Tuesday, December 11, 2012

afraid of fear?

I wonder if its possible to be afraid of fear? I have always thought I wasn't afraid of much. Lately, though, it has occurred to me that I do a lot of things to avoid fear. It occurs to me that my love of planning is just a mask for fear of  the uncontrolled. My nice stable job -- much less scary than going out on my own as a consultant. Even my lists are at heart a fear of being imperfect.

In meditating of late, I have seen thoughts arise over and over again. Worries about my child, worries about finances, worries about the future. I watch the thoughts bubble up and watch the bubbles pop.. Worry is all fear, wearing one mask or another. And it occurred to me this morning that this kind of fear, well it's just a thought. It isn't any bigger than a thought that my nose itches, or that I need to take out the trash. It isn't something that requires a response or an action. For whatever reason, this was incredibly freeing, and relaxing.

Friday, December 07, 2012

how did I get here?

This week marks my one year anniversary as a Buddhist. I was recently asked what made me become a Buddhist. The question got me thinking -- how did I get here?

I think it goes back a bit. Around five or six years ago, I was a bit of a mess. I was stressed out, amd short tempered. I was gaining weight. My cholesterol was high. My blood pressure was going up. I had headaches all the time. I clearly needed a change.

So I went back to school. I felt energized and my world seemed to expand. I was meeting new people, and seeing a lot of divergent viewpoints on practically everything. As I learned, I found myself opening up to new ideas. And I was forced to take a hard look at myself. I felt a renewed sense of self, but with a strong desire to be a better person. I started a mindfulness practice. I wanted to be more aware and not sleep walk through my life. I made some small steps, and felt improvement. I also felt I wasn't as far as I wanted to go.

I had friends who meditated, and it seemed to work for them. And I had friends who were Buddhist and that seemed to work too. So I began reading about Buddhism, and trying to meditate. It didn't seem to work well for me. I was frustrated. At that time, I saw an ad for a research study. It coupled meditation instruction with psilocybin. I contacted the research folks the same day. I hoped it would lead to a habit of meditation, or show me what I was doing wrong. And I had always, always been intrigued by hallucinogenics, but had been too afraid to try them on my own. I figured it was a huge opportunity.

It was that, and more. The meditation turned out to be easier than I had thought, and being required to do it daily turned it into a habit. The one on one sessions with the meditation guide turned out to be therapeutic for me. It was a mixture of talk therapy, a discussion of beliefs, and instruction. And the psilocybin was life-altering. It seems stupid that two 8 hour sessions could change my life, but I can only say that it really and truly did. I am still me, but I am MORE me than I ever thought possible. I can't put it into words. I can only say that I have more joy, more compassion, more life than I ever thought possible.

When the study was over, I continued my meditation. I added readings from Buddhist thought. I discovered that everything I read, and heard, was familiar -- like it was all things I already knew. And I also had come to a point where I felt quite strongly that I couldn't get any farther on my path alone. I would need something outside myself. A friend and I started going to the Shambhala Buddhist center in town. I took my refuge vow, formally  committing to Buddhism.

I have not once regretted my decision.