It was January of 2015 when I took my level two meditation. This was another weekend retreat. The level is called “Birth of A Warrior”, an interesting name for this level. That weekend was an emotionally painful experience for me. Later when I was asked by other meditators of what I thought about that level, I recall saying “it was deliciously painful.” (I would repeat that level first opportunity I find as I learned so much about myself through the experience of that weekend)
We were given a question at the end of our first day. They asked us to contemplate on it and ask ourselves; “what is my fear, and what cocoon or habitual pattern I developed to protect myself against it?” As I sat and sat that weekend, I saw my life and the choices I have made throughout my life out of fear. The choices that were not necessarily perfect or right. I realized being accepted played a big role in my life and my decision-makings. Growing up, acceptance determined choices that were being made. I recalled hearing from my parents in so many different occasions; “what people may think if we made that choice”. It became vivid to me that I have made so many choices in my life for the sake of others. Not even thinking this is my life and not theirs to live. As I made those choices out of fear of not being accepted, I also had to live with the consequences of the choices I’ve made in my life. All for the sake of saving face. Funny that the result of those choices were something that people disapproved. Wow, how far I have gone to satisfy other people’s approval and yet failed all along.
Suddenly, I saw my whole life unfolding in front of my eyes. There was a deep aching sadness that rushed through me. I realized that I went through two marriages out of fear. (I know I said two, first one lasted only seven months. Don’t ask. For that one I have to write a book). I remember that night back in my hotel room, I was sobbing for myself. I could not believe what I have done to myself. What a realization it all was. I wanted to hug myself and tell myself; “you are going to be okay, we will get through this”, but I could not stop crying.
Next day I shared my experience with one of the meditation instructors. I wanted to understand the emotions that were going through me. She said; “through this process you start developing a gentle heart”. So I guess the feeling of wanting to hug myself was the beginning of that. But there was more. I also started to forgive myself, and in that sense of forgiveness the critical mind had no room. I saw that stubborn disapproving mind that sat with me for so long, leaving me little by little as I began to forgive myself for the choices I have made.
The weekend meditation ended. I felt so much lighter on Sunday evening, as if there was a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. For many days to come I got more and more familiar with my fear. Every time I sat down to meditate. While I walked and continued my daily life, my fears became more vivid. And the painful tight cocoon that I have weaved around myself to supposedly protect myself, was coming into light. That awareness helped me loosen up my grip. I saw the cocoon never really protected me anyways.
I thought about the name of that level: “Birth of a Warrior”. It does take bravery to sit with different emotions. Experiencing the feelings that fear carries with itself. Allowing one’s self to just be with that fear, with no judgment. Not pushing it away. Not trying to numb it. Just accept it. As human beings we tend to run away from difficult emotions. It takes courage to feel the discomfort of what fear brings up for us. But through becoming familiar with it, we can grow and bring change to ourselves and perhaps to the choices that we make.
We all make mistakes. It is an inevitable part of life. Learning what leads us to those mistakes and then forgiving ourselves is what is important in this path of life. So did I make mistakes along my marriage? Yes, of course. But as I learned to drop the blame line for myself and later for my partner, was the time that I saw why I had to go through what I went through. There were lessons to be learned.