Each time I receive a notice that some brave soul added themselves to my blog, I get a fleeting rush of stage fright. For just a moment, I feel terrified of writing a single word, and want to shut the blog down entirely. That notice touches the nerve of an old, conditioned worldview of “worthlessness” that carried me through the first four decades of my life.
As this new energy courses through that old nerve, it pulses and feels a bit like labor pains. Having learned to simply allow this sensation without needing to remedy it, I am able to breathe through the discomfort and begin writing anyway. Each time it gets easier, and each time I am born just a bit more fully into the world.
Truly at this point, that initial sense of terror is quickly being transformed into a deep sense of thrill. Having sat with this feeling enough times now, I know it to be a signal of great things to come.
So thank you, Tony, for helping me further rewire those old neural pathways today.
Thank you also to Tom, Robin, Amy, and Don for your roles in this evolution. I am deeply grateful for the privilege of sharing myself and my story with you. You help me see myself more clearly, and I hope that my insights and stories somehow do the same for each of you.
Unhappiness and fulfillment are not mutually exclusive.
We can’t experience happiness or unhappiness without having first experienced fulfillment. Fulfillment precedes, and therefore contains, both happiness and unhappiness. When this sinks in deeply enough, our entire worldview expands, and excited curiosity replaces misguided fear.
A huge shift occurred for me when I stopped trying to solve my unhappiness and started learning from it instead. I placed my unhappiness at the head of the classroom, and whenever it spoke, I listened and took note: not about what I should change, but about what amazing parts of my life I was blinding myself to.
With enough practice, unhappiness became my lifeline to authentic fulfillment. Rather than needing things to change in my life in order to feel fulfilled, fulfillment preceded the need to make any changes. Now if I do take a step in the direction of change, it is not in search of fulfillment, but an expression of fulfillment.
Fear arises out of a fundamental misconception that we are exclusively separate beings in this world and are in need of protection. From this limited perspective, we feel dependent upon the things of this world to bring us to an experience of fulfillment. This misconception has its roots in our first experiences of life when, in fact, we were dependent upon the people and things of the world for our survival.
Things that challenge our sense of security stand out much more strongly as something to be resisted than the things that make us feel secure. By chasing security, we can certainly make a comfortable enough existence for ourselves, but the chances that it will be absolutely fulfilling are slim. Those who appear to “have it all” often attest to that sense that there is still “something missing”, and often they also turn and face the fear they had been trying to insulate themselves against all that time.
In welcoming fear, we welcome awareness of that feeling of fear. In that awareness, we experience a sort of liberation: a loosening of those rigid conditioned reactions that we learned along the way that stifles our ability to experience joy.
Most feelings of fear are conditioned behaviors that may have served our needs at one time, but as adults, we no longer require that same protection anymore. Fear is just love calling us home, and each interaction with life that inspires feelings of fear are nothing more than opportunities to answer that call. As adults, we are strong enough now to withstand any discomfort that may arise, and in doing so we open to experiencing the love that was concealed within those illusive fears.
In this way, those experiences of “negative” energy are gifts, gems, treasures. It is not that we need to seek out negativity, we need only become aware of the negativity that arises organically throughout our day. This is the past conditioning presenting itself now, providing us with an opportunity to break that limiting behavior. When negative energy is experienced as love, we truly begin to heal. In healing, the light of consciousness can more easily shine through our form and illuminate the path for others to follow.
When we are lost in identification with form, the things of this world stand out as being absolutely important. We then lose our happiness in our quest to achieve or acquire those things that we believe hold our ultimate experience of happiness. Regardless of what we get, it never seems to be quite a deep enough experience for us.
Shifting our attention from the things of this world to the space which contains them puts us one step closer to an experience of authenticity. When we shift our attention to the space that surrounds the things in this experience of life, including our thoughts, we notice the space inside of us. Only by shifting our awareness to this still space will we begin to even know it is there. Because there is nothing to grab onto, the mind usually just dismisses emptiness in favor of something more “interesting”.
But in noticing the space, we begin to experience something far more interesting than anything in the world: we begin to notice a feeling of aliveness. What is that aliveness? Where does it come from? What sustains it? Why is it even important that it be here?
By noticing inner space, there is less and less room for unhappiness. This experience of aliveness is far more fulfilling than any experience we have gotten from things, and there is an endless supply that is readily available.
