How to Understand Life, Love and Yourself

how to understand life

Writing by Conni Biesalski 
Follow me on Twitter & Facebook

I had to learn a lot this year.

More than usual, more than the 28 years before that.

One event triggered a whole series of events. And then bam! – I had to learn how to swim all over again.

But I feel like I have started to get it now, this thing called ‘life’, and on a grand scale of things, this little insignificant human being that is myself..

I feel like I’m moving closer to who I really am and how I am conditioned.

Slowly but surely I am beginning to understand many things. People. The world. Emotions.

And this, this is just the beginning.

The reason why I am still in Berlin and not in Perth or anywhere else in Australia, or whichever tropical paradise for that matter, is this:

I needed more time to understand life, love and myself.
And for this, I needed to stand still, stay put and not move – no matter how uncomfortable it would get.
When we move and travel to different places, we get distracted.

I didn’t want to be distracted. I wanted to focus and sit it out.

(To be fair and honest, especially to the people who know me personally here, alcohol and Berlin’s nightlife provided me with necessary distractions when I needed them.)

So I’m still sitting it out. But I’m making plans to move again soon, a least for a bit. It’s getting cold here in Berlin you know.

For now, I want explain what helped me, and still is helping me, in this process of understanding.

 

Writing.

We keep a lot in our heads, all these thoughts going round and round.
You want to make sense of them? Explore their real meaning? Write them down.
Write letters to yourself. To a loved one that you’ve lost. To an imaginary friend.

When I sit down and write (and trust me, it’s not always easy, it perhaps never is), I write from the heart. With brutal honesty.

I won’t ever show it to anyone, and yet I write as if someone might read it.

I have written many letters to someone who left me this year. It helped me to organise my feelings, my thoughts, my anger. I helped me to answer questions that I was left alone with, that I couldn’t ask that person, nor anyone else.

My head sometimes goes nuts. I chase the same thoughts over and over, and sometimes I think this will drive me mad one day.
Writing slows down this neverending nightmare thought rollercoaster.

Write.

If you don’t know, write.

If you are sad and desparate and crying, write.

If you feel lonely, write.

If you want to understand life and yourself better, write.

Write.

It’s good for the soul.

 

Meditation & Buddhism.

I started meditating this summer on the beach in Thailand. More out of desperation than anything else, but it has stuck with me and opened up worlds and a new understanding for life and myself I never thought possible.

I try to do it everyday in the mornings, and most nights I meditate myself to sleep.

With meditation, albeit a practice in itself, I got interested in Buddhist thought and teachings.

I now go to the Buddhist center in Berlin every Sunday evening for group meditations and talks by the teacher of the center. I have read many books that deal with Buddhist thought this year and my Amazon wishlist is full of them.

I would never call me a Buddhist or religious in any sense (I hate following dogmas), but this approach to life makes a lot of sense to me. A LOT. I have received many answers through Buddhist teachings, I learned so much about life, love and myself, it’s incredible. It’s making me a better person by being more mindful of my actions and behaviour, my thoughts.

Meditation and Buddhism have taught me to understand that we can’t ignore who we are inside and that the only way to overcome any weakness or problem is to look it straight in the eye. Running away and distracting ourselves don’t help. Consciously experiencing and confronting ourselves with an emotion, a reaction to a situation, no matter how painful, does.

 

Yoga.

Yoga has been incredible in my understanding of my body and my mind.

It also showed me that a certain routine in life is of great benefit. Even joyful.

No matter how shit I’m feeling before I got to class or how little energy I even have to leave the house, I come out feeling amazing. I come out knowing that we shouldn’t take ourselves so seriously in life. That a little yoga goes a long way.

Yoga can help you understand that life is full of energy. That we are full of energy.

It helped me understand that sometimes it’s just about showing up and doing the work.

 

Travel.

Throughout my travels, exploring and discovering this planet has always proven to be an amazing way to gain understanding.

Through travel you reach our personal limits, you learn how much you can take, how far you can go with yourselves and your comfort zone.

It can help you gain a new perspective on the life you live, on this world, your problems. It can open up new doors. It can shut old ones.

Every trip I embark on, every new country I visit, broadens my understanding for myself and the life I have lived up until that point.

The locals and the people you meet on the road show you so much more than you could ever imagine back home in your comfortable home. The poverty and the beauty you might come across can open your eyes in many different ways.

Venturing out to unknown physical territories will let you discover more and deeper places in your soul.

 

People.

We all have so many people in our lives – family, friends, collegues, partners. Some have been with us for a long time, some join us for a while and then leave again.

