I got Lucky when I was on a 3-month silent meditation retreat at Karma Lekshey Ling Monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal, in 2016. Let me explain. Lucky is a gorgeous dog lovingly thought of as part of the family by the Karma Lekshey Ling Buddhist monks. While there are many friendly dogs at the monastery who love human attention and touch, Lucky is not one of them. Even as a pup, he was not affectionate. He grew up into a strong-spirited dog, creating fear and intimidation as he freely roamed the grounds and protects his monastic turf.
Unfortunately, I was one of the strangers that Lucky LOVED to intimidate. He would quietly sneak up from behind and shock my nervous system with his thunder-like bark and growling. Sometimes he even threatened to clasp his jaws around my joints, while looking straight into my eyes to assess my fearful reaction. He succeeded: after several “attacks” my mind was full of fear at the thought of Lucky. I would feel adrenaline racing through my system whenever I would hear him bark or hear someone call his name. I would hesitate to step foot outside of my door if I saw him “parked” near my room. Virtually trapped in my room, I felt like I was on an emotional rollercoaster. My mind neurotically kept going through the list of “rights” and “wrongs,” “shoulds” and shouldn’ts,” and plans for self-protection. My fear was making me lose the freedom and peace I wanted to experience in my retreat.
The solution came through coming back to some core values: Love is the answer and Patience is the way. I reached out to my Sanga brothers with the plan to overcome my fear of Lucky. They responded first by filling me in about Lucky’s nature and habits. I learned that before Lucky’s presence at the monastery, there was a pretty high occurrence of nighttime burglary. Now, the burglars were often alerted and chased away on Lucky’s watch. My Sanga brothers also walked with me to my room. They got pieces of meat for me so I could befriend my “intimidater.” Wrapped in meditation shawl and accompanied by my Sanga brothers, I started feeding Lucky off my hand when he was calm. This gave him a chance to learn my scent and re-associate my presence with “friend.”
Soon enough, after several feedings my Big Scary Monster turned into a Big Puppy Love. Lucky stopped reacting and, instead, became my biggest fan! He became a frequent companion, often quietly laying near and guarding my meditation for hours at a time. Lucky tagged along on my walks and eventually letting me pet him without leaning away. He surprised me with his patience, politeness, appreciation, and devotion (I fed other dogs at the monastery and none of them showed such strong bond). I grew to love him dearly, and now his presence and his bark were bringing warmth to my heart, ease to my mind, and a big smile to my face.
Taming Lucky was pretty easy compared to taming the “big scary monsters” of my mind. They had tendencies to sneak up at the least expected moments and were intensified when I was in silence all day long by myself, with my energy field wide open. I knew from my meditation experience that the more you fight, suppress or try to chase away your scary uncomfortable thoughts and intense emotions, the more they will sneak back up to “bite” and “bark” at you, while making your life a living hell and struggle. So instead, when an emotion arrived, I was willing to experience if and look directly into its eyes. I breathed, relaxed and patiently waited for the emotion to calm down, while remembering that an emotion is a chemical reaction and a surge of energy running its course. The “big scary monsters” gradually became tame.
When the emotional “storm” was over, I fed my mind what it loves: loving thoughts, positive affirmations, prayers, mantra, spiritual wisdom, pleasant music, inspirational videos and other tools in my possession that bring peace, balance and harmony. And just like with Lucky, the more I fed my mind with love and patience, the more it became my friend and true companion on my life’s journey – especially through life challenges.
What About Your Fear?
So have you had a “Lucky” cross your path – something or someone that seems like a monster at first? Remember to love and appreciate them, having patience and trust that they show up with a lesson and a big reward that will feed and nourish your Soul.
~ Marina Lisjonok, MSW, E-RYT