I've spent the past 20 years trying to "unlearn" a bunch of stuff I picked up in the first 20 years that was not serving me very well. I was taught to be self sufficient, to strive, accomplish and achieve. I was taught that I'd be happy if I got educated, a good job, found the right man and bought a home. The formula for happiness was about building up a life and striving for success in the world. Well it worked for a while but in end I found that my fulfillment did not last. I felt empty inside and started on the road of spiritual study and therapy.
Who would have thought that perhaps the most important thing I can "do" to be happy and fulfilled is to sit quietly everyday. It was a real revelation that lasting fulfillment was not in seeking and acquiring in the world but rather in stopping and sitting and getting in touch with my very own "being".
I think we are born with a lot of clarity and awareness and slowly it's "educated" right out of us and by the time we are 11 or 12 maybe we've been completely programmed and forgotten who we "really" are.
Lucky for me I started meditating in my 20's, I was desperate, no amount of money, success, entertainment, education was doing it for me.. everything stopped working and despite the fact that I had a great job, owned my own condo, was making 100K a year, gotten my degree and done what "they" told me to do to be happy - I wasn't!
I prayed with such earnestness, ok God whatever you want me to do to find some peace, I'll do it. Within a few days I was sitting with a teacher asking him to help me develop a meditation practice. This is what the still small voice whispered to me, if you don't start meditating you are going to die.
When you go to Burning Man they say "Welcome Home", I've had spiritual teachers say this too, a spiritual awakening is like coming home to yourSelf. It's a return or remembering what you essentially are. Sitting in the silence is like coming home.
It did not appeal to me for a long time because I was schooled to achieve and acquire to find my sense of wholeness and well being. My training and education and striving for knowledge and material success was all backwards and the more I looked for my happiness in the world and in my relationships, the more I was disappointed and confused.
When I prayed for clarity, I was pointed back inward, back to what I fundamentally already am, to my very own inner stillness. I had to find my center, what I always and already am and this journey of discovery has involved a lot of falling away of who I thought I was, what fed me and ultimately leads to lasting peace and contentment. Sitting in the silence is like "taking the medicine" for the mental anguish of being run by my thoughts and chasing contentment or believing I could acquire it in a certain set of circumstances.
Wisdom gained from tuning in to one’s own center is not at all like going to school, where the goal is to learn. Meditation is a process of unlearning. I don’t mean that we should try to forget all the knowledge we acquired at school. That knowledge has its place, and its own usefulness. Meditation, moreover, is not a path to intellectual ineptitude: Quite the contrary, it greatly sharpens the intellect. What we must "unlearn," instead, are the limitations of delusion imposed on us by our worldly conditioning.
Rest as awareness itself, notice thoughts and whatever arises and leave it be.. No need to get rid of it, hide from it (as if it has power over you), suppress it (as if it's something to be afraid of) or do anything at all, simply relax and eventually you'll notice that clarity, peace, wholeness and well being are right here right now, always available whatever else is arising, whatever the circumstances.
Of course there is nothing wrong with whatever we feel called to "do" in the world, build businesses, get degrees, get married, have kids, whatever.. But to do whatever you do as an expression of your fullness rather than believing that your well being is tied to having a certain outcome or experience this is the essential shift. Lasting contentment and well being is our natural state and this is revealed when we are still and resting as awareness itself.