We all have emotional experiences that feel terrifying, and in order to experience our natural state, we have to be willing to experience these emotions—to actually experience our ego and our ego clinging. This may feel disturbing and negative, or even insane. Most of us, consciously or unconsciously, would like meditation to be a chill-out session where we don’t have to relate to unpleasantness. Actually, a lot of people have the misunderstanding that this is what meditation is about. They believe meditation includes everything except that which feels bad. And if something does feel bad, you’re supposed to label it “thinking” and shove it away or hit it on the head with a mallet. When you feel even the slightest hint of panic that you’re about to feel or experience something unpleasant, you use the label “thinking” as a way to repress it, and you rush back to the object of meditation, hoping that you never have to go into this uncomfortable place.
Pema Chödrön an American Buddhist nun, is a founding member and resident teacher at Gampo Abbey, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery in North America established for Westerners.