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BEING AFRAID

The ability of fear to control behavior is an impediment to developing the full power of your attention.  As you develop the sensitivity of your attention you will notice many things that you were too dull to notice before, such as the flow of energy in the world around you.  This new awareness may trigger fear because it is an unexpected perception.  You may turn that perception into something familiar in order to make it more comfortable to you.  If you experience energy around another person, you may turn it into seeing a color around the person and call it an aura, for example.  You may not be ready to experience the energy directly as such. 

Most of what we experience through our senses is our own interpretation.  When we experience sight, for example, we are experiencing two tiny spots of light, one in each retina.  The impression of experiencing a large scene in front of us, filled with very solid objects is our interpretation of those spots of light, based on prior experience.  This keeps us rooted into experiencing what we expect to experience (what I call the “Echo of Expectation”). 

With a practice such as Zookinesis or Tai-chi you must allow yourself new experiences.  As you experience new things, such as the flow of energy (chi) you may be uncomfortable because you are in “new territory”. 

When a student tells me that he is afraid to experience these new things I tell him this:

First of all you are not afraid.  By saying you are afraid you are saying that what you are, is fear.  You are identifying yourself as fear.  “I am afraid” rather than “I am Joe”.  The truth is that you are perceiving or experiencing fear, but you are not that fear.  So you are experiencing fear and the new experience that you believed caused that fear.  You tell yourself a story.  “I must not feel fear.  If experiencing chi causes me to experience fear then I must not experience chi.”

You emphasize the importance of not experiencing things.  In Zookinesis and Tai-chi we emphasize experiencing things in as much detail and clarity as possible.  So you can experience the chi and experience the fear as well.  Don’t push the fear away.  Pay attention to it.  How does it feel in your chest, in your back, in your arms, etc.  Get to know the feeling of fear.  At the same time, get to know the feeling of chi.  It is all right to experience two things at once.

Emphasize getting to know your experiences and realize that you are not those experiences.  You are that which experiences.  Fear is just another experience.  It may make sense to avoid dangerous situations but that is not the same thing as avoiding a situation because you experience fear.  The feeling of fear may suggest to you that there is a danger, but then look at that danger and decide for yourself whether the danger is real.

If you are afraid of trying something new because you may fail, for example, you know very well that that is silly.  Yet the feeling of fear keeps you trapped.  In this case, get to know the feeling of fear and know that you are not the fear.  The more clearly you see the fear the more you know it is not you. 

From then on fear will serve to warn you of possible danger but it will not trap your behavior.  It will help you rather than hinder you.