A couple of nights ago, I got pissed off at somebody.
I mean REALLY pissed off. My head would have spun off of my body if it wasn’t anchored down by my spine.
And then, I decided to do something I had been doing for over a year and a half: meditation.
It’s funny how hard it is NOT to try. We spend our whole lives learning that we need to try harder; we don’t know how to try LESS.
So meditation is hard to do when you’re under stress.
It’s like learning to turn on your turn-off button in the middle of a race.
But you can’t actually reach out to touch the button. You have to let the button press itself. Because it will…but not while you’re watching it.
If not, and you have no idea what I’m talking about, then you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about.
It’s unfathomable. And it’s a skill to learn how to fathom the unfathomable.
Anyway, there I am, trying to keep from cutting someone with my words. And at the same time, I have to try to not try to meditate, waiting to feel something other than anger.
Then I realized…I don’t have to feel anything else.
Yes, that’s right. Meditating is being. Being is feeling. And right now (or right then), I was angry.
And you know what? That is OK.
It’s OK not to be OK.
Would you believe that as soon as I told myself this, the gnawing anger subsided?
Because that’s exactly what happened.
The feeling would still come back every once in awhile when the thoughts came back. But then, I’d go ahead and tell myself, “Yeah, that’s pretty annoying. And that’s OK.”
Boom (or should I say “whoosh”?). The heat of anger subsided.
This isn’t the only time something like this has happened.
I’ve experienced a conscious breakthrough like this before.
But this is the most recent occasion. And the first time that I was able to reign in an anger as strong as that.
Let me tell you, my chest was on FIRE. But the solution wasn’t to douse it with water.
The solution was to sit and let it burn itself out.
And it always does.
Let’s backtrack a little bit…
How did I get to this point?
What inspired me to sit down and count my breaths while I stared at the back of my eyelids?
How did meditation become the only thing between me and certain (metaphorical) death?
I’d say my choice to go vegan had something to do with it.
But that wasn’t where it started.
Yoga and Exercise
It started as a fitness journey.
I’m a performer as well as a singer and a blogger, and I was under some healthy pressure to get myself into shape.
If you can’t sing and dance at the same time, how you gonna stand out?
Lots of people can stand around and sing, after all. Performing is something different.
It’s about stamina.
I had tried a couple different ways to get fit:
Don’t get me wrong, they’re all great. But I found it hard to stick with them.
They seem like kind of a means to an end.
You have to check out for 15-30 minutes at a time to get through them.
Otherwise, you suffer the whole time.
I HATED that. Made me dread working out.
And then I “discovered” yoga.
I put that in quotes because I’ve always known what yoga is, but always thought it was too slow and boring. Which is- surprise, surprise- what most people seem to think about it.
But what the hell, right? What did I have to lose? At least it wasn’t a miserable, soul-crushing experience.
So I tried it out. Once a day, 10-15 minutes at a time. And as I got more into it, I found that I loved the way my body felt. I’d generate heat without killing myself. Plus, I got a nice stretch out of it.
I couldn’t see a downside.
A Choice To Live Healthier
I was pretty good about sticking to my yoga but found that I would plateau with certain workouts.
I’d feel heavy and…gross, to be honest.
Heavy breathing, heartburn…it was BAD.
And it was most likely from the cheesy pasta I was still so damn addicted to.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been much of a meat eater. I’d eat fish, the occasional burger, but I didn’t NEED it.
But I loved bread and cheese. And pasta.
And I figured if I was working out, I could eat whatever I wanted, right?
Wrong. Oh, so, SO wrong.
Food is fuel. The quality of the food affects the quality of your body.
You can’t function well without the nutrients that food gives you.
So what kind of sense does it make? Eating crap and expecting your body to perform well?
The answer is none. NONE.
When you exercise, you put your body through high levels of stress. It adapts to said stress by repairing itself and making itself better.
And THAT’S how you get in shape.
Hello? “Diet AND exercise”? There’s a reason why there’s no “or” between the two.
I knew I had to do something different if I wanted to FEEL results. So I started exploring.
I’d watch more than the yoga classes. I’d go through the instructors’ playlists and check out their vlogs, food hauls, and diet advice.
I couldn’t tell you the exact moment that I decided I wanted to try a vegan diet. I just sort of DID it.
Most likely because I already knew that cheese was my biggest weakness. I’d skip a burger if I could have some cheesy pasta.
But I also knew that THAT’S what was weighing me down.
Not that I ever thought that I was fat. I just knew I could do better athletically.
So I went all in.
I Cut Out The Meat First
Seemed like the easiest step since I was more of a bread-head anyway.
Then I stopped eating cheese at home, then I stopped eating dairy altogether.
I wish I could tell you that it was this long, intense journey that I struggled with. Would make things more interesting, wouldn’t it?
But I didn’t.
Except for the occasional night out or vacation, I didn’t have too much trouble sticking to the diet. And now, I’m happy to say I’ve been completely vegan for 1 year and counting.
Wouldn’t DREAM of going back.
How I’ve Changed Because of It.
Compared to this part of the story, the rest of it is fluff.
THIS is what this post is all about.
The effect that vegan living has had on me has been profound.
First of all, my body feels healthier and lighter. All. The. Time.
For the most part, it doesn’t matter whether I’ve had the healthiest smoothie or the greasiest piece of vegan pizza. The caloric density of most vegan food is pretty low compared to animal products.
So that heavy feeling I used to get when I worked out? Gone. Not a thing. I don’t even remember what it felt like.
But that’s only the first thing I noticed.
I’ve also noticed that my compassion for other beings has gone THROUGH THE ROOF.
For those who may know me, I know this is hard to imagine because I’m always talking shit…
…sorry, it’s too fun to give up.
But I can tell the difference.
Exhibit A: I hate slugs.
I HATE slugs.
Let me be clear…
When I say I hate them, I mean I have no idea why they exist. They’re Mother Nature’s snot bubbles.
Look at this thing and TELL me it doesn’t look like a fucking booger:
If you are squeamish like me, look away…
And there was a time when I wouldn’t have cared whether one of these things lived or died.
But you know what?
Now I actually feel bad for the little phlegm trails. I mean, they have as much right to be here as I do. It’s not THEIR fault they’re hideous.
Same with spiders, ants, flies, MICE…
I don’t like to see anything suffer.
It hurts my tender little heart.
And all this happened within the time frame that I started practicing yoga and eating plants.
I am more responsible and driven.
I used to struggle to motivate myself.
When I’m stressed, there are days when I can’t move. At all.
I am paralyzed by stress and fear.
But those days are becoming fewer and fewer since adopting this new lifestyle.
Am I perfect?
But I’m more ok with that than I ever used to be.
And gahtdammit, I’m grateful for that.
Even if I do still swear like a sailor and it doesn’t match my new “Zen” attitude towards life.
What’s YOUR Story?
Let me know what led you to choose a vegan life.
Ethics? Health? Spirituality?
It’s intersting to see how many different ways people come to the same conclusion.