All of us have fears. They may be fears arising from different types of conditions but the fear feels the same. There is trembling in the knees and legs. You feel the urge to pee or defecate. Your pulse races and there is this cold shivering feeling in the heart radiating outwards. The mind starts racing with thoughts and freezes. Animals get the same fear when they face their predators. The difference between humans and animals is that humans do not need a predator to have fear arise. Another difference is that humans can become friends with fears.
Feelings and Thoughts Go Together
We go through life with numerous and constant bombardment of sensual contact. It is a non-stop process unless one has mindfulness.
Sensual contact includes thinking because thinking cannot arise without contact with our senses and objects/ideas from the environment. Whatever we pay attention to, the image or the idea of it comes up in our mind. It could be in our dreams or in a random thought some days or even years later. There is no linear pattern as to how our thoughts arise.
But if you have repeated feelings of fear and thoughts, you can be sure to experience some form of fear during sleep such as nightmares. You may also feel jumpy in the course of a day.
If you have mindfulness, you may see that whatever you feel is immediately labeled by your thought. The moment your thought puts an emotional word to the feeling, such as fear, your ideas about fear start proliferating. This proliferation continues to drive imaginary thoughts and to continue manufacturing the fearful feeling. This cycle continues until we quickly distract ourselves with something else or if we take the courage to embrace the feeling of fear. The former does not calm this process when fear arises again. The latter allows us to know fear and so not react to it as much in the future.
Watching Fear Without Thought
There could be a few ways to become friends with fear. However, from my own personal experience, there is only one sure direct way to become friends with fear – that is to watch the entire sensation of fear running through your body without thought.
Decoupling your thought from fear allows you to see fear for what it is. But it takes courage and some will-power. Of course, it takes the practice of mindfulness and meditation to put that pause between your fear and thought.
It is not possible to pre-empt the feeling of fear and to prepare yourself to decouple your thought from your fear when it comes up. Just as the time of death is uncertain, we cannot prepare our minds for it. The ability to observe in the present instead of indulging in feelings such as fear comes with the training of mindfulness. That is because mindfulness is discernment.
The Power From Watching Your Fear
It is not possible to become friends with your fear immediately just by watching it one time with mindfulness. Your fear – whether it is the fear of retrenchment, not having enough money or seeing the doctor could be activated by thought or the feeling itself.
Watching fear is to observe without resisting the entire process running through your body. See what fear is like and what it does to your body parts. See the kind of thoughts that come up with fear. See how fear runs without the assistance of thought.
You may feel this sense of deep relaxation after the entire process of fear run its course. Fear is like rapid thundering energy that runs through the body. The body, feeling tired from this process could end up in relaxation if you do not interfere by resisting or proliferating it.
The power from watching your fear instead of running away from it is that you might have an insight. You may realize that fear is impermanent and nothing to fear about. You may realize fear only comes with the body and does not exist after you die. When you observe fear many times, you start becoming familiar with the feeling and see it as another guest in the guesthouse (your body).
Mindfulness Is Your Best Friend
Mindfulness is like a tool useful in adverse situations that get turned on by itself when you need it. The only way to have mindfulness in situations when you face fear or anger is when you have practiced before these emotions arise.
Mindfulness is most useful when you practice without needing it. Make time to meditate ten minutes or more daily. Use the calm mind you developed from meditation into mindfulness in daily life. Mindfulness produces insights you might have not thought about before. It definitely is our best friend in daily life. You can attend mindfulness with Mindful Breath. We offer mindfulness courses for corporations and individuals.