Going from narrowness to openness. Going from fear to fearlessness. The story of Passover contains a teaching that in each generation, including ours right now, we are instructed to go on the same journey. It is as if we are the ones walking out of the land of slavery into the land of freedom. And yes, in the story there were many obstacles along the path as there are today; the greatest hindrance being fear. So the journey can be experienced as going from fear to fearlessness. And one of the best antidotes to fear is to use the very fear itself as the path to freedom.
Fear is a particularly strong emotional state. It has a burning quality to it that like touching a hot stove makes us pull back and avoid repeating the experience. We unconsciously practice this pulling back until early on, for most of us, it becomes a habit that is exceedingly difficult to change. That is why it is such a good vehicle to use for change. The strong emotions associated with fear contain power, juice, energy and heat. Like anger it creates powerful sensations within the body as well as thoughts in the mind. The mind habitually wants to flee, to run away or sometimes to get so tightly constricted that you completely freeze up like a deer in a headlight.
Imagine that you could deconstruct the fear. It is made up of two components. Thoughts in the mind and sensations in the body. What if you could separate the two. The sensations in the body are extremely powerful. Muscles tighten around the cheeks, the muscles of the diaphragm tighten as a deep breath is drawn in and then the muscles hold that contraction as the breath is held tightly and fully in. The muscles around the eyes pull the eyes wide open and the muscles around the ears flare the ears outward. The hands and arms are drawn forward and the entire body tightens even more to either freeze or run.
All the while the mind is jumping helter-skelter with thoughts of may happen in the next few seconds and thoughts of what to do or not do. Memories flash into mind of any past similar experiences, related stories or ugly nightmares. So from all aspects this fear is not something that anyone would want to focus attention on. However, some people do. They have learned to feel the fear and do it anyway. So lets explore how that might work and be of benefit.
First start with small things. For some it might be the fear of tasting a strange or exotic food or the fear of going to the gym for the first time or when leading in a round of golf hitting a ball over the water on the 18th hole. The plan is to find your way into using the wilfulness of the mind to halt the fearful thoughts. It’s all just thinking thoughts in the mind. Imagine the mind to be like a pile of sand. Each though is one grain of sand. A group of thoughts around a particular subject is like a clump of sand. You are the sand mover, the operator of the bulldozer. You can pick up buckets of sand and move them or dump them into the trash. You can direct which thoughts you choose to spend time with. It takes practice and you can start with mindfulness and breath meditation.
Once the thoughts are calmed and the fear is deconstructed or neutralized you are left with all of the energy, juice and heat within the body. You can redirect this energy into the action of your choice. If the fear came up thinking about making a presentation that you will be giving later in the day and you are starting to sweat deconstruct it. Separate the thoughts from the body sensation. Then instead of sweating use that energy to something more useful possibly the stretching exercise you skipped preparing for this presentation. If your on the golf course standing in front of the water take the energy of the fear into your feet and wiggle your toes feeling the inside of your shoes getting grounded and solidly contacting the earth. Or use that energy to do something else you had been hesitant or fearful of doing and now have a renewed power to use.
The habit of backing away from fear or its close cousin anger drops you into a deeper and deeper hole. Exploring these emotions and deconstructing them is a highlighted route out of being stuck in the pit of narrowness of mind and habit. By going directly into the fear or anger the bodies own sensations and energies can be utilized to dig yourself out, by your own bootstraps, of these self-made depths.
Your will achieve a greater ability to remain open to more of life’s experiences both of mind and body. Happiness will flourish like a flower opening into the sunshine.