[Nov 2013] Conceptual Fear

It is a Saturday evening. We went with Sophie to watch a movie in our favorite plaza. About Time. My friend Steve recommended it to me. I wanted to go out in the evening by all means. Going to the cinema was a step in my “social rehabilitation,” a process that I have to work on every day. Slowly, step by step. I was very nervous while I was driving to the plaza. My mood was fluctuating wildly. I was afraid of everything that might happen there. My mind was out there in the future. “What is waiting for me in there? What do I have to do? What situations will I drift into? How will I react? What difficulties do I have to solve?

We were late. As I was parking the car, I was already planning everything. “We have to run upstairs to buy the tickets. There might be a queue. Then the buffet quickly. Enter the room. Find our seats in the dark. The movie might be already running. We are going to disturb others. People, noise, everything. Oh Jeez!” In the end, we arrived on time, without a problem. Still, I was extremely anxious, and it didn’t seem to ease for a long time.

I was afraid of the movie. I knew it was deep and touching. I was afraid of what I was going to see, what would happen in it, and above all, how would all this affect me. In fact, I knew that horrible things were about to happen, those would affect me terribly, and I wouldn’t be able to tolerate it so that I would crash under its power. That was what my mind told me and it freaked me out.

The movie was beautiful, wonderful, amazing. There was a thread unfolding towards the end, about the relationship between a father and his son. The father turned out to be dying of cancer, just like my father did. I felt more and more uncomfortable. I already saw myself falling apart if it kept on going like this. I saw the worry on Sophie’s face. She knew how fresh those scars were in me after losing my father.

Then all of a sudden, I came to understand something essential. Something that I had already read and heard a thousand times in meditation books and tapes, but it never really reached my heart. It hit me this time like a revelation.

Conceptualizing, that’s what I am doing. I don’t go into a situation with an open heart, immersing in it with all my senses, and accepting however it affects me. I do it sometimes, but most of the time I do something very different. I invent information, scenarios, and impulses, way before they actually happen, then I crash under their weight. I am not afraid of some horrible scene I actually see. Instead, I am scared of some terrifying thing I might see. I create artificial concepts for myself, to freak myself out. I knew all about this, but this time the difference between the pure experience and the conceptionally distorted reality became obvious and crystal clear.

At this moment, I decided to live the next (possibly) trying minutes without preconditions and assumptions, in pure meditative fashion, shutting off my thoughts, staying in the present moment, using all my senses, if it was even possible at all. Something unusual and uplifting experience followed. I became lost in the movie and its moments. I finally came to relax. My conceptual fear faded away. Seeing, hearing, feeling, and different memories occupied its space. My relationship with my dad, pain, love, intimacy, sadness, and grief. Soon, my tears followed. I was sobbing beautifully, with dignity. It washed my soul. I wasn’t thinking about what was going to happen, where I was or who I was surrounded by. I was immersed and dissolved in the present moment, in the feelings it conveyed, and in their meaning to me.

I realize that until I can stop conceptualizing and worrying about what would happen, I have no chance to get in touch with my true feelings. My mind always intervenes by generating memories, projecting them to the future, creates assumptions and preconditions, tells me I won’t be able to cope with the situation, and freaks me out with different horror scenarios like going crazy or passing out. My brain creates all these thoughts that infect my senses and feelings and don’t let me come anywhere near my own reality. Meditation might help me through the jungle of my thoughts to experience reality and some light again.

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