I was born and raised in communist Russia. My ancestors underwent a civil war, the two Russian revolutions, two World Wars, changes in the political regime, repression of “frivolous” thinking, spiritual pursuits, and economic hardships. They were a mix of the Jews, Russians, and Ukrainians. Survival, fear of self-expression, a personal sense of sacrifice, material scarcity, and mistrust were ingrained in their culture. I was a part of that culture.
At 21, I immigrated to the US. At 29, while completing my post-doctorate studies, I started meditating. This was when I came to understand how conditioned my mind was to fight-or-flight response and fear. Despite living far from my roots, I observed similarities between cultures – the ingrained habit of fear and survival in workplaces, daily living, and the political and economic systems.