again, i’m using the question posed by a young friend who is trying to find the Source of All, the Power Within, and asks me my opinion how to get beyond the focus-on-suffering some other teacher has suggested he follow. Personally, for meditation i use chanting and repetition of the mantra: Om Namah Shivaya which are the techniques given to me by my teacher. Please see www.siddhayoga.org for more information about the method of meditation lordflea recommends.
however—my friend needs advice, so let’s see how we can possibly help him today. Anyone else who has a question about the spiritual side of life, feel free to write me.
First off…whatever works, works! But in your case i’m feeling that this technique of following suffering has you stuck in the yukky-feeling, suffering part. perhaps i could share with you a recent writing i did for the book proposal i’m working on…although it deals with the subject of overeating (yes! the most “visible” of people suffering from spiritual imbalance, that’s why my skinny partner, a german woman, and myself, never terribly overweight all my life, have chosen to focus on these unhappy souls to help, specifically) the methods of changing a “bad” habit to a better one applies to anything obstructing one from true happiness.
Once along the road to my own spiritual recovery from addiction, I had terrible, unpredictable bouts with a certain peace-shattering, mind-numbing, bone-rattling terror. Fear would come in a wave and grip me in its vice. It came from nowhere, and nothing stopped it except diving into big bowls of ice cream with fudge sauce. Many bowls I went through before I had the opportunity to ask one of my teachers for advice about what to do about this paralyzing fear that occurred, over and over, after unsuccessfully trying to stuff it down with yummy chocolate almond Hagen Daas.
My teacher listened as I told her about my fear. I didn’t even know I was so bothered by it, because I had trained myself to just forget that horrible feeling whenever it came up, by eating ice cream. This woman of my own age happened to be a meditation teacher, and her methods were based upon decades of studying scripture and ancient wisdom from the Far East. Yet she herself was a former hipster from the East Village of New York, a noted reporter of an underground newspaper before she’d found her path and taken the vows of a teaching monk. When I approached her only to say hello, I thought, unexpectedly I suddenly exploded in tears. My personal problem being haunted by fear was the last thing on my mind. I certainly never intended to talk to her about its grip around my heart, either. But there I was, in a corner where she pulled me, sobbing, spilling what was keeping me back from growing on my path, that of a spiritual seeker.
“Have you examined your life to see if anything’s happening right now that might be causing this fear of yours, lordflea?” my teacher asked.
“Nothing bad is going on, believe me. Little things happen, but my present life couldn’t be more fulfilling. That’s why it’s so odd I have this fear inside me—as if I’m possessed or something.”
“No, you’re nothing of the kind. It’s just an emotion,” she said. “Sometimes emotions are things we can learn from, and sometimes they’re just—passing through us. And often there’s no rationalization as to their origins.”
I stood completely wide-eyed, wondering how I’d gotten involved in such a serious discussion, without ever having meant to. But it had happened. My fear was reaching out, even if I couldn’t, it seemed.
“Here’s what I suggest you to do,” my teacher gently said. “The next time this feeling of fear comes up—and don’t try forcing it, it won’t work!—I want you to quickly go somewhere alone, and then I want you to dive into it, using the meditation tools you’ve learned.”
“Dive into it? You mean dive into fear?”
“Yes,” she said. “Trust me, just do it. Once you go deeply into that feeling—without any other thought of trying to figure-it-out, just being willing to observe it—I’ll bet you’ll be surprised what happens. Just remember: as long as you’ve done your work of self-examination and there’s no real cause associated with the fear—and this applies to whatever negative feeling comes up—your job as a seeker is to release yourself from anything that holds you back. And you do that by going through it. Once you go through an emotion, believe me, it loses its power over you. You go through it, and you’re finished with it. Forever. Besides,” she smiled softly at me in such a compassionate manner, “some feelings aren’t even ours.” I felt her sincerity as if she were my own soul speaking as she continued. “They come in with us when we’re born, and there’s no reasoning about what they are, or why they stay stuck in us. We just have to let them go through us, so they won’t have any more power over us.”
“Oh,” I stupidly said, sounding as dumb as can be.
With that she nodded her head, and patted my arm in assurance just as another person came rushing up with their question for her. I didn’t know it then, but this mindfulness-teacher had given me all I would need.
Even though she’d warned me not to, I did try to force up that nasty fear within me. I was impatient, and wanted to get over it as fast as possible. I didn’t believe in T.I.M.E. yet–T.his I. M.ust E.arn. But forcing fear, real fear, didn’t work. Soon enough though, one day the paralyzing fear I spoke of arose, without any rhyme or reason attached to why-then, why-there, why-me. It was weeks after my talk with the teacher, but I remembered every word she’d said. As soon as I could I hopped in my car and left my loving but noisy family, and drove to a quiet place where I could be alone and safe, just as my teacher had instructed. I parked my car, and closed my eyes.
Fear. I didn’t know how, or why, but I closed my eyes and stopped all outside interference. I followed my breath and let go of all thoughts. I’d been prepared with years of meditative practice, so yes!—I felt ready, and strong enough to dive into this thing called fear, as I’d been coached to do. Within moments, I was surrounded by it. It felt like a big stain taking over my heart. I let myself become as fear-filled as I’ve ever been. It was overwhelmingly awful, powerfully scary—yet I didn’t run from it, or stuff it with bowls of chocolate. I dove into that nasty feeling that had, for too long, invaded my life.
I didn’t know how weird, strange, scary and preposterously profound it would be—to “dive into” a feeling, especially the Big One of nameless fear. But I did it, because I was desperate to be free of it. So after a while, in my quiet way, sitting in a dark (but safe) parking lot, after much heaving, shaking and sobbing, I discovered that fear has many faces. Many moods. With each passing moment it seemed I was diving into another new side of fear, going deeper and deeper into this feeling, staying, watching, observing, as I dove. As deep as fear led me, I went. I trusted my teacher’s words. I was spell-bound. I became fear. I didn’t know I was still sitting in my car, because I felt—consumed by ‘it’—a state of fear that took me on a worldwide trip around the universe of my emotions. Yet I stayed and dove deeper, and—experienced all the many facets of my own fear. Instead of being afraid I now felt more entertained, and even awed by the experience.
Before I knew it, the previous eruption of fear as a heavy, scary feeling became still like windless water, and I felt—could it be?—yes, I had arrived at peace. Really deep peace. It felt like Love. All warm-embracing, all goodness-heat surrounding my beating heart. Yes, the fear had dissolved and in its place, I felt love. This was the beginning of my understanding of loving my higher self.
And I am being honest by saying that never from that day till now, have I ever been bothered by the paralyzing feeling of that nameless fear that had held me so solidly in its grip, for decades.
HOW TO IDENTIFY WITH THE SHARING:
If we allow a feeling to “just be” and don’t try to figure it out, or stuff it, it will slowly dissipate. But please, do not attempt to duplicate what lordflea has shared with us, who was an experienced meditator at the time, and had many years practicing the techniques of going within. The purpose of the sharing is to give us all hope, and to prove, through this experience—that feelings are not facts.