It’s like we are carrying with us huge bags full of garbage that we have all accumulated over our lifetimes. The bags are full of junk thoughts, beliefs, fears, regrets about the past, anxiety over the future and whatever other possible garbage you can imagine. There is so much suffering in those bags that we just tie them up and continually try to forget about them, even though we carry them with us everywhere that we go.
We use every method of distraction to avoid actually looking at our garbage and finally being able to throw it away. This is a game that we all play, in different ways. Some use drugs, Alcohol or food. Some use television, shopping or exercise. You can even use your spirituality, church or yoga as a method of avoidance. The point is that we are all running. A great trick that I used to play on myself was watching T.V or spending a lot of time on the computer. Even though I knew deep inside that this ‘reality’ I immersed myself in was unreal, I still tried to convince myself that it was and justified my running by the actions of the media and this false reality. As long as I surrounded myself with this false reality, I could tell myself that it was OK to run away from myself and ignore what I really thought and felt and that it was OK to avoid taking a look at my garbage because nobody else seemed to be. But why do we run? What is it that we are so afraid of finding inside of ourselves?
This is a question that I often have to ask myself after I catch myself in a destructive cycle, after overeating or watching too much T.V or freaking out because I missed a yoga session. I try to get real with myself again and ask myself what is really the problem? The answer, believe it or not, is that there is no problem.
All the garbage that I am carrying and all of the false beliefs about myself that I am living out everyday, all the garbage is associated with either the past or the future, both of which are non-existent. Whatever someone said to you 6 years ago that has made you live insecurely for the past 5 years and 364 days is not happening now. Whatever mistake you made in the past has already been made and cannot be undone. In fact that thing that you call a mistake, probably worked out for your benefit anyways. The money troubles that you worry about in the future are not here now. Why do we burden ourselves with these unreal fears and play the avoidance game when there really is never anything truly wrong in the present? Why do we give our power away and remain fearful, refusing to just look at the garbage which has no real hold on us anyway?
There is a quote by Thich Nhat Hanh that I believe provides the answer, “People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” Rather than just finally taking a look at the garbage that we carry and all shining a light on all the fear that we live day-to-day and just letting it all go, we choose to continually carry it with us because it is what we know. For many of us it is all we know and giving up that game of avoidance or all of the distractions that we use to keep us from really meeting ourselves is a terrifying thought. We are so scared of what we might find out that we hold on tight to what is familiar.
What if it’s not as scary as we believe? What if we could take a look at all of those junk thoughts and beliefs and realize that we aren’t attached to that garbage? If we could look upon the garbage as separate from ourselves and stop mistaking it for our identity, then maybe it would have no hold anymore. If we realized that all of that suffering has to do with either the past or the future and we could just at any moment be free of all worry, guilt, fear and doubt we would find that inner peace that we have been avoiding. Although unfamiliar, that inner peace would bring a lot more joy, love, understanding and compassion into our lives and make us each a better version of ourselves. After I take the time to watch my thoughts and find that inner peace again, perhaps what saddens me the most is the fact that after I’ve found it again, I realize that it was there within me the entire time and I was just too blind to see it. That complete feeling of joy in the present moment is available to us anytime, anywhere, when we just allow all else to dissolve and finally surrender to the unfamiliar, yet completely satisfying unknown.