Unironically, I was meditating when I got the idea for this title.
When I sat down to write it, it felt like a déjà vu. I was right, turns out I started writing a version of this article in 2017. Thanks Evernote for storing every single thought I’ve ever had.
What’s my zodiac sign?
I was born on April 12 which makes me an Aries.
Aries is the first sign of the zodiac. Growing up, the lady reading the horoscope on TV was the soundtrack of every school morning. She was part of the morning show and even though we never saw her, I’d still recognize her voice today since I heard her every morning for 10 years.
For many years, my curiosity and understanding of astrology started and ended with the lady on TV. I didn’t yet know that horoscopes aren’t a real thing, but astrology is. Back then, I didn’t really think that the time someone was born could accurately predict what their character was like.
Nothing could’ve prepared me for the massive astrology rebrand that was coming.
In the upcoming years, astrology would turn into a Very Important Thing for many people. They’d know birth charts, moon signs, houses, and be able to speak at length about your compatibility with the girl you were seeing.
For legal reasons, I will explain that houses in this context refer to houses in your birth chart (every house represents different aspects of your life), not that astrology aficionados know your home address. (1421 Sage Dr, Barstow, California, right?)
The astrology industry is now worth $2.2 billion.¹
Industry services include things like premium app subscriptions, Patreon memberships, beginners astrology classes, aura and birth chart readings.
I sometimes get FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) when I see all this super interesting and informative astrology content online and only understand like 30% of it. Am I missing out on an otherworldly framework that’s relatively simple to learn and has been used for thousands of years and could hold the key to better understanding humanity as a whole? I don’t know, maybe. FOMO.
How did meditation change my zodiac sign?
Whether you’re into astrology or not, chances are you know some things about your sign.
During the years, I’ve heard quite a bit about Aries-es. See, I’m a noob, I don’t even know the plural of the word. I’ll go with Arieses, sounds like a goddess.
Here are some of the things I’ve heard about being an Aries.
Aries sign personality traits
- “they often get frustrated by exhaustive details and unnecessary nuances”
- “Aries is the fierce individualist of the zodiac”
- “Aries is known for an explosive temper”
- “this Mars energy can sometimes lead to a “my way or the highway’ attitude, making compromise an area of growth in many Aries relationships”
- “Aries leads with blind optimism, barreling through life with an electric joie de vivre that perfectly complements their distinctive impulsivity“
Everyone knows Aries is impulsive and explosive. It’s the one thing almost everyone knows about astrology, just like everyone knows Cancers are extremely sensitive and Scorpios are the most sexual sign of the Zodiac.
I’m using the word “everyone” loosely, okay? I just said Arieses. You can’t shame me. (“Zodiac shaming is a real thing. Don’t do it.“, Mashable says.)
Astrology and being an Aries didn’t consume my thoughts or anything like that. However, whenever the topic arose, I nodded along.
Impulsivity and explosive temper. Yeah, that sounded right. Independence and joie de vivre too. All of it, really. My friends also fit their zodiac sign profiles to a tee.
But along the way, something changed.
I started meditating.
I’ve written about meditation here, but I never really explained how I started or why or what it did for me.
In 2014, I enrolled in an online course by Princeton called Buddhism and Modern Psychology.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it sounded interesting and the reviews were good.
Well, the course basically changed my life (and my zodiac sign).
The professor, Robert Wright, is fascinating, witty yet collected, and incredibly wise. Oh, there are also frequent dog appearances which is always a plus.
Until then, I had read about meditation quite a bit, but it never really clicked. We studied it briefly in school. I read all those studies outlining the benefits of meditation and how it affected your gray matter.
I was just like, okay, sure, I get it, it’s nice, I just don’t need this specific thing because I do other things.
But going through the online course, for the first time, I had mindfulness-envy.
Professor Wright seemed so content and patient that I was incredibly intrigued. Could I get to his level of patience and baseline joy by breathing intentionally and accepting that life is pain?
The professor meditated every day for 40 minutes. The course’s guest lecturers were regular meditators and seemingly incredibly at peace too.
What was the first time I meditated like?
The course convinced me to try meditating.
However, because I was a special snowflake, I didn’t want to do it the professor’s way (mindfulness meditation). I had to find a new, different, weird way. That’s exactly what I did.
I found tapping (government name: Emotional freedom technique).
“Emotional freedom technique (EFT) is an alternative treatment for physical pain and emotional distress.
People who use this technique believe tapping the body can create a balance in your energy system and treat pain.
Though still being researched, EFT tapping has been used to treat people with anxiety and people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).– EFT Tapping, Kiara Anthony for Healthline
Long story short, you basically tap, tap, tap these points.
Despite what previous paragraphs might have you believe, I did not spend the entire course enthralled by Professor Wright’s smooth voice.
No, I actually learned.
Going into my first meditation session, I tried to keep 2 things in mind that I had learned during the course:
- non-attachment which basically meant going into it without expectations, without expecting anything groundbreaking. It meant being fine with the possibility of never feeling like I “achieved” anything when I meditated.
- It takes time to find the right meditation type for you. It’s a process, like finding the right partner or the right therapist. Just like you wouldn’t expect to marry your first boyfriend, you shouldn’t expect to find the right meditation type for you the first time. I was aware that I could find tapping (aka EFT) weird or uncomfortable and something else (say, mantra meditation) might work way better for me.
This graphic of the tapping points is from The Tapping Solution. My first meditation was with them, with the founder Nick Ortner specifically.
