2023-11-21-Gil-Attitudes (2 of 5) From Fear to Being Present
12:55AM Nov 28, 2023
Hello, and welcome to this talk, second talk on the topic of attitudes. And as I'm spending this week on this topic, I'm pairing up an attitude which is not very helpful for us with an attitude which is. And by attitude here, I'm more focused on not so much attitude of the moment, particular circumstance, where we might have an attitude, we don't like it, or we're impatient, or we feel frustrated with something. And we, it's kind of an attitude that we have while we're present for that particular activity. But rather, something is more pervasive in her life. And today, the topic is fear. And one of the advantages, and maybe sometimes the challenges of doing mindfulness practice meditation, especially going on retreat, where we practice bringing attention all day, and because we're there all day, kind of really being mindful, we start seeing how often we get caught. And, and then we see the patterns of what our mind is thinking or our emotions are feeling. And not a few people discover that there's a pervasive level of fear or anxiety through their life, much more than they realized. And it's kind of in the background, or underneath, all the other kind of concerns we have. And sometimes even being pervasive, it casts its influence on the way we think the way we behave the way we even physically look at the world, we can be looking at the world through the eyes of, of anxiety, of fear apprehension. And, and so there's a lot of wisdom and a lot of fun for bringing attention and care, maybe even love to our fear. And one of the things I like to teach is that the one of the roles of mindfulness really being present for anxiety, is to help our anxiety feel safe. So we don't spin out even more by we touch into our fear, but we allow our fear to be there. So that we can kind of begin to relax, I think of fear is always a secondary, unless there's a something imminent danger, like in the moment, I think of a lot of chronic anxiety to be secondary to something more deeply that needs needs us needs attention. And the avenue to it in classically and mindfulness meditation is to learn how to be present for fear anxiety, so that it can begin to relax and you can reveal what's deeper. For today, I would like to suggest another alternative to the attitude of anxiety, attitude of apprehension or fear that we might be carrying with us pervasively through much of a day or all the time. And that is a clear sense of being present. And to do that in an embodied way, physical way, even if we don't feel confident or feel, you know, that that's kind of how we don't feel strong or don't feel that we have stability and presence, we can assume with our by Take, take a take on by our physical posture, a posture that here I am, I'm present. And, and that doesn't mean that we have to go towards the thing we're afraid of, we don't have to resolve it. We can even do this, you know, we take a few steps back or if there's a social situation where we feel anxious, we don't have to be in the middle of it, we can maybe be, you know, standing, you know, on the edges of the group or something. But not to give into the fear not to continue to let AHPRA apprehension condition us have an influence on us. But rather, recognize that it's there. And then offer our presence to the situation, offer a clear, like we we we are taking our place here. And now. If we're standing we're standing our ground if we're sitting we're taking our place like this is almost like our throne or something like this is where I belong to sit here upright and dignified. And we're not resolving the fear. We're not, but we're not acting from the fear. We're not addressing the things we're afraid of it directly, we're just not cowering or shrinking or being preoccupied by the fear we offer, we're here we're present. And, in one version of this is something I had to learn, I had to learn it. But I was motivated to learn it, when I noticed how much fear I had, was to be counter phobic. And I couldn't do that initially. But at some point, I had the confidence and the ability to turn towards the things I was afraid of, and take a step towards them, and sometimes, literally, so. And that made a world of difference for me, and to not allow the fear or the apprehension to dictate how I buy posture, my voice my behavior, but to somehow break through it. And this idea of taking our place may be standing upright and strong or sitting upright, and kind of really present as a way of not, not denying that there is apprehension or fear, but not letting it unduly influence us and affect us and affect the choices we make about our posture, what we say what we how we look what we what we look at, or we don't do the you know, look down and avoid or kind of excessively shy or something. But to really take our place here and offer our presence. And I'm offering a suggestion, also not as a way of resolving the issue, or if there is some kind of present moment reason to be anxious. You know, coming into Thanksgiving for many of us in United States, there might be social situations at Thanksgiving gatherings that brings us anxiety. And, and not to resolve those, but not to, but and but not to cower either, not to go forward not to go backwards, but take our place. Here. I'm here definitively. I don't know what to do. But I do know how to be present. I don't know what to say. But I do know how to be quiet in a way where I feel like I'm I'm really taking my place, I'm here I count, I have value I'm here. Other people might not treat you differently because of it. But it might make a world of difference. To have that as a practice. Then, you know, the implicit or the unintentional practice of practicing fear, practicing anxiety. And, and when a fear, anxiety has become an attitude, it means that we are, we've spent too much time thinking about it too much time being conditioned by the chronic way of thinking about this, there's danger, there's fear, there's problems. And they're certainly are in this world of ours. I don't want to deny they the realness of some of the things we're anxious about. But it's not necessary to always be anxious, when the danger is not imminent. Because if we do, then it's conditioning us and adding and strengthening this pervasive attitude. And there's a loop between feeling an attitude of fear that creates influence us to have thoughts about fear about what we're afraid of, and concern. And that creates more of the fear. And it's a kind of a loop. And sometimes, you know, it's just spirals out to a panic attack. But to to somehow break that maybe gently, that loop that looping by not always giving into the fear, but taking our place standing up being really present. And, and this is different than just being mindful of situations. Because sometimes when we're when we are relying only on mindfulness, we don't see how much our mindfulness our attention is somehow unintentionally, maybe even subconsciously, being shaped or influenced by the fear itself. And so to kind of break the cycles of fear or break kind of the mold of it that we're kind of stuck in, by setting up a clear, strong present. And having a sense of steadiness and stability, that maybe is not very strong, but is there as an alternative to only letting the attitude of fear, have the upper hand or be have too much influence on us. And I'm not suggesting that this is easy in many circumstances, but there might be some circumstances where you can practice this And to switch the attitude, from fear, to being present, to being present in an embodied way.
And, and, and then see what happens. What happens next, maybe it's easier for you, maybe you do feel like you're breaking out of a certain kind of, for some people, even a kind of prison or kind of, to be always in the, you know, you know, surrounded or caught up in apprehension, fear anxiety. And I'm not offering this as a solution as the final, you know, this is going to take everything go better or easier. But it is a different attitude that we can step into, that can begin to make a difference, and can also change our relationship to fear. So that when we do bring mindfulness to fear that respects fear that holds it gently, that we have a greater capacity to do that, because we bring that sense of stable presence to the fear. And when we're fully present for it, then we don't get pulled into it or unduly influenced by it. So So, if you find yourself with fear, especially minor fears, or minor anxieties for this exercise, we want to be careful when there's strong fears and, you know, strong tendencies towards anxiety that this is what I'm saying might not be appropriate, but to practice with the small ones, and see what difference it makes and see what happens to the anxiety and fear when you offer this alternative. Embodied presence being really here present. So thank you very much. And and I'm hoping that this focus on attitude today will be a particularly interesting topic of mindfulness on this holiday weekend, where our life is a little bit different than how it usually is, maybe has different kinds of challenges than our ordinary life. So thank you very much.