I just got wacked upside the head last night by a large fear stick. It's interesting to me that my brush with the fear stick always causes the same reaction in me. I get terrified about something and have the same knee jerk reaction of not knowing what to do, of feeling overwhelmed, like I might drown in a pool of my own fear. No maybe this doesn't approach an accurate description of it. It's more like the spiritual temperature drops so far below freezing that I am immobilized. I become some inert brittle block of fear. I think I can identify with the catatonic.
The timing of some things was interesting. Tricycle's Daily Dharma proved to be whitling away on the fear stick this morning. It was a writing by Ezra Bayda, one of my favourite Zen teachers, called "The Three Things We Fear Most". How did he know this was what I needed to hear? It was interesting to be reminded of that neural groove that we all fall into, that our way of reacting to our fear is the result of deeply ingrained patterns in the brain. It was a good reminder that one of things that needed attention is this habitual reaction to my fear. He suggests breathing it into the heart, not running with the story; things I know it my head but are often difficult to do on the spot. He also suggests being curious about our fear, really exploring it, asking questions like how will it be this time? It's an entirely different way of relating to the fear that feels like it can break that habitual bond of terror.
Here's a section of his post that spoke to my particular brand of fear, one he calls the fear of helplessness: "