Everyone has fears. Fears or phobia of animals, of nature, of experiences… Sometimes our mind overstate our fears. How to calm our mind about our fears ?
When I was a child, I was terrified of vampires. And by that, I mean wake up screaming standing up on my bed, shaking and unable to dissipate the sensation fully until the next night – when a new nightmare would dislodge the previous one. This started when I was around 5 years old. It was my first fear.
As I grew up, the people who heard this would say dismissively “What? You believe in vampires? You think they’re real??!!”
I always thought that was a curious reaction. It didn’t matter whether vampires existed or not. You can be terrified of heights – heights exist, objectively. Does it mean you’re going to fall? Do you find the clown in IT scary? Does he exist?
Is leaving the house without checking the locks 34 times scary? Not too most people.
You can be terrified of spiders, or like my stepmother was, of moths. She once jumped out of a third story apartment because a moth was flitting around the room.
Are there any things you are “irrationally” afraid of?Are spiders and moths real? Undeniably.
Are you at risk from them?
The answer is complex. Moths, or vampires for that matter, will never DO anything to you. Moths do not have the power to kill you, and vampires DO NOT EXIST – just in case anyone was still doubting my grasp on reality.
However – do they have an effect upon us? Does our adrenalin level peak, do we faint, feel severely upset, jump out of windows?
Yes, apparently we do.
How meditation can help you worry less
What we believe is scary, inside our minds, IS scary. This is why our internal environment matters a lot more than the “objective reality”. Between what is actually happening – a moth flitting around a lamp – and the fact that we jump out the window, our mind happened. A connection, an interpretation, a misfire in our reptilian brain made us believe this moth put us at risk of death. My stepmother might never have had that reaction from anything else, not even situations where she was objectively at risk – say with a gunman entering the room.
This is why we cultivate our minds so much. We want our minds to be the most comfortable, cozy, safe place in the world. First of all because we LIVE there. Secondly, because we can have full control. After all, no one can get in without our consent. Our minds can literally be the safest place we’ll ever know.
But it requires some intent, some cultivation, some care.
Imagine you throw a party, and many people come. Your party is a success.You can spend the whole party worrying whether people have enough to drink and eat, are not too cold or too hot, are lost, are leaving too early, are drunk and may have an accident on the way back etc etc etc. The list is endless, courtesy of your mind.
You can also spend the party having the time of your life and never worrying about a thing.
Same party, massively different experience.
Some people are wired to worry.
But that’s not the end of the story. It’s just the beginning.
When we say that, it just means “our habitual thought patterns are worry-oriented”. Basically, you’re used to worrying, so you just keep doing it. You’re good at it and you want to keep up some kind of excellence in that field.
Which is bollocks when you think about it. When you become aware of your thought patterns, that’s when things get interesting. With awareness comes choice.
Do you WANT to keep having a horrendous time at parties? Do you want to jump out of windows when you see a moth?
There is a gradation between the experiences of worry and phobia. Phobias are embedded more deeply, into our reptilian brain and less easily accessible. Worry, in our conscious mind, is within our grasp.
With regular meditation, you can sift through your habitual thoughts, and choose the ones that serve you best. We can literally clean our minds just as we do our bodies, clothes or homes every day. And truly, when I prioritized all my cleaning tasks, getting to a calm, serene aired-mind was at the top of the list.
I hope you find it useful. Meditation is a powerful tool to tame and make friends with your own mind…