FEAR

Filed under [ Self ]

It begins at the pit of the stomach, and then it spreads to the rest of the body.  There is a sense of restlessness, agitation, and an inability to concentrate.  At times, it would actually paralyze me.  I felt a strong desire to flee it somehow, a desire to stop the discomfort.  Yet it won’t leave me.  In the past I would have found ways to distract myself, call someone, listen to music, eat something, watch TV, anything to keep me from feeling this disturbing energy living inside of me.  Sometimes, I would actually stop and listen to it.  I would go inside and attempt to get to the source of these experiences.  Other times, just redirecting my attention to them would alleviate their intensity. Most of the time though, they would get more severe and cause me to flee again.  However, I discovered that avoiding, or distracting myself from them clearly did not diminish or make them disappear, on the contrary, the faster I ran, the stronger they got.  The pain became so unbearable that I could no longer avoid the simple truth; there is no place to run.  It finally dawned on me-these feelings are mine.  They live in me.  They are part of me.  Running away from them only meant running away from myself.

 

I made the decision not to run anymore.    It was time to take responsibility for all of my experiences, external and internal. It was time for me to become acquainted with these feelings and understand why they were there.  They were mine, and I needed to learn about them. I needed to learn about myself. Let me be perfectly clear, this was not an easy decision.  I arrived at it only when I became aware that the pain of avoiding these feelings was worse than the feelings themselves.  Owning them though, was a huge breakthrough for me.  Understanding and accepting that the source of these feelings was inside of me and that I need to go within rather than outside of me in order to relieve them, was my first step toward appreciating their value.

 

The process was and remains uneven.  It is a constant challenge for me to go into this discomfort zone.  When the feelings arise, my first inclination is still to flee, and sometimes I do, though not for long.   It takes great effort, but I am now able to remind myself to stop and listen.  I force myself to sit still and quiet.  Using my consciousness, I enter my body and sweep over it.  I notice where I am tight, where I am jittery, where I am confused, and how every part of my being wants to distract me.  Over time, as I began to listen more intently, I started hearing the fear.  My mind would be chattering about some possible failure, some horrible mistake, or some potential wrongdoing.  The content could be about something that happened in the past or something related to a future decision or event.  Feelings of insecurities, judgments about what I am doing VS what I should be doing, or worries about how things may turn out, bombard my mind.  Initially, this lead to my feeling more overwhelmed and confused, intensifying the desire to escape them.  But my commitment to be with everything inside me inspires me to stay put and continue the process.

 

As I reflect on what I have written thus far, what I recognize is the manner in which the past and the present tenses seem to merge together.  In the world of emotions there is no past or present, there is only the now. And often the now of the emotions is the single existing reality.  If I am in joy, I can hardly relate to a feeling of sorrow and when I am in pain I cannot relate to being happy.  The emotional world has the capacity to grab all of my attention and focus it only on that which I am feeling.  Consequently, when I experience pain or sorrow, it is as if I am falling into this never-ending space from which I cannot break away.  Because my emotions are so powerful and all encompassing, when bringing attention to them, I actually feels\ like I am going to get stuck there- hence my desire to flee.

 

I am fleeing because when I am inside them I don’t see a way out.  The pain gets more painful, the fear becomes greater and the agitation and irritability increase.  Any attempts to conjure up other feelings fail miserably.  The experience is one of absolute loss, aloneness and darkness. Nothing is possible in this space; there is no escape.  I feel helpless, vulnerable, and confused.  My mind wants to fix these feelings.  It wants to understand them and make them better.  It begins to try to figure them out.  It questions what is wrong with me and why am I feeling this way. It begins to torment me with criticism and judgment.  It does not want these feelings there and it demands that I get rid of them somehow.  NOW!!  It goes around in circles, aggravating them further as it attempts to make sense of them and explain them away.  As long as the mind does its thing, the emotions are doing theirs.  As the mind attempts to distract, explain and suppress them, the emotions insist on remaining exactly where they are, and if anything they will fortify themselves and exaggerate themselves so that they will not be carelessly dismissed.  They will be heard one way or another and there is nothing the mind can do about it. They want my undivided attention; they refuse to let the mind hijack my consciousness.  They are here to communicate with me and they know they have something important to share with me.

