I’ve told a few friends before that every time I get deeper into a meditation practice I become acutely aware of this undercurrent of fear that is always flowing in the background. After some reflection, I realize how fear does control my life and prevents me from expressing myself in the way that I want to.
There are so many fears that we may harbor around our health, security, and friendships. Ultimately, these fears culminate into a fear of being. A fear of simply living our lives freely.
There is the fear of how other people will react when we are honest – will people think I’m crazy, will people laugh at me, will people be offended? So some of us choose not to rock the boat and play it safe by pretending to harbor similar opinions, views, and interests. There is the fear of expressing ideas because what happens if you don’t follow through or if you fail? So it is sometimes easier to work on things behind the scenes, so that if you don’t follow through or if you do fail no one will ever know about it. There is the fear of how I look – will she find me attractive, will they judge me, will people see all my fat?
These fears are produced by deviating from the collective beliefs and social constructs we have formed as a society. Whenever a person feels they are deviating from these constructs into the unknown it is scary – there will always be fear. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I don’t think the famous or notable people in the world are much different than you or me, but what does set them apart is their zest for pursuing their interests and passions despite mainstream thinking.
What I have to remind myself is that there should be no fear in living. Life is meant to be lived, not to be imprisoned behind the constructs we have made. We feel fear because we all harbor the basic evolutionary instinct to protect the “self”. However, if you realize that there is actually no “self”, that any idea of “self” is another construct we have made, then the fear vanishes.
When we buy a t-shirt we refer to it as “my” t-shirt, when we buy a car we refer to it as “my” car. However, the car is just a car and a t-shirt is just a t-shirt. This is exactly what we do with life, by referring to it as “my” life, when life is in fact just life. Once we take ownership of life we try to force all the constructs we create onto the way we live since we are told there is a “right” way to live life, which is exactly when all the fears come flowing in. We have all the constructs because we feel that we must create security, so we spend so much time, energy, and resources to uphold these constructs because we rely on this false sense of security to obtain happiness.
Ironically, true happiness and well-being do not flow from these constructs, they flow from principles that are completely independent from money, materials, and circumstances, such as connection with others, love, and mindfulness. Even more ironically, the fear that we harbor about life prevents us from authentically expressing ourselves in the world, which sometimes prevents the meaningful connection and love we need to really feel fulfilled.
If the whole “self” stuff I talked about above doesn’t make sense (I know I’ve done a terrible job in explaining it), I’ll go back to my favorite topic of death. We are all going to die, every single person you interact with in your life is going to pass at some point. When you reflect on that point, all the fears we harbor dissolve. What is the point of expending energy to care what others may think if we all are on this planet for an infinitesimal amount of time in the grand scheme of things?
Or, what would happen if someone told you that you only had a year left to live? Would you express yourself differently in front of your friends and family? If I had only 1 year to live a lot of the fears that I grapple with simply vanish. There is no face to save, there is no one to impress, there is no security to strive for, all there is to do is just to live fully and completely. This is how life should be lived.