A week ago I was sleeping at my friends' amazing apartment--one that occupied an entire building floor--and in a guest room bed situated for gazing simultaneously at the Freedom Tower and the Woolworth Building.
It was a pretty sweet place to crash.
I was in New York to purge my apartment and pack a small remainder of belongings into a 4'x9' storage unit. There in that guest room--with the sounds of my beloved Manhattan seeping through the window pane--and reading The Fault in Our Stars, I found my inner dialog take on a similar narration, and even through my dreams, I began noting my life in relation to death, feeling the heaviness of every present circumstance. Since my diagnosis in March 2014, death dreams came to me from time to time in half lucid sleep. And last week, being the week of the move from New York---a week of intense packing, extreme change---thoughts of mortality swirled even more. Surely because of fear, a deep, nearly hidden swirl that--when it swells--will pull anything and everything in along with it. And with it I swirled in my mid-sleeping dreams.
"Don't fear the fear"
I happily chart this thought, monitoring my conscious and subconscious, but I don't let it pervade or go unchecked. Yes, I let it come to me. I want to hear the story that's attached to it. Because running from fear at the first touch leaves us in a state of fear. It leaves us fearing the fear. I let any though pop up- and won't classify it as "bad." If I have a thought on death, it is what it is. But it is also my duty to go further.
Removing judgement, I track thoughts coming in. Listening. And when one pushes a fear button, I go further to ask WHY? WHAT? HOW? Being inquisitive and not running away. What is my fear in this situation? What are these thoughts saying? Do I believe them? I let a fear come in, but I don't let it go unquestioned. If fear is darkness, our willingness to inquire about this narrative is our light coming in and unraveling the tight knot of anxiety.
This was my meditation process for a year. People often get confused about meditation. Make it out to be something that feels far from their reality.But sitting with yourself can be simple.
I came up with a process, asking: What is my fear in this situation? Then listening to the story I was telling. And then asking, what is my Truth? I just used over and over again. Every day, multiple times a day, to unravel fear. Root it out and let it go. I thank God, the Universe, the Gods, the Saints, and heavenly bodies that I did this before I found myself in that hospital room waiting for results from a spinal tap. But for others a diagnosis is the perfect time to begin facing their fears, unraveling them. Seeing them fall away, and opening up all the good stuff on the inside.
Thoughts of death can come and go, but now I know, to my core, that all the good stuff is already here with me.