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As I quietly meditated yesterday morning, I was suddenly overwhelmed by a giant wave of anxiety. I knew precisely what it was about, and I wanted nothing to do with it.
In a couple of weeks, I will begin chemotherapy, and I had been so brave and centered about the whole thing. And then my fears suddenly showed up and the last thing I wanted to do was face them. I have much to be thankful for, and up until that moment I was leading my usual life. I anticipate experiencing much joy in the next couple of weeks, especially celebrating Passover with the @iwe family. So fear was completely unacceptable.
And then I remembered an ancient and wise teaching. Many people believe that when fear and anxiety show up in our lives, we need to stuff them away, defeat them and move on. I used to believe that was the best strategy; I could ignore the fear and make believe it just didn’t exist. It’s just that deep anxiety has a mind of its own, and is determined to be acknowledged, no matter how hard we try to ignore it; it will continue to rear its ugly head until we face it. So as I sat quietly, I allowed myself to be swamped by that anxiety. I felt its intensity, its demands for my attention, its power. I didn’t indulge it with devastating ideas or conjure up negative outcomes. I simply sat with it. And within moments, it began to dissipate. Anxiety had been acknowledged, which is all it asks for; it really has no interest in wounding my heart or maintaining its strength. In another few moments, I could once again feel the solace and sweetness of my meditation. And time moved on.
* * * * *
Living in distressful times seems to demand our constant attention. It is difficult to deal with the fear of our friends and the destructive efforts of our utopian and naïve citizens. Some people have chosen to cut themselves off from following the news; every day it seems like another catastrophic law or foolish mandate has been passed.
But I like to be engaged. Some people might say I’m addicted to the news. I’d rather think of myself simply choosing to remain aware of and present to life as it unfolds. And at those moments when it all seems like too much, when the anxiety engulfs me, I notice it, breathe into it and move on.
And life, with all its chaos, irrationality, and traumas, as well as its beauty, joy, and delights, goes on.Published in