Self Exploration (day 17) – Fear

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” ~ Frank Herbert in Dune.

The first time I saw this quote, an old girlfriend had written it above her bed on the wall. I’ve since seen it pop up a surprising number of times.

Fear is a funny bird, because it will often times try to disguise itself as a logical excuse.

I’ve read about the lizard brain before. It’s the brain that sets up camp inside my mind and tells me that I can’t. The lizard tells me it’s too dark to ride my bicycle or not safe to hike alone. The lizard brain tells me I have a horrible downward dog.

Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration through repetitively inviting itself into our thoughts and making itself comfortable there without us even becoming aware of it. This process I’ve learned to call the Lizard Brain.

This is why I believe in goals. Goals give me a strategy that – even in my bad days where the lizard brain is taking over – I can tackle without much resistance by simply crossing off tasks. This helps bypass any fear or self consciousness or self worth issues I may be experiencing.

I’m aware I have a lot of fear. Some fairly logical, others are irrational and even silly. Ignoring them isn’t the answer for me.

I’m afraid of dark basements, even if I’ve just been in it and had all the lights on. I get anxious swimming even in a swimming pool that a large sea creature will get at me from below. I fear other people holding guns or knives or driving a car because these powerful weapons are being controlled by another mind. Reciting a speech or poem gives me sweaty palms.

I have learned that fear is suffering. In sanskrit, suffering is called duhkha.

There’s a sanskrit saying: ‘not seeing duhkha is duhkha.’ That is, not seeing suffering is suffering.

I have started to practice releasing fears from my mind by acknowledging the fear. I let this fear wash over me and through me and feel it for all it’s worth. This is awareness. No, that’s not a triple shot of espresso, that’s fear. I believe this as challenging fear, much like I challenge myself.

When I’m swimming in the deep end, I’ve started just treading water and thinking about my fear. It actually does cause it to retreat.

Knowing what fear feels similar to allows understand my fear and act accordingly, you know, not irrationally. Often times the answer is breathe and close my eyes. It’s not always a smart choice to let my mind wander, but I do find that resisting any thought about the fear itself allows the fear to persist. I also find that if I let my mind explore this fear, it will most often explore and then get taken off on a tangent and I will get lost in another thought, signaling the fear has passed over me.

I believe that most fear persists because of the unknown. My challenge is to eradicate fear from my life.

I’m certain I have many layers of fear that keep me from even identifying many fears that I still have. I am confident they will too have their time.

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