Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Fear just around the Corner?

There is a theory that every ill, discomfort and disease has its root in Fear. Certainly we understand how stress causes physical and mental problems, and stress can be symptom of fear. No matter how much we think fear contributes to our problems we can surely benefit by understanding this emotion. 
Fear exists for the survival of the animal part of us. It is attached to the "fight or flight" mechanism that pumps adrenalin into our systems giving us a quick turbo charge to either fight an opponent or get away from danger.  This mechanism can do some amazing things. There are cases of people lifting cars off of a trapped loved one at the scene of a traffic accident.  Some amazingly athletic accomplishments have been done when the body is forced into survival mode.
But no physical body was meant to be in a continuous state of "fight or flight". If the body pumps this super juice into our systems all the time we will in effect burn up. It's like burning the candle at both ends, and although it would make a lovely light it would not last long. 
The chemicals that the body produces reacting to fear are designed for short term application. If they are constantly being fed to the body they will have detrimental effects. The point is: no physical body was designed to exist in a constant state of fear. That seems obvious, but in this complex world we are exposed to more fear than in times past and it is harder not to live some state of constant fear. We call it by different names like, worry, stress and anxiety, but it is all a state of fear. When we live in a state of worry we are slowly poisoning ourselves with a natural chemical that was created to save our lives in an emergency. The ironic thing is we think that we are "planning ahead" by worrying  when physically the opposite is happening.  Media driven stories perpetuate fear, fear gets your attention and the media is not there for your health, they sell "attention". 
Eckhart Tolle says that to live in peace and harmony we have to live without worry. When someone asked "How can this be? Most everyone has to worry about paying the rent or mortgage or bills that come due."  His answer was, "No you don't. No one has to worry about bills, you have to pay them, but you do not have to worry about them."  At first it sounds like a riddle of an answer, but he is totally right. Worry, stress and anxiety are not part of the actual event they are only the fear of anticipation of the event. 
Recently I heard an acronym for FEAR, Future Events Appearing Real. I have also heard it said FEAR stands for Former Events Appearing Real, in either interpretation the truth is: fear is never an element of the Now.  Fear is the worry that something is "going to" happen or something is "going to happen again" which might be unpleasant, painful or threatening.  One can not fear that which is happening NOW. Because fear is not a quality of the present moment.  One can certainly be fearful right now but it is fear of that which is "going" to happen not that which is actually happening. Fear is a poisonous place holder for other emotions. 
Say you are driving and you suddenly see a car coming right toward you. You immediately become full of fear that the car is going to smash into you. There may be damage or injury or worse. That fear is not about what is happening but what you assume "might" happen. At the last minute the car turns and there is no accident. You no longer feel fear, you will be filled with some other emotion like relief or surprise, even gratitude... but not fear.  
Suppose the car does hit you, at that very moment you will not be in fear, you might be in pain, might be angry, some other immediate emotion, but not fear.  Suppose you are injured severely?  There is blood everywhere, the car is a twisted mess, that would be a current fear, right? Not even that would be fear of the now. It would be fear that you will bleed to death, fear you will be crippled, fear of what the future holds but not fear of what is happening now.  
What generates the empathy of fear at a scary movie?  Our hero is not safe.  There is a monster, a killer, a giant ape or disaster right around the corner that is about to get our favorite character.  Or our hero is in a situation that he can not possibly get out of, the fear is "what is going to happen next?" We tend to close our eyes in fear before the event on the screen happens.  Why? Because it isn't happening now, but it is going to happen.  Will he get away, will he survive, will he make it out of the cave before the giant rolling bolder smashes him to bits.  The "Will he" generates the fear. I no longer fear when the hero is smashed or eaten, I immediately replace fear with another emotion. 
Movies accent the fear (future events appearing real) with anticipation.  Creepy music, dark corners, close up shots, eyes widening, the actress sees something that we don't see.  OMG what is about to happen.? Why is it that monster movies rarely show the monster until much later in the story.  Because once you see the monster, the fear of anticipation is gone.   
Consider the classic movie Jaws.  We don't actually see this giant shark until near the end of the movie, but we are given plenty to fear about his arrival.  First there is a girl swimming in the ocean.  All we see is her silhouette from below, she jerks while being pulled at then there is a scream and blood in the water.  Then there is a rustling of the water near some kids, then that ominous fin skimming the water, then they shoot him with floatation barrels. Now we fear the barrels as they chase the boat on the surface. It is one of the most brilliant examples of staging the anticipate of an event to garner the most fear. It was not accidental. It was cleverly calculated by a master story teller. 
Ram Dass coined the phrase "Be Here Now" in the drug fueled love generation of the 60's. It was embraced by some but dismissed by others as just another example of hippie jingoism. But to avoid the detrimental effects of fear, like worry, anxiety and stress,  being totally in the present moment is the best antidote.  Perhaps Ram Dass was just paraphrasing for a new generation what was said by another great teacher, "Fear not neither let them be afraid." 
The truth will always be the truth, but we hear it anew every time it is repeated in a different generation.
Deal with reality in the moment of Now and don't let fear drag you to the past nor into "the not yet happened future."
As you were,

1 comment:

The Comic's Daughter said...

Hi Jay - You're such a great writer. I love your conversational style and clarity.

I relate because the fight/flight response is a big part of my "hypno-work" - And "Be Here Now" is my favorite phrase for quickly dropping IN.

Very best, Carrie