From fear to LOVE

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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!

==========LOVE

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.

 

RESET

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The last day of my four-day weekend.  I woke up in a panic.  Ahhh!  Where had all the time gone?!  What had I done?  Tomorrow I had to go back to eight-hour days;  and this wasn’t just for a couple of weeks–this was for the next two months.  Two months of work, eat and sleep.  How was I going to handle having so little time to myself?

I hadn’t done any writing.  I had finished a little more planning but I still wasn’t finished.  I wanted to do yoga this morning.  And I had to cook today, too, to make sure I had enough food for the week.  I hadn’t quite eaten enough the last couple of days.  Why hadn’t I eaten a little more?  And why hadn’t I done anything more fun?  I could have gone outside and enjoyed the beautiful weather.  I could have done more!  I felt so sad that yesterday, some hours of the day seemed to just have vanished altogether.  What was I doing?!

Probably worst of all–I hadn’t been feeling my feelings.  I am feeling nervous about the weeks to come;  anxious about having enough time to get groceries, I cook and look after my needs.  I was feeling frustrated and a little angry at the pressure I feel for starting up a business (my resistance is mystery to me yet)  I was disappointed and kind of hurt that my friend hadn’t gotten back to me when we had planned to go out.

On top of all of this, I have this horrible sinking feeling that I really am not changing at all;  that part of me is still that meek, weak anorexic girl who suppresses her own power and doesn’t express herself.  Part of me is this self-doubting, dependent woman who doesn’t trust herself or have confidence in her own abilities.  Part of me is this fearful, anxious perfectionist who can’t seem to really enjoy life and let go until all the ‘work’ is done and things are in ‘order’.  It’s no wonder the dam burst this morning.

I watched the movie ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ on Sunday.  In this sci-fi action movie, Tom Cruise plays William Cage, a man who is forced to go into combat for the first time.  When some alien blood gets on him, he develops the power to reset the day every time he dies.  It’s a lot like one of those video games where you get a little further each go round but you have to keep going back to start.

I could identify with this character’s irritation and exasperation at having to start over and over and over again; repeating the same events, the same conversations and running into the same obstacles.  What he soon discovered, though, was that he could use what he had learned from the day before to advance himself closer to his goal.  He was getting stronger and more capable and making better decisions each time.

Also on Sunday, I did some kundalini yoga by Gloria Latham.  I can hear her words of wisdom in my head–Start each day anew.  Don’t make today a repeat of yesterday, last week or last year.  Make better choices.  Live a better life. –And I remember a phrase that I saw on someone’s bag as I waited at the bus stop on the way to the movie–Creativity is maximized when you live in the moment.–How true!!

This morning, I briefly felt like I was the fearful Cage (and what an appropriate name that is!)–like my life was just on repeat and each day was pretty much the same as the next.  How do I get out of this loop?  How do I get unstuck?  How do I get the elements of wonder, openness, enthusiasm, creativity, playfulness, spontaneity and adventure back into my life?

I did experience these qualities for a short time in my late twenties.  One summer in particular, I can remember waking up every day thinking–I can’t wait to see what the day brings!– and at the end of my day thinking–That was an amazing day!!–For a while, I think I experienced the bliss of living totally awake to each moment, completely without fear.  It was a magical time in my life.

Children, especially the younger ones, have this wonderful ability to reset each day, not like in a negative loop, but in a good way.  They wake up fresh, ready for anything.  They look at everything as if they are seeing it for the first time.  They are able to respond to situations in new and creative ways.  They are lively, exuberant and can find endless ways to amuse themselves.   They follow their sudden inner impulses without questioning whether it is reasonable or sensible.  They don’t fall into the ruts and patterns that adults end up in.

So what’s the answer?  What’s the magic formula?  Well, I don’t know and there is good chance that there is no formula.  What I do know is that writing this post has been spontaneous, creative and adventurous, not really knowing what words are going to come next.  It’s been one of those posts that I didn’t pre-write or plan for.  I let some vague ideas collect in my mind and merge together and then, like the big bang, they all just come pouring out.

I keep telling the kids I work with–TRUST YOUR INSTINCT!–and perhaps I am really saying it myself as well.  It is so unfortunate that we lose this ability as we get older.  We become smothered in fear, expectations, judgements, routines, behavioural conditioning and cultural standards and we become boring, serious and stiff.   We stray from our natural lightheartedness and flexibility.

Our bodies are wise.  We only need to access this wisdom which is deep within.  So…wake yourself up!!  If you are feeling stuck in any way, try these five things today.  1) MOVE–Get up, jump around, jog on the spot;  turn on some music and dance around your living room!!   2) GET QUIET–Take a moment to sit and listen to your body–what does it need?  what does it want to do next?  What is the truth in your heart?  3) SET AN INTENTION–How do you want your day to be?  What do you want to focus on?  4) DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT–Break out of your routine even if it’s just a small change–eat a nectarine instead of an apple at lunch, walk down a different street to work, sit outside and read a book rather than staying inside to watch TV.  5) BE BOLD– say something you really want to say, try responding in a novel way, do something that scares you a bit!

(But, hey, don’t listen to what I suggest;  follow your own inner voice. What is right for YOU at this present moment?)

The only way we can really make each day a new day is to stay awake and aware and respond creativity and spontaneously to our ever-changing environment.  Don’t make today a repeat.  You are not the person you were yesterday so why behave as if you haven’t changed?  Hit the reset button and start over fresh!