Understand their purpose in your life. Not why they come into your life, but for what. Every person you come close to has something to show you.
You can learn so much from other human beings.
For example, realizing that we all struggle with the same pains. That we all suffer from the same thing, that is life.

I have made more friends in the last 3 months than I did in two years before that. I made it my mission. It’s been exciting and eye-opening.

Some dont leave a footprint, others show you your issues again, especially the ones you’ve been running away from.

Meet new people, make new friends. Everyone of them can reveal a side of yourself or life or the world you had no idea about.

 

Reading.

I read on my Kindle every single day – in the morning when I drink my coffee on the couch, when I’m in transit or on the train in Berlin and before I go to sleep. I have been mostly interested in self-development, Buddhist thought and business topics in recent times, as I get so much out of non-fiction that relates to my life, my problems and my passions.

Through books I learn, I gain knowledge, I understand.

I think if it wasn’t for books, I would have only progressed a fraction of what I have in the last 18 months – let it be personally or professionally.

There are books that literally changed my life by changing my thinking and by letting me explore concepts within me.

Blogs have also been very influential in my understanding of life and myself. I cannot thank Leo Babauta, Raam Dev and Alastair Humphreys enough for opening me up to their worlds.
At the end of the day, it’s about understanding. Sometimes that’s all you need to move on and feel at peace.

 

Understanding life is a never-ending process.

I have found it incredibly frustrating this year. And yet, I can’t give up or else I’ll die trying.

By understanding yourself, you move closer to who you are and it enables you to live a more peaceful life, with yourself and the people that you care about.

As for myself, I feel like I have come a long way in the last 12 months. This year has been nothing like I expected it to be. It taught me more than I was ready to learn. But I now understand more than I ever expected.

Especially when life feels like it’s your enemy, it gives you the chance to go hunting for a better understanding.

Never stop trying to understand.

Good luck and much love,

              

35 Responses to How to Understand Life, Love and Yourself

  1. janet says:

    nice to see meditation have such a big impact on you :) after my monastery and meditation retreats, even if i haven’t kept a daily practice, i know that it changes you. i’ve been writing daily too! it sounds strange and woo woo, but i’ve been doing automatic writing or ‘channeling’ where i do Q&A with myself, close my eyes, and just write down what comes out. its great since i can touch type with my eyes closed.. the insights i get from this is way better than anything i could come up with regularly!

  2. Hey Conni,
    toller Post! Es gibt solche Jahre. Im Rückblick scheinen die dann interessanterweise viel besser, als sie sich im Moment anfühlten.
    Wo Du ja schon Blut geleckt hast was Meditation angeht, kann ich Dir echt einen Retreat empfehlen. Eine außergewöhnliche Erfahrung!
    Meld Dich mal, wenn Dich das interessiert. Ich habe da einen etwas ungewöhnlichen Lehrer in Thailand.
    Alles Gute wünscht
    Marco

  3. Dave says:

    Hi Connie,

    “By understanding yourself, you move closer to who you are” That’s so well put.

    Sometimes it just makes sense to stop for a while and take stock of things. My favourite trio of replenishing life practices are represented in your list: writing, meditation, and yoga.

  4. Jacko says:

    Good post.

    Life is for living and pain is there to keep you on the right track.

    Don’t grit and bear it life is too short enjoy it.

  5. Raam Dev says:

    Conni, thank you for sharing all these lessons and insights. I’m making similar discoveries, several of which I have yet to form a regular practice habit.

    Reading is something I’m just starting to do regularly (I figured out a way to read everything, including the blogs I subscribe to, on my Kindle, which makes reading in general more enjoyable… I actually read this blog post on my Kindle; I’ll be writing about how I do it at some point in the future).

    I’ve experimented with yoga and meditation but despite always making my day better, I have yet to create regular habits of them.

    There is so much power in creating positive daily routines, but living nomadically certainly makes it a lot more challenging. :)

  6. Chara Bui says:

    Conni,

    Thank you for this. I’ve read through your posts and found inspiration to change myself and expand my boundaries. I’ve shared some of your teachings with others and they refer back. They love it! I have found Buddhism helpful in shedding self created suffering and I have yet to travel much but I shall start by going to Vietnam this new year! I hope to experience the benefits you listed of traveling.

  7. Tal Gur says:

    Great tips Conni, especially the one on writing. Happy 2013!

  8. southern starr says:

    connie thank you what a wonderful post. I have been really slacking on my writings as I had been trying to write my life story of trauma, abuse & addiction, I would love to be able to travel the usa & tell my story of you know how I can acheive this please email me ok? yes i also need to get back to my meditation & yoga I can really now feel the difference without it. I really loved your post about staying thru the pain of wanting to move to another place of comfort, I am so happy I found your page !! shara

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