Afraid of Being Afraid

The divorce became final just six weeks short of my 25th wedding anniversary.  The actual process began with separation about five months before. The journey was intense and filled with disappointment, grief, and fear. I was disappointed in life and in our mutual inability to figure out how to move forward together. I grieved for my children who, as young adults, were losing their family and all the traditions we had built throughout their lives. I grieved for the dreams of what our senior years would have held for us. I feared my own future and my ability to build a life for myself, by myself.

My first response to that fear was to jump into another relationship. It felt so good to be wanted at that point that I was not able to step back and evaluate the experience for what it was. As a result, I took that which was meant to be transitionary and tried to force it into something permanent. Almost four years later, I extricated myself from that relationship and followed my heart and my dreams as I returned to Nevada, to tall mountains and wide open spaces, to family and new opportunities. Most of all, I went to be with my father following my mother’s death. My heart longed to be with him in his initial years of grief and I had no desire to make that journey alone either. We were good for each other and our own relationship was nurtured and deepened in the process.

In the course of those years between the divorce and my return to my beloved West, I was confronted by fear time and again. I was practicing yoga and meditation daily and spent hours walking the countryside with my sweet Springer Spaniel, Basquo. During one meditation I had a vision of a dark figure wearing a cowl with the hood falling forward over its face. Fear came up and I whispered “Who are you?” The figure slowly removed the hood and I saw an ancient face, deeply lined with eyes that lovingly sought my very Soul. Tears welled in my eyes as I felt a depth of love and compassion that flooded every level of my awareness and being. The figure spoke:

I Am Fear and I come as a Master Teacher. My child, you cannot release fear until you release your fear of being afraid. Yes, the energy of fear is intense but it can save your life, elicit courage, and clear your mind. Always when fear begins to rise, resist it not. Rather, stop, soften your body and breathe deeply and slowly. Remember me and say this:  Welcome Master Teacher Fear. What have you come to show me today? Then return to your quiet breath and let the answer come to your heart, to your True Self.

I began this practice that very moment and it is a part of me now. Master Fear has shown me many times that there is no need to be afraid of being afraid. When fear arises, my awareness heightens and I am open to my Truth in that moment. Now fear turns me within to True Self, to the Source of All That I Am. As I am shown what is needed, my body calms down and peace returns.

The core of what I have learned from this practice is that fear arises when I am interpreting an experience apart from True Self. If I am conscious in the moment, abiding in the innate Oneness that I Am, the only fear that arises is that which tells me to take some kind of action to protect myself from physical or emotional harm, e.g. driving defensively when a nearby car skids out of control. The fear that comes up causes the adrenaline/cortisol rush that I need to have rapid reflexes and an astoundingly clear mind. Thank you my friend fear!! In other situations, True Self leads me into the Wisdom Mind for guidance in gathering information, making wise choices, and living from a place of love and compassion.

The process has taken years and it is worth every moment and every ounce of practice that I expended because it has brought me to where I live today. May your journey be clearer and unfold more quickly than mine did. May your heart and mind be open to the Master Teacher we call Fear. May your journey lead you deeply into the peace of your Soul.

Namaste.

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A New Day

Every day is a new beginning. In the middle of the morning on a most challenging, difficult day (which I was creating all by myself) it occurred to me that a day consisted of 24 hours. Did it really matter which hour started that 24-hour cycle? I went back to bed and rested for a while. When I felt calm and ready, I got up and started a new day! It was a life-changing experience for me. I could begin again whenever I wanted and no one had to know but me.

Another time I found a simple and sweet ritual that I could use to heighten my conscious awareness of how I was beginning the day. I am quoting it from a daily email I was receiving at the time from www.dailyom.com and I would love your comments.

Releasing and Welcoming: Energetic Sweeping

Sweeping the front porch every morning is an important cleansing ritual that prepares the ground for new energy.

In some of our lives, sweeping has become an activity performed without much thought. In many cases, sweeping is a lost art, replaced by the noisy, efficient vacuum cleaner. But in several cultures and religions, sweeping the front and back porch every morning is regarded as an important cleansing ritual that prepares the ground for new energy on every level – physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. It is often employed to sanctify a space and prepare it for a ceremony. This seemingly simple action has the power to clear away the old and make space for the new. It stirs up the energy in a place, clearing out the astral buildup that is the natural by-product of the presence of humans.

