Years ago when I was a yoga teacher, I was facilitating a class in meditation and was looking around to see how people were doing. One person in the class looked completely freaked out, distracted, and utterly puckered up. Tight. Resisting with every fiber of her being. I walked over to her, and whispered, “Are you okay?” She shook her head and said, “I’m so scared that if I let go, the devil will come in.”
Now, maybe that sounds extreme to you. Maybe you don’t believe in the devil. But I think there is a metaphor here for what I think many people believe: if they get still or quiet with themselves long enough, they’re going to figure out that deep down, they’ve got some bad stuff going on. We’ll figure out we’re depraved. We’ll figure out we’re awful. But here’s what I believe, and listen to me closely: it’s not what’s in the empty space that’s giving us the problems: it’s the all fear and the running away from it that screws us up.
Here’s the good news: if we face that fear, it transforms everything. And meditation is daily practice for facing your worst fears. You sit, every day, with the clutter of your thoughts. Instead of choosing to run from your fear, you decide to approach it with curiosity, befriend it, transform it. It will no longer have power over you. Because believe me, if we can all face our worst fears about ourselves, the state of the economy starts to look like small potatoes.
Think about it: if every person on earth were able to sit down and look at themselves honestly, gain an understanding and say, "Okay, here’s the stuff I’ve done that I’m not happy with. Here are the parts of me that are ugly. Here’s how I’ve hurt others, and I’m going to have humility and ask for forgiveness. Here are the moments when I am scared of being alone and don’t know how to ask for reassurance, and strike out instead."
"Here’s where I was sad, but reacted with anger because I hate feeling helpless. Here is where I’ve been afraid that my life might be meaningless, and I’ve reacted by running from that fear with workaholism, or eating too much or staying busy or simply giving up.