A friend of mine, who has been the caregiver for his wife for the last several years, is struggling with life right now. He often feels disoriented and confused, and he is having trouble remembering things. He said recently, “Mary, I think I am losing my mind.” He is getting himself checked out by his doctor, which, of course, is very important, and, so far, all of his medical tests are negative. So, what is going on?
I believe that my friend is experiencing an initiation through fear. He thinks he is having a breakdown, but I call it a breakthrough. It is one of the biggest challenges we can experience in life, the fear of losing our minds. It creates all sorts of stories that look real, but most of them are not. No matter what the results of his medical tests are, his job is to keep on remembering that life knows what it is doing. I assure you, it is not easy. It is actually very difficult for most of us because we think our minds are our safe place. When we experience something that feels like the mind is checking out or losing control, we have a very hard time accepting it.
My friend is unhooking from the mind that thinks it is in charge of everything. Believe me, I know how frightening it can be and I am not minimizing for a moment how scary this is. I have been there. We have lived in a false sense of security our whole lives by believing that we are in control. But, we are not in control. Life is in control. We are all going to completely lose control at some point. Our bodies are going to break down and we are all going to die. And there is actually something inside of us that is totally okay with all of that. Life loves us enough to give us the exact set of experiences we need in order to become free from fear, including the experience of confusion, disorientation and memory loss.
The wonderful Tibetan Lama and founder of Naropa University, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, gets to the heart of what we are exploring here when he says:
If there were no confusion, there would be no wisdom. Chaos is workable, not regressive. Respect whatever happens! Chaos should be regarded as extremely good news. Respect the upsurge of energy that is emotions – no matter what form. Nothing is rejected as bad or grasped as good. We grapple only because we feel they will overwhelm the basic posture we have deemed ourselves to be. Go towards the emotion – then there is no resistance. Let yourself be in the emotion, go through it, give in to it, experience it. Then there is no resistance. Then there is rhythm. Transmutation involves going through such fear.
He is telling us to respect whatever is happening in our lives, even the confusion, because waking up to life involves going through the fear so we can see our confusion more clearly. When the mind is in the place that says “I control life”, we are cut off from life. This is why Stephen Levine, author, poet and spiritual teacher, says “May you be so lucky to come across something you can’t control”. This is where we find the healing.
Trust your journey, all of it. Know that confusion and disorientation are a necessary part of your spiritual awakening. Be gentle and say to it, “This is what life is offering me today. No need to figure it out. It’s okay.” There is something inside of you that loves you more than you could possibly know and it is bringing you home.
What would your life be like if you trusted all of it, even deep fear and confusion?