“Our deepest fear is not that we are weak. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world … As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
There is a space within each of us where there is no fear at all. What some call our essential nature or soul is that which is free of all attachments; no holding on, no gripping, no clinging, no fear. When we know and feel completely that we are that, we are fearless; we are in a state of grace. But the truth is also that we live in the consciousness of our body/mind and have instincts and conditioning that often flood us with worry, anxiety and fear.
Meditation involves the practice of experiencing without judgement, starting with the internal phenomena of your own thoughts and feelings, including fears. We learn not to fear fear. There are fears of speaking in public, fear of spiders, snakes, heights, fear of “the other.” But perhaps the biggest fear of all is of what lies within. The spiritual teacher Da Free John referred to this as “The Dreaded Gomboo,”, or we could say, the boogie man we are terrified to see inside ourselves.
So, a great deal of fear is of our own thoughts and feelings. Both chronic anxiety and depression may in large part result from suppressing feelings, feelings we try to avoid because they threaten the image we have of ourselves. We don’t want to recognize the mean or negative thoughts that pass through our mind, so we keep this out of our awareness, in the shadow.
It’s not easy to let go of fear. This is why I find the suggestive expression “fear less” helpful. People can release fear a little at a time, often in what feels like layers, as mindful attention and healing energy are brought to the places in the body that hold tight. The energy of unprocessed wounding events are crystalized in the cellular memory of the body, often manifesting as fear. My friend, Sufi leader Sat Santokh Singh Khalsa, who I interviewed for Crossing the Boundary, writes here of his work with people healing the childhood wounds at the root of fear.
I have found that one of the greatest fears is the fear of one’s own power, one’s own voice, one’s own light. I love the quote above by Marrianne Williamson, often attributed to Nelson Mandela. Almost all spiritual traditions tells us that our deepest nature, the source of all life, is Love. So perhaps our deepest fear is of love. And if so, if we want to fear less, love and those spiritual traditions are worth our daily, moment-to-moment attention.
I invite you to give yourself one day of focusing attention in this way at the next Tree of Life Meditations retreat, June 11th, 10 AM – 5 PM.