I started practicing mindfulness meditation about three years ago. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings, without judging them as good or bad. To me, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to the experience – whatever that experience is. Thanks to my practice, I developed greater awareness and presence in my day to day life.
Not only did I feel a difference but so did those around me.
But it isn’t all mala beads and roses. Mindfulness means being present with what is. And sometimes, what is – to put it plainly – sucks. That means sitting with thoughts that aren’t positive, or affirming, or pleasant. But that’s part of spiritual development – realizing that there are times in our life that we may never enjoy nor understand. No matter how much you want to paint life with the positivity brush, you can’t escape the shadow of loss, grief, and heartache.
Which means that my mindfulness practice was put to the test when my boyfriend broke up with me.
From the moment I saw him, I was absolutely sure he was the one. I had decided a few months prior to devote more of my life to my spiritual practice, so I figured that it was a sign when he showed up at my regular yoga class. He seemed to embody everything I had imagined the ‘masculine’ to be. He was tall, handsome, and fit, he had an ease with people that I envied. And, when I heard snippets of his conversations, it was clear that he was on a path of evolution and growth.
After a couple of months, I finally worked up the courage to start a conversation with him and we ended up going for tea at a nearby cafe. We talked and laughed over rooibos chai and I felt that I could tell him anything – and I did. Soon, we were regularly hanging out after class, then we were going out on dates, and then, we finally kissed. It was like nothing else I had ever experienced. I felt connected to him on a soul level, that I was understood, that he knew me.
I wanted it to work so badly, so I worked hard on our relationship.
I showered him with affection, nurtured him, made him my priority, shared every part of my life. I came up with interesting idea after interesting idea of things to do together, became more sexually experimental than I had ever been, even had us do the New York Times 36 Questions That Lead To Love. I loved him in the best way I could – everything I did, I did to bring us closer together. And we did grow closer.
But not close enough that I didn’t feel blindsided when he told me that, after almost a year of being together, he no longer wanted to be in relationship with me. He loved and cared about me, he said, but he wasn’t ‘in’ love with me. He had given it time, he said, in hopes that it would happen, but he was clear it wasn’t going to happen – for him. He was sorry and hoped we could remain friends.
I was devastated. I had tried so hard to build a relationship that would lead to a long-term commitment because he was so much of what I wanted. It made no sense to me that I could make so much effort and yet end up with nothing. I stopped going to yoga class so as not to see him – which was easy because I could barely get out of bed. But it wasn’t as if I was sleeping. Lying on my ‘side’ each night, I tried to conjure up whatever it was that I would need to get him to come back. But I had asked him for space and he was giving it to me, even though I hoped that demanding that space would make him miss me. It didn’t.
In addition to avoiding yoga, I stopped going on my favorite hike because I had walked it with him so many times. I couldn’t even get through my meditation without crying, so I stopped meditating. And, having no mechanisms with which to process my experience, I dove into a swamp of hot, steaming, righteous anger at him.
One month passed. Three months. Six.
Whenever I thought I was getting past it, something would remind me of him and it would become clear that I was still consumed with rage. My resentment was ever building. After everything I had done for us, I was sure he owed me something because I felt I had no choice but to give up everything I had shared with him. What had once been mine was now ‘ours’ – our favorite yoga class, our favorite cafe, our favorite hike. But nothing was ours because there was no us. I felt like I had nothing left, not only of him and me, but of myself.
And then, one day, I saw him on the street. With a woman. As the nausea crept up from my stomach to my throat, I watched them together. It was so clear by the way he looked at her that he had fallen hard; I knew him well enough to recognize in his gaze a combination of love, admiration, respect, and desire. He had never looked at me that way. And, as I watched them walk away, hand in hand, it was finally clear to me that he never, ever would.
It had taken a moment this painful for me to finally know it was time to move forward. I just didn’t know how. My friends had been so generous with me since our breakup, listening to me rage and cry. They sat with me while I sobbed, listened when I vented, gave me advice that I knew was probably true but didn’t really want to hear. But it was a stranger who helped me finally break through.
Because I had been away from my meditation practice for so long, I decided that it would help to do a workshop to ease back in. So, I signed up for a weekly class – even if I couldn’t bring myself to meditate at home, I’d at least feel driven to keep the commitment to other people. It felt good to be back in meditation practice. But the tears were still coming as a result of being with what was: that I was still hung up on the fact that I had been left – and now there was a person who had taken up the space that I wanted to inhabit. Week after week, I left the class in tears.
