Most of us like to have some control over our lives - some freedom. To actually exercise this freedom, we need courage. Fear can block all of this. Fear can keep us stuck as if in quicksand - for lengthy periods, even for life.
Caution is entirely reasonable. Climbing into a shopping cart on a city street, on top of a steep hill, then riding it down to see what happens is guaranteed to result in severe injury, pain or death.
Extreme sports are far less ridiculous, yet offer transcendence: Maria Coffey. “Explorers of the Infinite. The Secret Spiritual Lives of Extreme Athletes – and What They Reveal About Near-Death Experiences, Psychic Communications, and Touching the Beyond.” 2008. My blogs quoting this SUPERB book: http://www.johnlovas.com/search?q=Coffey
Mercifully, deep spiritual practices eg deep meditation, are the safest, most tried-and-true paths by which seekers have, for thousands of years, attained transcendence - gone beyond ordinary limitations. ... a spiritual or religious state or condition of moving beyond physical needs & realities.
The height of spiritual transcendence is described as a state of continuous, unshakable peace, joy, love & oneness that is independent of external circumstances - BEYOND FEAR!
Again mercifully, regular meditation practice gradually brings about progressive felt improvements in our life reassuring us that we are indeed making progress along this well-trodden path.
“The voice of the intelligence is drowned out by the roar of fear. It is ignored by the voice of desire. It is contradicted by the voice of shame. It is biased by hate and extinguished by anger. Most of all it is silenced by ignorance. Karl A. Menninger MD, psychiatrist
The advice to 'be curious,' and instead of avoiding, to 'lean into challenges' cannot be overemphasized.
The process of facing fears is called exposure. Exposure therapy involves gradually & repeatedly exposing patients to feared situations until they feel less anxious. After a while, anxiety naturally lessens.
Meditation is a form of exposure therapy. Our basic fear is honestly meeting & being intimate with ‘the other’ - our Self, people, animals, environment, life itself. We use gentle mindfulness practices to slowly ease ourselves back into intimacy with ourselves & others.
“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.” Helen Keller
All of life is exposure therapy - if we allow it. It is well-known that people who suffer from anxiety are most anxious about being anxious; those who suffer from depression, are depressed about being depressed. Can we be less afraid of our fear? Can we take all of our neuroses far less seriously, less personally?
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Franklin D. Roosevelt
“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.” Thich Nhat Hanh
“Thinking will not overcome fear but action will.” W. Clement Stone
“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.” Louisa May Alcott
With loving awareness we do what is appropriate, which is always nurturing whoever & whatever is around us, so that we may all flourish. We must FIRST learn to let go of fearfully obsessing over 'me, myself & I.'
This is a far more profound step than can be accomplished by a guilt-tripping sermon to stop being so selfish & self-centered. It requires a qualitative shift in consciousness: Dr. Jeffery A. Martin. “The Finders.” Integration Press, 2019. My blog on this PROFOUND book : http://www.johnlovas.com/2024/01/seriously.html .
“What is fear of living? It’s being preeminently afraid of dying. It is not doing what you came here to do, out of timidity & spinelessness. The antidote is to take full responsibility for yourself – for the time you take up and the space you occupy. If you don’t know what you’re here to do, then just do some good.” Maya Angelou
“See how we are called to not run from the discomfort,
and not run from the grief or the feelings of outrage
or even fear.
If we can be fearless to be with our pain, it turns.
It doesn’t stay.
It only doesn’t change if we refuse to look at it.
When we look at it, when we take it in our hands,
when we can just be with it,
when we keep breathing, then it turns.
It turns to reveal its other face.
And the other face of our pain for the world
is our love for the world.
Our absolutely inseparable connectedness
with all life.”
“Love cures people – both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it.” Karl A. Menninger MD, psychiatrist
“… one of the experiences people have on (meditation) retreats is a very intimate experience with the breath, with the body, with emotions, because there’s no separation. That’s kind of the essence of intimacy: nonseparation. It’s just oneself getting out of the way. The Chinese poet Li Po ended a poem with these words: ‘We live together, the mountain and me, until only the mountain remains.’ So that’s kind of meditative. When we take ourselves out of the picture, then all that’s left is everything. To me, that is the definition of intimacy.” Joseph Goldstein
|Artist: Molly Hahn buddhadoodles.com/new-gallery/