 

The power of the emotions and their nature of being the only thing that exists in the moment, overwhelm the mind.  It is inconceivable to the mind that the emotions need to be surrendered to.  Not seeing a way out, the mind wants to protect itself and my psyche from the never-ending pain it imagines.  In the midst of the emotional experience, it has no clue that these emotions are temporary.  It also has no clue that the emotions are more than just uncomfortable feelings; that they actually may hold information that is essential for my well-being.  Therefore, it fights to protect itself and me from its perception of perpetual suffering. One may ask why am I separating my mind from myself.  The fact is that I am not my mind, just as I am not my emotions.  The me part of me-the conscious part of me-is not my mind, not my body and not my emotions.  Understanding that reality helps me extricate myself from my minds’ fears and distortions, as it reminds me that these feelings are just temporary and actually useful for me to explore.  I am getting ahead of myself.  More on this further ahead.

 

The struggle is arduous and downright excruciating.   Appreciating the conflict is the first place to start.  Understanding the dynamics helps me to remain present to the emotions and not succumb to the minds’ chatter.  I begin by listening to my emotions.  Listening with my consciousness, not my mind.  I remain in my body, in spite of my mind’s desire to distract me.  I feel the pain, I feel the fear, I feel the helplessness, I feel the darkness, I feel the loneliness, I feel the heartbreak, I feel the sorrow, I feel the pain, it is getting deeper and deeper, it seems to be endless, the more I feel, the more I feel, the more I feel, the deeper I go, the deeper I go, the more lost I feel, the pain becomes unbearable.  I feel the heat, I feel the terror, the darkness surrounds me, engulfs me, I am all alone, I am all alone.  God help me.  This is so scary; this is terrifying…I am all alone.

 

I AM ALL ALONE.  This is where I invariably arrive.  This is the darkness I am so petrified of experiencing. Here it is, the truth of this moment. It is masked in so many ways.  It dresses itself in the many other garbs of emotions.  All the fears, the insecurities, the pain, the sorrow, the anxieties, the conflicts, the stories, the shame, the worries, the grief, are all there to mask the bottom line fear- I AM ALONE, I AM SEPARATE.

 

I stand at the edge of this emotion afraid to move one step forward.  A sense of dread and paralysis comes over me.  Where do I go from here?  What am I to do now?  How could this be?  I want to go back.  But go back to where?  I just came from there and here I am.  It is all the same; there is no turning back.  I am all alone.

 

The terror is unbearable. There is nothing in front of me. There is nothing behind me; there is nothing but darkness around me.  I come face to face with the void; this is the abyss I have for so long been avoiding.  Where am I? Who am I?  An unspeakable feeling of vulnerability comes over me.  An overwhelming sense of helplessness, powerlessness and confusion envelops me.  It feels as if the ground has fallen from underneath my feet.  I have lost my footing; my world has collapsed around me.  Suddenly I find myself gripping onto a rock by my fingers.   I am dangling in this darkness; terrified as I realize there is nothing I can do.  My arms are getting tired.  I hold on for dear life as the foreboding feeling of death comes over me. I am going to have to let go.  My God, I am going to die.  I am going to die.  The pain is agonizing; the fear is paralyzing.  No longer able to hold on, I SURRENDER.  I let go into the darkness.  I let go to my death.  My body plummets deep into the vortex with an unimaginable force of gravity.  As my body is falling, calmness comes over me. I begin to experience a different sense of awareness.  My identification with my body fades away; my mind disappears; and my emotions vanish. All that is left is my consciousness, and it is now rising.  No body, no mind, no emotions – no Ronit – just pure awareness.

 

This state of awareness seems fleeting as it floats in the darkness and abruptly merges with some powerful light source.  Then there is nothing.

 

Awareness arises again. Energy is everywhere.  A consciousness of the Cosmos gives way to wholeness-to oneness.  Everything is ever-present.  There are vibrational frequencies everywhere.  Forms arise as vibrations- trees, rocks, animals, humans, and objects, all vibrating their own frequencies – yet, all are sourced by the same energy force.    It all fits together.  Everything fits together – it is an interdependent whole.

