Published with the permission of the author Robert Augustus Masters. Taken from his April newsletter.
By Robert Augustus Masters
Don’t give fear a thought:
When fearfulness infects you, neither avoid it nor let it recruit your mind. Don’t give it a thought.
Approach the infected areas with care. No antibiotic heroics, no psychosurgical wizardry, just ordinary everyday caring.
Touch the infection with undivided attention, while letting the raw reality of it touch you, penetrate you, shake you more awake. Make contact, intimate contact, allowing it to breathe, allowing to it vibrate, sound off, even grieve. Stop treating it like an adversary or disease.
When approached with sufﬁcient care, fearfulness helps fuel our entry into a quality of openness wherein we cannot be threatened.
Fearfulness is our personiﬁed sense of separateness having a bad day. Being invested in making a self out of our apparent separateness guarantees fearfulness. Nevertheless, the arising of fearfulness, however compelling, does not mean that we are afraid, but rather only that fear is present, coexisting with varying degrees of awareness of it. When fearfulness does manage to inﬁltrate your mind, read its contents once-through as though they belonged to a supermarket tabloid, taking careful note of which headlines most easily snare your attention. Then immediately shift your attention, and shift it completely, to the physical correlates of your fearfulness, resisting the temptation to scoot back into your thinking mind. Tour the somatic nooks, crannies, and grottos of your fearfulness, paying close attention to its textures, tones, directionality, shapings, and other anatomical peculiarities. Note that it is not static, not a noun, not a something inhabiting you, but rather a verb, a process, always on the move, riddled with impermanence. Then ask yourself who or what it is that’s feeling fearful. Is it really you?
Find out. As you discover — and not just intellectually — that the awareness of fear is not itself at all afraid, then you can approach “your” fearfulness with a considerable degree of ease and spaciousness. When we are sufﬁciently uprooted to be standing our true ground, we are positioned to be awakened by all things, including fearfulness The teacher is everywhere. Every moment is a potential crucible for awakening. It’s all a setup — set up by all — for realizing, totally realizing, what we actually are, asking only for undreaming eyes.
Fearfulness not only disturbs our sleep, but also can scare us scriptless. At that point — which may last for only a few seconds — we are so divested of our usual dramatics that we are the very openness for which we have yearned. All we have to do is not ﬂee to the surface — like a dreamer desperately trying to exit a nightmare — but remain where we are. Then, into the openness that we are will ﬂood all that is needed. When we remain outside our fear, we remain trapped within it.
When we, however, consciously get inside our fear, it’s as if it turns inside out. Getting inside our fear with wakeful attention and compassion actually expands (or everts) our fear beyond itself. Once the contractedness that’s at the center of fear ceases to be fueled, fear unravels, dissipates, terminates its occupancy of us.
In entering our fear, we end our fear of it.
Through attending closely, caringly, and carefully to the particulars of our fearfulness, we decentralize it, so that its intentions and viewpoint can no longer govern us. When the light goes on in the grottos of dread, then fear is little more than Life-energy having a bad day. When we touch our fear with authentic caring, it de-tenses, decompresses, usually quite quickly becoming something other than fear, something unburdened by fearful agendas or headlines. Fear met with an open heart does not usually take long to dissolve.
The key is to actively and decisively disidentify with our fear. Don’t give fearfulness a thought. Instead, give it your full attention. Go to its core. Its dark heart is but the shell, the calciﬁed chambering, of a love beyond imagination, a love that effortlessly dissolves all fear.
More exploration of fear and anxiety on Beyond Meds: Fear and anxiety: coping, reframing, transforming…