For many of us meditation inspires fascination and fear in equal measure.
The Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chodran, Jon Kabat-Zinn and many other Buddhist and non-Buddhist meditators vibrate with an energy that is quite simply awe-inspiring. And we know from their work in the world, that their creed is meditation and compassion.
While fascination exists for many of us, it does so in tandem with fear and an unwillingness to step into the territory of complete surrender. Even if someone has not had a fully conscious meditational experience, the idea of delving into it evokes latent fears.
Meditation is a form of surrendering to oneself and that means allowing yourself to be vulnerable, which is something most of us are engaged in avoiding. Vulnerability here means looking at yourself clearly for who you really are. And most of us feel we are not prepared to do that.
Our experiences and education teach us to look at ourselves from a certain vantage point. We each have an idea, a thought about who we are. We define ourselves by what we like, dislike, and what our concepts of right and wrong may be. Our personalities are a careful construction of layers informed by our life experiences and our environment, that don’t just keep the world at bay, but keep us on the outside of our own authentic core. A core that is wrapped up in much fear. The idea of shedding fear is therefore enough to inspire fear itself.
Our carefully engineered lives keep our soft inner core farthest from our conscious mind. We like to view ourselves from a place of pre-conceived notions, that way we start believing what we project of ourselves in the outside world, when in reality what we are projecting may just be a defense mechanism that has been cultivated from years of experiences. We continue to make feeble attempts at labeling ourselves and putting our personalities into carefully organized, comprehensible boxes. When in truth, the human being is as dynamic and multi-faceted as the universe it belongs to, and continues to evolve over the course of his/her physical. We are not just the sum of all the good stuff we have experienced in life, we are very much made up of the disappointments, failures, heart-breaks and let-downs that have been part of our growth too. To embrace one and neglect another is to live half the human experience.
Meditation is a visceral experience, it creates the reality of allowing ourselves to peek a little closer at what lies beneath the many layers of our personality. Getting into the practice of meditation is like, allowing oneself to drop into the real, inner core of who we really are. It allows us to reveal our truth to our own selves. It gives us permission to just be.
Dropping into that place that holds no opinions, no voices and no pre-conceived notions is simultaneously fascinating and fearful because it is akin to walking an unknown territory. And we are all programmed to fear the unknown. However, to live a life where our own inner core is an enigma to us is like living an imagined concept, or a half-life. What lies beneath the layers is the richness of your own individual self that always exists in harmony with the vast universe. Why not tap into that real self, embrace who you are, warts and all and move with that giant reservoir of purpose and energy? Perhaps it is the big-ness of that which drives us to the ends of our smaller, carefully conceived self. But even as we live our constructed lives, a lingering question of who we really are and what we are truly capable of, never quite leaves the realm of mental query
Meditation offers us that window, that breathing space, that ‘permission’ if you will, to be okay with what lies beneath. To be accepting of it and loving of it and in that acceptance, trusting ourselves to drop further into our core. It takes great courage to travel the un-chartered territories of our mind and spirit. But this is also where true intimacy lies. Intimacy with oneself is what gives us the courage and the capacity to be intimate with others in openness and honesty and lead meaningful lives.