What's Hiding Under the Bed

I've been very interested in the phenomenon of fear. I've been looking at it from a lot of different places - personal, societal, political.

It is such a primal, driving force that has been so crucial to our survival that it's hard to even see it sometimes, so embedded with our experience, that it's hard to tease it out as a separate thing. It is underneath our actions, motivates our decisions, shapes our perceptions, and it does so on such a base level, that we can't even see it underneath it all the other thoughts and actions it produces.

Fear can be used to control others by tapping into a primal instinct for self-preservation, and it can be a thing that limits our own actions for the same reason. That self-imposed limitation is a good thing when it keeps us from doing something genuinely stupid and/or dangerous, but that animal instinct lives outside of reason. In that place, it tells us that doing things that are perfectly healthy, in fact often to our advantage, are things we should avoid.

We don't even know we are avoiding them, or if we are, we rationalize our reasons for doing so. That fear is so entrenched and so outside of our conscious, decision-making mind, that we can't see it. We suppose there are rational reasons for what we do, when really we are just scared animals.

I've been resurrecting my yoga practice. I have back-burnered it for a while now and there have been some very good reasons for that. (If you know me, you know I have had some very serious neurological issues that, by their nature, are taking a long time to resolve.) However, I am now seeing that there are layers to that.

It has been true that for quite a while, some of the most basic yoga could, only hours later, send me running for some serious pharmaceutical relief, but even so, some was also possible...and put me in tears. But the physical limitations made it easy to ignore the other reasons for avoidance. Once I saw that I was doing enough better to expand my practice to a noticeable extent, I started some simple, basic, online classes. It took only a few minutes for me to find myself shaking, my body wracked with soundless, gasping sobs that convulsed me from the core.

I could see it for what it was: fear. I hung with it as best I could, armed with enough wisdom and experience around this sort of thing from my mindfulness practice and my bodywork practice to eschew an attempt to analyze it. I knew that it had been lurking long enough and it needed to come out. I also was gentle with myself and knew when I'd had enough and stepped out of the pose, or the session.

As I've done more yoga, it has diminished rapidly; in fact, it dropped off noticeably each time. As it has dropped away, become less visceral, some of its nature and origin has become apparent to me without me needing to hunt it down.

I decided to start a series of posts about fear, what it looks like, how to cope with it, how mindfulness is a baseline tool to deal with it, because we live in a time of much fear, personal, societal, and political, and anything we can do to dispel it can only help.

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