If you are anything like me there are times you like to get scared. Halloween is always one of those times in our house. We fill our time with scary movies, haunted houses and lots of tricks and treats. Fear in a setting where we ultimately know we are safe can be an enjoyable experience but what happens when we dive into our deepest fears? Those fears that keep us awake at night and the ones that we don’t feel safe with? These fears that feel real and that can control how we move in the world, such as fear of death, fear of losing a job or fear of living life can come from different places. They can come from a difficult past event in the form of conditioning, such as someone who has been in a bad car accident being afraid to ride in a car. They can come from the mind, such as someone who is afraid of death because they don’t know what will become of them when they die or they fear that the people they leave behind will not be okay.
Ultimately, fear is misunderstanding. This isn’t to downplay what can be a very powerful and real emotion, it is to bring light to a false perception, which is a gift if you allow it to happen. The misunderstanding is generally that everything is not okay. We tend to want things to go a certain way in life. We want to be happy, we want to be healthy, we want our friends and family to be happy and healthy, but as we all know, this isn’t always the case. Something happens and we think that things have gone wrong because they are not going the way we want them to. What happens if we let go of that? What happens when we just let things happen without the thought of “that is good”, “that is bad” or “this is right”, “this is wrong”? When we stop arguing with reality there is a contentment that comes along with every situation, no matter what it is. When you stop letting your thoughts dictate the rightness or wrongness of any situation there is peace, no matter what. For example, a friend of mine’s son just broke his arm in an accident. It was a pretty bad break and, of course, it is never fun to see your child hurt. The boy, who is 5, is incredible to watch through all of this. Never does he say something like “how could this have happened?” or “why did this have to happen to me?”. He simply goes with it. Yes, his arm bothers him at times and yes the cast gets in the way but he doesn’t look at it as if it should be any other way. He accepts it as it is, like most 5 year olds will do with something like this. On the other side, my friend, the boy’s dad, is suffering greatly because he is telling himself consistently that this event should not have happened. He’s telling himself how terrible it is that this happened to his son. Who is suffering more? The son, who has the broken arm and has accepted the reality of it, or the dad, who is constantly telling himself that this is wrong?
Fear manifests itself in the same way. If you stop and look intently at your fears you can start to see the misunderstanding. Let’s say you are afraid of death. Hold that fear of death right in front of you. Then, even if for only five seconds, stop thinking about it. What does that feel like? Five seconds is all it takes to get a taste. Five seconds is all it takes to find out what it would feel like to be free of that fear. Five seconds of stopping your thoughts and/or stopping the commentary that tells you something is good, bad or something that you should fear, that’s enough to get a taste and one taste of how that feels is all it takes. From there you can let that grow into freedom. As you practice this expand the time, make it ten seconds…then 20…and so on. What happens? Feel it, get a sense for it, make it your meditation. Before you know it you will be free from it. The more you do this, the more you let go of the thoughts that tell you something is wrong, the more free you will be. The thoughts may still come but you begin to see that they are not the truth. You begin to see that everything is okay exactly the way it is. If you were to die, everything is okay. If you were to lose your job, it’s okay. If you simply have a bad day at work, it’s okay. Everything is perfect, just the way it is, no matter what. Once we stop trying to control everything around us, once we stop labeling everything as right, wrong, good and bad we see that YES! everything is fine just as it is. Whatever happened yesterday, perfect. Whatever is happening right now, perfect. Whatever happens tomorrow, perfect.
Five seconds is all it takes to get a sense. Just five seconds. So this Halloween when you are done watching those scary movies and walking through those haunted houses, take a moment to investigate one of those fears that you don’t feel safe with. Take those five seconds and realize that you are always safe, always fine, and that everything is just as it is and just as it should be. Realize you can be free from fear.