Fear lives and grows where that confidence is lacking.
Fear has a specific purpose in our lives which is to alert us to danger. In a spiritually evolved, healthy person, fear doesn’t come up that much. The obvious places where fear is helpful are when our physical safety is actually threatened. For example, if we were to spot a bear in the woods, our bodies would naturally alert us that we are potentially in danger and should move to a place of safety. This is what psychologists call ‘fight or flight’ response. With the bear, we should probably take flight. In other situations, we might have little choice and thus have to prepare to defend our bodies against physical harm.
Sometimes while driving, another car does something quickly that presents a threat and we feel a release of a chemical in the blood stream which leads us to a knee jerk reaction. This kind of fear is helpful too because we become hyper alert and respond in a way to avoid an accident.
We may also experience fear on a less dramatic level when we are facing a job interview, about to ask someone on a date, going to meet our spouse’s family for the first time, or just before making a speech. This has to do with the fear of performing poorly and our ability to manage emotional reactions, both our own and those of others. We don’t want to get rejected because that stirs up difficult emotions. We want to perform well and avoid feeling embarrassed or humiliated. Fear comes up when we aren’t sure we can live up to a certain expectation others may have of us. We are worried about them having a negative emotional reaction and how we will feel as a result. It is natural to be a little nervous at times because it increases our alertness showing us we care. Seeking God means you take on the boldness of life head on. Fear as a response to emotional situations doesn’t serve our highest purpose.
Through meditation, we learn a way to process difficult emotions. By so doing, we diffuse the unknown and come to recognize that, while we might find some emotional experiences uncomfortable, they don’t stay around that long and with practice, we can move through them relatively quickly.
Fear lives and grows where that confidence is lacking. If we don’t think we have it in us to handle certain situations, or we don’t want to deal with adversity, fear has a breeding ground. Whenever these situations are at risk of coming around, fear will attempt to divert us away from taking any chances. In this way, fear is the great restrictor of life and limiter of progress.
It is absolutely true that in order to grow and evolve, we will have to face trials that put us at the edge of our ability and comfort zone. Praise God for that because it’s really what makes life interesting, to be challenged and forced to outgrow old ways of being in order to realize a new potential. Fear thus should be thought of as self-preserving. When you get right down to it, fear is an expression of selfishness. Fear, if expressed to others creates an environment where others feel they must take care of us. As souls advancing to a greater union with God, we don’t want that. It’s fine that others feel inspired to give to us and love us. But we don’t want to tug on people energetically and subtly coerce them to accommodate our fears. That makes fear way too powerful.
When you go inside and feel the fear that lives in you, I want you to diffuse its power. Recognize that fear is the opposite of love and thus it is not of God. True, while we have the innate ability to feel fear when there is a real threat, what we are learning tonight is to devalue the fear that is alive in us that is trying to protect us from becoming our Soul and Self realized. A life in God is a life of courage. It’s an exciting adventure to live by faith and not let fear diminish what is possible for you.
In our meditation tonight, we will relax to a degree where we can tap into the fears that are most prominent in us. Perhaps you have heard that fear can be an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. This can be very helpful. Fear magnifies the worst possible outcome and challenges the courage aspect in our hearts. It bloats up the worst case scenario, downplays the optimistic outcome, and makes a strong case for us to not participate. This dynamic is rampant in our society and the root cause of a tremendous amount of heartache and grief. Fear substantially gets in the way of that which would bring love. So for that reason, it is imperative that we not give it power. So how exactly do we take on this work?
We want to effectively see fear as a mostly over-valued emotional response that limits our freedom. Can you imagine no longer honoring every one of your fears and declaring them so darn important? This is a real distinction. The fear is only important so long as you recognize it trying to steer you inward to see what is going on within you. If you let it paralyze you, you have allowed life to take you down. Let’s not.
When you notice fear or anxiety brewing, the best practice is to find time to meditate at your next real opportunity. Don’t delay several days because your mind will have the tendency to diminish the fear and before you know it, it has won a slight victory. Instead, be ruthless in your commitment to lift the veil of fear and get to know yourself at a deeper level.
Granted, there are some deeply rooted fears that you won’t be able to dismiss so easily. For those who suffered significant abuse as children, the fears are stored in the cells of the flesh. The process to release them goes a little beyond the scope of this course. But the application is the same. First go within and identify the fear. Explore the extent to how powerful it is. Begin by settling into your meditation with whatever practice you have developed. Once you are ready to ‘get to work’ as it were, either probe the part of your mind that is generating the anxious thoughts or drop into your torso and feel the fear. Allow the fear to permeate in you so it is fresh and active. The best approach is to come face to face with it so it doesn’t become bigger than it is.
Next, using the voice of your strong, conscious self, ask inside what you are afraid of. Create a space inside where you can get in touch with what you feel worried about or unable to handle. The voice you hear within will not necessarily be rational, but often emotional, young sounding or even panicky. It could be simple like “I’m just worried that I won’t be able to do it.” Or “I’m afraid I’m not going to get what I need.” Then your higher self continues to probe. It might say… “Ok. So we are afraid we won’t get what we need. What would happen if we don’t get (the thing we want)”? The idea is to continue probing to really flesh out the thought process that is generating the negative emotional state.
Don’t rush to try and solve the problem just yet. This is an act of self-love, that you would really let the younger, afraid parts of you express what’s going on.
This might seem contradictory to what was said earlier about not honoring the fear. What I mean is that if you stop when you get scared and don’t do this inner work, you let fear limit you. Fear wins and nothing progresses. But doing this work is valuable to uncover the ideas and concepts that are at play below the surface. We want to flesh them out and do so without judgment. To these younger, less developed parts of us, the ideas inside are totally real and need to be heard.
It is a good habit as you investigate the fear that you ask a few times ‘Is there anything else going on?’ Don’t just think you have it all when you feel like you got to a good nugget. Instead, keep asking this question until the voices inside of you confirm that it feels like everything has been heard. At this point in your practice, you likely have developed some good insight into parts of you. This exercise will bring Light to vulnerable areas in you that are guarded by false concepts. In other words, investigating fears often brings you to see an idea or a decision you hold that justifies the fear.
You might wonder how this all fits in with finding God through meditation. God will not overstep your boundaries. We talked about fear and love as opposites. If you have fears in you and choose not to deal with them, your prayer is that it is ok to live in a fear based way. God can’t manifest easily in those areas of your life where you have allowed such a thing. If you want God in your life, you will have to decide to love truth over social comfort.