The purpose of meditation is to clear the mind of habitual thought patterns-our thoughts arise because a deep sense of separation lies at the very root of our experience of being human. When we are able to feel this separation, it is a great blessing, even though it can feel very scary at first. This place of separation is the desert of emptiness that Buddha referred to as something the soul has to cross to achieve enlightenment. Enlightenment is the present moment awareness of what is going on within and outside our selves. Any serious practice of meditation will go through phases because we often repress and hide our true feelings even from ourselves. To arrive at our final destination of calm through meditation, first we have to face the demons of deep pain that may lie at the heart of our experience.
Scientifically, meditation enhances certain areas of the brain, that can help us cope with all kinds of challenging issues. For example, meditation develops the area of the brain that deals with compassion—it literally increases the grey matter physiologically! And that means that the stuff that fires up to create anxiety will now no longer in command!….just imagine how cool it is, when you face the most difficult things in your life and you stand up tall and take charge.
When we meditate we realize that whatever it is that makes us anxious isn’t often true or ‘real’. Even if our worst fear is absolutely true, even then anxiety will block us from taking right/correct action that would reduce our problem. For Buddha, our emotions are the source of the problem, and once we replace negative reactions, thought patterns and fearfulness with more skilled thinking we can transform our experience of emptiness and separation from what we want that seems so far away. This state of yearning, Buddha called Tanha or aloneness.
People can be quite habituated to live anxiously i.e.., separate from the very thing that we desire the most, inner peace, so much that we believe our own madness of discontent. Realizing and really knowing that everything is ok—that it isn’t all that bad or scary, can make a huge difference to quality of life and all around performance in every area of life, despite not having that which we crave so much.
Chronic anxiety about reality, worrying about things that continuously happen despite our best efforts and which we cannot control, does not help us in any way. Anxiety however is also used to drive people to take actions. These can manifest as personality patterns where we become obsessed and compulsive about our desire, to feel more secure, okay or safe.
Thus anxiety, fear of the future is at best a way to motivate us to do more in the present, but if it excessive, then it gets in the way of living life. It keeps us bound and stuck in situations that we can easily get out of, if we tried! Yet the anxiety can keep us stuck in that place of chaos.
Another cluster of thoughts that can trouble is the regret over past actions, weaknesses and mistakes. We can spend a lot of time in the grief about the past i.e., and become very depressed. However, the truth is that we can’t do anything about fixing the past, that time is no more. Yet, we can become trapped in the memories and thoughts about the best.