 

With this full awareness, my consciousness re-enters my body.  An overwhelming feeling of connectedness and love comes over me.  A complete understanding of my relationship to the whole penetrated my every being.  We are one!  We are not separate.  We are part of this great, intelligent energy force – we are part of spirit.  There is no such thing as death.  Our experience of death is merely an illusion of the mind; the mind that in its limited, temporal state, perceives us as separate. Our consciousness is ever-present with our source.

 

The realization of our deep, existential experiences of aloneness, and fear of death, comes crushing down around me.  I observe that all the suffering I experienced prior to my surrender was due to my fear of being alone; my fear of death.  Had I known then what I know now, I would have let go immediately.  I would have surrendered to the darkness of the abyss with absolute abandon.   At once, I am filled with an extraordinary sense of sadness and compassion as I relieve the sensations of pain and terror that so overwhelmed me just before my surrender.  I was present to both, these excruciating emotions, and the absolute awareness of their illusion.  The sadness that came over me arose from my knowledge that until we surrender and experience the illusion of death, we inevitably will suffer the accompanying pain and terror.  The compassion came from my connection with all of humanity and knowing first hand that this is a subjective, personal experience that everyone must go through and there is nothing I can say or do to alleviate their suffering.

 

I began to cry like I have never cried before.  The depths of my feelings, as sad as they were, filled my heart with unimaginable warmth and unity.  Clearly, I was tapping into the universal well of love.  Its power, its intensity, its goodness, its tenderness kept washing over me like waves in the ocean.  I became submerged with its core, its essence, its truth.  For the first time I realized what it means to be in love, that is, inside love.  Love was not inside of me- I was inside love.  I had arrived home.  It is not as if I had to do anything or go anywhere.  Love is always there.  I am always in it whether I am conscious of it or not.  All that happened for me is that I woke up to it.  The veil of illusion was lifted to reveal where I have always been- where I am always.

 

I could feel my soul dancing, soaring, laughing joyously.  I am home; I have always been home.  We are all home.  An unspeakable yearning to share with others came over me.  Where do I begin?  What do I say?  How can I communicate this experience, this knowledge?  As Socrates said, “I cannot pour sight into eyes, they must see for themselves.”  I concluded that all I need to do is live my life inside love.

 

Within days I discovered that was easier said then done.  While I was now armed with the truth, love is everywhere all the time; I was not constantly present to it.  Furthermore, fear has reared its powerful tormenting head again and is obviously here to stay.   How do I reconcile these two apparently opposing forces, love and fear?  Which one is real?  When I am feeling love, that is all there is; when I am feeling fear, pain, anger etc., that is all there is.  I am back to square one, or am I?  No. I now know the drill.  At the bottom of the fear, at the center of the fire, at the pit of the abyss, lives the formless, the ever-present love.  It is the only true reality- everything else is an illusion.  But this illusion is so compelling, so powerful, so real.  It comes over me in an instant, and suddenly it rules the moment. What is that force?  What is its source?  What drives it?

 

It was time to explore these two realms of reality.  I am experiencing them both, that is undeniable.  There is pure love, and there is pure terror.  I must resolve this apparent duality.

 

Wait, stop, here it is again, my desire to understand, to fix, to avoid- my need to resolve the duality. There is no duality.  I already know that.  Then what is the source of my fear in this physical plane?  I understand that at the core of my being, I am afraid of separateness, of death.  But how does it play out in the physical world?  I delved into this question with abandon.  This is what I found:

 

The source of my fear and all its related emotions was the expectations of my mind.  It’s strong desire to survive.  In order to feel “safe,” I was living in this world, in this body, in this mind with a sense that things had to show up in a certain way. I noticed that I am living life as I think it should be, not as it is.  I was approaching situations and people with a preconceived notion of SHOULD. This “should” not have happened; s/he “should” not have said that, done that; I “should” not feel that, want that; you “should” be this way or that way…”should,” “should,” “should.”  What is this “should”?  Where does it come from?  Why are we constantly in a state of judgment and expectations?  How did we come to view the world from this perspective?  I realized that when we are in “should,” it provides us with the illusion of safety and predictability.  The reality is that it actually perpetuates and feeds our fears.

