I’m desperate. I’ve been practicing for years, meditating almost every day. But my life is like a seesaw. Much of the time I experience peace and happiness. But much of the time I am so gripped by the baggage of my past that I am consumed by a fear and anxiety that will not let me out of its grasp. I have tried focusing on my breathing and other methods, but nothing gets this monkey off my bank till I almost literally collapse from mental exhaustion.
Consumed By Fear
Dear Consumed By Fear,
You are not alone. Our habit-energies are very strong and entrenched, having been built over a lifetime, and so freeing ourselves from the fear, anxiety, and frustration they cause is a difficult task. But it is a doable task.
One can certainly not fight them or argue with them. That just strengthens them. And one cannot just redirect one’s attention by focusing on our breathing, in effect ignoring them, because as you have experienced, they will not be ignored.
Instead, one must revolt against the tyranny of the past, your habit-energies. The language I’m using may sound like fighting, and thus at odds with what I just said, but this is not about a fight. This is about a visceral revolt, a decision on your part that you will not follow your habit-energies anymore.
If one is aware, one has a choice. One can either go where your habit-energies take you and suffer the consequences, or you can say to them, “I have compassion for you and where you’re coming from, but you are the past. I’m not going there anymore. I am seeking guidance now from my true Buddha nature and I have faith that if I live each moment well, the future will take care of itself, all will be well regardless of what life throws my way. I will always have my inner strength and will experience joy because I will always offer others joy and help relieve the suffering of others, regardless of the situation I’m in.”
This may sound very simple-minded, but it is effective. The two requirements, of course, are that you are aware and that you have made this decision. Being aware as you well know is a challenge in and of itself, but there are various methods I’ve discussed in my posts to help you increase your awareness, your being present free of the intervention of thought, throughout the day.
Making the decision is up to you. And this is not as silly a point as it may sound. Just like the question I raised in my post, “Do You Really Want to Be at Peace and Content?” the answer may well be, “of course,” and yet we aren’t willing to take the steps, to do what needs to be done in order to reach that point. Whether it’s acceptance or letting go of our habit-energies, we often are not willing to take that step. There is comfort in the known, even if it is painful. But you can’t have your cake and eat it too.