(title inspired by the quote from the “Peaceful Warrior” by Dan Millman)
Observing the mind without attachment, one can find patterns, tendencies and ways in which the mind is trying to know and understand things. Those are not always helpful, realized or true. It simply is easier to feel secure in knowing, in certainty. However, the nature of our lives on Gaia is constant change and transformation. Nothing ever stays the same and we don’t know what is around the corner. The very nature of our human experience is that we can never know of our own death or that of loved ones. The circumstances change without warning and all of a sudden our body’s system reacts with strong emotions. It is only natural to seek comfort in the illusion of rituals and stability. In keeping there is always losing. Such is the nature of duality.
Is it possible then to live fully aware of the reality and enjoy life? How can this be achieved? How can we be aware of the subconscious programming, let go and allow the flow of life to steer us through this experience?
With the right motivation and intent, the way eventually shows itself. In my quest for health, I discovered things about the mind and how my hidden beliefs were shaping my reality. Through continuous practice of mindfulness and with the courage to face what was uncomfortable, I was able to confront them and see them for what they really were. My body was carrying unhealed trauma, which caused me to believe that phantoms and illusions were real.
What actually is trauma? I used to think it was an event of tremendously dramatic circumstance like war or abuse. However, I discovered that trauma can be described as the body “locking” itself to protect us from discomfort. Trauma is a natural experience that probably every one has had, if they were born on Earth in human form. It is a result of sensual experiences of aversion and desire. We naturally have aversion to unpleasant sensations and desire the ones that feel enjoyable.
Trauma can happen as a result of simply falling down as a child and bruising one’s knee. The trauma of this event may be hidden from the mind, but the body remembers and will try to avoid the discomfort. Therefore, trauma is nothing to be feared. It is just a record of our experiences, emotions and thoughts as we went through life. Next time the person approaches the site of the traumatic event or something that reminds them of it, the body tenses and releases chemicals that signal them to feel a certain way and think certain thoughts. Unaware, they don’t see the connection so they assume those things are a result of their current experiences, validating the “truth” of it, as it happens once again. It is like they are living their past, over and over again.
Seeing and observing these reoccurring patterns is helpful in realizing their nature. It can be the first step into challenging their truth and validity. One of the ways to bring them to the surface is to place oneself in an uncomfortable and new situation. For me, it meant to try to learn skateboarding at the age of 43, after leading mostly a sedentary lifestyle for close to 20 years. I was inspired by my husband, who started to skate last year and became a much more joyful and happy person. He just wanted to skate and after skating he was radiating with joy. I also enjoyed watching videos of other people skating. The only problem was that my mind was totally against it. There were many beliefs about why this would be a bad idea and it most certainly would not work. It took me over a year to challenge the belief that I could not skate. It felt so real, I didn’t question it, until the need to skate and connect with the now and my body was stronger then fear.
Embracing the uncomfortable
Getting on that skateboard and overcoming the fear of falling and losing balance was the first step for me to learn more about the nature of fear. What if fear is only here because I am resisting a change or created a certain belief about myself? In skateboarding, the fear is constantly showing up when I’m intending to learn something new, because my body doesn’t yet know how to do it and my legs just refuse to move. It is a mental game. When I get to that edge and face my fear, I can then examine the thought that follows and become aware of it. That gives me an opportunity to challenge its validity and truth. Sometimes the fear is based on the body’s lack of physical fitness, sometimes it’s a result of the belief. Most often it is both. Through practice, my body can become more comfortable with the new movement and then my fitness level improves. Taking care of one’s physical health is an important aspect of cultivating and taking care of our garden. When something brings you joy, you will just know it.
What’s on another side of fear?