Thursday, August 21, 2008

No More Fear

My good friend, Father Dennis, called me last night and we talked for over an hour. We had some serious conversation but he also had me in hysterics, laughing to the point that I almost forgot to write any daily thoughts. When I realized it I made a cup of coffee, grabbed one of the books I am reading, and sat at my keyboard. Thankfully, I at least had a topic that I wanted to write about. Of course, when I first sat down and put my hands on my keyboard, all I had was a topic. My mind was totally blank. Many of my daily thoughts start out that. I begin with a complete void. Eventually I take a leap into the darkness and most of the time words begin to flow. One word turns into a sentence. One sentence connects with another. Soon I have a paragraph. Abracadabra! I have daily thoughts for one more day.In The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, there is a wonderful section entitled "The Origin of Fear". I would love to quote the entire chapter but it's too much to type so let me give you what I think are the highlights.

The psychological condition of fear is divorced from any concrete and true immediate danger.

Fear comes in many forms, i.e., unease, worry, anxiety, nervousness, tension, dread, phobia and so on.

This kind of psychological fear is always of something that might happen, not of something that is happening now.

You are in the here and now while your mind is in the future. This creates an anxiety gap.

If you are identified with your mind and have lost touch with the power and simplicity of the now, that anxiety gap will be your constant companion. You can always cope with the present moment, but you cannot cope with something that is only a mind projection. You cannot cope with the future.

Our bodies are constantly receiving messages from our minds that we are in danger and under threat. The emotion generated by this message is fear.

Anyone who is always identified with their mind will always have fear as their companion.

Very few people have learned to be disassociated from their own minds. Therefore, in our fearful states, we are also surrounded by many other people who are living in fear. Fear feeds on fear.

I read in the newspaper the other day that more and more bears are coming into Anchorage, Alaska. Being chased down Main Street by a hungry and ornery grizzly bear would fill me with fear. However, very few people, if any, have actually had this experience so it's illogical to never visit Anchorage, Alaska because this might happen to me. In fact, when I think about it, I have rarely had moments that were cause for justified fear. One of the few I remember was being trapped in a car that I thought might burst into flames. When I thought that might happen, I did have a moment of real panic. Even on some occasions when my mind told my body to have a minor panic attack, I knew I was in no real danger. It was all a mind game being played on my emotions. I have a small Chinese saying taped on my computer at work. It simply says, "What is lacking at this moment"? Well, when I think about it, the answer is nothing. When I am sitting at my computer at work it means I have a job. I am cooled from the summer heat. I have a nice cup of coffee. My fan blows its gentle breeze across my face. I can listen to my favorite music. I might even have a smile on my face from a funny email sent to me by a friend. I'm not even lacking freedom. If I really needed to leave work, I could. 99.9% of the time, nothing is lacking at the moment. Most worry is about things that might happen but often do not. I am not lost in Zen bliss here. Sometimes bad things really do happen and in the moment of their occurrence we may feel real fear. However, I bet if the average person added up all the days of their lives and then added up all the days where there were real events justifying real fear, the days of justified fear would be minimal.

Today's homework is as follows: Imagine living your life without fear. Say no to the mind games. Live in the now and be grateful for all the bad stuff that isn't really happening. Do not live in fear. Live in joy.

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