No longer looking to the world to provide us with fulfillment, we are free to just enjoy whatever experiences come along. We no longer derive a sense of identity from those “things”, including our thought, so we are less emotionally affected by whatever it is that is going on. Even in the most challenging situations, we can still tap into stillness and discover the fulfillment it contains.
When we can deeply experience that abundance, fear falls away. It is replaced with a deep sense of wholeness and perfection and safeness beyond anything we have ever known. No longer driven by fear, we draw our inspiration from creative intent. We become a direct portal for unfettered creative intent to express itself through us.
The feeling of joy that we experience in opening and giving so unconditionally nourishes us in a way that cannot be explained. It heals us, and all our past hurts. We recognize how those hurts arose from an essential misunderstanding which ultimately led us back to wholeness at a deeper level than we ever could have gotten without them.
Throughout your day, take conscious notice of the space around the things that you see and think. Notice how that space is holding those things in peaceful nonjudgment. The space is completely surrendered to its purpose, and because of that, it performs its function flawlessly. Know that your body is almost one hundred percent space as well, and that that flawless perfection is at work inside of and around you: supporting and sustaining the aliveness that gives rise to the perception of being alive.
And if you can get there often enough, and experience that truth deep enough, you may come to directly experience the ultimate truth: that not only is that space eternal and infinite, but the aliveness that makes up this experience of “you” is eternal and infinite as well. To get it, you need only do nothing!
What is it that keeps us waking up in the same reality day after day? And especially when that reality is one that leaves us feeling unsatisfied or stifled or suffocated: why do we continue to subject ourselves to it? What is truly stopping us from creating that experience of life that we have always dreamed of?
Fear, in some form or another, is a likely culprit. And fear has so many different faces it is impossible to list them all here. But when we get to the very root of all fear, what we find is that it is a learned behavior, and a choice we are making to be afraid. We have been led to believe that fear is real and that fear is scary. Most of us use it as a guide to avoid certain situations because avoidance gives us an illusion of safety, and an illusion of comfort.
But even beyond that, I would assert that we often choose to be limited by that fear because we are more afraid of a world without limitations. Our minds run rampant with all sorts of visions of what people would do if they were not subject to a fear of the rules and laws, both expressed and implied, of sharing this world together.
But when we come to realize that we need not fear fear, we also realize that those “Mad Max” scenarios only serve to keep us from, and ultimately guide us to, our liberation from those fears. And when released, we possess a whole different understanding of what a world without limitations and fear means. In a very real way, in letting go of fear, we experience a feeling of safeness that far surpasses any we could ever achieve through guarding ourselves from fearful things.
Is it possible that there is an altruistic purpose for fear? Yes. Fear is an essential and beautiful attribute of humanity, and our willingness to accept fear at our very core allows us to discover a treasure greater than any we could have ever wished for or dreamed of.
Ask yourself the following question, but instead of looking for an answer in words, open to experiencing the true answer that resides beyond words: What is it that allows the fear to be here to be experienced in the first place?
The answer is not in the stillness that you experienced as you awaited a response, it is the stillness that experienced you. That stillness has always been here, available to you, holding you in good times and bad without fear or judgment. That stillness is what allows this experience of life to be unfolding, and it is limitless. As an expression of that stillness, we are limitless as well. The only thing that keeps us unaware of that limitlessness is our busy mind chatter and the significance that our minds place on form over stillness.
While at this point in our evolution there are some true limitations to how quickly and easily we can shift our realities, truly we are far less limited than we have come to believe. We have far more control over our lives than we realize, and when we can wake up to that fact, we tap into the inspiration and empowerment necessary to make any changes that need to be made, or find the fulfillment that was available to us in our current situation all along.
Our life situations then become a choice, and one that we gratefully make over and over. Because each situation is an active choice, we become a portal for timeless, unfettered creativity to enter this realm of conditioned time.
Deep down we know that any experience in form will ultimately be unsatisfying. By staying in unsatisfying situations, we are able to tap into the fears that are supporting that dissatisfaction. It is when we get inside the fear that we find release from all fear, and we are welcomed home into the love that was calling to us this whole time. It was always available to us, but because it was masked as fear, we resisted it.
Welcome fear. Allow it to serve you. Realize its purpose is to lead you home. Recognize that what were once unwelcomed feelings of fear are now your greatest signposts leading you on the path to your ultimate liberation from that fear entirely. It is the key to setting your spirit free from the illusive chains that limit your experience of bliss, but you can only open to it when you are ready to be done experiencing limitation.