We have been sharing this work with people for over fifteen years. From time to time we receive expressions of gratitude from people who have participated in this work—usually after attending one of our retreats . . . or more than one. Recently we received this letter of gratitude from a dear person, who so beautifully describes what’s possible when one chooses to embrace this way of living. We’d like to share it with you.
Dear Jake and Hannah,
I want to express my deep gratitude to you both, and the body of work you two have built your lives upon.
As I prepare to attend my 6th Retreat with you in just less than four years I continue to amaze and delight myself with the remarkable evolution in my life.
When I contacted Jake in the fall of 2012 I was deeply unhappy. I had spent years investigating and participating in different forms of therapy, spiritual practices and self help groups but was still struggling with the same issues I’d had for over 40 years. I suffered from depression, anxiety, loneliness, repression and heartache. I had a multitude of “unresolved issues” from my early years and my outlook on life was grim.
On the surface my life looked okay
I had learned how to create the illusion of spirituality in that I had the lingo and I had some basic ideas about how to change my life. I knew about limiting beliefs, I knew that a daily practice was vital to creating peace of mind and I knew in theory that what I believed and focused on in my daily life created my reality. But nothing really ever changed.
Yes, I was sober after having spent years using drugs and alcohol as a way to numb my misery. Yes, I had been to several therapists and spent hours talking about my history and I knew all the reasons why I felt crappy about myself, but I didn’t know how to feel differently. I had no control over my thoughts or feelings and I seemed to be stuck in an endless cycle of asking myself “why do I still feel this way?”
Today, I have a completely different life
I live in the same apartment, and on the surface my life has not changed radically, but the life inside my head, the conversations I have with myself, and the feeling in my heart and in the pit of my stomach are completely different.
Today I have the ability to work with myself in a loving, compassionate and dynamic manner. When I experience something I experience myself fully—whether it is an emotion, a thought, an event or a dream. I embrace and relish my ability to welcome and learn from myself. I am not afraid of myself anymore and I am not anxious about my future or repressing my past. I live fully and gratefully, embracing all my experiences, because they are mine.
I no longer focus on what I don’t have or what happened to me, instead you have taught me to focus on what I am doing with my history and my daily experiences. I have learned that I really do have a choice in how I respond to the world and I have learned how to slow myself down enough to ask myself, “How do I want to respond to this person, event, moment, thought, belief, idea, feeling?”
I have learned that my happiness is completely my own responsibility and I know how to find the love that I have always longed for.
I freed myself
I have learned that by taking responsibility for my life—my response to the world, my conduct, my attitude and my expectations—I free myself. I free myself to live the life I have always dreamed of.
I have these abilities because of the work we have done together and because I have a daily practice. As a result of my daily meditation practice and this work, I have learned how to navigate my consciousness. I feel safe in my life because I create healthy boundaries, engage in loving relationships and don’t limit or repress myself with beliefs that do not serve me.
I am able to access my heart in a new way and I am living in profound gratitude for the amazing wonder of being alive. As I live more in heart consciousness I recapture a sense of wonder and awe, and my eyes see differently. I see more beauty now. I pay attention to the myriad hues of green because I look up at the trees when I walk instead of down at the grey sidewalk. Each morning upon awakening, I greet the day eager to see what gifts today brings and I ask how can I contribute, how can I express my gratitude and appreciation for the miraculous gift of life?
Because I can now access spaciousness—an elevated state of consciousness—I’m free of anxiety. I used to discomfort myself with thoughts of, “the future, my inevitable death, imminent failures, and the scary world out there.” Today, I can access a level of consciousness where anxiety melts away, because I am not focused on time or urgency. I can access a sense of spaciousness and when I spend a few moments of my day in spaciousness my whole body relaxes, my mind settles down and I’m able to experience deep silence and inner peace. I find deep comfort and ease within myself in those 20 minutes of meditation and I find that I am able to carry that feeling with me regardless of what the day brings.
I am able to choose how I respond
When an event occurs or a conflict appears I am able to choose not only how I want to respond, but from which level of consciousness? Is this a safety issue? Will accessing my heart and compassion be more useful? Or is this a time to elevate myself to spacious consciousness in order to find equanimity, peace of mind and a healthy state of detachment? How can I conduct myself in a loving manner that I will feel good about tomorrow and how can I be most helpful?
Because of this practice, I have mostly great days. Of course, life continues to happen—there are a multitude of possible frustrations and obstacles that come from living in a city with 6 million other people, but most of the time I cruise through my day, peacefully and gracefully.
And of course, I still happen. I continue to find new parts of myself that I have repressed or hidden from myself. And I continue to find beliefs and ideas that I have used to limit or hurt myself. But how I approach myself and my growth has changed radically. I am easier with myself. I don’t roll my eyes and think, “Crap, I’ll never be done working on myself. Why am I still dealing with this issue?” Today I witness myself. I listen to the hurt or limited parts of myself and I greet them as I would a long lost friend. I don’t rush myself or put pressure on myself to “fix” this issue. I have no timetable. If I discover a belief or an idea that is confusing to me, I know that I can reach out and find help if I need it, because I don’t judge myself for having limiting beliefs anymore. I don’t hinder myself with thinking I need to be perfect, because I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid that I will be judged, because I don’t judge.
I am aware that I have a voracious appetite for growth. And I am also aware that this model is accessible and available for anyone who wants to free themselves from limiting beliefs and ideas.
What is different about this practice is that it is easily accessible and when I learn to navigate the levels of consciousness it is a practical tool. My ability to profoundly alter how I live is a direct result of my learning and practicing this very particular meditation. As I continue to work with each level of consciousness my life is becoming more satisfying and peaceful.
I am deeply grateful for your help.