Dharma Glimpse by Kusuma
Last summer we began the stressful project of extending our tiny two bedroom house to make it a family home. We put some of our belongings in to storage and I mentally prepared myself for 6 weeks of mess and stress, which dragged out for more than 12 weeks.
As foundations were made, new walls built and existing walls were knocked down, our large three seater sofa sat in the centre of it all, covered in dust sheets.
But as the plastering stage arrived the builders decided the sofa had to go, but go where exactly? There was no spare space in the house, and our storage unit was full. Our only alternative was the cabin in the garden.
Two young builders half my age huffed and puffed and complained about how heavy the sofa was as they lifted it out of the house and in to our cabin. Their moaning rocketed my anxiety levels up from a 5 to a 10 in a matter of seconds. How heavy was this thing? If it is really that heavy, how would myself and my husband every lift it back in? “You will lift it back in to the house when the job is done” I asked. “Yes don’t worry about it” the one replied.
But worry I did. I have always been a worrier and something relatively simple can rapidly snowball in to something that consumes my everyday thinking. Switching off our fears can be hard especially when those fears have manifested from another person’s actions or behaviour.
I learnt very early on in my life that my parents were very good at projecting their own fears on to their only child. On school trips my mum would tell me to sit in the middle of the coach as it was the safest part. Can you imagine how much anxiety my neuro-divergent brain went through about a simple school trip. Friends would sit at the back of the coach and I would sit in the middle!
Fear rapidly grows and with it so do the three poisons, greed, hate and delusion mixed with a dash of envy.
The weeks rolled on and the end of our building work came about rather abruptly and the builders disappeared leaving the sofa in the cabin. I became angry and hateful, why would they leave someone of my age to lift the sofa back in to the house? I envied their youth and ability to seemingly lift things without a care.
I stared out of my new kitchen window at the sofa gathering dust in our cabin and every day I felt sick at the idea of trying to lift it. The fear grew bigger and bigger as Christmas rapidly approached. That sofa was going to need to come back in the house or we would have nothing to sit on for the holiday season. My worry and delusion expanded with momentum. What if I can’t lift it back in? What if I lift the sofa and a disc in my back slips again. What if I fall?
Sometimes in order to overcome your fears you have to take a step back, sit with the fear, breathe with awareness and just take a risk. My worst fears could manifest but they also might not. So the day before Christmas Eve we cleared a path from the cabin to the back door and lifted the large sofa with a couple of breaks to catch our breath. It turns out the sofa was heavy, but manageable and my fears had been blown out of proportion based on a judgment. I had assumed that if two young men thought that the sofa was heavy, then my 52 year old arthritic body was never going to manage it. I laughed at myself. If we had tried to even just lift the sofa to see how heavy it was after the builders had left, we would have known it wasn’t going to be a problem and I wouldn’t have worried so much for weeks on end.
The moving of my sofa turned out to be a valuable lesson in overcoming my fears. The awareness and insight didn’t manifest on its own of course. In the weeks building up to the sofa lift I meditated to try and reduce my anxiety, and in turn it helped me to walk with my fear to get the job done.
Sometimes we have to have a little bit more faith in our own judgement. It turns out that my over protective mother was right and a middle aisle seat is the safest seat on a coach but sometimes we choose a seat based the people we are with and the view from the window rather than allowing fear to stop us from enjoying the ride.
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