August 15, 2023
What to do with our fears?
By Amba Gale
– Photo by Mariel Gale
I’ve noticed many people have a lot of fear these days. Only, we actually don’t “HAVE” our fears, we ARE our fears.
And the two are very distinct.
Being our fears, we live in a world of threat. The world we live in is one of survival, disconnection, protection, and separation.
Having our fears, we are “right-sizing” them, as author Mark Nepo says. When you put salt in a glass and drink from the glass, he says, the water tastes very bitter. When you put that exact same amount of salt in a lake, and drink the water from the lake, the water tastes pure.
Be the lake.
When we are the lake, we live in a world of thriving, connection, service, integration.
We live in Being Present.
When we are not the lake, the fears become very real. And the more we resist them, or any triggered response our survival mind kicks up, the more they push back. That’s a principle in the martial arts.
It’s critical to remember that those reactions get triggered automatically and rapidly. If we allow ourselves to identify with those automatic responses, to become them (as in we ARE our fear), life becomes unworkable. As our reactions shape our perspective, when we are living in fear, other people or circumstances show up like a threat. When we are living in acceptance and awareness, other people show up as partners and circumstances show up as serving our evolution, as gifts and messengers of the next journey we are to make.
In some disciplines, this shift is called shifting from the false self to the True Self. In others, from the ego to Presence. In others, from automatic thinking to Mindfulness, in others, from asleep to aware, or awake.
When we become our fears, we are suffering, and so is everyone around us, especially if we are in a leadership position with others. And, who isn’t leading? You are leading your family, you are leading your life, you are leading your Self, you are a clearing, and a model, and a leader for those around you.
I recently participated in a 1 ½ hour Zoom course with a Teacher of mine. In the meeting, he conducted an experiment with the participants in the class. He invited us to close our eyes, breathe, and drop down into our body and asked us what the body sensation was and where that ”fear”—which is, after all, a name, a label, was living, or showing up, in our body, and As WHAT body sensation?
I happened to be resisting a fear that day I was in that meeting. I did the exercise. The results were remarkable, as I shifted from being caught up in my fear, and smaller than it, to being aware of a particular sensation in my body, and bigger than it. I was the container in which the sensation was being held.
I could easily “be with” that sensation, and the longer I was able to be with it, “hang with it,” as my daughter would say, accept it, allow it, even embrace it, it lost its power over me. By the time I opened my eyes, it was gone.
What I was left in was a state of Being Present. I had come home to my Self.
If you are a graduate of The Heart of Leadership, please read this invitation, made on behalf of your commitment to periodically “drop down deep” through engaging in conversations with me.
I wrote this poem shortly after that experience.