My day began with readings from various books, a morning meditation followed by affirmations and prayer, and a short walk before I sat down to do a few committed hours of writing. I rarely deviate from this routine as I’ve discovered it to be a great way to start my day off on the right foot.
My former self would have hurried past me in my meditative state this morning, spilling a portion of her ginormous thermos of hot coffee on me as she bolted through the living room for the door. Apologies for interrupting my om could come later; she was late to be on time for work, and that mattered more. Speaking of time, she didn’t make any for morning readings or reflections, much less a 20-minute meditation. As a result, each morning her mind was hijacked by a series of thoughts. Thoughts that shifted seamlessly from today’s agenda to traffic considerations to where she might find the cheapest gas. Planning. Forecasting. Preparing. The present moment—a state of no mind—felt useless to her. Why be here and now when there exists an opportunity to mentally orchestrate your future?
I’m not here to advocate for one morning routine versus another. I’m simply comparing my former self to the person I am today, and while I strongly prefer today’s version to the former, the truth is that if you had approached me even five years ago and suggested I replace the morning track race of thoughts and high-octane beans for some decaf tea and time on the cushion, I would have told you to kick rocks. Your suggestions, though well-meaning, would have quickly been identified as weird—and weird got a veto from me every time.
When we label something as weird, whether it is the legend of Bigfoot or the girl walking down the street donning purple hair and a ballerina tutu, we are using the word to automatically put an invisible placard between us and them in a societally acceptable form of othering. Surely, we think, I may not have all the trappings of normalcy, but I am not that weird. Things labeled weird fall just outside of our comfort zone, which is wrapped up in our ego’s desire to fit in. Fearing that an investigation of anything weird might mean that we fall prey to it, losing our footing in Normalville and stumbling down the long, dark, tunnels of some mysterious otherworld that inevitably leads to shrunken heads, conspiracy theories, and sea creatures, we quickly turn away from weird despite our curiosity. But this fear of falling into weird, like most things, has a downside: it means that we lose out on the potential for learning, insight, and personal growth.
For the better part of my young adulthood, I was more concerned with fulfilling the needs and wants of my ego than following my heart. My curiosity surrounding weird things was met with my own resistance; each time it beckoned me forward, I willfully ignored its repeated cries. I knew, from some place deep inside, that intentional practices like meditation would benefit me in ways I didn’t yet have the words to articulate. And yet, despite feeling called, the word weird was flashing in pink neon over my head and my fragile ego couldn’t take the risk.
Sometimes our hand must be forced. After years of unwavering devotion to my ego, the pain of living the status quo became too great, and I decided to take a step forward despite having some initial fears. These fears, I told myself, were just trying to protect me in an unknown situation. With this knowledge I marched onward, and quickly learned that intentional practices were useful tools backed by science and in some cases had been practiced for thousands of years. As promising as the history and research studies were, the act of practicing meditation, breathwork, sound bathing, and other forms of practice became the reward unto itself. This deep dive into what mainstream society considered weird had me coming to the surface with a renewed purpose and a healthier state of mind. I wanted to kick myself for not investigating this years ago, but by then I had learned more about Buddha and the 'second dart’ and thought better of it.
My journey into intentional practices was the starting point for a life lived by curiosity. If I see something that I don’t recognize (my preferred phrase in place of weird) I become curious and see this as an occasion to learn! This curiosity drives my investigation, and soon that thing I did not recognize becomes something I can appreciate and give my respect to—even if it does not resonate personally for me. While the former me would back away and refuse to look further, my current self knows that there is so much of the world we have left to understand, and this gives us a beautiful and repeated opportunity to engage, leaving no parts left out.
If you are curious, seek, explore, and engage—even (and especially) if those things have been labeled weird. Let nothing stand in your way, least of all what popular culture and your own ego might think. Who are they to rob you of your curiosity? I started following mine, and it led to many open doors that stood waiting for me to walk inside.