One evening, I was partnered up with a woman who took me out for coffee and shared her story of working through the loss of her girlfriend. It was a very similar story; after giving so much of herself to the relationship, her girlfriend had been offered her dream job in another city – and didn’t want her to come along. Like me, she had first rejected everything that reminded her of her girlfriend, until she realized that by doing so, she had rejected many parts of herself. To get them back, she would have to reclaim what she had shared.
But, she told me, she didn’t do it alone, she had help. And it came in the form of a nutritional supplement called AVA.
She explained that AVA was a nootropic formulated to support emotional wellness. I know enough people in the Silicon Valley scene to have heard about nootropics or ‘smart drugs’. But I’m very careful about what I put into my body – I let her know I had no interest in getting hyped up and jittery. She explained that, by taking AVA before her meditation practice, it helped to calm her anxiety and stress while opening her heart to the truth of her situation. AVA not only helped her to find clarity in a confusion time, but to feel more connected to herself.
The more she talked, the more I was intrigued. But I was torn. Shouldn’t meditation be enough? Why did I have to take a pill to get better results? And that brought me face to face with how hard I can be on myself. I don’t know about you but I’ve often felt that asking for or receiving help and support meant I was ‘weak’. After years of ‘powering through’ my challenges and doing everything myself, I realized I was doing myself – and the people around me – a disservice by not asking for or allowing support. It even occurred to me that one of the reasons my relationship didn’t work out was because what I called working on the relationship was actually controlling it. I now believe the most empowering thing I’ve done was to be open to taking my new friend’s suggestion and using a supplement to support my growth – especially because I didn’t want to.
So, I ordered. When it arrived less than a week later, I was ready. I took one AVA capsule in the morning, on an empty stomach, as suggested, with a glass of water about 30 minutes before I planned to sit. I meditate in the morning and I never eat beforehand so it didn’t cause me any inconvenience. As I settled into the space around me, I first noticed an overall state of relaxation and calm. Then, the tightness that had gripped my heart for months slowly started to release.
As I expected, thoughts of my ex and memories of our relationship came flooding in. But instead of breaking the flow by stopping my meditation, I allowed them to wash over me. I finished the first day in tears, but these tears felt different. For the first time, I felt cleansed. I even felt a little bit of lightness – that surprised me.
AVA comes 4 to a tube so I spaced them out over the course of a week. Even on the days that I didn’t take AVA, I still was able to process my emotions without fear or judgement. And, as the days went on, some very clear truths started to emerge about him, our relationship, and me. I was able to see where I had projected so much on to him. By making our relationship the focus of my life, I put incredible pressure on him to do exactly what I wanted him to, leaving him no space to be himself. It wasn’t that I was sharing what I loved with him, I was trying to make him fit into my life the way I thought he should to make me happy. Basically, I thought if I could make him love everything that I loved, I would make him love me. And that didn’t work.
But my biggest realization was this: It wasn’t that he didn’t love me back, he just didn’t love me back in the way I wanted him to, in the way I thought he should. The truth was that I had given him all that love in hopes of getting something from him. I was angry because he didn’t do what I wanted him to do. I wanted to control him. And control isn’t love.
After my week with AVA, I still had work to do.
But it got me over the worst part of my healing process – and back into my meditation practice. It’s not like AVA numbs your feelings, or makes them disappear. What it does do is calm and relax your body while stimulating dopamine, serotonin and gaba production. While It heightens your senses, it allows for emotional clarity and enhanced heart connection. I am so grateful for AVA; for months I struggled with the idea that I would need to forgive my ex. But the truth was that the only person I needed to forgive was me. And AVA put me on the path to getting there.
My further research brought a very happy discovery: Limitless Life, the company that makes AVA, owns plots of land all over the word on which they sustainably grow the organic ingredients that they use to create this all-natural product. And their packaging is recyclable. This is a major selling point for me because I can’t always avoid packaging. But I’m doing everything I can to reduce the amount of waste I put into landfills.
Is AVA for everybody? It’s definitely not for pregnant or breastfeeding women, and people on any sort of antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication should definitely talk to their doctor before using it. You can’t use it if you are a Phenylketonuric. But if you feel you need a natural, organic boost for your emotional wellbeing, I’ll just say that AVA supported me in exactly the way I needed to navigate a painful, but necessary time. I’m curious if it could be a viable alternative for those wanting to avoid pharmaceuticals to manage their day to day emotional and mental health.
I’ll definitely use AVA again. And I definitely recommend it to anyone who is struggling with a broken heart so they can find the same freedom that I did – by finding their way back to themselves.
Check out a company called Limitless Life and their product AVA for emotional and mental wellness. It’s all natural, organic, plant-based, and sustainably grown.