Releasing yourself from the echo chamber of fear.
About four or five months ago, out of nowhere, I had an intense feeling of what I can only describe as kindness directed toward me.
The thing is it wasn’t from a person. I was alone.
It was as if everything was created just for me, the plants, the trees, the grass, the stones, the sky, the rain, everything, there just for me.
It was a profoundly warm and safe feeling that lasted for about an hour or so and then came back intermittently for the next couple of days.
When I ranged around for a name for what it was I was feeling, all I could think of was The Kindness.
It came and went for the next little while and then I got distracted with the 101 things and I kind of forgot about it. It wasn’t something I could actively conjure. It had come, it had gone, and I had no control over it.
In this last month, The Kindness has returned with more intensity, more solidity, more permanence than before, and it is beautiful.
This time I have control over it. I have been able to use it when I get scared or anxious. When I can’t feel it I can consciously focus on it and in a way draw it to me, or more accurately remind myself it is there.
I found my way back to it.
Bubble of Fear
One morning recently I blinked awake and was staring at the ceiling not completely put together yet. Before I had time to formulate any kind of conscious thought, my mind reminded me of the things I should be worrying about and so I did.
I started to worry.
Then I started to get anxious.
Then I started to be afraid.
“I don’t like this.” I thought to myself. “Where is The Kindness now?”
Bear in mind I was still horizontal. This had all happened in the space of seconds. I had gone from being blank to being afraid, to crying out for The Kindness. In this pre-wakeful state, I had a very clear visual of what was happening.
I could see The Kindness like a beautiful music that was all around me, bathing me in its safe, warm, beautiful resonance.
And then I could see my worrying prompting me to cry out in fear, and as I did the fear created a sort of forcefield around me, a soundproof barrier that stopped The Kindness from reaching me and left me with only the sound of my fear.
It was very sad to witness because it was a graphic representation of how fear blocks me from The Kindness, and how I have spent my whole life blocked from this beautiful thing.
I have lived with fear for so long it feels like part of the internal furniture yet it still doesn’t feel native to me. It feels like a foreign body that has extended its icy tentacles up my intestines and infected my mind with shame. The sad and crazy thing is the shame is about fear itself. I have waged a silent private battle with fear. Silent because it felt like the fear was of my own making, that it was a failing of mine in some way.
I know I am not alone in this, Henry David Thoreau was talking about it back in 1854 when he wrote, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Knowing I am not alone with it didn’t help the feeling of being alone with it.
Now I can see the dynamic in stark relief. The fear cuts me off from The Kindness. It creates my own private echo chamber in which I can only hear the fear. I want to get away from it, to call out for help, all of which only thicken the walls of the echo chamber.
So what to do?
How to short circuit the echo chamber of fear?
I read Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel, Dune, in the late 70’s. There is a scene in the book where the main character, Paul, is being hunted by an intelligent poisoned dart that responds to movement. As soon as he realises it is in the room with him he has to stay very still or the dart with detect his movement and strike. To help himself remain motionless he recites the litany against fear his mother taught him.
“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.”
The words don’t feel 100% correct but the energy of stillness contained in them is spot on. Being still in the face of fear dissolves the forcefield separating me from The Kindness. Knowing that helps me to be still in the face of fear. It will help you too.
My wish for you
It is my fondest, wish that you experience The Kindness in whatever way it presents itself to you. It is such a beautiful and unexpected gift of warmth, benevolence, support, and friendship. Look for it in the gaps, look for it in the ordinary places, look for it in your peripheral vision.
It is there.
It will not fail you.
Experiencing The Kindness will help to illuminate the blocking effect fear has and seeing that helps to diminish the effect fear has.