I was craving silence.
Which, at the time, was a far cry from my life. I worked at MTV Networks and it was the furthest place from a quiet environment.
From every office and hallway a television was playing loud music videos.
That’s how old I am! I worked at MTV and VH1 when they actually played music videos, not reality television.
Outside of work, I was also surrounded by noise. From the traffic on the NYC streets, to when I got home and turned on my television or CD player; the noise was everywhere.
I desperately wanted to hear something else besides the noise, but I had no idea what that something was.
The first thing I did was got rid of my television.
My boyfriend at the time was dumbfounded. Scratching his head, he said, “What are you going to do without a tv?”
“Hmmmm… I don’t know? I’ve never NOT had a tv. Maybe I’ll read a book or something?”
He said, “Why don’t you just cover the tv, so you can watch it when you’re done reading your book.”
“No, it’s too tempting. It’s like an alcoholic going to a bar and ordering a club soda with lime. There’s way too much temptation. I’ll put the tv on, I know I will.”
NOT having a television was new territory for me. It created an empty space in the corner of my apartment, and an empty space in the corner of my mind.
The second thing I did, was get rid of my CDs. I loved music, especially rock and roll, and I had collected hundreds of CD’s over the years. But, something was happening inside me that I didn’t want any of that music around either.
So, I packed up my CDs and got rid of them. I even ditched my autographed CD’s. Which, in retrospect, wasn’t very smart, but I was on a mission.
An interesting thing happened. I noticed that without the television, and without all my music, I could still hear a tremendous amount of noise. Except now, I realized, the noise was coming from inside my head.
It was a million thoughts about who I was, and how I reacted to the world around me. And, it was all negative stuff.
I would replay scenarios over and over in my head, and create new possible endings. Like, “Oh yeah, when I see so and so again, I’m going to say this…. Or, I can’t believe I did that, how could I have been so stupid… or Ugghhh, what was I thinking?”
The voice in my head was non-stop and I had to figure out how to shut it off.
I began studying meditation and reading ancient books like the Dhamapada, The Upanishads, the Tao, plus I read work from the modern teachers like Jon Kabat Zinn, Pema Chodron, Jack Kornfield and Tich Nhat Hahn.
And, I attempted a meditation practice. I say attempted because it was absolutely unbearable!
Sitting in meditation felt as if someone had taken me hostage and forced me to sit on top of a jagged rock, naked, in the middle of nowhere, with absolutely nothing to do. I felt useless, uncomfortable, and that I was wasting my time.
But, I made a commitment to sit still and focus on my breath for five minutes everyday before I went to work. Needless to say, it was the longest five minutes of my life!
I would attempt to focus on my breath and then KAPOW! A thought would attack from out of nowhere. It was always something stressful like an unresolved conflict or an emotional issue. It was never a good thought.
Regardless of what came up, I committed to sit for five minutes everyday. When the thoughts attacked, I would simply focus on my breath.
“You have to get that paperwork done at the office!” I would focus on my breath.
“What are you eating for breakfast?” I would focus on my breath.
“I can’t believe you killed your pet mouse when the dresser fell on him.” I would focus on my breath. BTW – the dresser falling was an accident that happened when I was nine years old, but it came up.
For six months I sat everyday and nothing transformative happened, but I kept at it because I wanted to get to that place of “peace and quiet” that the yogis, teachers and monks talked about in their books.
I did notice one thing, my thoughts were becoming quieter and the silence in between those thoughts was growing longer.
One day, while I was sitting in my torturous five-minute meditation, a burst of color appeared in the center of my forehead. My eyes were closed, and yet I could see a ball of colorful light that was pulsating and slowly changing color; it was red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and white. I sat with my eyes closed and watched it, completely mesmerized.
What on earth were those colors, and how did they get there inside my head? It was the coolest acid trip I have ever taken without actually dropping acid. I was in awe.
An interesting thing happened while I was watching the pulsating colors. I felt absolutely no stress. During that stressless moment, I also no longer felt the floor beneath me. I felt as if I was suspended in space and yet completely connected to the earth below me, and above me I was connected to the entire universe; the planets the stars, the expansiveness of it all.
It was, by far, the most peaceful feeling I have ever experienced.
I sat there for a few minutes and a thought popped into my head. “Okay, this is a really cool experience, whatever it is, but you’ve got to get ready for work, otherwise you’ll be late!”
I pulled myself out from that meditation and opened my eyes. I glanced over at the clock and it was almost an hour and forty minutes later! Holy crap!!! Where the heck was I??
Needless to say, I was late to work but that didn’t matter. Nothing really mattered. From that moment on I knew there was much more to healing than just focusing on the physical body.
There was an entirely different system inside that needed just as much love, attention, and nourishment, as the food I was giving my physical body to eat.
That system was my emotional and spiritual body, and it is connected to an ancient system called the chakras. The modern version of the chakras is called the Endocrine System.
The chakras expand and contract in response to our emotional reactions to the world around us.
Our endocrine system responds to our emotional reactions by secreting hormones when we have “feelings” about something. Hormones that make us feel good like serotonin, and oxytocin when we feel LOVE and the opposite when we feel fear or stress (adrenaline and cortisol).
Every emotion we have interacts with this system and in turn affects our entire physical body. I believe, we need to nourish our emotional body to have a more complete healing.
There are many great books that cover this type of information: Carolyn Myss Anatomy of the Spirit is one of my favorites.
What has your experience been with the chakras?
Andrea Beaman is an internationally renowned Holistic Health Coach, Natural Foods Chef, Speaker and Herbalist. Named one of the top 100 Most Influential Health and Fitness Experts, she is also a recipient of the Natural Gourmet Institute’s Award for Excellence in Health-Supportive Education and a Health Leadership award from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Since 1999, Andrea has been teaching people how to harness the body’s own preventative and healing powers using food, herbal remedies and alternative medicine.