Monday, April 18, 2011


"Anyone whose goal is 'something higher' must expect someday to suffer vertigo. What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No, Vertigo is something other than fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves." 

--Milan Kundera 

I came across this quote when searching for another Milan Kundera quote, which I may use later this week. It took me awhile to even understand it. I had to read it a couple of times, sleep on it and then read it again. 

Now that I have, I love it. 

I think this is an almost perfect description of what happens to us when our Ego is threatened. We perceive some kind of attack from the outside. Our Ego begins to fear for its life and fight back. We lash out, we run, we hide, we avoid; we use whatever coping mechanisms we have learned and/or have at our disposal in that moment. 

At the same time, on some level we long for this kind of attack - welcome it even - because we desperately want to let go of our Ego and dive back into the ethereal energy soup of light, love and Oneness even though it terrifies us. 

Lately I have been experimenting with "feeling my feelings" and it feels a little bit like Kundera's definition of vertigo. 

When a strong feeling comes over me - sadness, anger, even joy - my initial reaction is to shut it down, minimize it, make it smaller and thus more manageable. 

My coping mechanisms tend to fall into two categories: escape and projection. 

When I feel fear or anger come up I usually try and project it onto someone else. I yell at my kids or pick a fight with my husband. When it's sadness or insecurity I'm feeling I run and hide, escaping into a book or a movie or a fantasy life. 

Breaking these habits isn't easy, but the more I practice the more I find that when something with a strong emotional component is coming up for me, what I long for is meditation, to find a place of stillness and calm where I can just ride the wave. 

I lie down and just BREATHE - in and out - letting the emotions rise and fall like waves which I ride into the emptiness, finding that it is not so terrifying after all.

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