This kind of sweeping is not about cleaning the area of dust. In fact, the broom doesn’t have to actually touch the ground to be effective. You might want to consider having two different brooms, one you use for cleaning dust and dirt, and one you use for energy clearing. If you are so inspired, you could decorate your broom by carving its handle, painting it, decorating it with gemstones and ribbons, or any other creative adornment that appeals to you. You can make your own broom out of tree branches and twigs, or choose a naturally appearing broom from nature, such as a pine bough.

Sweeping each morning prepares the ground for the new day at the same time as it deepens our awareness of the importance of letting go of the past to welcome the present. As we clear the energy of our space, we clear our own energy systems. In addition, we create a space that feels clean, clear, and open to all who enter. Be sure to think welcoming thoughts as you sweep, manifesting what you need for the day. Making sweeping part of our daily ritual tunes us into the continuing cycle of releasing the old and welcoming the new that is the hallmark of a healthy energy system.

May your day unfold in peace and joy. May you be abundantly blessed for you are a blessing.

Namaste.

Control or Release?

This is so often the question, isn’t it? Which is more powerful – to be in control of a situation or to release control of that situation? It seems obvious that the “right” answer is to release control. Most of us have or are dealing with our control issues. It is easier than it used to be as it is such a common thing to discuss now.

In the path of enlightened awareness, the motivation comes from a deep place within. Intellectually, I am very clear that control simply doesn’t work even though it may appear to in the short term. Self-control is most useful in creating a healthier flow of life, especially until I grow up in some specific area of my life. Once my awareness level catches up with the heart desire to change a behavior, there is little or need to exercise self-control because I am able to flow with that desire in a very natural way.

As with many healing insights, I begin to have a breakthrough when I recognize that the nature of what I am looking at is yet another one of the paradoxes of this human life experience. Power appears to come through the ability to be in the position of control which often manifests in arrogance. In spite of this, I find the most powerful leaders are those who come from a place of humility and deep respect for themselves and others. They know they have the final say but they are willing to listen and learn. In return, those who interact with them trust their right to lead and their ultimate decisions.

How does this manifest in one’s personal life? I don’t have time to write a book this morning so I’ll simply offer a few thoughts. Control manifests in so many ways it boggles the mind. It can be outright, arrogant, and demanding or it can be subtle, deceptive, and manipulative. None of these things lead to true and lasting relationships. None of these things nurture a person’s soul or result in a loving and compassionate expression of self. These things can create a false sense of security in this wild and wooly world. I get it. However, I do not resonate with it.  It took me a long while but I have come to see that trying to control myself or other people or circumstances stops the flow of creative energy in my life. For me, release has proved to be more powerful than any other approach.

Yoga and meditation are my primary tools to develop the ability to release into the flow of my life. How do you respond when you have shared a struggle you are having with someone and they say, “You just have to let that go.” Really? Like I can do that when the pain is up and my emotions are screaming to be heard. Yeah, I’ll just let that go and move on. Isn’t that called stuffing your emotions? When I tried that behavior on, it affected my physical health on a frightening level. In yoga I have learned to release into my body by feeling it resist, breathing into those muscles or joints and inviting them to release into my breath. It works. Then I learned the same techniques work with emotions and mental gymnastics…..as long as I am willing to experience those things as I have learned to experience physical resistance. I must make a space for those emotions and those meandering thoughts. I must be with them long enough to breathe into them and then invite them to release into my breath. In allowing them to exist with awareness, I allow them to fulfill their purpose and dissipate.

This is not always a comfortable process but my yoga practice isn’t always comfortable either. I still do it because I have learned that the end result is well worth the discomfort. My emotional practice isn’t always comfortable but the end result is so freeing, so comforting and self-nurturing that I embrace it fully. As with hatha yoga, the more faithful I am with this practice, the more quickly and easily I move through to its rewards.

Release brings me into the natural flow of life which is much more fun and relaxing.

Aum shanti. Namaste.