So much of the suffering in humanity is created by fear. Fear has many forms and many faces. Anxiety, a common expression of fear is something I come across often. The curious thing about anxiety (not to be confused with situations where a fear reaction to imminent harm is appropriate) is that if we are truly present, truly in the moment of our day-to-day experience, there is no anxiety. There is no fear. If we stay present to our breath and take in, moment by moment what is before us, fear isn’t there. This is why being “with the breath” is a core practice in several spiritual teachings.
Fear begins in the mind, usually with a thought and often the thought itself is barely identifiable. The thought will travel at light speed and generate a feeling in the gut – panic, a sense of not being able to control something, a sense of wanting to avoid pain, a freeze response, clenching or contraction. The thought, which can last less than half a second and may not even be grasped fully as a thought, sends the nervous system a message – it’s time to fight or flee, which then can become a continual loop unless it’s broken. Focusing on slowing down, breathing, paying full attention to the moment, to our bodies’, to what is before us in the space we reside in – these are basic tools that bring us to present moment where there is no fear.
Fear keeps us bound and in a continual loop – it can imprison us. It is a form of distraction and it keeps us from experiencing love. And, if you have noticed, love and fear cannot reside in the same space within us. If we are focused on fear, we do not feel the expansive, softening of love. If we focus on love, we do not feel the contracting, stiffening experience of fear.
As we move through life as human beings and spiritual beings, we are always given opportunities to practice choosing love over fear. Often as we begin this practice, we find that it can feel daunting – many of us have a long-standing relationship with fear and our bodies’ have been trained to respond specifically. Fear is frenetic and distracting. Love however, is vast, spacious and expansive. This is why when I work with those who are in fear, whether they identify it as fear or not, we slow everything down, we breathe, we take a moment, and then another, we focus on our hearts as we breathe in and then out, listening to the sound of the heart beating. We then replace the thoughts of fear with feelings of love – sometimes in the form of the face of a loved one, sometimes in the feelings of a time when we felt loved. This changes the body response. All spiritual teachings worth their salt have some emphasis on love and there is a reason for it – there is great spiritual strength in love. Love is a big energy with the power of transformation at its core.
Admittedly, I’m a big fan of slow in a world that seems to prefer fast. I believe that in slowness great wisdom is revealed and I believe slow is the change point within us in choosing love over fear. When we slow down and still ourselves, fear may arise, but it can be worked with and known before the cascade of events begin in our bodies’ that creates a frustrating loop.
So for today, remember slow, remember breath, remember that in an instant you have the power to choose love over fear and in that instant, there is great freedom.
Be well, Dear Ones.
© Lisa Redstone, 2017