Continuing to expand my understanding of the fear factor, I turn to the work of Ezra Bayda, a teacher I trust. He writes:
The first most basic fear is that of losing safety. Because safety is fundamental to our survival, this fear will instinctually be triggered at the first sign of danger or insecurity; the old brain, or limbic system, is inherently wired that way. This particular fear will also be triggered when we experience pain or discomfort. But in most cases, even when this fear is triggered, there is no real danger to us; in fact, our fears are largely imaginary—that the plane will crash, that we will be criticized, that we’re doing it wrong. Yet, until we see this dimension of fear with clarity, we will continue to live with a sense of constriction that can seem daunting.
Once we become familiar with our insecurities, a central component of spiritual life is recognizing that practice is not about ensuring that we feel secure or comfortable. It’s not that we won’t feel these things when we practice; rather, it’s that we are also bound to sometimes feel very uncomfortable and insecure, particularly when exploring and working with our darker emotions and unhealed pain. Yet, there is also a deep security developed over the course of a practice life that isn’t likely to resemble the immediate comfort we usually crave.
This fundamental security develops instead out of the willingness to stay with and truly experience our fears, which means to enter into the physical experience of fear itself — the racing heart, the contractions in the chest and belly, the rigid face muscles, the hormones coursing through the body. Isn’t it ironic that the path to real security comes from residing in the fear of insecurity itself?
source: Bayda, E. (2008). Zen heart: simple advice for living with mindfulness and compassion. Boston: Shambala, p.154. You can read the entire chapter in Tricycle magazine. After this post I plan to give ‘fear’ a rest for while; until …