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Posts Tagged ‘Fear’

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I love, no adore, this quote, appended below, from Elizabeth Gilbert (author of eat, pray, love) in her new book “The Signature of All Things”.  It’s relevant to include it here, as it illustrates the theme of recent blog posts: allowing acceptance of the voices that come.  Maybe they wake us in the middle of the night, or perhaps it’s at the moment we rise up from that darkness of night and into the sometimes tenuous and raw vulnerability of morning.

Whenever those voices come, they teach us we would not know the courage to move forward had we first not known fear.  So much would be missing from the world without the life-giving blood of anger and the force for which it propels us into positive change.  It is the yin and the yang of life and one aspect will always be in relationship with it’s complementary aspect — fear and courage, anger and change, for example.  And like the proverbial grain of sand that transforms into an iridescent pearl, our lives are a continual evolutionary dance of sand and pearl.

“I live a creative life, and you can’t be creative without being vulnerable.  I believe that Creativity and Fear are basically conjoined twins; they share all the same major organs, and cannot be separated, one from the other, without killing them both. And you don’t want to murder Creativity just to destroy Fear!  You must accept that Creativity cannot walk even one step forward except by marching side-by-side with its attached sibling of Fear.

{…} I decide every day that I love Creativity enough to accept that Fear will always come with it. And I talk to Fear all the time, speaking to it with love and respect, saying to it: “I know that you are Fear, and that your job is to be afraid. And you do your job really well! I will never ask you to leave me alone or to be silent, because you have a right to speak your own voice, and I know that you will never leave me alone or be silent, anyhow.  But I need you to understand that I will always choose Creativity over you.”  ~ Elizabeth Gilbert “The Signature of All Things”
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Image by CED-Leah  

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Excerpted from The Essential Rumi – translated by Coleman Barks

I post this because it is such a great follow-up to my recent “letting myself have” post.  The practice I talk about in letting myself have is now my spiritual practice of pure acceptance with whatever arises.  So this poem really seems a great complement to that practice.

There’s often so many things I read that sound good on paper (like The Guest House), but I want to know ‘gee, how does one attain that’?  I need tools, that’s me, it’s how I roll.  Tools lift these lofty ideas into something tangible, real, doable and useable.

I woke up for a couple of nights in a row, drenched in sweat, heart pounding over some big fear dream.  The old me would say: it’s over, let’s get a shower and your heart will calm down momentarily.  Let’s just not think about it, it will go away.  This time I laid in bed letting myself have the fear, the pounding heart, the vulnerability, the not feeling in control.  I sat with it and breathed with it and when it was ready it moved on.  It came to re-visit me again in the next night, i did the same practice and again it moved on.

Every don’t want, shouldn’t be, I can’t, I won’t, this should not be happening, you can’t make me … all of them, I can let myself have all of it.  And why should I?  Because suffering is the only other option.

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Courage

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This week’s inquiry (followed by song lyrics, which I originally heard in a Science of Mind church):

What waits for my courage?

Let me fall
Let me climb
There’s a moment when fear
And dreams must collide

Someone I am
Is waiting for courage
The one I want
The one I will become
Will catch me

So let me fall
If I must fall
I won’t heed your warnings
I won’t hear them

Let me fall
If I fall
Though the phoenix may
Or may not rise

I will dance so freely
Holding on to no one
You can hold me only
If you too will fall
Away from all these
Useless fears and chains

Someone I am
Is waiting for my courage
The one I want
The one I will become
Will catch me

So let me fall
If I must fall
I won’t heed your warnings
I won’t hear

Let me fall
If I fall
There’s no reason
To miss this one chance
This perfect moment
Just let me fall

Cirque du Soleil lyrics
Album: Quidam

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I went to see the movie After Earth – not my typical movie fare, but it appeared it may have a metaphysical slant, so it was worth a try.  The main character, portrayed by Jaden Smith, has a life and death mission to carry out, but in order to fulfill that mission he must put himself in danger with predators who will hunt and kill him.  However, these predators can’t actually see him, the only means they have of finding him is by smelling the pheromone he secretes whenever fear is present.

As it happens this flick is actually quite metaphysical in its approach!  Below I have appended some quotes interspersed with my comments.

