Posted on April 30, 2020
When I trust am the Ocean, Am not afraid of the waves
Uncertainty is part of life, when we understand the intricacies of fear then we are able to release ourselves from its Clutch.
As I studied research on fear, I realized that basic anxiety is the residue of long accumulated fight-or-flight experiences.
So much of our life is spent in stressful performance demanding situations such that we have lost control of the “off” button that could stop the stress chemicals from flooding our body.
They get triggered over and over again and eventually becomes chronic!
Basic biological anxiety is one level of Fear that manifests in form of Ego - The basic tendency to identify with a limited experience of self.
As long as you identify with your body, your mental and social abilities, your roles and your conscious experience of personality, you are almost always going to be afraid of losing them.
Fear itself is a natural and necessary part of being alive and the ego essentially Serves as both a controller and protector.
The problem is that fear works overtime.
Think for a moment about all of the time you’ve spent fearful and worrying.
Looking back, you might see that much of what you fearfully anticipated actually turned out fine. Precious moments in life- moments that could have been full of life, love, creativity and presence - were taken over by habitual fear.
While the basic experience of fear is that “something is wrong” many of us turn that feeling into “there must be something wrong with me.” This is especially true when the pressure to achieve is so strong that you may feel as though you must live up to a certain standard in order to be accepted and to belong.
When you live in this trance of fear you instinctively develop strategies to protect yourself. One such strategy might be physical contraction - when you stay trapped in fear, you begin to feel tight and guarded, even when there is no immediate threat- A permanent suit of armor, a bundle of tense muscles defending our very existence.
The trance of fear traps the mind in rigid patterns too. The mind obsesses and produces endless stories, reminding you of every bad thing the may happen and creating false refuges and strategies to avoid them.
We also might develop behavioral strategies for reducing and avoiding fear - trying to stay busy, trying to accomplish a lot, or judging others critically to boost your ego.
Numbing ourselves through overindulgence of food, drugs, alcohol, sexual behaviors, religion...Yet no amount of doing or numbing can erase the undercurrents of feeling fearful and unworthy, only reinforcing the deep sense of being separate and inadequate.
ABANDONING FALSE REFUGES
The challenge in facing fear might be in abandoning the initial reflex to dissociate from the body and the false refuge in racing thoughts. But how do we do that?
Bringing compassion and mindfulness directly to the experience of fear.
Compassion seeks to answer the question, can I meet this moment, this experience with kindness?
Mindfulness seeks a clear recognition of your moment to moment experience and recognizing that you are not your thoughts. It answers the question- what is happening inside me right now?
Being attentive to and aware of the stories you are telling yourself and the feelings and sensations in your body.
One can start by working with meditative practices that develop unconditional presence. When you become aware of fear, first pause, pausing creates a space for you to arrive at the present moment.
Then, you can begin by mindfully naming out loud what you are noticing, the thoughts you are believing, the shakiness and tightness in your belly for example or the squeeze in your heart.
Practice to notice these sensations, breathe with them, and with gentle, non judging attention, allow it to unfold naturally.
It may feel overwhelming at first, and to create a state of spacious mindfulness, it’s helpful to be able to first recognize the way anxiety feels in your body and to be able to do this with a Soft, gentle feeling of affection for yourself.
As you breathe, see if you can talk to yourself, coach yourself by saying, “it’s all right” or “ Let go a little.” Don’t feel the need to get rid of your anxiety all at once. Instead use the practice to release little by little, the anxiety that is layered in your body and in your breath.
As you begin to experience yourself as part of the whole, the primal fear that arises from your sense of being separate from the whole will start to leave you. The Joy that this creates is one of the most powerful gifts you can give yourself.
Yet, paradoxically, this feeling of freedom is the one thing your ego resists above all else! The ego will protest when you begin to experience this inner shift where your awareness is expanding beyond the boundaries of the body.
Please be aware and mindful of this. Ego protests may take the form of pride - “Oh wow am making progress“ or Sometimes the form of fear. Understanding this is crucial to be able to progress without being hijacked by ego.
Consider using the classic method for activating the observing self once again, the so called witness of the fear. This allows you to begin to find that part of yourself that is unaffected by fear - the part of you that can not only observe its own fear but can see it as part of the whole panoply of your experience in the moment. In this way, fear becomes less implacable.
WELCOME THE TRUTH
The truth is, for some of us, simply thinking “Iam not my fear” may be too abstract to help with the sheer physical terror of not knowing how the future will play out.
So Yes, there are times when being present feels out of reach or too much to bear. There are times when false refuges can relieve stress, give us a breather, help up lift our mood. But when we’re not connected to the clarity and kindness of presence, we are all too likely to fall into more misunderstanding, more conflict and more distance from others and our own heart.
Three long term strategies that may help this situation may be;
1. First Begin by paying attention to the feeling of fear in your body and breath
2. Second, face your fear of the unknown every time it comes up rather than turning away from it, denying it or trying to talk yourself out of it.
3. Accept fear as natural and ask yourself “where is love in all this?” and “Where is the self that doesn’t die?”
Begin to accept and even welcome that loss and even death are natural part of life. The more you perceive to protect yourself against loss, the more fearful you become and the more likely you are to be thrown by the natural uncertainty of life.
It’s a paradox that when you try to insulate yourself against the things you fear, you make yourself more susceptible to them.
To believe that you should be immune from change, loss and pain is a form of magical thinking, the defensive crouch of the immature ego.
When you accept that you, too (yes, even you!) can lose a job, lose love, lose health - and still remain you - you open the door to recognizing your own place within the larger fabric of life. This acceptance will let you see that what is most deeply “You” cannot be lost.
When you welcome events that threaten your egos sense of well-being, you affirm the truth that you are bigger than the events, that there is a wholeness to you that can withstand even the big-time ego busts that come through sickness, loss and failure.
Welcoming what comes, whatever it is, is a powerful way of loosening the grip of fear and anger.