Overcoming The Fear of Now: A Journey from Addiction to Meditation
Regardless of where we come from or who we are, we all have our own path to live. I was born into a family of mediators. I had a wonderful upbringing and caring, loving parents and yet I still found the need to rebel. This choice led me down a path of darkness and addiction that was to last over a decade. I couldn’t understand or even comprehend what was going on, I was simply crashing and burning. I tried everything to stop, but it was my strong connection to meditation that ultimately led me to realize that the power to quit and to regain my life and its potential, was inside me the whole time.
My Battle with Addiction
I first started with Alcoholics Anonymous. I found a lot of help and support in that. But, what was really the most helpful thing to understand and what truly helped me make it out—not just stop the addiction, but actually move on to the next stage was to understand my own intense fear of now. For me what was happening ‘right now’ was terrifying. Being me was terrifying. I couldn’t see how to overcome that fear. I think this is true for a lot of people who suffer from addiction or even all of us at some level. We wake up and feel angry or hurt and the first thing we do is try to avoid it. When we are feeling sad or a situation seems difficult or someone is bothering us, the first thing we do is run in the other direction. We find a way to remove ourselves in order not to feel that way anymore. This builds and builds and eventually we forget how to do anything else. For me, I couldn’t handle who I was; it was so shameful; it was so intense. It was so difficult to be me, I did everything I could to avoid it. This meant hiding from my own potential, hiding from my family, hiding from my friends and turning my life into this small, scary existence where there was no light, no hope. It felt insurmountable. It felt so intense that I was sure I would never make it out again.
Meditation and Fear
Meditation practice was the medicine that helped me overcome that fear and hopelessness. In meditation, by relating simply and honestly with your mind, you slowly make friends with yourself and learn to accept who you are. While it might be painful, it is a hugely powerful step. In that painful moment, if you don’t run away and you let yourself just be you, regardless of how you feel, then you have conquered your fear. What I’ve realized through meditation practice is the best gift we have is now. What I was so afraid of—this present moment—is all we really have anyway. This is how to live life to the fullest; being in this moment—it has taught me more than I can imagine. So, when you wake up with a feeling that you can’t do anything with your life, instead of trying to cover that up, deal with it. Say okay, I feel terrible right now, I feel like I will never ever be happy again. So what? It will change—things always do. It’s the ebb and flow of life. This is what you discover through meditation practice, how to live in the present moment.
What’s interesting is that when we become clean and sober, we experience a period of time where everything is glowing and joyful. It may be that way for two weeks or even a month, but this change is only skin deep. Then what happens is you become more aware of your life. Life becomes more difficult, but it’s more beautiful at the same time. Every moment has this preciousness to it. Then the inevitable: right now things are great but soon I may start to feel badly again. It’s no longer great because I’ve attached myself to this feeling of ‘great’ and then I want even more. Or perhaps it’s not quite good enough or I think that tomorrow something even greater will happen. So, the biggest gift is just to cherish the moment, cherish the fact that each moment is here right now and we have this amazing ability as human beings to just live and breathe and appreciate who we are. This is the great gift of being alive.
How to Live in the Now
People say things like carpe diem—seize the day. How about seize the moment? How about always remember that now is all you have. Thinking about tomorrow happens, but it’s not being now. Now is all we have and we will never get another now. Even if now is tired, confused, hungry, angry or whatever, it can always be used as something that can help to us to understand who we really are and how we think. Let now just be now. Good or bad. Because the bad stuff is over before you know it and the good stuff is over even faster than that, so why not just enjoy the ride while you’re here?