Shortly before I went for my 21 month retreat, I told a friend I wasn’t really an anxious person and that I experienced anxiety maybe four or five times a year. Shortly after completing the retreat, I told another friend that I experienced anxiety just as much as everyone else—maybe four or five times an hour.
It’s not that intensive meditation made me more anxious; instead, it showed me what had always been happening in my mind on a much subtler level.
Upon hearing this comment, some people wonder why I would ever want to be aware of something so unpleasant as frequent anxiety. I tell them there’s two basic life positions: “knowledge is power” and “ignorance is bliss.”
Knowledge isn’t always comfortable (have you ever read “A People’s History of the United States”!?); but, with respect to my four-to-five times per hour anxiety, I now have a choice on how to handle it that I once didn’t have. Sometimes I still act reactively, but more and more, I manage to act out of a deeper sincerity.
I’m not sure I could give a greater endorsement for ‘knowledge is power.’