Everyone is afraid sometimes. And when we practice meditation, we begin to notice and experience things that others do not. We might begin to fear that we could be rejected by others for talking about the things we notice during and after meditation.
We may begin to notice our increased vulnerability in modern culture; the fragile invisible umbilical cords that bind us to the forests that provide oxygen, the cords to lakes and rivers from which we get our water and even the cord to the limited life of our sun that will eventually die out, but provides energy and life. We may begin to feel afraid. We may want to abandon meditation, as if that will relieve our fears, but denying that we are noticing things that others do not fails to ease us.
It has been written that all of our human fears stem from the “original fear” we all experience at birth when emerging from the womb when we found the lights much too bright, the sounds too loud and more distinct, we had to breath for ourselves and we experienced hunger for the first time.
We had legs but could not walk. We had hands but could not hold anything. We could not hold our own head upward.
As newborn infants, we instinctively looked for someone to help us survive, and became dependant on them, and the original fear of being separated from them was conditioned in us. When we depend on some thing or some one else to survive, then an attachment, a kind of invisible umbilical cord, binds us to that thing or person. This dependency also occurs in addictions, with attending fears.
Every desire and want we will have in our lives is rooted in this original desire to survive. As adults, our desire for partner is partially a continuation of our infantile desire for someone to take care of us. But if our relationship is based on fear, then its foundation is based on dependency, rather than desire for mutual understanding and happiness.
But we have to look deeply to identify the original fear and how it can fuel so many of our daily behaviours. Denying that we have this fear is futile.
My friend Carl Ross says ignoring our fears is like building a dam across an unruly river to control it, instead of continually patrolling the banks of the river to channel it properly here and there. Eventually, the untended dam will break and there is a flood that destroys everything, instead of a powerful but well maintained river that never exceeds its banks.
In the busy-ness of modern life we forget to talk to the inner child who is so afraid. We may employ denial, a type of neurotic behaviour, to pretend that all is well, that the roots of our fear do not exist. But they do. Unsolved, this dilemma uses tremendous amounts of limited psychic energy, it perpetuates fear, rather than dealing with it.
The first thing we can do to alleviate our original fear it to talk to the frightened child within us that is causing all this distress. We might use this: “Dear inner child: I am your adult self. I want to remind you that we are no longer a helpless baby. We have strong hands and feet – we can defend ourselves very well. There is no sound reason why we have to be fearful.”
Coming soon: How Mindfulness can Help with Resentment