Quieting The Mind And Moving Beyond The Fear Of Your Beliefs
I recently had the following conversation within myself. It went something like this:
“Who do you think you are? What makes you think you can succeed? Or even deserve to be happy? What you want is impossible. You should just give up.”
If you’re wondering how the other half of this conversation went, so was I. As a spectator to my own self-bullying, I remained silent. Sounds familiar? This type of fear-mongering can stem from many different belief patterns—the fear of failure, the fear of not being good enough or too much, the fear of being alone, the fear of the unknown, the fear to trust. And the list could go on.
It’s important to note, fear can absolutely be a healthy emotion. It can serve as that vital psychological messenger that tells us when we’re in danger. Our ancestors honed this survival mechanism as a way to escape predators. But this isn’t the fear I’m talking about.
FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real
This is the perfect way to describe that self-imposed fear I was experiencing. But don’t get me wrong. The fears I listed above can seem terrifyingly real—as real as being hunted by a wild animal. But here’s where it’s necessary we learn how to differentiate. Harboring this type of “impostor” fear won’t only hijack your thoughts, but also who you are as a person and how you decide to live your life. The Buddha communicated it best when he said, “What we think, we become.”
These fears that are so deeply rooted within our thoughts and beliefs are what the Buddha called “delusions” or false ways of perceiving ourselves and our surroundings. If we continue to live in a state of delusion, we become paralyzed by fear, unable to move forward and walk the path that’s unique to each of us. In order to rid our mind of these delusions, the Buddhist practice of recognizing these fears, embracing our vulnerability, relinquishing our attachment to these fears, and gaining control of our mind can help us overcome such delusions.
In the book, A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life, Santideva explained:
And all infinite sufferings
Arise from the mind.”
“…it is not possible
To control all external events;
But, if I simply control my mind,
What need is there to control other things?”
In times when my fearful delusions are overshadowing my sense of reality, I turn to a meditation practice that pushes me to have a different conversation with myself. This meditation work, entitled RAIN Meditation, is a compilation of mindfulness tools put together by a number of Buddhist teachers and shared by Buddhist teacher and Psychologist, Tara Brach.
By taking the time to find a quiet space within and meditate on the following, I’m regaining control of my mind and rewiring my belief patterns:
Recognize what’s Happening
Pay attention to your fear. Let it have a voice. Without judgment, gently ask yourself what’s happening and why.
Allow Life to be Just as It Is.
Instead of fighting your fear, allow it to just be for a moment. Accepting your emotions can help to soften your experience and weaken the power your fears have over you.
Investigate Inner Experience with Kindness
This deeper investigation involves asking yourself questions in order to uncover your fears. For example, if your fear is that you’ll spend the rest of your life alone, even simply asking yourself, “Do I absolutely know for sure that I’ll spend the rest of my life alone?” can answer volumes. Many times these preconceived notions can be put to a halt by bringing our focus back to reality.
Other points of inquiry can include, “What’s causing my fear?” “What part of me needs attention right now?”
Remember when the Buddha said that we become our thoughts? This is the step that helps us to detach from these delusions. By understanding that our limited thoughts, stories, and experiences in no way define who we are, we can rest in our natural state of awareness.
The beauty of RAIN is that you can practice this anywhere and make it your own. A quiet space need not involve an ashram in India or candles and complete silence in your home. Whether you’re stuck in traffic, at the grocery story, or in the waiting room at the doctor’s office—cultivate that quiet space within you.
And last, but certainly not least, don’t forget to breathe—breathe in love, breathe out fear. Because you deserve to be everything your heart desires.
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