 

It became clear to me that I am a victim of the world of “shoulds.”  Well, victim is not the right word since even in that there is the word should- I should not come from “should.”  OK, so here it is, in all its glory- the “should world.”  Nothing wrong here, just the way it is.  We humans come from “should.”  This “should” runs our lives and is the major source of our suffering. We are not being with what is, we are being with what we want it to be.  Recognizing this fact is not easy.  We are so wrapped up in our experiences and our minds, that we are not able to see the bigger picture.  Like fish in water, we are unaware that we are in the ocean.  We have no sense of how our limited perceptions, driven by the mind’s preoccupation with survival, feed our fears and desires, and restrict our capacity to experience and utilize the source of the whole.

 

Let’s examine the world of “shoulds.”  The most frequent use of “should” is used when we interact with people.  Whether they are our family members, friends, lovers, colleagues, service providers, we have a sense of expectations around them. The most classic “should,” the one that is the source of most suffering in the realm of relationships, is our expectations of how our parents “should” have parented us.  Almost every person, in the western hemisphere, has complaints about how s/he was parented.  There seems to be some universal delusional mechanism that all adult children hold on to regarding some sense of being neglected, abused, and unloved, by their parents.  Now, if one compares his or her childhood to the ideal, then yes, every parent has failed miserably.  But why do we compare our parents to the ideal?  Where does, parents “should” be perfect, come from?   Parenting, for the most part, is a learned behavior, particularly in the emotional realm.  Generally, parents vicariously learned how to be parents through experiencing their parents. Most parents greatly love their children and do their best, with the tools they have.  Yet, we ascribe significant blame to how deficient their actions were.  Furthermore, we walk around as adults carrying all these “shoulds” that ultimately leave us with a feeling of being unlovable or unworthy.   This is not a criticism, it is just an observation.  If we truly examine some of our expectations, we would realize they are not reality based.

 

Another common expectation exists between lovers.  People meet, fall in love and proceed to want to change their partners.  The idea here is that the people we met and fell in love with are not the way they should be.  They should conform to the scripts our minds created them to be.  We do this with our children, our friends, our bosses, our colleagues, our finances, our political arenas- we do this in every situation where we are dealing with other human beings and their systems.  Notice though, that we don’t come with expectations towards the weather, animals, trees, stars, vegetables, chemistry, viruses, the speed of light – we don’t do this with anything that we perceive as related to nature.  We understand that nature is a byproduct of cause and effect, and we have no expectation that it should be a certain way.  We recognize that things in nature show up the way they show up as a result of certain conditions being present that give rise to the way they show up. Therefore, we accept when it rains; we understand that if a tree does not bear fruit, there must have been some genetic or environmental conditions that interfered with its ability to produce fruit; we don’t judge viruses, we seek to understand the underlying causes of diseases.  In other words, we approach the world of nature as orderly and rational, and if we don’t like how it shows up, we examine the conditions that give rise to it, and where possible, we change those conditions to achieve the outcome we want.  Where we don’t fully understand or are able to change those conditions, we accept them and accommodate as best as we can.

 

Yet with each other, we have no such appreciation or understanding.  We walk about in our lives with preconceived notions of how others should behave.  Our minds are constantly chattering about who’s right, who’s wrong, who’s good, who’s bad, who’s beautiful, who’s ugly, etc.  Somehow, we have come to separate ourselves from nature, from each other. Human beings are just as much a byproduct of nature as grass and dogs, and therefore, the same rational laws govern us.  But our minds do not seem to tap into that reality as they go about judging and criticizing.  That too, is part of nature, the nature of the mind.

 

This lack of awareness as to the nature of our minds and its relationship to the whole, results in great suffering.  Unaware of the machination of our mind, we operate from a belief that what we think, is truth.  Consequently, we experience great upset when our minds interpret a particular interaction as incongruent with what we think ought to be.  If we stopped to examine our notions, we would recognize that they come from expectations.  If we looked deeper into the expectations, we would find that there is no basis for those expectations to be there, other than they fulfill our subjective, often unconscious and irrational, need to feel safe.  We would discover that we are denying the other person’s, or our own, natural self-expression.  We would realize that we are railing against nature, human nature.  Now, this awareness does not presuppose that accepting something means we condone it.  It means that we need to understand the nature of the person/situation so that, if it is possible, we will know what we need to do in order to achieve our desired outcome.

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