By Arden Martin. Originally posted on ardenmeditates.com
Why are fear and worrying such universal experiences? They don't seem to fit in a world where the options and luxuries available to us are ever-improving. Now that technology and communication have pervaded most of global society, the collective capacity is at an all-time high and we're more "evolved" than ever on so many levels.
However, there are two things we humans will never succeed in changing:
1) We cannot tame nature, and
2) We each have an expiration date.
I believe that our fear of mortality is closely tied to the illusion of safety and control. We know intellectually that nothing is guaranteed, which is why we strive to live each day like it's our last. But somehow, we find ourselves worrying, speculating, and catastrophizing more than ever. We do everything in our power to avoid feeling pain and discomfort, as if we have the power to stop it. Our choices certainly matter, and meditation is one of many tools that empowers us to make choices that will serve us well. However, we waste energy worrying about what could happen because we want so badly to avoid unpleasantness in the future.
Most of us view the world from a place of apprehension, to no fault of our own. Fear-mongering media outlets, disturbing recent events, and America's culture of stress have all shaped the zeitgeist. But it's time to shift from a worry-based mindset to a state of moving elegantly through life's inescapable ups and downs.
To do this, we must accept and even embrace discomfort. Every living thing encounters a whole host of crummy sensations and experiences in its lifetime, because discomfort is an unavoidable part of existing on this planet.
But here's the good news: When we lean into the discomfort of life - when stop avoiding and simply accept it - it loses its power over us. I recently heard Jeff Kober put it this way:
"ONCE YOU ACCEPT THE EXTRAORDINARY DISCOMFORT OF BEING IN A BODY,THE WORLD HAS NOTHING TO THROW AT YOU."
Each time we meditate, we practice this invaluable act of embracing discomfort. When we close our eyes and trigger stress release from the body, the experience is often relaxing and blissful...but it can also be unpleasant to sit quietly while thoughts and stress bubble up. The benefit is indispensable, though: we grow more and more comfortable with discomfort as we learn to take it, easily, as it comes. Bonus: the more we release accumulated stress through meditation, the more of ourselves becomes available to experience joy.
It's all too easy to speculate and worry about the things we want (and don't want) in life.
But speculation doesn't actually lead to what we want; it leads only to suffering.
Suffering is rooted in how we feel about a bad experience, whether it's already happened or we're hoping it doesn't. When we stay grounded in the present and live from moment to moment, there is no real suffering - we are actually just fine. So when we lean into discomfort, suffering ends.