The voice of fear tells us we have reached that place beyond which we're unwilling to go. Yet, our curiosity tells us to take one more step forward. Fear says "No!" -- it warns us to close and defend; but another part of us says "Yes!" -- calling us to open and connect.
Here's a key point: We don't have to like the anxiety. We just need to feel it as the physical experience that it is. But the wonderful thing is when we rest in it and learn from it, we no longer identify with our anxiety as who we are, but rather with a larger sense of what life is.
Saying yes to life ultimately means saying yes to everything, even our strongest discomforts and fears. The fundamental point is that until we become intimate with our fears, until we can welcome them with curiosity, they will always limit our ability to live from the loving kindness that is our true nature. In other words, the path to living genuinely requires giving our willing attention to the very things that seem to block the way to our true heart.
Ezra Bayda has been practicing Zen meditation for almost 40 years and began teaching Zen in 1995. He currently lives and teaches at The Zen Center San Diego and also leads retreats and workshops in the United States and Australia. He has written four books -- "Being Zen," "At Home in the Muddy Water," "Saying Yes to Life" and "Zen Heart." For more information, go to www.zencentersandiego.org.