ur biblical ancestors were always off on some 40-day retreat, doing some sort of deep introspection, purifying and removing themselves from everything else in order to better connect with the Divine. But why 40? Was there a specific significance to that number?
Determined to find some sort of significance, I spent some time in an endless spiral of Google searches and eventually encountered various numerology, biblical, Talmudic, Kabbalistic explanations that seemed to all agree that 40 is a symbol for testing, trials, transformation and purification.
Transformation and purification was exactly what I was looking for. But being someone who utterly despises routines, would I be able to manage 40 days of meditation?! The kind of person who never turns down a challenge, I brought it upon myself to prove that I could be consistent, and honor myself, as I was in desperate need of cleansing, in and out. I decided to pair this meditation challenge with a full-on cleanse, to make things even more interesting.
No coffee, no alcohol, eliminating stimulants, processed foods, sugars, anything that could distract me from going through this process of purification. I had raised the stakes, and this sounded more appealing to me more than ever! It’s easy to forget how much we use these outside stimulants as a way of distracting ourselves from looking inward and figuring out the root of why we are behaving, feeling, speaking in a certain way.
Armed with my cleanse and my Headspace subscription, I embarked on this journey within. Meditating right in the morning worked perfectly for me, after my morning yoga routine or workout, body all cooled down, I would sit comfortably in a chair, begin my breathing practice, tune into the meditation of the day and close my eyes.
Noting, visualization, scanning your body, focusing on your breathe, were the different techniques I tried hoping that I could feel more enligthened as soon as I opened my eyes. For 40 days and 40 nights, whether it was in the morning, or at night before bed, I did not fail my meditation practice.
When you remove yourself from the distractions, you are left to deal with whatever deck you have.
One week, two weeks, IS THIS REAL? When I got to the 30 day mark, I felt a warm sensation throughout my body, one of happiness and feeling of fulfillment. My mood, had been constant, no matter how stressed, how mad, how sad, how discouraged I felt during those days, I retreated to my quiet, safe space of confidence, my meditation practice served as a sanctuary, a place of retreat, a place of observance, a place of understanding.
I’m not about to say that I’ve discovered the key to happiness or that I have found a way to avoid reality at all costs, but I will say that I’ve never had as much clarity as I have now. When you remove yourself from the distractions, you are left to deal with whatever deck you have. Alone time and introspection force you to listen within, those everyday whispers that you seek to ignore, become louder and louder until you have nothing else but to acknowledge their presence.
It can take days for you to acknowledge them, weeks, months, that’s why it’s important to build a practice. Everyone has their own process, their own way of chiseling through the noise and making a break through. Once I passed the one-month it just did not make sense to stop, I was feeling so good and more in tune with myself. I found myself in a more peaceful state, going with the flow instead of trying to create friction with any attachments I may have had to ideals, goals. friends, objects, feelings, patterns.
Going on 45 days now, I can understand the need for such an extended period of time dedicated to reflection, transformation, growth, there is no greater gift than to be able to give yourself all that time. I encourage you to start a meditation practice, if you don’t yet have one, or if you do, to continue to build on it as much as you can. Take time for yourself, it’s the best investment you can ever make.
Don’t be afraid to continue to explore within, you never know what hidden treasure you may find. Good vibes all around, always.