Hanging out in graveyards and sitting meditating upon a corpse, is probably not, I’d guess, how you’ll be spending Halloween. Macabre as it may seem, the Buddha encouraged his monks and nuns to go to the charnel ground to receive a lesson in impermanence by contemplating the body of someone who had recently died. The charnel ground is the place where the dead are cremated; in Buddhism it’s considered to be a sacred space where the conditions are right for transforming fear into awakening. Of course, although it’s unlikely that you would go to such extremes in your own meditation practice, the gentle discipline of our yoga practice is to learn to turn toward unpleasant emotions, rather than push them away.
Although it’s natural to be afraid of the dark, our spiritual practice trains us to turn and face our fear in order that its hold over us might be diminished. We can expend a lot of energy avoiding facing our fears. Consequently, the more we push our fears down, the greater power they exert over us. What we resist persists. Our yoga and mindfulness practice can help us to embrace and engage with our fears, moving through them and out into the light again.
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This occasional blog is designed to share my yoga class handouts, resources, and tips with my yoga classes.