On a Road Trip with Fear
I recently started reading ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert and laughed out load as she describe her relationship to fear.
It was refreshing to hear a successful author like her talk about fear around creativity and how each time she starts a new writing project, creative endeavour, job or relationship for that matter, fear joins her.
She said she used to try to fight fear. Push fear away. Ignore it or overpower it. But these tactics just caused fear to push back even harder. Man could I relate!
Instead of pushing fear away, she now gives fear lots and lots of space and imagines she’s going on a road trip with her life long companions, fear and creativity.
Having recently been on a epic road trip through South Africa I immediately loved the metaphor and could relate to all the dynamics and button pushing of road trips.
The key is, Gilbert sets rules for this road trip.
Firstly, fear doesn’t get to sit in the front seat. Second, fear doesn’t get to pick the music playlist, and most importantly, fear definitely doesn’t get to hold the steering wheel.
Of course my mind saw all the yoga in this metaphor.
The Observer Drives the Car
All of the characters — fear, creativity and “me” — are, of course, different parts of Gilbert.
In yoga philosophy we’re taught we have an observer (the true “me”) called our Purusha, and this observer has the super power of watching the various aspects of ourself without reacting.
And let me tell you, observing without reaction truly is a super power!
If fear, or any other aspect of ourself based in fear like anxiety, anger, doubt or criticism drive the car, it becomes one big reactive roller coaster of a road trip.
But if the observing non-reactor holds the wheel, she can acknowledge fear’s tantrums, put her in the back seat with lots of space and drive a steady course anyway.
So who’s driving your car on the road trip of life?
Every time we meditate and drop into the observer mind, or hold a long pose and keep breathing deeply without reacting we put our highest self behind the wheel. And the more we do this on the mat and cushion the more that higher self steers the car in life.
The Music Playlist on the Road Trip of Life?
The music on the road trip of life are our thoughts. You know, the thoughts that we think over and over again every day, that have a repetitive rhythm and beat that moves us.
We’ve got a play list of thoughts and beliefs going one way or the other, the question is, are we being intentional about that playlist?
As mentioned in my last blog, 95% of our thoughts are the same from one day to the next. In other words, 95% of the way we think is habitual.
So most of the time, the play list is on repeat and the mood of the road trip set long ago. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other albums on your inner iPod!
The magic of non reaction comes from the space it creates to make choices.
Fear might be persuasively screaming, “Put on R.E.M. Everybody Hurts!” even though you’ve already listened to it a hundred times. And it might be easy to just listen to it again since it’s already on repeat and it will make fear shut up… but you don’t have to.
In life, short daily meditations give us a moment to slow down, browse the inner music library and listen to our preferred playlist. More and more I’m realising this is the real task of meditation. To listen to the aspects of my self that I want to dominate my life, that feel good, peaceful, spacious, loving, confident and calm.
Sure I still get distracted with fear and anger, anxiety and doubt trying to blast their songs through the speakers, but I’m getting better at not reacting to them and simply redirecting my focus to the beautiful symphonies of joy, love, liberation, creation and compassion.
The more I do yoga the better this road trip gets!
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