"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." — Frank Herbert, Dune, emphasis added
The above lines were in my head yesterday because I was contemplating the purpose of meditation. For me, it’s not about completely emptying your mind and ignoring thoughts and feelings that arise. It’s been my personal experience that repressing things that you don’t want to acknowledge or deal with only leads to further problems and inhibits the healing process. Instead, for me, meditation is more about acknowledging thoughts or emotions that have come up, even those that make me uncomfortable (perhaps I should say especially those unsettling ones), and reflecting on why I am experiencing them. This is the most important part of the Frank Herbert quote for me, the part that I emphasized in italics. By acknowledging and contemplating the reasons behind thoughts/emotions, I thereby learn something about myself in the process and with this knowledge I can then choose to take action to change a situation or alter my behavior or mindset. If what I am feeling or thinking about is out of my control, I can acknowledge it, understand it, and then let it go. Thus, letting go, in this sense, doesn’t mean repressing something or trying to forget about it, but the exact opposite—actually dealing with it, permitting yourself to feel it, think it, experience it, and then once you have, you are able to move on. That weight, so to speak, has lifted. The Dune quote is really quite a beautiful mantra and, for me, a very apt description of what meditation is all about.