walking through a park and I felt empty. It was an emptiness that I had never experienced in my life. It was almost as if someone had taken a large part of me and left a void. As I sat there staring at the trees, I gained a deep understanding of that emptiness. It came from not having any problems to solve, anyone to rescue, or anywhere to be. For the first time I found myself at peace. However, I could not embrace that peace at first because society taught me that we’re either happy, sad, excited, depressed, or expressing some other emotion. Therefore, I was confused.
It took time to adjust to being at peace—not needing a problem to solve or identifying myself with problems when they did arise.
In the end, I came out of the process with the realization that I did not have to be consumed by life’s challenges or problems and that—regardless of outside circumstances—I could maintain my peace.
However, over time I still slipped off my path and found myself in the same place again, forgetting what that peace was like, losing my clarity, and not remembering how easy it is to unplug and make a conscious decision to be in a place of calm, quiet tranquility. Indeed, it’s hard to change patterns and easy to fall back on our old behaviors and emotions, even if they no longer serve us.
The good news is that, with my new understanding, each time I realized I that I had lost my path it took less time to “wake up,” see the noise around me, and find my internal peace. And that internal peace would last longer! Then one day I sat still observing everything that was happening around me. In the moment, I realized that I was no longer centered, and I knew that peace had replaced turmoil as my overriding state of consciousness because the feeling of imbalance now seemed foreign. I held my ground, and I did not slip off my path.
If you are ready to walk your own path, below are a few pointers to get back on track when you get lost:
- Unplug: Go on a technology cleanse, meaning you put away the cell phone, laptop, and/or any other electronic device that will distract you.
- Step outside in nature without an agenda. Find a quiet place, sit, and become present. Whenever your mind drifts to the past or future, just bring it back to your current environment.
- Do something spontaneous: What can you do to break a routine or pattern? Is it taking that nature walk or sitting down for a few minutes after work instead of rushing to get home? Is it getting away on the weekend?
- Take the time to rest: When was the last time that you just spent a whole day relaxing?
- Start journaling: It is a great tool for self expression. Just by writing down your feelings you may find out things you had hidden inside.
- Love yourself: What can you do every day to practice self love?
- Speak your voice: Do you have things that you are holding in? The more you speak your truth the more liberated you will feel.
- Meditate: Many studies have demonstrated the power of meditation to improve overall health and happiness.
- Feed your spirit: Listen to music that makes you feel good and/or read books that inspire you.
I am not here to tell you that I am a guru and master of inner peace, always in the “Now” and never affected by stressful situations. That would be a lie! In fact, I feel certain that even those people whom we believe to be gurus or enlightened are not 100 percent perfect. They probably get lost at times, sometimes feel frustrated with life, or even find themselves unhappy on occasion. The difference between them and most “average” people is that they tend not to dwell in these places. They consciously make choices to put themselves in a state of peace and gratitude, and they practice daily habits that will improve their lives and create experiences that they want to live.
The key is to make conscious choices and, when we lose our path, to continue to embrace change to get back on track, regardless of how many times we must repeat the process. Remember, the journey is the destination.
Joeel A Rivera, M.Ed., is a visionary, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker. From an early age, Joeel faced adversity, including immigrating to the United States, failing his freshman year of college, losing his brother, and being in a nearly fatal car accident. These experiences inspired him to return to college, where he earned a Master’s Degree in Education and is currently completing his dissertation for his Ph.D. in Psychology, with an emphasis on happiness. Joeel opened a non-profit teen center in honor of his brother and developed curriculums for the Juvenile Justice System. In almost a decade, Joeel has reached over ten thousand people as an educator, entrepreneur, speaker, and consultant. Visit www.joeelandnatalie.com.