By Rachel Saum
I grew up in a loving household. My family taught me many good things and I was blessed in many ways. I was also taught, both implicitly and explicitly, to be indecisive. I thought that I needed to seek opinion and approval from others before making any judgment. This was the norm, especially for the women in my family. When I left home for college, I struggled for many years with my need for approval from others about many things – how I looked, what I wore, what sort of job would be good for me and who my friends or partners should be. Starting a meditation practice has allowed me to tap into my own wisdom, and see what I really want.
When I show up for meditation, I am given the gift of clarity. I was recently home for a family gathering and expected to take a break from my usual routine that includes meditation. However, instead of sleeping in, as I was tempted to do, I decided to meditate in the morning before joining my family upstairs. In the silence I had in meditation, something “clicked” in my mind, without my searching for it – I could see objectively how my need for approval was an impediment to my growth, and how it created a lot of dissonance in both my relationships and my internal life. I suddenly saw how simple it could be to change, so that day I began practicing. When I needed time alone, I asked for space. When I didn't want to participate in an activity, I said so, and stuck with it. As an introvert, it wasn't easy, but I felt stronger and more confident immediately after beginning.
Many cultural tendencies are that we (women especially) do not allow ourselves to connect with this clarity. We are told what is expected of us, and our personal sense of what is right is pushed aside. My intuition shines most clearly without the influence of others, and without the sounds of my own mind’s doubt, hesitation or need for approval. People are now often surprised when I make a decision without asking for advice first, but, thanks to sticking with my daily meditation practice, I feel closer to my true self when I trust my own judgment. By carrying this clear-seeing into my life, I am learning to choose the kind of life that I want to lead.