A friend of mine told me this week that her fears were just these skinny little things that were looking for a good meal.
Wow. How very true.
And what do we often do? We invite them inside. Sit them down at the table. Take their order and spend most of the day creating exactly what they want. All at the betterment, health, and joy of our spirits.
Fear will never (and you can hold me to this) have to do with the present moment (unless of course you are in a physically dangerous situation and then by all means, it serves a vital and life-saving purpose). Most fears show up as an undercurrent to full blown cacophony in our heads about something “out there,” “up head,” “going to happen,” “not going to happen” and if you look at these fears, you have an attachment, a judgment if you will, about what will happen or not happen if they occur. These are limiting, constrictive, suffocating; our own self-imposed prisons.
My fears are boring. They are mundane. They all have to do with a label of something-“good or bad”, “won’t happen/will happen,” “happy/not happy” and all they do is shut me down. We all basically can exchange one fear for another. These things are not brilliant. They are not worldly or glamorous. They feel acute and specific and treacherous but they are not. They are generic. Frankly, they are like the fifth grade bully I endured when I started a new school that year.
Because underneath every one is the hidden truth that you are magnificent, perfectly whole, and radiantly fine in this moment. You are incredibly capable and purposeful in this moment (and the one that comes after, and the one that comes after that, you get the idea) and the only person and thing to beware and be cautious of is your own thinking.
Now, when I feel that emotion (based on a thought in my internal environment that has been triggered by a perceived threat) I really try to observe what is present in me at that moment. What is feeling threatened? What part of me is rushing to fix and to solve and to manipulate and to change what is going on? Is there something in me that feels I need to take action? To not take action?
This sounds silly, but the first thing I do is to remind myself to breathe. Truthfully, I often find in these situations that my shoulders are up around my ears and my breathing is artificial and shallow. I allow myself to take stock of my physical body, and to address what needs focused attention and self-care. I allow myself to take stock of my spirituality. Have I gotten quiet today? Have I connected in prayer and meditation? Have I been outside? Have I spent time with my loved ones? My pets? Have I cultivated gratitude and acceptance today? There are many other methods in which to get centered in the present moment, but these are just a few that work for me.
After this, I look at the evidence. I look at the facts. I take the emotion out of the equation and look at reality. If there is fear because I am frightened to take action, I am now able (if I still feel moving forward is appropriate) to move forward, fear be damned. I am now able to see the fear for what it is, and although it may still feel tangible, I have enough experience to know it is a shadow dancer, nothing more. So many of my blessings have been taking the action IN SPITE of the fear. So many miracles have come from ACTION in the MIDST OF my fear (not in the absence).
If I am still uncertain how to proceed, I acknowledge and celebrate that as well. Not doing something (if based on accounting for the facts and the guidance and counsel of others, including my spirituality) is just as powerful and often times more difficult that taking action. Because, deep down inside, if I have made my decision based on an awake consciousness and spirit, than there has been a miracle inside me; growth is always borne from awareness.
At the end of the day, I am tired of feeding these fears. I refuse to engage with these phantom bullies that I create. Life is too precious to waste one more second in solo-war. I certainly can’t go forward doing this perfectly, but even doing it 100% messy and waking up to my fear and my own prisons and doing something different (even just starting out doing one tiny little thing different when I become aware I am frightened) is the essence of change.