I cried my eyes out.
Normally, you might think that since I had such a transformative experience the very first time, I was immediately sold, started meditating regularly and never stopped.
I wanted to start meditating, but something made me not push through with my decision every.single.time.
Or maybe I hadn’t actually decided.
After that first time, it took months before I tried again.
It was then that I started meditating regularly and never stopped.
All those Aries traits I mentioned earlier?
Poof. They all disappeared. Well, the “negative” ones, my joie de vivre is still as strong as ever.
Here are some other things meditation helped me with
Realized how many things don’t need my comment, approval, or overall point of view
Slightly painful realization, mostly liberating though.
I’m a highly opinionated person by nature, so I’m not sure how this came to be. One day, I realized having an opinion about everything doesn’t mean I should let everyone in my vicinity know what it is, at all times, at all costs.
Come across something you don’t like or agree with or someone that gets on your nerves? Try not to engage with it/them and see how that makes you feel.
I’m so much more patient now: with myself, others, queues…
“Nature doesn’t hurry and yet everything is accomplished.”
I know I’ve already used this quote a bunch of times. But I love it so much. It’s so true.
I don’t get bothered in the slightest when things take their time, and why should I? Stressing over traffic isn’t going to magically change anything, besides my stress levels and you know stress is the leading cause of a bunch of diseases. I don’t fuck with that.
Speaking of traffic…
I don’t complain much anymore
You know those conversations that make you feel emotionally and physically drained afterward? Usually, the other person is talking almost exclusively about themselves and complaining in a very non-constructive way about their job, how unfair life is, how our country sucks… In the end, they claim they had a good time and that “we should do this again.” Um, no?! Over my dead, emotionally exploited body.* There’s a time and place for mindless complaining and it’s not “all the time, anywhere.”
Truth is, the course wasn’t just about meditation.
It was about how much better life gets when you decide to be there for it.
I won’t pretend I’m mindful all the time, but as the opening paragraph in my About page says:
I want to live in a world where everyone is kind and true to themselves and others, where people make the choice to be there, wherever they are.
Here’s what I know for sure: every little helps.
Every little thing within you is working together in effortless harmony for you to be reading this right here, right now. Isn’t that fascinating? So thank you! Enjoy.
Whenever I look at this paragraph, I cringe just a tiny bit. It makes me and The Inner Dolphin sound very shallow, mellow, and woo-woo, right? I fear it sets a wrong expectation and that it may scare off those that value intellectual rigour above everything.
Then, I relax. I take a deep breath.
I’m only responsible for what I say and not what people understand.
Nothing is a competition.
What’s for me won’t miss me.
“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.”Socrates
You may be thinking: “Delfina, so cliché!!!”
And you’d be right. These are among the thousands of cliché quotes we’ll hear in our lifetime.
Every day I open the meditation app I use (Insight Timer), I’m involuntarily greeted by a quote. This is a recent change. I just opened the app to get my stats and “The world is changed by examples, not opinions.” appeared on my phone screen.
Quotes suffer from a type of the inescapable ailment of collapsed contexts.
“Context collapse or “the flattening of multiple audiences into a single context” “generally occurs when a surfeit of different audiences occupy the same space, and a piece of information intended for one audience finds its way to another” with that new audience’s reaction being uncharitable and highly negative for failing to understand the original context.Yes, I just used Wikipedia as a source. Rules are made to be broken.
Of course quotes lose value and become clichés. Someone studies a subject for decades and among the thousands of things they write on the topic, a particle escapes context and reaches the mainstream. I post it, you post it, everyone posts it. Of course it becomes mehhh and we resist being moved by it (it=quote that everyone was using as their Instagram caption 4 years ago).
I guess the main thing that meditation helped me with is escaping context collapse.
Mindfulness and meditation have given me the immense privilege to approach things with curiosity.
I allow myself to be moved by the mundane. Not just that, but I let “cheesy” quotes and books and art in general move me.
While it’s easy to scoff at cliché quotes and online content and the seemingly dumb thing your young cousin said, mindfulness helps you pause. Pausing makes it possible for you to live fully and approach things with curiosity like a kid would.
Seriously, as I was writing this, a 1-year-old baby approached the tree near me and she’s looking at it in awe, touching it, then touching the flower that bloomed nearby, and then repeating the cycle. Her mother (jokingly?) said “she’s embarrassing us.” As I edited these sentences to make sense, I looked at her again. The baby had added touching rocks to her activities.
So yeah, as I was saying, meditation taught me how to respond and not just react to things. It’s such a lovely way to live life.
Unfortunately, the course isn’t online anymore (at least I couldn’t find it) so I’m not sure what could be the equivalent of it for you, what could intrigue you to give this a try.
I can tell you what I hope, though.
I hope this article sparked something in you that will make you look into meditation and mindfulness just like the course did for me.
Every morning when I wake up, I sit in my bed for 10-20 minutes and focus on my breath. I’ve done this almost every day for (at least) 2060 days. Despite what you might have heard, you don’t need anything to meditate, not even to sit cross legged or anything.
It’s a time for you to just be and the only thing you need to do it is you.
I’m no longer envious of the mindfulness Professor Wright and other lecturers exuded during that course.
I’m out here doing it, getting in the zone or as professor Wright says, “failing to get to the zone every single day.” It feels great that I *finally* decided. It might be the best decision I’ve ever made.
*This is from 2017 me. Could you tell?
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