That was the theme of a meditation class I taught recently and it was accompanied by synchronicity before class even began. I arrived about 15 minutes early to open the yoga studio and found one of my students sitting by the door. She said she was glad I arrived early because she had a question. She seemed anxious and said she was worried about going too deep into meditation.
I asked why. It seemed an odd question for a beginning meditation class, since most of the students were having a difficult time quieting their minds and getting into a meditative state. She spoke rapidly in a quiet, accented voice and told me that when she was 16 she was put into a deep trance by a man who did something to her. She didn’t say what, but said that maybe she would tell me later. I think she was waiting for me to ask, but I didn’t. She repeatedly said that she was worried about going too deep because she might re-live the experience. I thought that was what she was already doing.
I told her that the class was going to focus on overcoming worries and anxieties and it should help her overcome her fears. A couple of minutes later, another student arrived and the first thing she said was that she was worried about something. I can’t recall what it was – something about her teenage son -because I was too amazed that people were not only bringing their worries to class, but were talking about them. I hadn’t begun the class or told them that we would focus on dealing with worries and anxiety.
I’d brought a book along called, Matrix Meditations, and had marked a couple of passages in a chapter called Worry – Uncertainty and Anxiety. What I’d noticed about both the worries presented to me before class was that they probably weren’t worth worrying about. Certainly, the first woman had experienced something traumatic 25 or 30 years earlier, but if was so worried about reliving it, why had she signed up for the class?
The very first lines of what I read to the group actually reflected my thoughts. “Worry and anxiety sometimes reflect inner conflicts that need resolution, but many times they have little basis, and can waste a great deal of time and energy. Mark Twain remarked, “I’ve seen many troubles in my time, only half of which ever came true.” Worrying can be purposeful, but often it is not. Psychologist Fritz Perls called anxiety “the gap between the now and the later.”
I like that line. “The gap between the now and the latter.”
I had decided to make use of whatever the students were worrying about by turning it into a visualization for something better, what Maxwell Maltz, author of Psycho-Cybernetics, called constructive worry. Maltz recommends that you imagine the possibility of a positive event that you would like to see happen “so clearly that it becomes real to your brain and nervous system.”
So I told the class to create an intention – something that they wanted to see happen that would overcome any worry or anxiety. (Worry is a mental process while anxiety is a whole body process. When you’re anxious, you muscles tighten, your breathing changes, a furrow forms on your brow.) The second step is to give it attention. Not the worry, but the positive resolution. Create the details of what you want to see. Then, no tension – release it, let it go.
So the mantra for that particular meditation was intention – attention – no tension. Over and over.
Hopefully, the meditations helped. But I had feeling that I was going to hear more about the woman’s trance experience before the course was over. That last part – release it, let it go – can be the most challenging aspect of overcoming a negative experience.
After class, she approached and I was hoping that she would say something about how the exercise relieved her worry. Instead, she said something odd. “I’ve been in your house.”
“Did you write a book about the Bermuda Triangle?”
“That’s what I thought. I remember my client talking to you about it. That was years ago. I’m a realtor and he was interested in your house.” Apparently, he was more interested in the Bermuda Triangle, because we’re still living here.