In My Meditation Today- I was guided to replace the word “worry” with “wonder”. Replacing worry/anxiety with wonder means, I go from a place of feeling that life is conspiring against me to the knowledge that life is always for me. So for, e.g., if I am worrying about something going on in my children’s life- I am in essence saying that I do not trust that Life/ God/ the Universe has their back. Replacing all worrying thoughts with ” I wonder how this will be resolved” starting today.
The verse below is the second verse in the Durga Sapta Shloki and the seventeenth verse in the fourth chapter of the Devi Mahatmyam. This chapter is primarily a hymn that describes all of the wonderful attributes of the all pervasive Goddess.
Durge Smritha Harasi Bheethim Asheesha Janthoh
Swashthaih Smrta Matim ativa subham dadasi
Daridryadukhabhayahaarini kaa tvad anyaa
Remembered in distress, you remove fear from every creature.
Remembered by the untroubled, you confer even greater serenity of mind.
Dispeller of poverty, suffering and fear
Who other than you is ever intent on benevolence toward all?
Besides reciting this every morning, I have used this prayer mostly when I am afraid of something terrible happening to someone I love. When my daughter was driving from Denver, CO to Birmingham, AL in the middle of a terrible snowstorm for, e.g., or when my son was travelling to Myanmar recently during of all the turmoil the elections there had caused. However, I knew this verse had more to teach me and that the fear that this verse speaks about is far deeper than the ways in which I have interpreted it so far. So I asked for guidance. What was it that Durga / Source/ God wanted me to put out to the world about this verse?
As I contemplated what this verse meant to me, I began to think about all of the different ways in which I experience fear. As I have talked about before, there is a constant fear of not being enough. It manifests as the fear of not being liked; of being a bother or a burden, of not being important and therefore not deserving attention; not having enough money; of not being special – all various manifestations of somehow not measuring up. Then there is the fear of what people think about you, not because of your attributes but because of how your husband somehow does not measure up; inadequacy related to professions your children might choose, what type of person your child is or who he or she will marry. – These are very prevalent fears in Indian society. Children in India are often told that the worst thing they could do is to sully the family name – by doing something that they “should not” per societal / cultural norms. The whole notion of honor killings is an extreme version of this fear of being looked down upon by others – the fear of not being quite how you “should” be.
The whole notion of honor killings is an extreme version of this fear of being looked down upon by others – the fear of not being quite how you “should” be.
What about the fear of becoming the victim of an attack or your children falling ill? When I sit down and let myself examine why that situation frightens me as much as it does, it once again comes back to the fear that I am not good and therefore terrible things happen to me. In my particular case, I did lose my mother in a plane crash, an uncle to suicide and a baby to premature birth. So it feels like life has proved again and again that she does not have my back; that I am not unique.
The longer I sat with all the different facets of fear that I experience in my life, the clearer it was that all of them boil down to the underlying fear of not being good enough. A complete rejection of the truth that I am divine.
Additionally, I realized that not only do I refuse to recognize that I am a reflection of the supreme source, but I also restrict divinity between the parameters of what I deem “feasible” or “possible”. I often write up a job description for God. Pray for a solution to allay a fear but then direct the unfolding of the situation. I say I trust, but then I have caveats about the type of solution I want for a particular problem. I surrender but expect answers in my time frame rather than in divine time.
Given this new recognition of what “FEAR” is, how could I use this verse? I could recite it every day fully cognizant of the fact that my most basic fear is that I am not enough. As with each verse so far, the essential reminder is that I am a reflection of God, and the lesson is to lean back into that knowledge and trust that all is really and truly well. As I said at the beginning of this post, practice “wondering” how the situation will be resolved instead of worrying and controlling.
How does this apply to you? Become aware of all the different costumes fear wears when she plays in your life. What is the fundamental lie in your life that allows fear to get a foothold? Seek guidance from the power that brings you comfort to help you learn the lesson that fear is here to teach you. If it helps you, have the English translation of this verse with you and refer to it when you find it difficult to let fear go.