2022-07-21 Fear (4 of 5) Non-Identification with Fear
3:32PM Jul 21, 2022
Good day, everyone. Continuing on this theme of fear, and kind of following on that meditation, I wanted to discuss not taking fear personally. Or there may be another way not to identify with fear. Fear will occur. And, oh, and when we identify it, you know, a really full kind of way. It's, in some ways it's we become, I become afraid, I am afraid. And this language of I am afraid, sometimes it's wise to see it that way to really own up to it and really acknowledged, especially if it's something has been denied and avoided and held at a distance and, or its value has been been denied, to say, Yes, I am angry, I am happy I am whatever is somehow appropriate to really let it become more full. But this sense of I Am, is also dangerous, it's also a source of a lot of suffering, that identification, this is who I am. And part of the delight of meditation practice. And the freedom that comes with meditation practice, is a healthy form of this identification. Not that denial of anything, not then not paying attention to anything. Everything that is happening, has full permission to be there and included in awareness and clearly know that it's happening. But on top of it, we don't put we don't put on the idea that this defines who I am. And because once we define ourselves by something, then it tends to be a magnet for all kinds of ideas of what the self is and who you're supposed to be and how you should be in which how you should not be and then what you should be able to do with the, you know, I should be able to, or this means I am and there's all these implications that ripple out. But if we just allow something to be without identifying with it, it tends to be a lot simpler. We can still be responsible to it, but I prefer the to avoid the word responsibility then, and you and you simply divide that singular word into two words, response ability, that we have an ability to respond appropriately. And so in terms of fear, it isn't that we want to dismiss fear or diminish its value. But it is possible to not identify with not define oneself by the fear. When we define ourselves by fear, sometimes the fear is magnified. And it becomes all encompassing is all of who I am. And it's easier for it to be overwhelming. With intense fear, it might overwhelm us anyway, even if we don't want to take it personally, that movement. But there are times when the fear is not so strong, that anxiety is not so strong, that it's possible to have a shift in the mind. That's represented by going from I am anxious to there is anxiety here. I am afraid, just switches to there is fear here. In some ways that's very respectful of the fear, the anxiety, because now we can bring our attention to the fear and anxiety in and of itself. When I am afraid. It's such a nebulous, whole field, it's such like a big cloud, like where is the fear then it's everything. Sometimes it can be so much so that it's you know, the the whole world feels afraid it's so big. And as I said, it can be that intense sometimes. But even there, there's a way of kind of recognizing, oh, there's chaos. It's everything feels afraid that it's not as rosy as opposed to saying I am afraid that makes a lot more room to breathe a little bit more room to be attentive to it, to not be enmeshed or caught in it.
And that's the primary reason to not take things personally not identify with things arise. And so there's more room to be wise and respectful and, and appropriate with how we are with things. Rather than it being it's a confusing mess of stuff. So with fear, it can be it can be simple the practice of intentionally switching in your mind, maybe even saying these words, switching from, I am afraid to fear is present, there's fear here. And then to ask where is that fear. And if it's fear something in you know, generally you'll Yeah, if there's fear, it's someplace in the body, maybe it feels like it's the whole body. But where's the locus, where is it most strong. And then if you find such a place, that's the place to bring the cupped hands of attention, and help that fear feel safe. If you can find the locale within your body where fear is strongest, sometimes then it's easier to dis identify with it, to not identify so strongly, I am afraid. There's fear here, there's fear in the chest, there's fear in my legs, I want to bolt and, and so there's more breathing room for the experience. And, and, and as we go along here, then it's also possible to accompany the fear. And, and so if anything is personal is our ability to be present, and attentive to what's here. And there's a world difference between being fear and accompanying fear, being fear and being attentive to it, being aware of it. And genuinely, I think we can do good policy is that fear needs our companionship. Because fear is always a message. And so either we want to understand what the message is, there's a danger. And we see that and understand it better sometimes, if we don't get enmeshed in it and caught in it. And sometimes the message that's, is there's danger. But as we study what the threat is, it turns out, there's no threat at all, we're carrying with as anxiety, a pre a conditioning from the past, to view every situation with fear. And in that situation, that fears really, that's kind of fear that really needs to be accompanied, someone needs to be present with it and hold it kindly, and help it feel safe and not to not push it away, not deny it not criticize it, just Oh, I see you, let me be with you have me accompany you. And that I I would suggest is harder to do. If we identify with the fear, like, Oh, I'm afraid and this is so hard and so difficult. And so with practice, in in time, it's not easy to do what I'm saying here. But with time, as the mindfulness gets stronger as our ability to relax becomes deeper, as our ability to see clearly what's happening in our experience, at some point, this shift from identification to the shift from defining ourselves by something versus versus just accompanying something, as a as a subset of the whole as a piece of nature's is this just phenomena that's arising. And so with fear, it's possible to, to accompany fear that this way, over time as we begin to become more and more disincentivized with a fear rather than us accompanying the fear and nice movement would be the fear accompanies us. Meaning that we can live our life without being inhibited by fear. We know that fear is present, but it's kind of like it sits on the shoulder, left shoulder perhaps it just sits there and comes along. It accompanies us. And we're not denying it or ignoring it. But it's not interfering with anything. It's not directing the show or directing our thinking and our concerns. It's just a companion. And, you know, there's fear, but we live our life fully, even with it with the anxiety or whatever it might be. And so there's movement towards not defining ourselves by fear is a powerful movement.
And if you if you kind of are generous with the use of language, we can say We're not taking fear personally generous, because, you know, it's not happening to anyone else, it's happening to you. So some people, so of course, it's personal. But what I mean by not taking it personally is not defining oneself by it or not taking full responsibility like, this says something about me, and I have to do something, and I'm a bad person, I'm a good person, or whatever. And so you might try today, if you feel some anxiety, or feel some fear, and probably what I'm talking about today, works best with something was not too strong. But some of you might have some intense fear that you might find it interesting to try to do this with. And that is, see if there's some way you can shift from it being I'm afraid, or the or even, this is my fear, too. There's fear. Fear is here. It's kind of impersonal, maybe just accompanying you, like there's a little person sitting on your shoulder. And, you know, it's not you exactly, but it's there and part of the scene to see if you can see the shift that happens when you don't define yourself by the fear. But consider the fear as just something that's accompanying you. It's part of the whole, it's not the whole. And so, freeing ourselves from this coagulation of self of self definition of, of that doesn't give us breathing room. And so one of the shortcuts to peace is not defining ourselves by our experience, not asserting or self definition who me because of that knee that we carry with us. Of course, there's a you in a certain kind of way. But when we start living that way, it becomes a magnet for so many different ideas and assumptions about what it is to be yourself. That that can be overwhelming it can be one of the major sources of suffering in our lives. So I hope that your fear appreciates being accompanied today. I hope your fear appreciates its chance to be there and not be appropriated by you. So thank you