Meditation has been a source of both comfort and frustration in my struggle with anxiety. Given my recent unhinging over the wilderness trip my husband and daughters are on, I thought I’d revisit my course notes from the Fearlessness in Every Day Life course I took in May from the Ottawa Shambhala Meditation Centre .
Perhaps in future, I’ll also have to deal with my procrastination, but right now it’s about now—or last May. I’ll deal with this future/past obsession later, okay?
I find myself returning to Tibetan Buddhism again and again. It’s a philosophy that emphasizes compassion and has a playfulness to it that I find appealing. But its core practice–meditation–is a huge pain in my ass that not even the softest cushion in the world could fix.
Meditation is where I fall down because it’s supposed to involve stopping and not-thinking. And if I’m honest, it’s the stopping part I struggle with too. So, I guess you could say that I suck at it, but there I go again making judgments.There’s another red-x for me, except no one is grading me but me.
No. Just let it go.
See what I mean? I’m warring with myself and I want to wave the white flag. It reminds me of what Eckhart Tolle wrote in The Power of Now when he was feeling crushed by depression.
“I couldn’t live with myself any longer. And in this a question arose without an answer: who is the ‘I’ that cannot live with the self?”
Tolle explains that at that moment “the mind-made self, with its heaviness, its problems, that lives between the unsatisfying past and the fearful future, collapsed.”
The 30 seconds of quiet in my head keeps me coming back. That peace is such a relief that I want more, but it’s not the wanting that’s important; it’s the practice. And there’s no magic pill that’s going to re-create that feeling. You have to do the bloody practice.
The more I stop and pay attention to my breath, the more I realize that all the shit I hang onto is freakin’ heavy, and that the crisis-management mode I’ve been living in for much of my life doesn’t serve me or anyone else. Worry doesn’t change outcomes or prevent future crises, so what the hell am I doing? I realize how much I let fear rule my thoughts and actions and I’m tired of it.
I was drawn to that course because I want to tackle fear and also because Henry was teaching it. Henry was my very first mediation teacher at a Shambhala open house three years ago.
He’s a lean, tan fit-looking man in his seventies. If I’ve overestimated his age, well…what’s he going to do about it? Be all in-my-face forgiving? Send extra-loud thoughts of happiness my way?
The other thing about Henry is this. He has a stutter—a very well-controlled stutter, and he leads hundreds of people in meditation and Buddhism classes every year.
Talk about fearless.