Was any of this really a problem? Could all this be considered normal if I allowed a change in perspective? What if I could change my relationship with what was happening as it happened? Could there be post vacation bliss independent of external circumstances?
After listening to an enlightening Q & A session with Pema Chödrön, I began to ask the question, is this really a problem? A gentleman came up to the mic and asked the following question. “How can I overcome my fear of public speaking?” (Public speaking was an integral part of this man’s livelihood.) Ani Pema asked, “Is this fear debilitating? Can you still perform your job effectively?” The gentleman replied that he was performing just fine and that the fear was not paralyzing. Ani Pema chuckled, smiled her mischievous smile and said, “Is this really a problem?”
We spend our lived trying to get comfortable, fleeing from discomfort as if it will kill us. I’m sure many of us would argue that the physical manifestations of anxiety (or any other difficult emotion) are in fact downright unbearable at times. Sensations of tightness in the jaw, neck, shoulders, and forearms. Racing heart and summersaulting belly. Who wants to experience that? I’d rather have my muscles melting into the soft hand of a masseuse and the sun while sipping mint, cucumber, orange, and lemon flavored water!
In the past, I would have killed anxiety with my bare hands if I could. Maybe it would be considered murder, but I was willing to serve time in prison. Any place was better than a place where anxiety ruled. How I relate to it now makes all the difference in the world. If it’s the kid no one wants to play with, the ugly zit on otherwise clear skin, or the stain on a new dress, then it’s naturally going to be a problem.
What if fear is just clouds in a blue sky? Sometimes it’s thick and gray, swollen with tear droplets waiting to be released at a moment’s notice. At other times it’s a single fluffy and white cloud like cotton candy, not taking up much space at all. But the blue sky, this vast compassionate presence is always there above the clouds like a window to the stars and whole universe of light consciousness.
If I can remember the sky, I can let go. I can let it rain because I know that the storm is temporary. I can let the sensations play themselves out till they are tired, till they’ve lost momentum. My Brahmavirahic breath can save me, stretch me to become the sky itself. Maybe fearlessness is being with fear just as it is and learning to stay.