I was meditating when my wife and daughter began to argue. Because of that state of mind, I didn’t get up and get angry with my daughter for arguing with her mother. Instead, I just felt the feeling of anger and explored how it felt physically. Normally, anger would take over. It was pretty good timing of meditation and a family argument.
Once I accepted that anger was there and let it be a temporary resident, I realized that the physical feeling felt similar to how fear felt for me. It’s a pressure in the chest, a buzzing that feels like way too much stress. Remembering things that cause fear made me also realize that each feeling felt very similar physically except one may be more intense than the other.
Then I realized how many times those feelings were felt during the day and in how many different situations.
- In the cross-walk when a driver sees you at the last moment.
- When you have to present your business idea or plan for approval.
- When you think of some financial catastrophe or when you actually have one.
- When your bank balance is negative because you and your spouse were out of sync.
- When you can’t pay your bills.
- When you think your boss doesn’t like you.
- When you encounter a bear on a hike.
- When you watch a scary movie.
- When you are afraid of being judged by others.
- When you have a thought about someone you love dying.
- When you think about America going haywire over the elections.
- When you walk late at night and the street lights are out.
- When you consider the moment when you die.
- When you are surfing at Ocean Beach in San Francisco and the current is insane in all different directions and your leash breaks and the waves are like 10 ton staircases that won’t let you come up for air.
Those feelings. Physically, they feel very similar. The small tingle of fear that your wallet is in the hands of a stranger and the full blown hot fear of a PET scan for cancer metastises. If you watch what the fear really feels like and see that how you think about it is what’s really different (apart from the intensity), then you will see that fear is really quite abundant.
When you separate the mental thought and the physical feeling (which you can do by doing something very hard…accepting the fear), that physical feeling feels like energy. Now, energy you can use to move. Remember that. Also, you can see the thought as separate because it can be separated. When you can observe the thought and feel that the fear is really just energy, then interesting things can happen.
You can think. You can decide how you want to respond. Granted, if a bear is chasing you react as you need to save yourself. But in the case where you are driving in your commute and feeling fear about something coming up like a layoff or an end of a contract, that’s a very good time to feel that fear, accept it and let it be there.
That’s where the blinder on the mind can come off and you can give your attention to what action to take. It’s really powerful.
Fear really is energy, just like anger is and like joy is. Fear is all around us all day long. There is a lot we can be afraid of. But, when you think about fear as energy and that it will be in almost every step you take, it seems that it’s more like the air you breathe or the ground you walk on.
When you realize that fear is really like air you can breathe, the world suddenly looks different. Whatever path you want to explore can feel open and possible. This is really incredible, and it can happen by doing the opposite of what you might expect.
The natural tendency is to avoid the fear. Feeling the fear and letting take full residence in the body can be massively overwhelming. It can be too intense. But allow it. Feel the whole thing and the world will look very, very different. It can be especially liberating if you have been afraid to acknowledge what you want out of life.