Meditation huts at Wat Chomtong, Chiangmai Thailand (2009)

One of the most important barriers to practicing meditation is the fear we have of being alone without our usual comforts and distractions. Overcoming this fear, if it arises, is the first exercise in our meditation practice before we even start the retreat. Once we arrive at the retreat centre we have already taken a big step forward. Both before and during the retreat, we should treat this fear the same way we should treat any condition of the mind.

If we understand the value of insight meditation, we should realize that an unwillingness to confront this fear by attending a retreat, is standing in between us and a more consistent happiness. Secondly, we should realize that the whole point of the retreat is to give us the tools to manage these kinds of difficult conditions, so immediately, we will be learning a new and  valuable skill. Finally, we can be encouraged by the fact that when we take action through insight meditation, we have a chance to overcome our fears so that they no longer have the same hold over us.

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