Until recently, I had trouble taking time out of my busy life to sit, think, and reflect. I ran around constantly worried and anxious about my job, relationships, friends and money (or lack there of). I believed if I continued to obsess about things out of my control, I’d find all the answers. But what if all the answers lay in the in-between? What if all I really needed to do was quit searching and just be? I needed to stop and let my unconscious flow freely. No ego, no constraints, no pressures from anyone else telling me what I should be doing and thinking. That’s when I found out about The Lake.
Just off of Sunset and the PCH, lies Lake Shrine, a hidden gem tucked away amidst the never-ending bustle of LA. For the past month, I’ve been making weekly pilgrimages to the beautiful meditation gardens that surround this serene lake. Statues and scripture from various religions adorn the foliage and create an atmosphere that is ripe for introspection. Along the path that surrounds the Lake are benches and hidden seats that allow me to further lose myself in nature. I often choose a different seat, of which there are many, so that I can gain a new perspective both physically and mentally. And then, I just sit there. Sometimes for 45 minutes, sometimes longer, but during that time, I just let myself think and refocus for the week. No rules, no pressure. If my mind goes on one tangent, I explore it; if in the middle the waterfalls or swans interrupt me, I admire them too and then resume. I may give my self a pep talk or dive into the issues that are affecting me that week. But no matter what, I just am.
In the past month, I have had to make a serious recalibration in my life and embark on a new direction and path. I’ve had to learn from my mistakes and challenges and use them to grow stronger as a person, to discover my true desires, needs, and aspirations. These weekly sessions have restored my soul and continue to bring me new ideas that I never would have thought of when caught in the flow of every day life. My silence and peace bring new excitement and hope as being a quarter-lifer can be a nebulous time at best. I have some life experiences, both good and bad, under my belt but am still discovering the man I am and want to be. However, when I stop doubting my choices and wondering if they’re the “right” ones and start understanding that I am an accumulation of all my choices, right and wrong, I realize that who I am right now is enough and will lead me forward successfully.
I’m very fortunate to be able to get away and journey to the lake, as I’m too impatient for yoga or traditional mediation and prefer a more unstructured environment, in which ideas can flow freely; however, I believe that anything that provides inner exploration is a gift to ourselves. We all must find what works for us, but I humbly offer my “lake” and hope it can help center and bring the answers you are searching for. I have come to understand that while my path can be found around the edges, true happiness comes with the decision to jump in and make a splash, to connect, refocus, and then take action!
By Brian Jaffe