Control–we all want it. We want to feel that our life is completely in our hands. We want to feel that if we do the right things then the pieces will all fall into place perfectly and all will turn out just as we imagine. Without careful planning, we fear our life will spin out of control. We fear that if we let go, everything will come crashing down around us.
We all strive to gain control in different ways. Some of us use our position at work to maintain a sense of power and control. Some of us work out and build muscle hoping that a strong body will keep us in the driver’s seat. Some people attempt to grasp at control by purchasing new stuff to fill up their homes–furniture, clothes, electronic gadgets. Some try to control the people around them. Others try hard to forget their fears with addictions, distractions and obsessions to send their minds in oblivion.
For me, it’s either been about food or addiction or both. Lately, I’ve been trying so hard to stay healthy, I’ve been eating all the right foods, getting tons of sleep and rest, drinking copious amounts of water, and practicing meditation and yoga. I have cut out caffeine and alcohol and as much stress as possible. I avoid rushing, crowded places and pretty much anything that might get me too excited. I do all this so I can feel in control of my body; so, with any luck I can keep my hormones balanced, feel reasonably well and not get sick. For the most part, I think I have been ‘succeeding’.
Then out of the blue, I have a panic attack. I wake up after my phone rings and I immediately sense that something is off. My heart is beating strangely and I begin to fear I am having a heart attack or dying. I get out of bed and notice that I am dizzy. My arms and legs are slightly numb and body is shaking uncontrollably. What’s going on?! After ten or fifteen minutes of terror, I start to calm myself down with some deep breathing. I realize that this could be a panic attack (since I had one before) and that thought actually makes me feel more relaxed. Finally, after about 30 minutes, the terror has passed.
Not only did this episode totally freak me out but it also broke me down. All that control I had so tightly wrapped up like a ball of yarn was coming unravelled. My body seemed to be just about as unpredictable as it was when all of this began. What a disheartening thought. No matter what I do, there are still a million factors I can’t control. There is still the unknown.
The unknown, the uncontrollable factors–this is what we all fear the most. We hate to admit how fragile and vulnerable we really are. We hate to see this in ourselves and outside of ourselves, too. What we see around us serves as a mirror of what could be us. We hate to look at homeless people who live on the street, people alone, people who are sick or physically or mentally challenged, people who are dying. And what always underlies hate is fear. Who wants to face the possibility of death, disease, destitution?
Napolean Hill came up with 7 basic fears of man–poverty, criticism, ill health, loss of love, loss of liberty, old age and death. I read an even more succinct list which included only five basic fears–1) extinction 2) mutilation 3) loss of autonomy, 4) separation and 5) ego-death.
1) extinction–the fear of no longer being (this would include the fear of death)
2) mutilation–the fear of of losing any part of our body’s structure or function (this would include ill health, loss of liberty and old age)
3) loss of autonomy–the fear of being immobilized, restricted, controlled or imprisoned (this would include ill health, loss of liberty and old age)
4) separation–the fear of rejection or abandonment, fear of not being connected to others (this would include criticism, poverty, ill health, old age, loss of love)
5) ego-death–fear of the loss of integrity of the self or fear of shame
It’s pretty daunting list, isn’t it? So how do we let go? How do we get out of our heads and into our hearts? How do we go from thinking to feeling, sensing and being? How do we move from fear to love?
This morning, the message on my tea bag was –Live by consciousness and intuition. I thought–YES! This is it. Later, three steps came into my mind.
1. Live consciously
2. Listen to your intuition
3. Let go!
1. Live consciously–By living consciously and with awareness, you make better choices. This means that you can begin to really take care of yourself and take responsibility for your life. No more denial. No more blame. You see your patterns and your pitfalls. You see your weakness and flaws. You also see your power and strength. You see that you are resilient and capable of handling whatever comes your way. You see beauty and truth. This is how we find clarity. We get there by breathing.
2. Listen to your intuition–Listen to your intuition, your inner voice or your heart or whatever you want to call that higher self that has all the wisdom and all the answers you need. It will help you move through the fear. When you follow your intuition, worries and doubts disappear. You know when something is wrong and when something is right. You feel it in your body. You trust yourself. This is how we find courage. We get there by meditating.
3. Let go–Letting go is surrendering to ‘what is’. It’s accepting and allowing everything in the moment. By letting go, you release the need to control. The fears which made false bridges from your past to the future crumble away. You can stop forcing and be still. You can stop pretending that you know everything; that you know what’s going to happen next. Stop resisting and start going with the flow. The truth is, you don’t know for sure that A is better than B. You don’t know that if you do X, then Y will certainly occur. Life is a mystery full of unknowns. Surrender to this reality. This is how we find serenity. We get there by believing that the universe is a friendly place.