Meditation helps the mind understand itself without actively thinking. It allows the mind to see itself thinking without thinking about thinking. This has a variety of impacts on our sense of ourselves and the world. One of the most noticeable is how it changes the way we relate to fear.
But how do we learn to approach fear more naturally? We begin by acknowledging that we create it for ourselves. What scares you about life may not scare someone else. We’re not driven mad by spiders, darkness and spooky ghouls. We fear how our actions today will impact the future. We fear what risks we should and shouldn’t take, what choices we forfeit to the spontaneity of the universe. We fear how we’re perceived. We fear death. And, very often, we fear life. We fear what exists beyond the pale, beyond the void and beyond the darkness.
The funny thing is that what’s most intriguing about life sometimes exists in these fringes we’re too scared to explore. What we fear often holds the key to what fills us with joy and purpose. People are scared of what’s good for them. We behave in cowardly ways not because we’re well-adjusted but because we’re inappropriately scared of the results of our actions. On top of this, when we believe too strongly that our thoughts represent reality, we become victims of our own solipsism.
The way around this is through it. When we meditate, everything comes and goes. Sometimes we can’t help but hold onto stuff. Sometimes it’s ugly stuff. But eventually that goes too. Each time we practice, even if it’s just for a few minutes, we peek a few more glimpses at this life beyond thinking. This experience of life directly, without the intermediary of processing thought and judgment, is also an experience of life beyond fear.
We can’t live everyday in a state of non-thought. That’s not the point. The point is seeing that much of what we think can be changed and re-routed. Our opinions, fears, beliefs and feelings can all shift with just the slightest bit of self-reflection. We do this all the time, with or without meditation. But the sort of insights we can reach through deep reflection are vast. A simple change of heart can drastically reduce the amount of suffering we experience.
You might recognize beliefs and inconsistencies that seem minor, but overcoming them ends up removing a remarkable amount of fear and suffering from your life. There’s no way to know these deeply complex relationships between thoughts and experiences until you begin letting your mind sort itself out.
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