“Fear is not real.

The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future.

It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist.

That is near insanity.

Do not misunderstand me danger is very real but fear is a choice.

We are all telling ourselves a story and that day mine changed.”

This feels so true to me.  Few of us are in a position where we have to hunt and kill food for our survival any longer.  Few of us reading this blog, live in life or death circumstances on a regular basis.  Yet fear is a visitor in the lives of many of us, and if we pause in the moment that fear, worry, anxiety strikes — we might often find that it is a future based mental process, and has nothing to do with the present moment.

In Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s inaugural address he is quoted as having said: “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  Sorry to disagree with you Mr. President, but no!  That’s just more fear.  You don’t eradicate fear by fearing it.  In fact, eradicating anything from our spiritual development is a useless practice.  Push against it and you’ll potentially get more circumstances to fear and push against.  “What you resist, persists.”

Now, here’s where I love the turn the film takes:  Jaden Smith’s Dad, portrayed by his real-life father Will Smith, tells his son when fear is present: “root yourself in this present moment now to sight, sound, smell”.  Fear, worry, anxiety is a very ungrounded future based place to hang out, so grounding yourself in the present moment and in the body, mindful of all the senses is perfect!

There’s one more oft repeated instruction Will Smith gives Jaden, and that is: “take a knee”.  This literally means drop to one knee.  In that moment that we “take a knee” we are closer to the earth and we have surrendered the control we thought we had, but never did.  The only function most of our day-to-day fears have is the illusion that it somehow will afford protection.   It makes our sphere a little smaller each time we indulge in it.

At the end of the movie, Jaden slays the predator who has stalked him, in true I-too-can-slay-the-Jabberwocky fashion.  He “conquers” his fear.   Yet there is nothing actually to be conquered, most of our Jabberwockies are not real after all.  Fear is not to be feared or conquered.  It’s only to be noticed for what it is — a future based thought process.  As we observe the fear talk, we can turn our attention back to the present moment, mindfully witnessing the sights, the sounds, the smells.  What does this present moment feel like when we drop the story, and drop into this moment now?

For more tips on grounding yourself to the present moment, read The Care & Feeding of YourSelf.  

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“And for this year, my wish for each of us is small and very simple.

And it’s this:

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” ~Neil Gaiman

Are you all in with life?  You see, the only thing that really stops us from taking risks, being all in, and making mistakes, is fear.  But did you know underneath that cloak of fear, is you?  It’s your courage, it’s your trust, your insight, your wisdom, and your dreams.  It’s the well you draw from, the will to overcome your greatest fears.  All those resources are there for us to tap into, just below that layer of fear.   Beyond the field of your greatest fears lies a vital, grounded, pulsing life force.  That is who you really are!

“There’s a moment when fear and dreams must collide.  Someone I am is waiting for courage.  The one I will become, will catch me.  So let me fall, I will dance so freely, holding onto no one.  You can hold me only, if you too will fall…away from all these useless fears and chains.”  Cirque du Soleil lyrics to Let Me Fall

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After Earth

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“…you must realize that fear is not real.

It is a product of thoughts you create.

Do not misunderstand me:

danger is very real,

but fear is a choice.

Do you know where we are?

This is Earth.”

That’s a quote from a not yet released movie, After Earth.  It caught my attention for the bit of “new thought” they have scripted.

The latter part of the dialogue reminds me of a portion of my favorite Rilke poem: “nearby is the country they call Life.  You will know it by its seriousness.  Give me your hand.”

Yes, there are times it can get rather serious down here on planet earth.  Those times are a call to remember – I am not alone in this, nor have I ever been.

 

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Loss (10+)

 

1.    Feeling fear in the middle of the night
2.    pushing it away, then breathing into it
3.    asking to know what lies beneath the fear
4.    understanding it’s almost always about loss of something
5.    a something that feels precious or even necessary to me
5.    feeling compassion for the me who believes in this loss
6.    knowing still there’s a broader me that doesn’t experience loss
7.    witnessing how being tender with myself helps me befriend loss
8.    and ultimately allows it to flow and be released
9.    knowing I may dance with loss again, “real” or imagined
10.  asking in those moments that I may be willing again
11.  to cherish the soft underbelly of my human-ness

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