Overcoming doubt, understanding how it comes about

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Clouds in the Sky

But when the universe becomes yourself,
when you love the world as yourself,
all reality becomes your heaven,
reinventing you as your own heaven.”

Lao Tzu

A dear friend of mine, who teaches mindfulness, recently confided in me that he attended a silent retreat and could not experience a meditative state. His self-doubt reached such a level that he thought of leaving and felt himself a failure in an art he so strongly loved. He requested a verbal moment with the retreat mentor who asked him what he was sensing. My friend described his fear, insecurity and consequent constricted physical manifestations. The mentor listened, reminded him of his fallibility and paraphrased what she heard in a comfortable volley of empathy and compassion. Her message was to simply create a new larger joyful space for his self when meditating.

My friend shared with me what occurred in his next sitting. He was immediately visited by his doubt and happily told it that it was not necessary for them to be together. He explained that they were now in a larger wider place and they were both free to experience it. His constriction dissipated and he no longer reproached himself while being able to achieve long periods of satisfying meditation.

The pattern of self-doubt

I have seen this pattern many times with those I counsel, myself included. Given these trying times, we are all fallible and vulnerable to self-doubt and criticism. The ensuing fear is a natural occurrence and is exacerbated by a feeling of lost self-esteem. There can also be a painful mind/body reaction or an ongoing negative mind-set as the sympathetic “fight or flight” part of your nervous system goes into action.

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