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self-imposed exile

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In his latest book, Zen teacher Ezra Bayda explores “the things we fear the most.” No wonder I’m drawn to his writing: he examines ordinary everyday issues through the lenses of ancient teachings with such wisdom and compassion. Here he writes about three fears: (1) security and the loss of control; (2) aloneness and disconnection; and (3) unworthiness.

Please note that these three basic fears … are not just mental. Scientists tell us that fear is written into the cellular memory of the body, particularly into the small part of the brain called amygdala. That is why simply knowing about our fears intellectually will not free us from their domination. Every time they are triggered, we slide into an established groove in the brain.

Ha! so I’m not unusually weird. As reported in my last three posts, some issues keep banging on the door again and again. Some travel from as far back as early childhood, others stem from more recent losses and disappointments. Fear informs them all.

Interestingly (Bayda continues), it is this non-conceptual experiencing of our fears that allows the grooves in the brain, which are pre-programmed to react to fear, to slowly be filled in. How this works is a mystery.  …

[W]e can ask what would we want to do if we had just one week to live. If we can get in touch with what’s really important, we can then begin to turn away, little by little, from our fear-based behaviors that keep us locked in self-imposed exile.

source: Bayda, E. (2008). Zen heart:  simple advice for living with mindfulness and compassion. Boston: Shambhala, pp. 154, 161-162. image: Partners HealthCare System (top); (bottom).


4 responses »

  1. Once again, synchronicity has it that all you are going through is also happening to me and I am sure many others . Poems and quotes resonate all the most. Thanmk you again.

  2. I am puzzled our human incapacity (yours/mine/ours) to at a cellar level experience our time in this present life as but a glimpse – why is it that I struggle to let all fall away except the essential? Peter your post is an excellent addition to this question I am musing over.

    • thank you, terrill. the “why” question, as Fritz Perls reminded us long ago, frequently leads to “because” answers. Sometimes that helps, but for me, most of the time, it provides little insight. So: “what is it I’m struggling for?” might be more fruitful. deep bow, peter


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