Yesterday as I climbed on my bike up into the mountains behind where we live I noticed the working of the mind as I wondered what would I do it I encountered a bear. One thing for sure is I would ride like hell downhill. The other for sure is that chances of me running into a bear are very slight at most but the mind run by the ego likes to toss in a good dose of fear whenever possible. Yes the ego is being protective and we need to be aware that fear is not necessary in almost all situations that it comes up. What would it be like to live without fear dictating the way we were in the world?
Let’s start with the several premises about the role of the mind and fear. The first is that most thoughts we have are not real and need to be more closely examined. The second is fear plays a very prominent role in the workings of the ego-mind so when fear comes up it always needs to be questioned. The third is that from a very simplified perspective we could look at fear as one of the two basic human feelings. The opposite of fear is love.
The first idea that our thoughts are not real is something to always keep in mind. Thoughts shape how we feel so they are powerful in how we experience life. If we are not happy then we need to change our thoughts. If we are not ok with how our life is going, we need to change our thinking. Fearful thoughts can be changed so we are not fearful. So our thoughts are what we make of them. Why not choose thoughts that nurture and enhance our lives?
The second idea is the ego-mind’s function is to keep us safe and to protect the structure of our personality. To the ego this seems essential but really most of us are not that much in danger and our personalities are not even who we are. If we understand that the ego is always on the lookout and trying its best to keep us well defended then we understand why fear is the ego-minds major theme. Under all the static of this seemingly endless vigil of protection is a much wiser mind. Mindfulness is about touching into this wiser mind where higher consciousness rules not the fear program of the ego.
The third idea is there are two basic emotions: love and fear. Love is the expansive and open state and fear is the contracting and closed state. In each moment, if we can be conscious, we could see that at a deeper level we are choosing to be open or closed. A way to notice that subtle level of expansion or contraction is to feel the body. The body will tell us whether we are opening or closing if we pay attention. This level of attention can be very insightful and informative about our interactions with the world. Why not be open and expansive in the world.
With the integration of three ideas about the workings of our mind and the role of fear we can bring a higher level of awareness to how we experience life. A simple practice is to go throughout our day just noticing if we are opening or closing. Do this noticing without judging and with a spirit of seeking understanding. As we understand where and why we contract we will put the light of awareness on our fear causing thoughts. Soon our level of awareness will expand and we will move our lives forward with much less fear.