This week's classes by “chance” all happened to be about fear.
When I was a kid I had all kinds of fears, of the dark, of throwing up, of ghosts and people with strange vibes... in fact much of my childhood was spent managing different types of fear. One of the biggest challenges I had to navigate was nightmares. I am a big time technicolour dreamer, and generally wake up remembering all of my dreams, and feel very strange if I don't. As a child this was a daunting facet of my life... my inner night life was just as active, if not more so, than my outer day experiences, and even more confusing to try to understand. Waking up in the morning in fear was a regular occurance, and over the years learning ways to hold that was crucial for my well being.
When I began learning how to meditate in my late teens, my inner night life was radically transformed. I began to sit with myself before going to sleep, seeing what was moving in my mind, feelings and body, paying attention to it, and making peace with my day. Not only did this change my being able to sleep easily, but it also shifted the intensity of my dreams, made them clearer and more understandable. It was as if the language I was learning in order to understand myself in my meditations was seeping into how my unconscious was communicating with me, with calm curiosity... as if my inner world was now wanting to make connections and to help me understand myself more, rather than just blaring messages and images that were too fast and visceral to dissect.
Meditation has now also been helping me for years to understand myself more even when I'm awake. It's allowed me to pay attention to what is happening in the moment, and to learn to recognize when I'm afraid and to create the time and space within to be with that, find my breath, and shift into curiosity and comfort with myself.
One of the biggest challenges I am seeing with many of my clients, students and myself is when we don't even realize we are afraid. When it's running in the background like a constant app on our phone that is draining energy, affecting our output and choices without our knowing it.
Sometimes we are so used to being afraid we don't see that it's happening, or sometimes we don't want to be afraid and so we try to ignore it.... I'd like to propose something my meditations have shown me, that just noticing and admitting that we are afraid is the first step to bravery. Sometimes we have to feel the fear in our body, tension, heart rate, breathing... sometimes we can just notice scared thoughts or feelings. Feeling fear doesn't mean we stay afraid, it just means we make room for what is actually happening and begin to accept it. Admitting that we are afraid doesn’t make us weak, or bad, or problematic. It makes us human, and brave and committed to being real with ourselves and others. Turning our attention inwards (meditation) can help us get real with ourselves and our fears and then choose where we want to go from there. Fear is a flag that points to the things we care about the most. It can help us clarify what we want, need, fear to lose and will fight for in this life. Let’s let the fear in. Hear the message it’s whispering (or screaming) in our ears about ourselves, and then see where that takes us. Can we love our fear more than we fear it? If we can, our fear will share it’s secret about how to make our lives great by living for what we love.