“Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I would like to see you living in better conditions.” ― Hafiz
We fear birth, death and everything in between.
We believe in the worst of the lies we tell ourselves: that things are in our control and that we have power over the outcomes of our intentions.
We are accustomed to listening to the limited perspective of fear and unable to fathom how free we could be without it.
We often stay here, in our self-made matrix, without respite and leave this body carrying deep regret in our hearts.
Fear is our conditioned response to the intense vulnerability of being alive. At any given moment we have no control over events that can dramatically displace us from our present state. The fear of the unexpected and the primary desire to survive burns in the continuously lit chamber of our physiology defined as the fight/flight reflex or our limbic brain.
Based on our evolutionary impulses we are conditioned to use control to survive the ever-present vulnerability of life. When things work in our favor we will congratulate ourselves for our correct decisions. And when things do not we will likely blame ourselves or other people and slip further into fear based thinking.
Why do we do this? First because we are primarily living life from a fear based reality. And second because control, distraction, blame, self-loathing and disassociation DO work in temporarily solving the central difficulty of being alive, which is that we are not in charge.
But by living in fear and avoiding pain we also avoid its opposites: joy, contentment, peace, love, and surrender. Though focusing on fear may work as a short-term strategy and getting us what we want it permanently impacts us from being who we are meant to be in this life and what we are meant to give.
If we are lucky though at some point all our fear-based tactics will not serve us and we will search sincerely for another way through life’s uncertainties.
“The next time you lose heart and you can’t bear to experience what you are feeling…Instead of blaming our discomfort on outer circumstances or on our own weakness, we can choose to stay present and awake to our experience, not rejecting it, not grasping it, not buying the stories that we relentlessly tell ourselves,” writes Pema Chodron, a Buddhist teacher.
When we begin to approach both the small and big disappointments in life and the thousands of undone plans with an abiding trust in the way things transpire we begin to receive the gifts of facing our vulnerability. Gifts which not only lighten our load but also give us the means to serve our true purpose.
Undoing fear and practicing acceptance is a profound way to approach the mundane in our lives. We practice facing life and letting go where it is easy or moderate as a way to prepare for the tests that we cannot expect or intuit. What do I say when I cut my hand while preparing food? What do I think when someone steals something from me? How do I respond when someone disagrees with me? How do I relate to the suffering of other people? In every moment there is an opportunity and the greatest challenges offer the greatest openings for transformation.
The practice of being with ourselves as we are and growing in awareness reduces the power of our beliefs and stories and reorients our approach to life. Every simple utterance of thank you and every step taken with felt-presence accumulates an inner reservoir of resilience. This reservoir of practice will support us when the foundations of our lives fall into oblivion, not by rising above what we experience, but by giving us the resources to allow and nurture ourselves through our worst fears. Where practicing fear makes us hard and rigid, practicing acceptance and surrender makes us soft and receptive to life.