Fear can go in the direction of chaos, violence, aggression, or in the direction of sanity.
The only way to experience fearlessness is to know the nature of fear. It’s not something we get rid of or cast out, but something we become so intimate with that the journey of knowing fear is actually the journey towards bravery.
Examples of how we unknowingly connect with fear is blaming others, gossiping and slandering. Sometimes it gets to the point where people go looking for security through stealing, lying and acts of violence. Generally speaking, no one does any of these things because they want to feel worse. They do it because their situation, at the pit of their stomach, is such an uncomfortable experience that they just want to find something to represent security. Others turn to entertainment, drugs, alcohol or divide the world up into our views and opinions.
So, how do we face towards fear, leap into our fear – and smile at our fear?
The main practice is to stay with your fear rather than letting it set off a chain reaction. Fear itself is the entrance to wisdom and courage. Being present is not being open to just the comfortable, secure and pleasurable parts of life; but being open, receptive and available to the uncomfortable parts as well.
Working with fear in the way of appreciating fear is the basis of sanity and the way to connect with the fundamental goodness of ourselves and others. One way to put this practice into play is through a disciplined meditation practice. This is the main key because in meditating, you remain present to whatever might arouse. Briefly touch the feelings then let them go. You don’t repress them that way. This way you turn towards the fear.
Once face to face with it, place your fearful mind in the cradle of loving kindness. In the shade of fear, fan it with the fan of joy and happiness. This atmosphere of warmth allows yourself to be as you are. This makes you very decent, very sane and very open to the world and other people.
These applicable teachings come to us from Pema Chödrön, a notable American figure in Tibetan Buddhism. She is an ordained nun, author and teacher, and is widely known for her charming and down-to-earth interpretation of Tibetan Buddhism for Western audiences. Her mantra: The nature of fear is the basis of fearlessness.
Watch this video and connect with your courage. Ask yourself, “Does my fear go in the direction of confidence, gentleness, courage and tender-hearted bravery?” If not, your fear could use your smile.