Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Calling off the war with fear

Rather than going to war with fear – and deeming it a mistake or problem that you must eliminate, transform, or transcend – the invitation is to enter into relationship with it. Fear has been wired into your nervous system for millions of years and is unlikely to be undone in a few decades through spiritual process. You can rest in the strong likelihood that fear may arise most every day for the rest of your life, in some form or another. Welcome. You are alive.
Look very carefully inside your present experience. Is fear a problem? Is the surging of sensation, feeling, and intensity within you something you must continue to argue with, to shame, and to subject to the movement of self-aggression? Must you continue to tell stories about how it is the “opposite” of love (as if love had an “opposite”) and that as soon as you are no longer scared, then you will fully show up and participate in life, in relationship, in your own vulnerability?
Is it actually the appearance of fear that is the cause of your struggle and suffering? That wavelike movement of felt sense as it ripples through your belly, your throat, your chest, and your shoulders? Or is does the struggle emerge from the abandonment and rejection of the life as it moves through you? As well as from the unexamined conclusions that its mere presence is evidence of a problem that must urgently be solved, that there is something wrong with you, and that you have failed?
Yes, fear may be a fierce and burning companion, but it is not an enemy that has come from the outside. It is a lost part of you that is requesting your attention, arising in the radiant here and now to reveal something that you have lost contact with.
With practice, it is possible to enter inside your fear, and to infuse it with your presence, with your tenderness, your curiosity, and your warmth. To even open your heart to your fear, to become friends with your fear. Of course, this is a radical invitation that the mind may have a difficult time embracing. It is also one that may not go over so well in a culture that has abandoned the shadow in its scramble to get to “happiness” at all costs.
But as an act of self-love, you can start to open into your fear. First, drop the word “fear” as it can never touch the unprecedented movement of energy and color within you. Surround it with your awareness. And start to move just a bit closer. And see. Close enough to start becoming intimate with this part of you, but not so close that you fuse and identify with it as who you are, or overwhelm yourself. Slowly. Short periods of time. One second, Two seconds. Three seconds. And rest. And then maybe next time for four or five. Then rest. You might then come to discover that the movement of energy that we call “fear” is not an adversary, working against you, but actually an ally, sent to bring you closer to yourself, and to reveal wholeness.

You can call off the war and put down your weapons of dissociation, aggressiveness, and abandonment of what is. Reality will appear at times as fear, for even fear is a tool of skillful means in the arsenal of love as it has its way here. Slow down. Say yes to what is and it will liberate in front of your eyes. There is no enemy here. There is nothing working against you. Only further revelation. The path is everywhere.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Invitations of integration

When you are triggered and your emotional world is on fire, behold the ancient pathways of fight and flight as they present themselves. In the face of a dysregulating narrative, anxious feelings, and activating sensations, memories of an earlier time are brought alive within you. You have stepped into a time machine, with the “there and then” masquerading itself as the “here and now” of your current, real-time experience.
While it may seem otherwise, you no longer need to deny or flee from what is here, nor urgently act it out in the hope of finding relief. In a moment of radical attunement and self-love, you can contain and hold what is appearing, and meet it with your presence. And in the thundering silence of the here and now, you can chart a new course. It takes practice and the good news is you can start wherever you are. The first step is to slow down, to pause, and to flood your experience with awareness. What are the beliefs that are shaping your world? What do you think about yourself, others, and this reality? What conclusions have you come to?
Next, what are the emotions and feelings that are here now? What does it feel like, right now, to be you? What is happening in your body, specifically in your torso?
As you make contact with what is most alive, you can then train yourself to hold it for very short periods of time. While it may feel as if your survival is at risk if you stay another second, just one more second. Then rest. And then later another second. And then rest. Over time, slowly you can build tolerance for the intensity as it surges.
As you make the experiential discovery that you can in fact stay with the erupting feelings and emotions, then you can begin the process of opening into them. Using your breath and the softness of your being, open into the intensity, into the fear, breathing with the panic, and sending warmth into your belly, your heart, and your throat.
Perhaps your immediate experience – the heartbreak, the joy, the loneliness, the shakiness – has not come in order to be “healed,” but to be held. And that it was never in fact “unhealed,” but has always been alive and whole.
It is an alchemical art to learn to rest your awareness inside the intense thoughts, emotions, and sensations as they appear in moments of activation. And to discover that your freedom is not dependent upon their eradication or transformation. Rather, the aliveness, the connection, and the intimacy that you long for will be found in the very center of that which is here now.
Slow way down and open into the life that is flowing through you. Place your awareness into the core of the tenderness and breathe with it. Oxygenate it not only with the clarity of an outside witness, but by way of intimacy, flooding it with the heart-qualities of kindness, compassion, and warmth.
No matter what is happening in your life right now, you can have the intention to provide a holding space for the unmet and abandoned children within you. These ones are arising not as some error or obstacle, or as evidence that something has gone wrong. But have come as invitations of integration, and as emissaries of wholeness.
Just as you are only ever longing for your own presence, these ones are only longing to be re-parented and allowed to return home once again, as new forms of love and creativity within you.

Art by Krista Marleena - Guardian of the Golden Hill