Today my guest is Michelle. Michelle is originally from Bulgaria but now lives in Barcelona which is where I’m visiting her today. By day she works as a software engineer but since 2014 has also been a meditation teacher and had a consistent meditation practice since 2011. Earlier this year Michelle made a very courageous and vulnerable post on social media. You see, up until very recently, I knew Michelle as Martin. So Michelle announced that she was in the early stages of transitioning from male to female. I’m curious to find out today how her meditation is supporting her in this transition.
Today while recording in Barcelona, the Catalonian’s are also voting for their independent from Spain, so there is a lot of public demonstrations and a heavy police presence in the city. We talk a little about our own experience of the vibe of the city today and how it is affecting us.
Michelle before meditation suffered from insomnia and describes herself as a do-er and planner and always trying to figure things out.
We talk about what it was like to grow up in a communist country, which required you to follow the rules and wasn’t open to differences, which created an underlying fear.
A build-up and accumulation of stress between work and a relationship breakup meant that the only option seemed to be to learn to meditate or go insane.
She rather sceptically started with the guided meditation app Headspace, but couldn’t deny that it seemed to work. She was getting 10 minutes of peace a day and the first most obvious effect was seeing an improvement with her sleep.
But she was getting bored and was going from guided meditation to guided meditation always wanting more. But that changed when she met her first meditation teacher, which just happened to be last weeks guest, Sandy Newbigging. And she in him, a level of peace that she hadn’t seen before and she wanted it.
Being a guy has been about being a people pleaser. She felt conditioned to be what others expected her to be, which was a boy. She was laughed at if she wanted to do the things the girls wanted to do, or like the Spice Girls. She wanted to just be able to enjoy the things she wanted to enjoy but was teased and bullied when she fully expressed herself.
As an innocent child, she simply thought that although she was a boy she would simply magically grow up to be a woman.
When she came to post publicly on social media that she was really a woman and was planning to start living as a woman, it felt very natural and she just wanted it done. She was ready to let go of Martin.
“I couldn’t imagine myself doing that without the meditation, to be honest. I think I might have lived my whole life with surprising a part of myself if it wasn’t for meditation. I think meditation has been a very helpful tool with any strong moments in my life. Whenever I couldn’t find any stability in the outside world, meditation has been an amazing tool because on the inside I could always go back to this peace.”
The challenge of transitioning. I have 30+ years of expressing myself in a masculine way so accepting that sometimes progress is slow and that sometimes it might seem likeI’m doing the same thing over and over again even though I want it to be different is challenging.
I feel so much lighter and more open and at peace, though the more I express the more feminine side of myself.
If I have to mentally plan it out, my current situation can look far from ideal. But I’ve always found it much easy to enjoy playing, and enjoy exploring, and enjoy just allowing myself to be exactly as I am right now.
I just want to be myself. I’ve started moving in a certain direction and I want to feel open to doing things in whatever way they naturally appear to me without being bound to whether it fits in the male box or the female box.
Advice to anyone going through a gender transition:
Be yourself and never try to ignore that because who you are is not a democratic vote of others. You don’t need a referendum that determines your gender. You know who you are within yourself.
But if you try to push something onto others, they will resist. Simply just being who you are is more powerful. In a way, if you try to push it onto others, it’s like you need their approval in order to be yourself. You don’t need that. You can just BE yourself, and skip the step of trying to force it on others.
- Awareness by Anthony De Mello
- The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle – Michelle’s tip: Just read it without trying to intellectualise it, just read it and absorb its energy.
If you would like to learn my best recommendations for starting or continuing your own meditation practice don’t forget you can download my top tips from my website simply by heading to lilab.life/toptips