Hi…My name is Devon, and I’d like to share my story with you.
I was an extremely sensitive and empathic child. I cried when I saw humans & animals suffering, I couldn’t sleep knowing war was happening across the world, knowing the environment was being destroyed. I would thank the sun and the mountains and the trees as I walked to school. I wanted to save the world. When I was old enough to realize not everyone felt this way too, I cried even harder. I had my first panic attack when I was 8 years old.
So, I became I driven, passionate teenager, striving for perfection, trying to outrun the anxiety I felt just being alive. This evolved into a self-critical and masochistic young woman who pursued success at the cost of her own well-being, who unconsciously hoped this would make her feel safe and like she belonged in this world. One of the only good things I did for myself was meditation. I started when I was 22, and I stuck at it, liking the moments of peace and calm that I experienced behind closed eyes.
By the time I turned 32, I had checked all the boxes that others had assured me were the ingredients for lasting happiness —I owned a house, had a perfect husband-to-be, and an impressive job. But I had never felt so alone and unhappy in my life. I was convinced something was fundamentally wrong with me… “Why is everyone else happy with life the way that it is while I’m miserable? What’s wrong with me?!!” I turned to alcohol to numb myself. I didn’t know what the purpose of life in general was. Was it really just to be born, work, procreate, and die? If that was true, how is a human life any different than the life of a donkey? And specifically, what was the point of my life?? I was drowning.
Out of this desperation and confusion, I threw a match at my life. I broke up with the beautiful man who said he wanted to marry me but clearly didn’t know me (how could he, when I didn’t know myself?), I was fired from the impressive job I despised (the only time in my life I was fired), and I could no longer afford payments on the house by myself, so I sold it. Everything crumbled. And I remember at that time, there was a voice in my head saying over and over “Better things are coming.” And it infuriated me- I saw no evidence of that. Only my self-inflicted destruction. This was my dark night of the soul- my irrefutable call to awaken.
From this scorched earth, a tiny sprout of hope arose. A friend I hadn’t been in touch with for a couple of years randomly invited me to visit India- a place I had a Guru I’d never met, a place I was ambivalent about visiting, sensing that it would change me forever in a way I could not predict. He lived half of the year in an ashram (spiritual community) in the foothills of the Himalayas, meditating and studying with his own Guru (spiritual master, literally translated as “remover of darkness”). He said we could travel north together, I could meet his Guru, and then travel south by myself to finally meet mine in person. I had nothing left, had no excuses not to go, and was seeking to escape the charred remnants of my life.